A web site for the developing language teacher

April 2003 - issue 4/03


Welcome to the April Newsletter.

We have some very different articles on tacits & ellipsis, using art in the classroom, useable language & pronunciation as the 'Cinderella' of language teaching, as well as the usual sections. There seems to be quite a few PS links, which probably goes to show what we do with our time!

Hope you enjoy reading the articles. If you would like to contribute an article then do send it in.

Happy teaching!



1. THEME - Special needs education in ELT

2. THE SITE - articles








10. PS - Internet/computer-related links


1. THEME - Special needs education in ELT

Last week we had a letter to see if we had any job contacts for Deaf ELT teachers.

'I have a Master's degree in Deaf studies, a BA in sociology, and I am currently working on my Ph.D. at the University of Montana. I am employed currently as a special education researcher at the University of Montana's Rural Institute Center for Disabilty Education, Research, and Services. Ideally, I would like to complete my dissertation abroad in a special education school for the Deaf. I have one year's experience teaching the Deaf in China, and I would very much like to return there.

We wrote back asking her to describe her experiences & this is what she sent.

Thanks for your reply. By all means, if you think it would be advantageous, then please do include my request in your newsletter, and I will certainly take advantage of your forum feature to advertise myself.

I recently interviewed for a NET position with the Hong Kong Bureau of Education and Manpower. They treated me like a complete joke despite my qualifications, so it's back to the drawing board. The South China Morning Post has expressed an interest in writing a story about my interview. If you are interested, I will let you know if they decide to proceed.

When I taught in China during the 2001-2002 school year, it was as part of a University TEFL program. It proved to be quite the media event, an educated Deaf person being so rare in that part of the world. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, little in my TEFL training prepared me for the realities of the situation. However, I quickly found that the basic tenets of Deaf language acquisition applied, since we generally handle the host language as a second language to the primary manual language. Most of the children (K-4) were signers, but a few were on a mixed oral/manual track. We strongly favor bilingual/bicultural education for Deaf learners in the U.S. from within the Deaf community, and I am a strong advocate for this approach. I set a bad example, inadvertently, because I speak nearly perfect English, and the parents and teachers were eager to use me as supporting evidence for promoting oralism. I don't have any objections to Deaf people learning to speak, but fanatical adherence to an oral pedagogy in the US has proven detrimental, yielding a massive population of Deaf illiterates (in both manual language knowledge, and host language). (bear with me, I am getting to the point!).

So, when I arrived in China the first thing I learned was that expectations for Deaf learners were extremely low (similar to the U.S. 30-40 years past). Since I created a threat to this long- held belief, unbeknownst to me, the teachers explained to the students and parents that I was not a "real" teacher and that I had received a "special" university education. This was consistent with the realities for Deaf people in China. China has only one degree granting institution for the Deaf and several vocational programs all of which engage in dispensing token degrees and certificates. Given that the US has a Deaf and significantly hard of hearing population of 24-29 million-- depending upon how we are counted (note that these figures usually do not include age-related hearing loss) (Federal Communications Commission, 1996) it seemed reasonable to conclude that China's Deaf population would at least rival, proportionally, these numbers, and given the poorer quality and distribution of health care in China, we should actually expect an even greater number. (The Chinese Government is notorious for publishing bogus demographic statistics, so there was no reliable source of information there [Callaway, 1999].) What I did come to know with certainty was that this population was suffering from ridiculously high rates of unemployment. Things were looking very bleak for my K-4 students, and I could see evidence in senior students whom attended my English Club, of abject hopelessness.

I took it upon myself to fight this phenomenon, by promoting the notion that if they could learn English, then via the TOFEL exam, they could have access to university education in the West, and hopefully return to China to teach and serve as role models themselves for future generations. I had a very strong reaction from students and adults. The adults assumed I was crazy, and the students, and many of the Deaf adults I worked with in the evenings, were very enthusiastic. This also had a profound, positive, impact on English Club students' academic performance in English, as well as, other areas.

