Monday, 14 November 2011

The Top 5!

I have a secret.

One about which I feel quite guilty.

It is the online love that dare not speak its name.

Actually, I'm not even sure it has a name - catalogophilia, perhaps?

I speak, of course, of the love of lists.

There is something seductive about a list.

They promise brevity, as if all the extra fat had been shorn away to reveal the meaty essence of the subject.

And they promise order too.

Someone has sifted, sorted and ranked everything for you, leaving you to view the important stuff at your leisure and convenience.

Of course, anything with a bullet point in front of it is bound to be intellectually shallow.

But still, the allure persists.

And not just for me, clearly.

In fact, the other week I jokingly mentioned to one of my learners the top 9 modal auxiliary verbs.

He was very keen to know this top 9 so he could concentrate on the most important ones.

I had another learner last week who wanted to know if it was true that we only really use the top 3 tenses.

He seemed keen to dispense with superfluous tenses, so when I told him that English only actually has two tenses, he was delighted.

Perhaps, then, I am missing a trick with my learners.

Perhaps I should organise the information we encounter into more readily digestible forms, such as lists and infographics.

After all, if this is how they prefer to read, why not take advantage of the fact?

(Image: ProofWire)


  1. Couldn't agree more, Tony.

  2. Hi Kerrie,
    Thanks - you can't beat an appreciative readership!