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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Eleven Plus and Other Languages

Our England Rugby team is about to depart for the World Cup. This will not move some – but others will become even more involved than the most ardent eleven plus parent. The eleven plus is an examination – one of many a child takes in a lifetime. Passing the eleven plus examination does open up immense possibilities later in life. Being a Word Cup winner surely trumps that.

The object of rugby is to score as many tries, conversions, penalties and drop goals as possible. A team is trying hard for 80 minutes to accumulate more than the opposition.

A try is worth five points. A player has to ground the ball in the opposition’s ingoal – and apply downward pressure. In the World Cup, unlike the eleven plus, the referee has the benefit of television to help to decide contentious issues.

A conversion is two points. The player tries to kick the ball between the posts.

A drop goal adds three points to a score. A player kicks the ball just as it touches the ground.

A successful penalty kick can add three points. The ball has to sail between the posts.

Scoring in World Cup matches can engender a euphoric feeling in the spectators. The players are often a bit too tired to even raise a smile.

All instructions are offered in English – this being adopted as the universal language of rugby. Imagine the different scenarios if a wide range of languages was used by referees. Think of how players would need to learn key phrases in different languages.

`n Speler wat speelkant is, teken `n drie aan waneer

Hy die bal tot in sy teenstanders se doelgebied dra, of

Die bal in sy teenstanders se doelgebied is, en hy eerste die bal daar druk.

Elements of the eleven plus may contain a range of strange sounding words – but at least it is in English. Thank of the confusion if the eleven plus tried to find children who struggled with English – but had real ability.

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