A web site for the developing language teacher

April 2002 - issue 4/02


Welcome to the April Newsletter

Have you ever asked a student to get rid of the chewing gum they were chewing? I'm sure you have. However, according to a joint study carried out by the University of Northumbria and the Cognitive Research Unit, Reading, chewing gum has a positive effect on cognitive tasks such as thinking and memory. "The results were extremely clear and specifically we found that chewing gum targeted memory," Andrew Scholey of the University's Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit said. "People recalled more words and performed better in tests on working memory." Peppermint gum, menthol or spearmint - it makes no difference. The key is the repetitive chewing motion. What about chewing gum & speaking English at the same time? Perhaps we should apply for a grant to study this phenomena?

Thank you to everyone who has been completing the Poll on the Front Page of the site. To the poll that asks you who you teach we've added a couple more; one asking you how long you have been teaching & the other how long you spend planning lessons in a typical week. They rotate each time you enter the site - if they don't, refresh the page. Do complete the polls, as it's interesting to see who is visiting the site. You don't have to give away any personal information. Thanks.

We've also added a Forum/Message board for your use - there's a link on the Front Page. Please feel to post questions of any kind - I'm sure you'll get a response. (Apologies in advance for the pop up ad - we're experimenting with a free message board.)

This month's newsletter provides a lesson plan based on the theme of 'chocolate' - using an excerpt from the novel 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris (Black Swan). There are quite a few articles to read; a very practical teacher training article, one about exploring strategic competence together with a lesson plan, a look at the principle & practice behind English language teaching, helping our students with their notetaking & an article about language & disadvantage set in the British educational system.

There is also another book review, this time looking at 'Teaching for Success, The Brain-friendly Revolution in Action' by Mark Fletcher. And then there are the usual sections of teaching links, the jobs' section & the PS computer/internet links.

Happy teaching!

Please e-mail a friend the Developing Teachers Newsletter. Thanks.

See the note in the bit at the end about ReferWare.




2. THE SITE - lesson plans & articles








10. PS - Internet/computer-related links




There's a lesson plan centred around chocolate & a chapter from the novel 'Chocolat' by Joanne Harris. It's for Upper intermediate/Advanced & here are the stages:

- Intro:

a joke about chocolate - This guy found a bottle on the ocean, and he opened it and out popped a genie, and he gave him three wishes. The guy wished for a million dollars, and poof! there was a million dollars. Then he wished for a convertible, and poof! there was a convertible. And then, he wished he could be irresistible to all women... poof! he turned into a box of chocolates.

A discussion about chocolate focussing on some quotes about chocolate & brainstorm of related vocabulary.

- Reading: it's a very good chapter about how Vianne makes chocolate & how she relates it to sorcery & her life in general.

- A vocabulary focus around chocolate making vocab & magic-related vocab

- Follow up activities such as a chocolate tasting sessions, a choc questionnaire & a couple of roleplays

There's a page for the plan & one for the materials, as well as a Word version to download.



There are some more excellent new articles on the site this month. Thanks go to Judy Guttridge, Costas Gabrielatos, Alex Case, Dimitrios Thansoulas & Sarn Rich

The first article is a teacher training article titled 'Process Options for Training Sessions', by Judy Guttridge.

'As a teacher trainer I feel my role is to encourage teachers to reflect particularly on three areas: what they feel about education, how they feel people learn, and how they see language, with a view to developing their own personal 'theory' to support their teaching practice. The neophyte teacher is, however, frequently more worried about how to get through the class period without problems of discipline than reflecting on things afterwards!'

Judy goes on to discuss how these areas can be satisfied through three classroom classics that she has been using recently in her training sessions; find someone who, strip dictation & reading circle activities.

Judy finishes her article by saying, 'I have a strong belief in the need for mental and physical involvement, and for activities that are going to stimulate the use of memory, be it consciously or otherwise. It would appear to be a common sense approach to trainee sessions to combine practice and theory in a highly motivating way, providing trainees with material for reflection and for the development of personal theories and practices.'

To read the article

Shopping at the ELT supermarket - Principled Decisions & Practices by Costas Gabrielatos

There is nothing as practical as a good theory. (Kurt Lewin)

This article reflects my ongoing development of a principled and flexible methodological framework beyond pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all methods; a framework free from traditional or dogmatic constraints, flexible enough to take into account new ideas and insights, but also critical of current popular trends and the claims of authorities and experts.