So, the point is, learning English for this massive population, is potentially a lifeboat to being included as participating, contributing, members of Chinese society. I am assuming that this may be the case with other Deaf populations in the developing world. My goal then, is to eventually organize TEFL programs by, and for, the Deaf, specifically to meet our linguistically unique needs. In the US, among our better schools for the Deaf, roughly half of the teachers are themselves Deaf. This is a relatively new phenomenon, since the Deaf community has taken greater control over its educational institutions and demanded that the bar expectations for Deaf learners be at least equal to those for the hearing population. Consequently, we now have surplus of qualified, competent, Deaf educators. The idea then, of the Deaf serving the Deaf is already in play and has yielded proven successful outcomes. Special accommodations are not necessary when we are left to manage ourselves since the language barriers in a Deaf TEFL program would be essential no different than for hearing teachers and students. In the meantime, I need much more teaching experience (!!!) and I hope to make contact with anyone, and everyone, interested in helping to promote this notion into a viable development program based in English language learning.

So, if you know anyone, who knows anyone.... I actually have generated some interest in the U.S. among the Deaf community, but we need more than interest and expressions of moral support, we need access to people in positions within the TEFL/TESOL world who can help get things done! I am hoping you can spread the word about this, in addition to offering your guidance on my finding gainful employment as a special education English teacher for the Deaf anywhere.

As for my K-4 students, 1st and 3rd grades were writing in complete sentences, able to read and comprehend at US grade level in English, by year's end, and able sign English and ASL fairly well. 2nd grade was a bit off the mark, and I need to get back into a classroom to help me better understand why, 4th grade (ages 10-15) was beginning to catch up with the rest, after a very apathetic first semester. I need to get back into the classroom so that I can conduct some dignified, empirical research to support my intuitions and hopefully share with other prospective TEFLs of the Deaf--not to mention for the completion of my dissertation.

I hope I haven't frightened you away with my long-winded explanation of my goals, and my target population's needs and potential benefits for learning English. I just figured that if you had some additional information, you may be in a position to help in some way. I promise, should we engage in future correspondence, to be very brief!!

Yours in friendship,


Federal Communications Commission (1996). Implementation of section 305 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Report, 25, Jul. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.

Callaway, A. (1999) Deaf children in China. Gallaudet University Press: Washington, D.C.



Here are the new articles on the site:

Tacit Misunderstandings: Problems of Ellipsis for Beginning and Intermediate ELS Learners by Ronald D. Klein

For native speakers of English our language is dynamic, fluid and elastic. We have a lifetime of familiarity and know what we can do with it. We can speak it in different registers from formal to slang; we can incorporate our cultural references from prehistoric history to last night's television show; we can play with it in rhyme, pun and double entendre; we can stretch it in poetic metaphors; we can decode its tonal inflections and locutionary acts; we can have confidence in our pragmatic appropriateness; we can discern the affect of interjections; and we tacitly understand when words are left out.

These are all advantages to native speakers of any language. The road to acquiring a second language covers much the same territory as primary language learning, however usually at a later stage of life, more accelerated and without the daily social/cultural/parental reinforcements. L2 learning is more formalistic, rote and repetitive, and as such, more limited. The requirement for learning basic grammar and vocabulary preceeds the need for nuances and niceties of sociolinguistics or pragmatics.

One aspect of language, rarely taught in textbooks, yet widely used in discourse, is the condensation of full grammatical sentences. In its more formal linguistic identity, this is sometimes called ellipsis, sometimes deletions, sometimes omissions. Yet there are other forms of consensations, truncations and incomplete sentences, which are very much a part of the everyday use of language. These include simple formulae (Nice day!), aphorisms (Long time, no see), instructions (Open other end), headlines (UN: Rich, Poor Divide Widening) and simple truncations (Anything wrong?).

Native speakers tacitly understand the meaning of these incomplete sentences. They do not need to be told what is missing. Rarely do they need to ask for clarification of missing subjects, predicates, objects, infinitives, prepositions, relative conjunctions, pronoun referents, pro-verbs, etc. There is a tacit understanding of the antecedent referents, either preceeding the sentence or within the head sentence. There is enough familiarity of the base sentence to allow the native speaker to drop words that non-native speakers often needs in order to complete their understanding.

