A web site for the developing language teacher

April 2001 - issue 4/01


Welcome to the Newsletter

It's birthday time. Developing will be 1 year old this month. It certainly doesn't seem like a year. The number of people visiting the site is steadily increasing, as are the subscriber lists for both the Newsletter & the Weekly tip - there were lots of new subscribers in March. Welcome to you all.

The feedback you're giving us is very positive - it really is a shame that we've got to keep the day jobs & not devote more time to putting up lesson plans & ideas. Thank you all for your support. We will keep regularly writing materials & teaching ideas so do keep coming back to the site & please recommend the Newsletter & Tips to colleagues & friends. If you would like to contribute an idea or an article then please do send it in. Thank you all for the support.

Happy teaching!












THEME - Diaries

If the internet is anything to go by, diaries seem to be making a huge comeback these days. It's probably the ease with which anyone can write & be seen that gives instant empowerment to public diary writers that is to blame for this mushrooming. Or as Kingsley Amis said 'If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.'
There's even a special name for the diaries & diary writers - they are web logs >> 'blogs' & the people are 'bloggers'!

Whilst looking around the net for blogs I was amazed how developed the whole area is. A few of the blogger types I found were called Overstuffed Bloggers, Naked Bloggers (you have to have written your blog while naked at least once), Aston Villa Bloggers (anything to escape reality!), Undercover Bloggers, Pavement Bloggers, Groggy Bloggers, Guttersnipe Bloggers, Husband & Wife Bloggers, Sibling Bloggers … & the list goes on! Some of these are very interesting & amusing but the majority, that I found at least, were far from it. Jean Jacques Rousseau said, 'To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.' Maybe the same applies to diaries,

The lesson plan to accompany the theme this month uses an article from Newsweek about….you guessed it - bloggers & the blog phenomena.

It would be great to see our students starting their own blogs - in English. If anyone manages it then do let me know. Here are some links, from the Newsweek article in the lesson plan, to help you get started & use as a massive source of material.

Learner diaries

These have been mentioned in a Teaching Tip.

Do you ask your students to write learner diaries? Here are a few reasons why they make a very interesting component of a language course.

- they really are an excellent source of feedback on the lessons you give

- you can gain an insight into the processes your students are going through

- the students will gain insight into the processes they are going through

- they are an ideal opportunity for you to give individual feedback

- they help students to feel a part of the course design

- they provide lots of authentic fluency writing practice

I would generally get the students to do the diaries in class - 15 minutes each week or fortnight. If they have nothing to say about the lessons then they can write what they like. Check out the link above for how to go about introducing them.

I was discussing learner diaries on a training course recently & Susan, a diary writer herself, suggested that it might even be more productive if the learner diaries were private. I think that this approach would help learner training enormously as they can write about how they really feel & become more aware of the processes s/he is going through with the language. With a semi-public diary there will always be the danger that the student might write what s/he thinks the teacher will want to see.

It could be argued that students might be developing fluency writing even more if they knew it wasn't going to be assessed. On the other hand, the student may want correction & it is this outside viewer that will push him/her to work harder at accuracy.

The problem with a private diary is that, apart from asking the students, it is very difficult to evaluate how successful the project is. But then if the students are happy with it, it is successful. I haven't actually done it like this but if you have, let me know how you got on.

In an article on the site, Henny Burke looks at the benefits of learner diaries in teacher training courses.

Diaries on the net - those that don't fall into the category of blogs. Here are a few eclectic links to glean material from:

You think you can write a diary - check this man out - the diarist of diarists, Mr Pepys. One among many links.

'The Anne Frank Internet Guide is a collection of WWW resources about Anne Frank (1929-1945). Anne's famous diary does not only give a face and a voice to the victims of World War II, but it is also an impressive portrait of a courageous and wise person.' Go straight here for anything to do with Anne Frank.

The Strange Case of the Lost Elvis Diaries. A 17-part online mystery to use with your advanced students. Give them an episode a week - together with strategies on how they might effectively read it at home - extensive first & then go back to only a few select difficult parts &/or choose a few vocab items to add to their vocab notebooks after having tried to guess from context & then looked in the dictionary for confirmation, if necessary. It would be worth spending some time in class each week recapping the story so far & predicting what might happen next.

The War Diaries - about the Kosovo conflict from A.G. in Belgrade.

Prison audio diaries.

US civil war diaries.

Prison & teenage diaries etc.

Field diaries of the First World War by A.C.M.Thomson.

A 'directory of cyberjournals joined by an extra-special bond. Husbands and wives, lovers and partners, parents and kids, even sisters and brothers.'

The real story behind the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Howard Carter's own words.

Not really material for the classroom but here to highlight the extraordinary eclectic nature of the net.
It's basically a travel site & the diaries are a list of clean, toilet facilities/bathrooms around the world for the person on the move. One for the hygienic to bookmark!