In this article I examine some common attitudes towards methodology selection, discuss the notion of eclecticism and outline the nature and implications of principled decision-making and practice in ELT. I argue that principled teaching requires a) awareness of different views on the nature and use of the target language, as well as language learning (see Brown, 1994; Richards & Rogers, 1986; Rivers, 1972), b) awareness of one's own beliefs and theories, and c) the ability to observe critically, recognise patterns and draw conclusions.

Article continues

Language and Disadvantage by Dimitrios Thansoulas

There is no denying that the term disadvantage evokes images of poverty, disability, and lack of potential; to be at a disadvantage means to be discriminated against and looked down on. In short, it suggests that a specific social group differs from society at large because it evinces characteristics that deviate from the norm. For example, as Passow (1970: 16, cited in Edwards, 1989:1) notes, a disadvantaged child is one who
because of social or cultural characteristics (e.g. social class, race, ethnic origin, poverty, sex, geographical location etc.)…comes into the school system with knowledge, skills and attitudes which impede learning.
Given this definition, we can say that the notion "disadvantage" is to be seen as sociocultural in nature, in as much as what counts as disadvantage is a product of, and emanates from, society's value-laden attitudes towards social groups, rather than the latter's intrinsic qualities. Nevertheless, Passow's definition does not rule out the possibility of biological deficits arising from the environment in which certain "disadvantaged" individuals live. In this light, disadvantage should be construed as being the result of the interplay of class, genetic deficiencies and / or cultural environment. Bearing all this in mind, in the present study we will be concerned with the role of language in ascribing unfavourable attributes to students that do not conform to the "standard" world-view, as this is sanctioned and promoted by the socially potent. More specifically, we will look into the difficulties that speakers of vernacular dialects run into within the context of the English educational system, refraining from dwelling upon those faced by immigrants, precisely because the problems they encounter are comparable to those of native speakers of non-standard English.

Article continues

Writing While Listening - Tackling the Double Challenge of Note Taking by Alex Case

This article aims to examine how we can make the double challenge of note-taking easier for our students, both by making the lessons more engaging for them and by giving them a real insight into what they are being asked to do. The article uses the CAE exam as an example, but all the concepts and activities should be relevant for any students who will need to do this, such as students wishing to study in English-medium universities. If none of these external criteria apply, the article should provide some food for thought on how, or even whether, to use the note-taking tasks that textbooks provide.

Article continues

Exploring Strategic Competence by Sarn Rich

Identification and analysis

Of the components of communicative competence identified by Canale and Swain (1980) strategic competence is something of a Cinderella, long ignored by linguists, compared to grammatical competence (encompassing 'knowledge of lexical items and of rules of morphology, syntax, sentence-grammar semantics and phonology') (ibid:29), and sociolinguistic competence (involving knowledge of sociocultural rules of appropriate language use, and discourse rules concerning cohesion and coherence). Strategic competence is defined as 'the verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that may be called into action to compensate for breakdowns in communication due to performance variables or to insufficient competence' (ibid:30), explained by Dornyei and Thurrell as 'the ability to get one's meaning across successfully to communicative partners, especially when problems arise in the communication process.' (1991:17)

Article continues

If you've given a course or seminar or have a lesson plan & would like to give it a public airing then do send it to:

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Here's one of Nedra's favourite warmers, which she uses when she just can't think of anything else to get the class started.

Each student gets a shape (square, circle, rectangle, cube, sphere, pyramid, diamond, etc.). They have 2-3 minutes to think of as many things as possible, which are generally ONLY that shape. Obviously some are easier than others, so having them do it in pairs is nice, too. You have to emphasize that the things on their list should normally only take THAT shape, to avoid six thousand things on the square and rectangle list. Also, make sure they distinguish between squares and rectangles: books are generally rectangular, not square.

Follow up by eliciting adjectives (square, circular, rectangular...)

Thanks Nedra

You must have a favourite warmer! Send it in & we'll publish it here & put it in the warmer list on the site.



A new section in the newsletter & on the site. We will be occasionally recommending books & publishing reviews.

David Holden has another book review up this month - 'Teaching for Success, The Brain-friendly Revolution in Action' by Mark Fletcher (English Experience) You can see the review

If you would like to review a book for us do get in touch.

Contact Page

Please don't forget to go through the books page when you want to buy from Amazon - we get a little bit & you pay the same. Every little helps to keep the newsletters free. Thanks.



Maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course. There are a couple of sample pages to view.