Because these dropped words are tacitly understood by native speakers and because they go beyond the formal structure of ellipsis or deletion, I would like to call the total group of omitted words tacits. For the purpose of this paper then, tacits will refer to the whole body of examples where words are linguistically or grammatically missing.


What a tangled web we should weave: Teaching English, promoting critical awareness and using art in EFL classes by Alexandre Dias Pinto & Carlota Miranda Dias Pinto

The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of EFL classes in the education of young people and to suggest a methodological path that can be productive and effective in learning English as a Foreign Language. According to the aims of this subject of the Portuguese school system (and, for that matter, of other school systems), EFL students are expected to learn English as well as to find in these classes the conditions and the stimuli that will allow them to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the English-speaking world and to develop their personality. We believe that an adequate approach, supported by motivating, culturally rich materials, will enable students to acquire cultural, historical and social knowledge, to develop their critical awareness and to reflect on issues of the contemporary world and of their day-to-day life. In order to achieve these objectives, the methodology followed hinges on the use of appealing literary texts and works of art integrated in the interactive strategies of the task-based learning (Nunan, 1989; Skehan, 1996). Despite the fact that several authors advocate the use of art and literature in EFL classes, our approach selects the development of the students' critical awareness along with learning English as its two main aims. An example of a unit plan about parent-child relationship will also be presented so as to illustrate the ideas and guidelines stated in the first part.


Teaching Useable Language by Steve Schackne

Why Can't They Speak?
So many stories abound, that it has almost taken on the status of an urban legend. Students who spend four, eight, even ten years learning English, but have little or no communicative competence to show for it. The Japanese student reading a complicated technical manual in English, but tongue tied when trying to introduce himself to a foreigner. The Spaniard who prefaces every English noun and verb with a vowel. The English major in Taiwan who flawlessly describes the intricacies of the English verb tense-aspect system, but has to describe it all in Mandarin.

These are stories that make the rounds, some exaggerated for effect, to be sure. The glaring disconnect, however, between attendant time and elapsed time studying English, and communicative competence in English is a reality supported by empirical as well as anecdotal evidence. I often have new teachers gather English learning background information from their low level classes; specifically, the number of years the students have been studying English. The results, correctly predicted by most veteran teachers, almost always come as a surprise to the younger teachers.

Why is this? English language learning policy and practice around the globe is often caught up in inconsistencies (at best) and cross purposes (at worst).


Pronunciation: The "Cinderella" of Language Teaching by Dimitrios Thanasoulas

Indisputably, teaching pronunciation is one of the most complicated yet significant aspects of EFL / ESL teaching. That is why it has been looked upon as the "Cinderella" of language teaching (Kelly, 1969; Dalton, 1997). What should be drawn to our attention is that, in the process of communication, pronunciation (of both segmental and suprasegmental (prosodic) elements) is of paramount importance, since successful communication cannot take place without correct pronunciation (Celce-Murcia, Brinton & Goodwin, 1996)-poorly pronounced segments and suprasegments may have the result of disorienting the listener and inhibiting comprehension. Of course, the notion of "correctness" with regard to pronunciation is not tantamount to adherence to "native speaker" norms or Received Pronunciation (RP) rules. At any rate, pronunciation has an important social value (Gelvanovsky, 2002), which means that it should be related to prestige. There have been numerous studies involving speakers of various English accents in order to find out what values are generally associated with Received Pronunciation. According to the findings, those values were the same as the values usually perceived as indispensable for socio-economic success: intelligence, professional competence, persuasiveness, diligence, social privilege, and so on (Hudson, 1980; Dalton & Seidlhofer, 1994).


Thanks to Ron, Alexandre & Carlota, Steve & Dimitrios.

