Referencing Techniques for Cohesive Writing

In order to become an excellent writer, learning how to use pronouns, possessive adjectives, substitution words and other reference words is essential. All good writers use these tools to avoid repetition and wordiness, to achieve cohesive, coherent writing, and to make writing interesting and reader friendly. You can also learn how to use these tools by completing the tasks in this activity and by implementing what you learn to your own writing.




Web privacy - outsourced to the US and China?

Overnight, the Guardian and the Washington Post have made startling claims about the extent of the US government's surveillance of web communications.

They allege that under a programme called PRISM the intelligence agencies have direct access to the servers of the biggest web firms, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype and Apple.

Now it must be said that all of the firms have denied any knowledge of this programme, insisting they only hand over data when they receive a subpoena relating to named individuals, rather than offering blanket access.

Facebook, for instance, says it does not provide access to any government organisations, and any requests for information from law-enforcement bodies are dealt with on an individual basis in accordance with the law.

But, unlike yesterday's story about the blanket surveillance of American Verizon customers, these latest revelations will raise concerns outside the US. James Clapper, the US intelligence chief, has sought to reassure the public by saying the web-monitoring operation only targets "non-US persons".

Not much to worry about then, unless you happen to be a citizen of any other country. And then it only matters if you happen to use the services of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube or Apple. Which means just about everyone who has an online presence.

What this highlights is the way we now entrust our data and our privacy almost entirely to American companies, storing it in their "clouds" - vast data centres located in the US. (Skype, which was founded in Europe, is now owned by Microsoft).

They may be rigorous in their control of that data and our privacy rights - or they may feel obliged to cooperate with their government's demands for greater access. It is hard to know the truth.

And it is not only the US which now plays a crucial role in overseeing our communications activities. Yesterday, Britain's Intelligence and Security Committee raised concerns about the key role China's Huawei plays in our telecoms infrastructure.

So our data is with the Americans, while the Chinese control the equipment used to connect our mobile phone calls and broadband.

Now you may or may not be happy about that. I'm of the view that life is too short to worry about whether the FBI is reading my emails, or scanning my Facebook updates, or China's Red Army is listening to my phone calls.

But most people will agree that the privacy and security of our data should be a matter of personal choice, over which we have at least a degree of control. Now it seems that we have outsourced that control to the US and China and unless you want to withdraw from the digital world there is very little you can do about it.

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US spy leaker Edward Snowden 'missing' in Hong Kong

An ex-CIA employee who leaked details of US top-secret phone and internet surveillance has disappeared from his hotel in Hong Kong.

Edward Snowden, 29, checked out from his hotel on Monday. His whereabouts are unknown, but he is believed to be still in Hong Kong.

Earlier, he said he had an "obligation to help free people from oppression".

It emerged last week that US agencies were gathering millions of phone records and monitoring internet data.

A spokesman for the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the case had been referred to the Department of Justice as a criminal matter.

Meanwhile a petition posted on the White House website, calling for Mr. Snowden's immediate pardon, has gathered more than 30,000 signatures.

He was revealed as the source of the leaks at his own request by the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Transatlantic fallout

Hong Kong's broadcaster RTHK said Mr. Snowden checked out of the Mira hotel on Monday.

Reuters news agency quoted hotel staff as saying that he had left at noon.

Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian journalist, told the BBC he believed Mr. Snowden was still in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - a Chinese territory - has an extradition treaty with the US, although analysts say any attempts to bring Mr. Snowden to America may take months and could be blocked by Beijing.

Mr. Snowden is believed to have arrived in Hong Kong on 20 May. A standard visa on arrival in the territory for a US citizen lasts for 90 days.

His revelations have caused transatlantic political fallout, amid allegations that the UK's electronic surveillance agency, GCHQ, used the US system to snoop on British citizens.

Foreign Secretary William Hague cancelled a trip to Washington to address the UK parliament on Monday and deny the claims.

Mr Snowden is described by the Guardianas an ex-CIA technical assistant, currently employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a defence contractor for the US National Security Agency (NSA).

He told the newspaper: "The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting.

"If I wanted to see your emails or your wife's phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.

"I don't want to live in a society that does these sort of things. I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded."

Mr. Snowden said he did not believe he had committed a crime: "We have seen enough criminality on the part of government. It is hypocritical to make this allegation against me."

But he admitted that he could end up in jail and feared for people who knew him.

'Core values'

In a statement, Booz Allen Hamilton confirmed Mr. Snowden had been an employee for less than three months.

"If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the statement said.

At a daily press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he could not comment on the Snowden case, citing an ongoing investigation.

The first of the leaks came out on Wednesday night, when the Guardian reported a US secret court ordered phone company Verizon to hand over to the NSA millions of records on telephone call "metadata".

