A web site for the developing language teacher

APRIL/MAY 2010 - issue 2/10


Welcome to the April/May '10 Newsletter.


8. PS - Internet/computer-related links


1. Hello

Welcome to the (not so) Monthly Newsletter. Busy times.

Below there are lots of links, a book review of 'Provoking Thought' & a couple of articles, Hall Houston's 'Sharing Thoughts in the Language Classroom' & Neil McBeath's 'TESOL Transformed; From Job to Career?'.

Do keep sending in plans & articles that you would like to see published.

Happy teaching!


We continue to offer a new unit in Michael Berman's twelve intermediate conversation lessons 'Let's Talk About It'. Each month we have the chance to download a new unit of the book. To visit the page:

English Language Teaching through Storytelling

This 15-hour course is aimed at practising, or recently qualified,
teachers of English who wish to update their knowledge of how to use
storytelling for teaching purposes, to encounter new ideas and
activities in order to enhance the way in which they deal with tales
in class, and to share their experience with each other. The course is
suitable for teachers who have a good knowledge of English (ideally
CEFR B2 or higher).

The course consists of tutor-led input classroom sessions supported by
in-depth discussion and trainee participation. This is coupled with tutor-
led project work, leading up to peer teaching practice on the final day of
the course that will provide trainees with an opportunity to try out for
themselves the new approaches they will have been introduced to.

The English Language Teaching through Storytelling course will be held
at Tti School of English in Camden Town in London. Full details of the
programme can be found below. Please book direct through the school
by contacting Sian Matos, the Principal, by email:


We are continuing with the chance for you to try out Moodle for a month free of charge. As you know we offer web hosting to language teachers at Developing ( & one of the hosting plans is the online course hosting with Moodle software. With this you can provide a meeting place online, courses, lessons, forums & a host of other things with this content management system. So if you would like to try it out for a month, send an email to with 'MoodleTrial' as the subject.
You can find out more about Moodle at:

Friendly web hosting for the ELT community.


Lesson plans, activities & articles are very welcome.
Send them to


If you have any information you'd like to include in the Monthly Newsletter, please do email it with the subject: 'Monthly News addition'. Thanks.


ADVERTISING - We reach more than a few thousand teachers every week with the Weekly Teaching Tip & the same each month with the Newsletter, not to mention the 2000+ unique visitors a day to the Site, & the site has the Google PR5. If you've got a book, course, job...anything that you'd like to advertise, then do get in touch.




Birds hold key to secret of human speech
Way that zebra finches learn to sing could explain how children pick up first words
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Thursday, 1 April 2010

A tiny songbird that learns how to sing by listening to its parents could open the way to understanding how children start to talk and what goes wrong when speech defects occur, scientists said.

Scientists have deciphered the complete genetic code of the zebra finch and have found hundreds of genes involved in the task of allowing male zebra finches to learn the particular song sung by their fathers, which is passed on to subsequent generations in a similar way to a human language.

They believe that working out the genetic mechanism of how birds learn to sing a certain song they hear from birth will enable them to understand the same biological changes within the genes of the human brain that explain how children learn to talk by listening to their parents.


Panetta Cracks Down on CIA Foreign-Language Deficiency
Under a new policy announced today by CIA director Leon Panetta, an intelligence officer can't be promoted to the agency's highest rank — the Senior Intelligence Service — without a demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language. From a CIA release:
While many senior Agency officers have tested proficient in a foreign language over the course of their careers, some have not kept their skills current. Under the new policy, promotions to SIS for most analysts and operations officers will be contingent on demonstrating foreign language competency. If an officer is promoted to SIS and does not meet the foreign language requirement within one year, he or she will return to their previous, lower grade. This is a powerful incentive to maintain and improve skills critical to the Agency's global mission. Languages play a key role in the CIA's work at all career levels.
"The stricter requirement for SIS promotion," said Panetta, "is meant to ensure that leadership on this vital initiative comes from the executive level. With an unwavering commitment from SIS officers—to both lead by example and to support language proficiency at all levels—we will reach not only our language goals, but our ultimate objective: an Agency that is better positioned to protect our nation in the years ahead."




Our main site with a host of teaching ideas, plans & articles.

A choice of online development courses to enhance your teaching.

A range of web hosting options for teachers.



Sharing Thoughts in the Language Classroom by Hall Houston

One important resource in the language classroom resides in our students' heads. Students fantasize, scheme, imagine, and reflect, all out of the range of everyone else's awareness. In this brief article, I'd like to suggest a few activities for helping students to share their thoughts and focus on the nature of thinking.