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Last Sunday we sent out a Teaching Tip about 'Cognitive Confusion' & the benefits for our classes. April 1st - until 12.00am - is a bit different where I come from. Don't believe everything you read! Only on this day - honest. To see the Tip.

If the PS section at the end of each Newsletter interests you, did you know that all of the PS sections published so far are all on one page on the site? You don't have to trawl through all of the past Newsletters to find something you're looking for. There's a link from the Past Newsletter page or go directly there with this link.

You might want to use the page in class. There would be some interesting reading material for the computer/net interested student - & you'll be passing on some useful sites & downloads.

Also on the site there's the whole list of links, on one page, mentioned in the Newsletters.



This one's on the site - on the warmer page - but as it is such a good one, it deserves repeating. It's simple enough in that you get the students in pairs/small groups discussing how they got the scars they have on their bodies - tell them they don't have to talk about them if they don't want to. It usually goes down a storm. In the general feedback elicit the more interesting stories.

The other day Matthew had us all squirming when he told us about the sewing needle he got lodged behind his kneecap without knowing it! An operation was needed to get it out. Good for the beginning of a course when all are getting to know each other.

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Maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course.



Gerard sent me this site by putting my name through their anagram maker & coming back with such gems as 'an idiots slick rain', 'slick radiation sin', 'kiss in coital nadir' among about 100 other anagrams. Put your students' names through it for them. Don't know my name - work it out if you can!

If you're starting a new theme in class & you're wondering how to begin, get along to Quoteland & grab a few quotes to sink them in. There's an excellent reference links section that's well worth bookmarking. I couldn't find any about 'diaries' or 'writing' though. The only one I found on a quick search of other sites: 'Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us." - Oscar Wilde - at

A great index of all things for the younger learner, vetted for suitability & easy to use. If you can get your kids on the net at your school this would make a great starting point. US based.

So you're teaching a group of computer-related professionals & you're not sure what to do with them. Get along here for lots of tech support stories. Lots of reading & speaking fun for the computer-minded student.

If you've got a buzzword that is foxing you, this is the place to sort it out. Apparently I 'google' quite frequently & I might be a part of the generation D & there are a few pain points in my bank balance! "verbing: It's Corporate America's favourite pastime -- the practice of turning a perfectly good noun into a verb. Example: "We're transitioning to the new building in April, just after we finish databasing the surveys."' I'm not writing this at all - I'm newslettering.

If you're toying with the idea of a stint in China, you must check out the TEFLChina Teahouse - nice name, eh? 'Insights from teachers in China' - there's a lot of advice on living & working there plus a host of teaching ideas. The e-mail lists would be a lifeline anywhere in the country & even more so if you found yourself in the remoter areas. Check it all out before you go - I don't imagine you could be too prepared for the experience.

'this is the place where all of your made up words, slang, webspeak and colloquialisms become part of the dictionary as well. we take the words you use every day, but aren't in the dictionary, and put them into ours.' A couple of their entries:
mental goalie - the part of your brain that keeps you from saying out loud the evil/stupid thoughts that are sometimes your first response to questions or situations
karenizing - An office worker act. Pretending that he /she is totally busy with office work but in fact, the person does not have a single project / work.

I've mentioned the Onion before - a satirical e-zine. Now there's another to give it a run for its money. A few good laughs to be had.

Another excellent satirical site. Check out the Stupid Question Hall of Fame - here's an excerpt:

'Stupidest question ever: Do you work here?

No, you dumb m----. I was getting ready today and decided that the only thing that would make me feel sexy was a blue chambray shirt with IKEA printed across it eight different times. Then I thought, let me accentuate my figure flaws by tucking said shirt into pleated pants that could possibly be less flattering if they were white. And I purposely sewed another f---- IKEA tag into the seam of the pleated pants to get my point across.

It looked alright, but then I decided that some old work shoes would really complete the ensemble. Add a fleece jacket that says IKEA three times and I was all set!

But something was still missing, so I smeared dirt and sweat all over my face, added some BO in a can, and bruised myself up. Finally, I thought, I will pull an eighty-pound pallet through the store while shopping.

YES, you ridiculous f----. Why in the world would I be wearing this outfit, with IKEA written across it 4,578,902 times, if I was just shopping? Why would I be WORKING if I didn't work here? Why would I be leaning against the WORK station, searching through an IKEA computer system and answering the goddamn piece of s---- m---- IKEA telephone, if I didn't work here? What the f---- goes through your mind when you ask that stupid question, you lame a---- crackhead?

Did you see my name badge, you unevolved a----? The one that clearly says "SARAH at your service!" Did you notice my fake chipper smile and the fact that I convincely looked concerned when you snapped at me and screamed, "EXCUSE ME MISS!" from across the department?