The metadata include the numbers of both phones on a call, its duration, time, date and location (for mobiles, determined by which mobile signal towers relayed the call or text).

On Thursday, the Washington Post and Guardian said the NSA tapped directly into the servers of nine internet firms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to track online communication in a programme known as Prism.

All the internet companies deny giving the US government access to their servers.

Prism is said to give the NSA and FBI access to emails, web chats and other communications directly from the servers of major US internet companies.

The data is used to track foreign nationals suspected of terrorism or spying. The NSA is also collecting the telephone records of American customers, but said it is not recording the content of their calls.

US director of national intelligence James Clapper's office said information gathered under Prism was obtained with the approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (Fisa).

Prism was authorised under changes to US surveillance laws passed under President George W Bush, and renewed last year under Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama has defended the surveillance programmes, assuring Americans that nobody was listening to their calls.

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Hong Kong transsexual woman loses fight to marry

A court in Hong Kong has rejected an attempt by a woman who used to be a man to marry her boyfriend

The judge in the case said existing laws only allowed marriage between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth.

Resolving the issue should not be the decision of the courts alone, he added.

The Chinese woman in her 20s, identified only as W, underwent sex change surgery at a public hospital a few years ago.

High Court Judge Andrew Cheung said he saw no evidence to support "a shifted societal consensus in present-day Hong Kong regarding marriage to encompass a post-operative transsexual".

He said he was "acutely conscious of the suffering and plight of those who suffer from transsexualism, and the prejudice and discrimination they face as a minority group in our society".

But he added: "That alone, however, is quite insufficient to found the fundamental change in the law sought by the applicant in the present case."

A human rights activist criticised the judge's ruling.

"A person's basic human rights are not dependent on majority acceptance," Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor Director Law Yuk-kai is quoted as saying by the AP news agency.


"The public doesn't have the right to impose its values on other people. There is room for a more liberal interpretation," he added.

Speaking after the ruling, W's lawyer said she would appeal.

"She is determined to be treated as a woman and accorded the same rights as a woman," Mike Vidler told reporters.

"She still cherishes the hope that she'll be able to marry her boyfriend. Maybe not today, but in the near future, and not after 10 years of consultations, government procrastination or inactivity."

W's sex change was reflected on her Hong Kong identity card, but not her birth certificate which still describes her as a man.

The government says she cannot get married as it would constitute a same-sex marriage, which is not legal in Hong Kong.

While transsexuals who have undergone surgery are allowed to marry in mainland China, the EU, the US and elsewhere, Hong Kong's Immigration Department, which runs the marriage registry, has refused her request.

Mr. Vidler previously said that while the territory had a system supporting people having sex change surgery, it was blocking this woman from sharing the rights of others.

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Hong Kong court supports transsexual right to wed

Four of the court's five judges ruled that W should be able to marry her boyfriend

A Hong Kong transsexual has won the right to marry her boyfriend, following an appeal to Hong Kong's top court.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled that Hong Kong's current law, which barred the transsexual woman from marrying her male partner, is unconstitutional.

The woman, identified only as W, underwent gender change surgery at a public hospital a few years ago.

Hong Kong's marriage registry had refused her request because her birth certificate still classes her as male.

"The right to marry guaranteed by our constitution extends to the right of a post-operative transsexual to marry in the reassigned capacity," the majority ruling, co-written by Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma and Permanent Judge Robert Ribeiro, said.

"In present-day multi-cultural Hong Kong where people profess many different religious faiths or none at all... procreation is no longer (if it ever was) regarded as essential to marriage," it added.

The ruling said that references to "woman" and "female" in Hong Kong's marriage law should include post-operative male to female transsexuals.

Four of the court's five presiding judges supported the ruling, with the fifth voting against it.

However, the court said it would not implement the judgement for the next 12 months, to allow the government time to consider amending the law.

'Radical change'

Permanent Judge Patrick Chan, who voted against the ruling, said including post-operative transsexuals in the definition of "man" and "woman" was "a radical change of the traditional concept of marriage".

"There is no evidence that the social attitudes in Hong Kong towards the traditional concept of marriage and the marriage institution have fundamentally altered," he said, adding that changes should only be made after "wide public consultation".

W took her case to the Court of Final Appeal after Hong Kong's High Court ruled against her case in 2010.

W's lawyer had argued that her gender change surgery had been considered medically necessary, and been performed in a public hospital using government funds.

He had added that she is considered a woman in every other aspect of her life, and is listed as female on her passport and identity card.

The government had argued that she could not get married as W's birth certificate still classes her as male. It argued that the wedding would constitute a same-sex marriage, which is not legal in Hong Kong.