In my new book, Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT you can find many more exercises on thinking, creativity, critical thinking, and memory:

See the book review below.

You can use the following activities as warmers or as fluency exercises at the end of a lesson. Feel free to alter them to fit your lesson plans.

Inner and Outer Worlds

Before class, make a few sets of 4 cards with the following sentences on them:


Make enough copies of the cards so that each student will have a card.

At the beginning of class, tell students they're going to do a visualization exercise. You're going to give them a card with instructions on what to imagine. In a few seconds, you want them to sit comfortably and close their eyes. They should try to imagine the situation in as much detail as possible. After 5 minutes, tell them to open their eyes. Ask them to look around the room for 1 minute and observe their surroundings without speaking.

Put students into groups of 4, where each group member has a different card. Tell them to discuss their visualization experience.

Next, put students into new groups of 3 to discuss these questions:

How did you feel about the visualization exercise?
What was the best thing about it? What was the worst thing?
Is visualization a good way to learn English?
Do you like to daydream?
What do you like to daydream about?
What is the best place to daydream?
Do you daydream during class?
What job is most ideal for someone who likes to fantasize?

What's She Thinking?

Before class, select a short film clip (one or two minutes) that features an actor or actress not speaking or moving around, but just sitting or standing. (Alternatively, you can use a photo.)

In class, tell your students that you are going to show them a short film clip. You want them to observe the person in the clip, and imagine what they're thinking.

Play the clip a couple of times. Give students a few minutes to take notes, and then play the clip once again. Ask students to write a short paragraph of the person's thoughts, written in the first person, from that person's point of view.

When students have finished writing, collect the students' papers and put them on the walls for everyone to read.
Table of Contents

Before class, write down three thoughts you had today. These might be about today's lesson, or on a completely different subject.

In class, read out your list. Encourage students to ask you questions about your thoughts.

Next, ask students to create their own lists individually. Then ask them to share in pairs. Call on several students to tell the class one of their partner's thoughts. Ask them some follow-up questions and give students an opportunity to do the same.

Variation: you can provide specific topics for this activity, such as Three Thoughts I Often Have In This Class, or Three Thoughts I Haven't Expressed Up To This Point.

Variation 2: to transform this into a game, you can ask students to create one fictional thought. Students can read out their lists and get the class to guess which thought was made up.

To read the rest of the article:

Other articles by Hall:
Breathing Life into Checking Answers by Hall Houston

Warming Up to Creativity: Starting Points by Hall Houston


TESOL Transformed; From Job to Career? by Neal McBeath


I would like to begin by drawing your attention to the fact that there is a question mark at the end of my title. I want you to "notice" this, in Kaplan's (2005) sense of the term. The question mark is important.

This presentation will not be a triumphalist assertion of the type that we so often read in the press of the Arab Gulf States – every day, in every way, we are getting better and better. Neither is it one of those sub-Stalinist calls to arms – Onwards with the March of Progress – that are issued by enthusiasts for one particular approach to language teaching.

This paper will be a personal examination of some of the changes that have taken place in our profession in the past 35 years. I will start in the year 1974 simply because that was the year when I started teaching EFL, but I did not begin until September 1974, and so we are still, just, within the 35 year limit.

The paper is based on the principal of WHO does WHAT to WHOM, and so the paper will reflect on changes so far as they have affected teachers, the curriculum, and students. All, I would suggest, have changed dramatically in the last 35 years.

Then - The 1970s

L.P. Hartley (1953) begins his novel The Go-Between with the statement "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."

In 1974, I started teaching EFL at Southampton Technical College. It was like entering Jurassic Park. It was a place where time had stood still. I was 24. My Head of Department had worked at that college for longer than I had been alive.

Having served in the Armed Forces during World War II, he had completed a degree and had taught for one year at a boys-only Grammar School in a small market town. After that he had moved to the Technical College, slowly advancing through the positively Byzantine layers of titles that went with teaching in Further Education – Assistant Lecturer Grade B; Assistant Lecturer Grade A; Lecturer Grade II; Lecturer Grade I; Senior Lecturer; Principal Lecturer; Reader; Assistant Head of Department; Head of Department – but he had still worked in only one institution.

He never saw the drawbacks of the system. It actually encouraged people with professional ambition to move frequently; to apply for an even higher grade job almost as soon as they had moved into a new post. Those who did not move, could get stuck, and many of my colleagues were in that position. They had given up. Only one of them had ever published an article; none of them ever attended conferences, and the Senior Lecturer in change of EFL was completely unqualified.