'What is a "poessay?" Rather than being a word that you might find in a dictionary, it is a neologism from "poem" and "essay," its two constituent parts. On the one hand, it is poetry to be appreciated for its sounds, rhythm, dramatic impact, and imagery. On the other, it contains a flowing message, an insightful opinion, or a rhetorical argument that is usually expressed in linear prose. Examples are given after the following explanation of their pedagogic use: that is, how poessays might be useful for teaching English in Japan.' And elsewhere - check out John Pereira & friends page on a Japanese Student University writing site.

'Catch Up On Your Classic Novels - Classic Novels - In 5 Minutes A Day brings you the world's best Classic Novels, delivered in daily five minute installments to your e-mail. Our new service, Classic Novels On Demand allows readers to subscribe to a novel today and start reading it today.'

Maybe one to pass on to your students.

If you're lucky enough to have a computer room at your school & you take your classes there for lessons then this site will provide a bit of light relief between the more challenging activities. It's a text-based version of the game Pong, in English.

So, if you could choose the top ten literary characters since 1900, who would you choose? Here at the Book Magazine they have had a go - 'The assignment seemed simple enough: rank the top one hundred characters in literature since 1900. But what appeared easy soon proved maddening, vexing, frustrating. Experts were consulted; lists were drawn up; hundreds upon hundreds of books were pored over. We scoured our bookshelves, called up old teachers. Still the arguments persisted.' The top ten are on the site & the other ninety in the current hard copy edition. Lots you could do with this with advanced classes.

I put this here rather than in the PS section as it is excellent classroom material. Everything you need to know about the Internet.

Bizarre reading material from the Obscure Store & Reading Room.



Wuxi City, China
Wuxi Guanghua Private School now is seeking Native English Teachers with degree in any field or relevant teaching Dip, Certificate. Age from 20-56 years old, being in good health. Teaching experience preferred. Couples with children are welcome.

Payment: Upon completing 16 class hours/week (including the relevant lesson preparation, examination paper composition, and giving guidance to students), the salary per month (RMB): 4000 for Bachelor's Degree (or relevant diploma), 4,300 for Master's Degree, 4,500 for Doctor's Degree. The extra pay 60RMB for per class period other than the supposed task is not included. It is a 10-month contract. (The current exchange rate is about 1US$=8.25 Chinese yuan.)

The school will consider the possibility of increasing monthly salary by the very favourable feedback from students or remarkable progress of the students in their learning /semester examination. Payment of above amount of salary for the entire 12 months even during the school holiday (winter and summer) regardless of teachers willingness to spend his/her holiday either in China or in the home country. Payment of Holiday Allowance is amounting to RMB2200/year during the School Holiday (winter and summer) within China. Payment of Health/Medical Allowance amounting to RMB2000/year

Other Benefits and Welfare: The school provides a free completely private, clean and quality apartment with a reasonable size, (one bedroom, one sitting room with bathroom for single teacher and two bed rooms, a big sitting room with two bathrooms for a family) being fully furnished

Either reimbursement of international round trip airfare up to USD 850/Year (of which USD 425 shall be reimbursed after 5 months of teaching and the balance will be after another 5 months of teaching), three days teacher training on how to teach Chinese students and introduction/ induction to the school and its vicinity.

For more information: Darren Bian Fax: 0064-9-4449077

Pusan, Korea
We are looking for native English speakers, who have an excellent level of spoken and written English. We are based in Pusan, which is located in the southern part of Korea and in regular contact with reputable trustworthy schools in Pusan.

Job description - Job title: EFL full time teacher/ 1 year contract, teaching subject: Conversation, students taught: age 12 upwards, number of students: 100, working hour: 120 hours / month, salary: 2 million Won, a furnished single studio/shared house, health insurance/ Bonus/ 2 week paid holiday

Qualifications - A 4 year degree holder, young male/female native speakers of English, preference: TEFL qualifications/ Teaching experience, good public relations skills, enthusiastic about teaching, enjoy learning about other cultures.

Company name: A@T Consulting, Address: #1135 Century B/D, Nam gu, Pusan, Korea, Tel: 82-51-610-1745, Fax: 82-51-610-1747, Home page:

If you are interested, a full CV along with a photo of yourself should be sent via email:

Teachers can post CVs on the site & employers can post job adverts - both are free services at the moment.



Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail. The Tips that we've had recently include:

- Stirring it up - antagonising stds to promote more effective learning - on April 1st!