Under Hong Kong law, it is not possible to amend birth certificates.

Transsexuals who have undergone surgery are allowed to marry in some other parts of the world, including mainland China, EU countries and Canada.

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A Comparison of the Vocabulary Learning Strategies of EAP and GE Learners at a University in Hong Kong (By James King)


       Research into the vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) of L2 learners has gained attention because of growing interest in how they may affect their own language acquisition (Schmitt, 2000, p 132). Such research provides pedagogical insight and direction regarding the most effective approaches for vocabulary learning. This paper will therefore report on the findings of a small-scale research project in which the VLS patterns of learners at the City University of Hong Kong Year were surveyed and then compared.

Results and Discussion

       The data reveal several interesting general trends. Year One learners seem to engage in many of the determination strategies outlined by Schmitt (2000, p 134), including analysing parts of speech, analysing affixes and roots, guessing word meaning from context, and using an electronic bilingual dictionary. Participants seem much less likely, however, to engage in social strategies such as asking teachers or native speakers for word meanings. For word consolidation, these learners seem to engage in some memory strategies, such as connecting words to personal experience and connecting words that have similar meanings. It also appears that they seldom use other memory strategies such as physical action (TPR) or drawing mind maps and pictures. Some cognitive strategies are also used more than others, with the strategy of saying words repeatedly outweighing the strategies of writing words repeatedly or revising vocabulary notebooks. Metacognitive strategies, such as quizzing oneself with word tests, seem to be used slightly more than Social strategies, but are reported by most as rarely employed.

       It may be encouraging that 60% of participants report practising word part strategy for meaning discovery, as this practise is more paradigmatic in nature and may be symptomatic of a ‘developing appreciation of syntax’ (Schmitt, 2000, p 60). The data reveal that the GE participants make slightly greater use of this strategy than EAP learners, with 64% of GE respondents using it often or very frequently compared with 56% of EAP learners. 

       It is also significant that 57% of respondents analyse affixes and roots often or very frequently for word meaning discovery. While the aggregated table shows the EAP and GE participants almost equal in their use of this strategy, it is salient that the non-aggregated table shows 27% of the GE learners engaging in it very frequently, compared with only 14% of EAP learners.

        Very salient are the differences revealed regarding participants’ reported use of guessing meaning of new words from context. Whereas 93% of GE learners say they employ this strategy often or very frequently, a smaller though still encouraging 72% of EAP participants respond similarly. It is salient therefore that 57% of GE learners report use of this strategy very frequently, which is the highest percentage of any strategy. With 83% reporting use of this strategy often or very frequently, it seems that these learners have received training in this strategy and understand its value, mirroring the findings of Fan (2003) that Hong Kong participants do not overuse mechanical, rote strategies (p 233).

        The data also reveal that both groups are almost equal in their use of bilingual dictionaries. With a total of 61% claiming use of electronic dictionaries often or very frequently, it is one of the most-used strategies. This may be a cause for concern, however, as it might slow the acquisition process. Baxter (1980) states that proficiency may be impeded by an over-reliance on bilingual dictionaries as learners are less likely to think in the L2 as a result of continually maintaining a link to their L1 (Oxford and Crookall, 1990, p 14). Fan (2000) mirrors this view by stating that disregard among Hong Kong tertiary learners for other kinds of word knowledge such as pronunciation, collocation and usage may result from an over-reliance on bilingual dictionaries (p 134).

        Monolingual dictionaries are used very frequently by 20% of GE learners compared with only 7% of those in EAP. This suggests that GE learners may translate new words to their L1 less frequently than do their EAP counterparts, and may be better able to think in English (Oxford and Crookall, 1990, p 14). It is interesting that as many as 77% of EAP participants only rarely or sometimes use an all-English dictionary, echoing Oxford and Crookall’s (1990) findings that monolingual dictionaries may be too difficult for some intermediate learners (p 13). Though several researchers question the effectiveness of dictionary use for vocabulary building, some argue that the latest thematic monolingual dictionaries which provide greater context may be preferable to an overreliance on bilingual dictionaries (Fan, 2000, pp 136-7; Oxford and Crookall, 1990,   p 14).

        Another salient finding is that Social strategies for word discovery or consolidation are seldom used by these participants. Asking teachers, practising with native speakers and group study are rarely employed, which may tell something of their character, learning style and/or cultural make-up. The Social strategy most employed is asking a classmate for the meaning of a new word, which 53% of respondents said they do.

        EAP and GE learners are fairly equal in their infrequent use of the Memory strategy of connecting new words to previous experience, with 47% of respondents sometimes employing it. Conversely, with 60% of participants often or very frequently reporting to associate new words with synonyms, they reveal that some, though not all, of their VLS are paradigmatic in nature.

