In our first ESL-Library meeting of the year, Ben noticed that I was referring to our 2012 Lesson Plan Calendar as the “two thousand and twelve” calendar instead of the “twenty-twelve” one. The pronunciation of our new year isn’t something I thought about until yesterday, though I’ve since learned that many people have questioned it, including the 2012 Olympic committee. Ben reminded me that we never say things like the War of one thousand, eight-hundred and twelve. We wouldn’t say that my grandma was born in one thousand, nine-hundred and twelve. So, why would we talk about our goals for two thousand and twelve? I assume it’s because we (those of us who use this pronunciation) got used to saying two thousand when we reached a new millenium, and then continued using the same phrasing from that year on.
Ben convinced me that twenty-twelve sounds better, but how am I going to convince my brain to talk to my mouth and use this form? We’re only a few days in, but already the two thousand and twelve form seems to have “fossilized”. I think I’ll challenge myself to give it a go. [ed. note: While proofreading my own post I caught myself pronouncing 2012 as two thousand and twelve.]
Are you looking for something to talk about in class your first week back? Why not discuss the pronunciation of “2012″? The Virtual Linguist: How do you pronounce 2012? is an interesting post that I just stumbled upon on Google +. You can print it and share it with your students, or simply ask your students how they think 2012 should be pronounced. You could even have a debate! Separate the class into two and tell each side that they have to come up with a decision about which way the new year should be pronounced. The strongest case wins! (Try to catch each other saying it the other way.)
Your discussion about the pronunciation of 2012 could lead to a lesson about how to write numbers. Here is a nice post about the rules of writing numbers. You could also check out Wikipedia’s page on English numerals. I love it when my own blog post reminds me that we need to add a lesson to our library.
Happy New Year!
Tara Benwell is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry. She is the media director and head writer for ESL-Library. Her debut novel, The Proper Order of Things is available on Amazon and in the iBookstore. Website: http://www.tarabenwell.com Twitter: @tarabenwell