Although she claimed to be Swedish, she was actually from somewhere in Central Europe, and had started as a part-time teacher of German. From that she had moved into EFL, because as we all know, anyone who can learn English can also teach it. For some reason that I never understood, she been allowed to branch out into teacher training, and ran courses for both the Royal Society of Arts and Trinity College, London.

To read the remainder of the article:

Other articles by Neil:
English in Military Culture, Academic Culture and Omani Culture – Maintaining the Balance by Neil McBeath
CLIL, or Deep Level ESP? by Neil McBeath
The Three Most Critical Factors in ELT by Neil McBeath
Teachable versus Unteachable Materials; Two Examples of English for Military Purposes by Neil McBeath


At Developing we occasionally carry out consultancy work. The different projects have included tutoring DELTA candidates by email, offering advice on curriculum design & materials choice & short training courses in person & by email. If you would like us to help in any way, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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The Ultimate Google Wave Guide for Students: 100 Tips, Tools, and Tricks

Top 50 Blogs for e-Learning Tools and Tips

A few free photo resources:
Morgue file:
stock.xchng -
Open Photo -
Photo Rack - -
Freerange Stock -
Free digital Photos -
Free foto -
Free Pixels -
Public domain Photos -
Every Stock Photo -

'The world's most popular online learner's dictionary now has audio. Millions of users of Cambridge Dictionaries Online, the world's most popular online learner's dictionary site, now have access to over 40,000 audio pronunciations.
Cambridge University Press has launched the audio offering to help the vast number of English learners who use the dictionaries to conquer the sometimes tricky territory of English pronunciation. Access to thousands of pronunciations in both British and American English is now just a click away via a special icon.'

Animoto automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music. Fast, free and shockingly easy.

'Any video, any language - Watch videos with subtitles in your language, upload your videos, create your own subtitles!'

Get your students chatting to a computer.

Online speed reader - although instead of individual words flashing up in sequence, wouldn't it be better if chunks were flashed up?

Online paper grader

37 Best Websites To Download Free EBooks

'The place for students & teachers to share videos online.'
Sharing teaching videos.

Top 10 Tools for Better Reading, Online and Off

100 Little Ways You Can Dramatically Improve Your Writing

Books about becoming a better writer

30 Best Websites To Download Free EBooks

Seven Places to Find Free eBooks

50 Free Games for Teaching Literacy Online

Free Technology for Teachers

'Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies is a peer reviewed international electronic journal sponsored by the Centre for Applied Language Studies at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. It publishes articles that share an applied, interdisciplinary orientation to issues of language in society. More specifically, the journal's areas of interest include language education, multilingualism and multiculturalism, multimodal literacies and pedagogies, issues of identity, language assessment, and language education policies.'

Volume 14 Number 1 of Language Learning & Technology - 'Ever wanted to learn a foreign language? Need to memorize facts for your biology and chemistry classes? Or maybe you're a history buff or a trivia fiend who just wants to know everything. can help you hit your learning goals fast.
The beauty of is that it makes learning easy. The system tells you what to study and when. You can see your progress across everything you're learning, and a schedule is automatically generated for you. As you use the system, it adapts to you.'

Download Tony Buzan's iMindMap. Try it out & see how efficient it can make you.

If you've visited a site that you think would be beneficial for all or would ike your site to appear here, please get in touch. Thanks.

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A few days, among many, to plan your lessons around in May, June & July:

1st May Day - Labour Day
5th Cinco de Mayo - Mexico
8th World Red Cross Day
9th Europe Day
12th Limerick Day - birthday of Edward Lear
18th International Museum Day
24th Victoria Day - Canada
5th World Environment Day
6th D-Day WWII
20th United Nations World Refugee Day
21st Summer Solstice (& Dec 21st)
27th Happy Birthday, "Happy Birthday"
Mother's Day - dep. on country
Wimbledon begins
1st Canada Day
International Joke Day
4th US Independence Day
11th World Population Day
14th French Bastille Day
20th First man on the moon - 1969
Tour de France bicycle race

To see the list of Days:

Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:

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Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

Recent Tips have included:
Learning from their diaries - The Learner
Useful tutorials - The Learner
To surrender or not? - Planning
St George's Debate - Speaking skill
Place for discs & recommendations (6,5) - Teaching ideas
Healthier Times - Teaching ideas
Spring Fever - Teaching ideas
St Patrick's Day Storytelling - Listening skills
Oscar Time - Teaching ideas
Imaginative Links - Vocabulary
International Mother Language Day - Teaching ideas