No stupid questions my ass. Any question whose answer is blindingly, painfully obvious ("How long are these curtains?" - "Well, just like it says clearly on the package, they are 89 inches long.") is a stupid question. Any question that comes from any idiot who is too f---- stupid to possess a critical thought is stupid.

I hate my m---- job.

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The other day I received an ad sent by e-mail for a senior teacher in the International House schools in Beijing & Jinan, China. If interested contact Julia Bishop (email: at International House, Queensland, Australia. Might be a good place to begin looking for a job in China.

Exeter, UK:

The Academy of English Studies (British Council accredited) is looking for qualified EFL tutors (minimum requirement Camb. CELTA or equivalent) for our summer school, from 30/07 to 07/09.Our students are mainly university students and working professionals. Accommodation provided on Exeter university campus. We also teach specific option courses such as translation, literature, business and so on. I suggest anyone interested visit our web site and then get in touch with me Jane Harkess, Director of Studies at attaching a copy of their cv.



As always, free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail. Sign up!

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8. PS

Don't you get a bit fed up when you've just done a search & you're faced with an enormous amount of links to check out? This is a neat little toolbar, that sits on the left of the page, that shows you thumbnails of the sites that are in the search page, it shows thumbnails of all the links on a web page, it helps you save these thumbnails while surfing & it also helps you e-mail friends with these thumbnails instead of just the link! It's free & it works with Internet Explorer, versions 4 & higher. Nice idea - check it out.

'As word processing software becomes ever more advanced, with the ability to correct syntax and spelling errors, these familiar programmes begin to impose a standardised corporate language onto our writing - subtly altering its meaning. Working with the programmer Jon Pollard, Takahashi has produced a new and fully functioning online version of these platforms which undermines this dehumanising process. Reclaiming the initiative back from the software, Word Perhect presents an idiosyncratic hand drawn interface leading to a set of functioning but strangely altered tools.' It's fun & different so check it out.

Did you use the newsgroups at Deja like me, only to find you'd recently lost most of My/Your Deja? Shame but, fingers crossed, it looks like normal service will be resumed shortly courtesy of my favourite search engine Google - google groups are in the process of being created using the 500 million messages from Deja that date back to '95. I just wish they'd get on with it! There are some other similar interesting sites that might well be more attractive if they take too long.

When you see this site you wonder why there aren't more like it around. It's basically a lot of lists of sites on one page. So by bookmarking this page you are saving yourself the job of bookmarking lots & lots of very useful sites. I've got loads of bookmarked sites in different folders but I usually only go to about 5% of them. If you're searching for a type of site, it's worth checking what they have here first. Very useful.

You've probably been there & come back empty-handed. You had a question you wanted answering about some Microsoft product - who hasn't got 10 million questions. So, you thought the logical step would be to find the answer on the Microsoft site. You go there & spend half an hour trawling the mammoth site & come out with nothing.
The Microsoft Knowledgebase was originally designed to be used by its own technicians to help resolve user problems. When solutions were found they were put on the site for all to benefit. Unfortunately it's got so big now that it's very difficult to find anything. Until now, that is! Get along to the Knowledgebase keyword page & bookmark it. Use it & it'll save you bags of time.

If you're feeling a bit bored or find a site you'd like to take your anger out on then this could be for you. Just type in the url & see a mangled version. I put in & was impressed - might take a few pointers.,fid,4076,00.asp

At PC World at the above link you can download the Procrastination Clock. This will calculate how long you have left to live. It's based on the statistical averages related to birthday, gender & race. Comforting or not!

To end on a note of warning!

My Internet love is a corpse-hoarding granny

By Lucy Sherriff at The Register - 22.02.01

Trevor Tasker's online romance went from steamy to chilly when he flew to the States to marry his love, only to discover that she was an old age pensioner with a corpse in her freezer.
Trevor, 27, met Wynema Shumate in a chat room, and exchanged electronic love notes with her for months. After she sent him photographs of herself in her smalls he decided to up-sticks to the States to be with her.
However, the photographs were taken over 35 years ago, and Trevor was met at the airport by a rather larger, and older woman than he expected. Shumate is now 65, and weighs in at an impressive 20 stone, according to a report in The Sun.
But fair play to Trevor, he was not to be deterred and resolved to stay for a holiday despite his shock.
But worse was to come, because Shumate had kept the dead body of her former flatmate, James O'Neill in her freezer, because she wanted to continue living in his house, and keep drawing money from his account.
O'Neill had died of natural causes, but Shumate had tried to cut off one of his legs in order to fit him in the freezer. She has since been sentenced to a year in jail for fraud and unlawfully removing a dead body.
Trevor has apparently vowed never to go online again. His mum said that he was very embarrassed about the whole affair.

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