        For retention of new words, an overwhelming majority of participants state that they seldom engage in mind-mapping or picture-drawing, with over 80% stating that they never or rarely use these techniques. This mirrors the findings of Gu and Johnson (1996) who affirm that ‘visual repetition of new words was the strongest negative predicator of both vocabulary size and general proficiency’ (p 668). Respondents also do not engage in physical action for vocabulary consolidation possibly due to a lack of exposure, or perhaps because it does not suit the learning style of Hong Kong students (Fan, 2003, p 233). Another reason that TPR may not be used is that, according to Oxford and Crookall (1990), it is limited in its ability to foster intermediate or advanced proficiency (p 19). 

        One interesting difference between the two groups is that 18% of the GE respondents report saying new words aloud very frequently when studying, compared with 0% of EAP learners. It is also noteworthy that as many as 12% of EAP respondents say they never use this strategy. There is not enough evidence provided here to know whether this strategy is believed to make a difference in terms of consolidation of new words, though it would be an area worthy of deeper investigation.

        The findings of this study with regard to cognitive strategies are consistent with those of Fan’s (2003) which suggest that Hong Kong learners do not over-use repetition strategies (p 233). Although 51% of EAP participants repeat new words often or very frequently, as opposed to 41% of GE respondents, much lower percentages are seen for other rote strategies such as writing new words, with 35% of EAP respondents employing those strategies often or very frequently and 30% of GE participants reporting similarly. Keeping vocabulary notebooks and word lists is also not practised by most participants. These learners are also not likely to engage in the rote cognitive strategy of labeling surrounding objects, as 75% of GE and 63% of EAP respondents state they never or rarely do this. Perhaps this is because none of the participants are beginners who tend to favour this type of strategy.

        Finally, it appears that these learners do not engage heavily in metacognitive strategies,such as self-quizzing with word tests, as 70% of EAP learners never or rarely use this strategy, with 79% of GE learners responding similarly. Although more statements of this variety might have been included in the survey to provide a more precise measure of metacognitive strategies used by these participants, it appears from responses to survey questions 28-30 that they are not making full use of metacognitive approaches to vocabulary learning.


Pedagogical Implications

       There are several implications for teaching that emerge. Firstly, while a large percentage of respondents report use of word part analysis and guessing words from context, continued training of these paradigmatic strategies, especially in lower proficiency EAP classes, may be needed to best affect vocabulary growth (Nation, 2008, p 74). This appears to be truer of analyzing affixes and roots, which as many as 40% of respondents only rarely or sometimes do. As this ‘deeper’ strategy is not employed by a large majority of respondents, more training may be called for, particularly, again, in EAP classes. 

        More significantly, as Fan (2000) writes, it is paramount that dictionaries other than bilingual ones be introduced (pp 136-137) so that other types of vocabulary knowledge, aside from meaning discovery, are not neglected. Fan (2003) states that EAP learners in Hong Kong need a clearer understanding of what ‘word knowledge’ entails and that ‘dictionary skills and wider use of non-bilingual dictionaries needs to be encouraged’ (p 136). While there is insufficient data here to state definitively that Hong Kong learners over-rely on bilingual dictionaries, the high percentage of respondents who use such dictionaries seems to reflect this trend, which may be detrimental to their ability to think in English. With as many as 77% of EAP and 61% of GE respondents only rarely or sometimes reporting use of monolingual dictionaries, more training in their use is indicated.

        Another implication is that these learners may benefit from more training in metacognitive strategy use, such as setting achievable goals, choosing appropriate strategies, monitoring their use, employing a combination of strategies, allocating time for vocabulary learning, self-testing and self-evaluation of the entire process. According to the findings of Rasekh and Ranjbary (2003), instruction in metacognitive strategy use positively impacts lexical knowledge (p 12). Though such training may be difficult to implement initially, if learners can be taught to use them and feel their positive impact, their lexical knowledge should increase. As Nation (2008) reminds, complex strategy usage is not learned quickly and needs to be practised frequently over time, with teachers playing a major role in demonstrating their use (p 77). Both Fan (2003, p 235) and Chamot (2005, p 121) mirror this view, stating that more learners might use these strategies if teachers can help them see their relevance.

       Finally, teachers should teach and demonstrate a variety of VLS to their learners in order to help them acquire as much vocabulary as possible. If learners are taught to make frequent use of deeper paradigmatic strategies when encountering a new word, or to consolidate understanding of a word already encountered, their ability to comprehend texts of increasing difficulty should improve. Indeed, the degree to which explicit teaching of VLS results in better learning and acquisition of vocabulary, as well as better understanding of complex texts, would be a topic worthy of further investigation.


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