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This month there is a review of 'Language Teaching Methodology - An Anthology of Current Practice' - a collection of article edited by Jack C.Richards & Willy A.Renandya (2003 CUP)

'Although the content is by far enough you can feel even better about buying Methodology in Language Teaching even before you have opened the cover as all royalties from the book go towards scholarships for English language teachers ..... an essential buy for the practising teacher. '

To read the review

Please don't forget to go through the books page when you want to buy from or . The books have links to both .com & .uk & if the books that you want aren't there, do a search with the search boxes at the bottom of the Books page. We get a little bit & you pay the same. Every little helps to keep the newsletters free. Thanks.



Lots of different Forums to choose from. Post your jobs, your CV, your questions, finds on the net, ideas, activities, questions, grumbles, suggestions, your language courses, your training courses...

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If you or your students are thinking of the UK for an English language course then The New School of English in Cambridge should be at the top of the list of schools to consider.

Here are a few reasons for choosing The New School of English

- centrally located in the city of Cambridge
- small enough to provide very personal attention to our students in the classroom
- accommodation and in their social activities
- no large numbers of one nationality
- high-quality language classes with experienced, well-qualified staff
- self-catering residential accommodation in the summer for students who want more independence

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Girona, Spain - For Sale - TEFL Freelance Business Handover
The perfect package for a teacher wishing to set up in Girona, Spain - The offer includes: a timetable of classes: one to ones, small groups and some lucrative group classes at the city's university and with children at a local village hall, fully equipped classroom in small rented two-classroom office in city centre, shared with other independent teacher (low rent) extensive library of text/resource books and cassettes, TV and video, computer, photocopier Contact: Victoria Jack

Rome, Italy
Wall Street Institute offers competitive salaries, training and career opportunities. Candidates must be certified in ESL, English mother tongue speakers with a University Degree. Valid EC working papers are essential. e-mail CVs to:

Hou Li, Taiwan
We are looking for a teacher for children speaking/listening, phonics, reading, etc. Contact: David

Hong Kong
We are looking for a native English speaker to start a new business by establishing a tutorial center in Hong Kong. The center will provide a standard counseling on English writing/reading/ oral speaking for the child. If you are looking for new opportunity of life and willing stay in Hong Kong, please sent your reply to

As with the Jobs, please post CVs first in the Forums & then we'll take them up from there.



Train in Spain - Courses running in the near future at the
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Full-time eight-week course, July/August '03

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10. PS - Internet/computer-related links

'NoodleTools is a suite of interactive tools designed to aid students and professionals with their online research. From selecting a search engine and finding some relevant sources, to citing those sources in MLA or APA style, NoodleTools makes online research easier!'

The Flash Mind Reader

Active sites for active people

Links to several mathematical utilities

Home English Home - a lesson.

Get Spacerunner though.

Windrivers Backup identifies all Windows driver files. Freed

More driver downloads

'Read it online for free! The Secret Guide to Computers is the world's only complete computer tutorial....If you have ever wanted to know anything about computers or how they work, you can probably find it here.'

Tips & trick for Excel users.

'DLL is short for Dynamic Link Library, a library of executable functions or data that can be used by a Windows application. A DLL provides one or ore particular functions and a program accesses the functions by creating either a static or dynamic link to the DLL. A static link remains constant during program execution while a dynamic link is created by the program as needed. DLLs can also contain just data. DLL files usually end with the extension .dll,.exe., drv, or .fon.' They sometimes go walkies so you never know when you might need this site.

Well, basically that, 'which is worse - this or that?'

Create your own online fish tank

'Omniglot provides a guide to over 200 different alphabets, syllabaries and other writing systems, including a few you will find nowhere else. It also contains details of many of the languages written with those writing systems and links to a wide range of language-related resources, such as fonts, online dictionaries and online language courses. The word 'omniglot' comes from the Latin omnis (all) and the Greek glotta (tongue) and means 'proficient in all languages' or 'having knowledge of all languages'.'

Can you find Richard the cat before he suffocates?

Stroke the kitty! What is it with cats & games?

A free program that finds and removes adware, spyware, and other nasties. Also clears Internet history files, cookies, individual programs, recently viewed files, Word text, and invalid registry entries.

Flea by dogbomb - the most basic cartoon ever.

Blob Lander game.

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