- Storm away - a look at brainstorming

- Listening loop - using loop input in your lessons

- Authentic - promoting real authenticity between the players

- Game or language practice? - it's how you put it over

To see the Past Tips

To sign up to receive them

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Train in Spain - Courses running in the near future at the British Language Centre in Madrid:


Full-time four-week courses, May, June, July '02


Two month full-time course: July & August '02

Reasonably priced accommodation can be arranged for the duration of all courses.

You can see brief descriptions of all of the current courses on the BLC web site The postal address of Teacher Education at the British Language Centre is Calle Bravo Murillo 377, 2, 28020 Madrid, Spain.
The phone number is (00 34) 733 07 39 & the fax number is (00 34) 91 314 5009.
The e-mail address is


10. PS - Internet/computer-related links

Google are doing their bit for science by adding an idle-time number cruncher called Google Compute to the Google Toolbar. When you turn it on you allow your computer to work on scientific problems when it would otherwise be idle.

A couple of recommendations from Gerard.

Check out this mouse trail! Chill out playing with The Man! And then some of the other things on the site like the short story, The Leaves:


What is Phrenicea? Pronounced fren-EEE-shuh, it is a vision of our future - a 21st-century prophecy predicting the ultimate outcome of the Internet and biotechnology revolutions. This site is intended to present the Phrenicea® vision of the future as well as provide a focal point for a lively exchange of ideas...

Solve your computer-related problems by asking questions in plain, everyday language to access knowledge bases from Microsoft, Intuit (makers of Quicken) and Adobe, with more planned.

TinyApps.Org provides links to software available on the Internet. As defined by this website, a tiny app (application) is software weighing 1.44mb or less. This ranges from the tiny tube (a mere 256 bytes), to the awe-inspiring QNX demo disk which pretty much fills a floppy. To qualify for TinyApps, a program must not exceed 1.44mb, not be adware, not require installation or the VB/MFC runtime files, work under at least every version of Windows 9x without having to update or change system dlls (this does not apply to non-Windows apps, of course) & preferably be free, and ideally offer source code. Shareware will only be listed if there is no freeware alternative.

Game of Life, anyone? A pop-up Java applet that displays a collection of the greatest patterns ever created in Conway's Game of Life.

'Have you ever been frustrated by an inability to see a character you've imagined? Are you constantly asking (all right, begging) your "artist friend" for an illustration because you can't draw a straight line with a ruler? Now your frustrations are over! Thanks to the HeroMachine, you can dynamically create your own customized character portrait. With intuitive controls and high-quality illustrations, the HeroMachine offers millions of possible combinations that will bring your imagination alive.'

Loads of wonderful fonts. Download demos or buy from the site.

Search 6600 News Sites and Weblogs for Current Events and Breaking News

I have the worst freaking job in the world. You know those warning signs you always see with the stick man falling down or being crushed or otherwise incurring bodily harm? That's me. I posed for those pictures.
My entire purpose in life is getting hurt so we can put up signs to protect people who are stupid and/or illiterate. Is it really worth it to go through all this pain and humiliation just to ensure the safety of someone who doesn't realize that if they stand under a parking garage gate long enough it will eventually hit them in the head?
Aren't we better off without these people? Ah, well. Even a stick-man has got to make a living somehow (my cousin is the guy who lets you know when it's safe to cross the street. Lousy jerk doesn't know how easy he's got it).
I'm Stick Figure Warning-Man, and my follies are meant to serve as a cautionary tale. Look upon my works and weep. Or just be glad you're not me.

Fake someone's death! Create a BBC or CNN very real web page - type in the name, link in a photo & click - simple & effective. Send it on or put it up.

Googlewhacking & some bizarre sections to this site. Amongst it there is:

The Collaborative Creativity Engine is an experiment in community media. Anybody can create a piece of media, give it a title and a theme. Each piece can have it's own colors, images and content. Once a piece has been created, anybody can add verses or images to it. It can be viewed as a whole, or a verse at a time.

Tips, listings, reviews, ratings, resources, newsletters about …

Another very 'cool' search engine designed to make life even easier - check it out

Nice effect & then check out the site.



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1.Post this newsletter in part or in whole on your site.

2.Forward this newsletter issue after issue to people - just send them a single issue and tell them to subscribe.

Has to be.

Disclaimer - all of the recommendations for computer-related software are personal recommendations. We take no responsibility for anything that might go wrong when downloading, installing or running them - not that anything should but you never know. It's your decision, your responsibility. The same applies to the jobs mentioned above. And anything else that you can think of that we might be responsible for as a result of this newsletter!

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