To see the Past Tips:

To sign up to receive them:

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New review up:

Provoking Thought is a new resource book from Hall Houston, one of our article contributors. As the title suggests the activities are concerned with creativity & thought in the classroom. The book consists of the following sections:

1. Thinking
2. Memory
3. Creativity
4. Critical thinking
5. Organising ideas on paper

The Introduction clearly explains the aims of the book & various related aspects, plus the Overview of Chapters. Hall discusses what is involved in 'thinking' & thinking skills' & then goes on to talk of three main aims for the book, the first reflecting the philosophy behind the activities & approaches on Developing

One aim of this book is to create a learner-centred atmosphere. These activities encourage students to share their thoughts, feelings, ideas & opinions. This can make learning more personalized & therefore more motivating than following a coursebook written for a mass audience which may not appeal to your students.

The other aims are to use real & meaningful topics in class & to develop academic skills.

At the beginning of each chapter there is an introduction followed by a series of classroom activities. The intros are brief & informative, sometimes containing pros & cons of the area, & the tasks set up uniformly for ease of access; title, aims, time, preparation, procedure & sometimes variations. Instructions in the procedures are precise & easy to follow.

To get a feel for the activities in the book, read Hall's article Sharing Thoughts in the Language Classroom.
The tasks there are similar to those of the book, stimulating & interesting. Students cannot fail to be motivated by the way each different area is dealt with. There are also several interviews with experts in these areas incorporated into the tasks.

The tasks can be used in isolation as warmers, fillers & coolers but the real use of the book is to help teachers to change the way they teach. By using the tasks, integrating them, the teacher will be stimulated to use the same procedures in other aspects of their teaching, making life in the classroom interesting & creative for both students & teachers.

The only very minor gripe with the book is the lack of an index at the start of the book. I wanted to keep referring to a chronological index. The index at the back of the book is useful as it is divided into classroom activity sections; brainstorming, discussion, guessing, reading etc. Both would be ideal.

If you're any way interested in making your learners' time in your classes more interesting & effective, you should get hold of the excellent Provoking Thought. Highly recommended.

To read the rest of the review:

To see all of out recommended books:

If you're going to, then please go through our Books page. You will pay the same & we will receive a few pennies to keep the site & newsletters free. Thanks.

Send friends an Amazon gift certificate & support the site.


8. PS   General internet/computer-related links

A few computer use rules of thumb:

- make copies of all important files
- run scan disk & then defragment the hard drive
- use firewall software - use a virus scan & update the files
every week
- install security patches that software providers offer
- update your DirectX files regularly
- don't open attachments without scanning for viruses first
- don't respond to spam, just delete & forget
- don't send personal or bank information by email
- turn off your computer at night

100 Best (Free) Science Documentaries Online

'Share your mix. Discover new music.8tracks is a simple way for people to create or listen to a mix, a short playlist containing at least 30 minutes — roughly 8 tracks — of music.'

'Picnik makes your photos fabulous with easy to use yet powerful editing tools. Tweak to your heart's content, then get creative with oodles of effects, fonts, shapes, and frames.
It's fast, easy, and fun.' And free.

'Welcome to - the home for language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute.
These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.
This site is dedicated to making these language courses freely available in an electronic format. This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages. Courses here are made available through the private efforts of individuals who are donating their time and resources to provide quality materials for language learning.'

"Imagine that one medical advancement held the promise to conquer cancer, perhaps within your lifetime. Now imagine that same advance has the potential to also end more than 70 of life's most threatening conditions, affecting one billion people worldwide. This is the promise of angiogenesis, the first medical revolution of the 21st century." The Angiogenesis Foundation

Ten big ideas from TED


5 Eye-Popping 3D YouTube Videosh

5 Free Online Services to Send an Email to a Fax Machine

A test to see 'How unique & trackable is your browser?'

20 Most Popular Open Source Software Ever

Victorian fraud schemes

Share videos from your mobile phone.

100 Incredible Lectures for History Lovers

Please Rob Me

' is a new way to think about making your impact. Make one monthly donation. To as many nonprofits as you like. Automatic, one-click giving. You stay anonymous and stay in control!'

Helps you find the perfect gadget by offering a series of questions to narrow down your choices. The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere.

'We have 1200+ videos on YouTube covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology and finance which have been recorded by Salman Khan.'

CloudDrive is a free client software for Adobe Acrobat Online Storage Service, which offers 5GB free online storage for each account. So, when you use CloudDrive, all your files are stored in Adobe Acrobat Online Storage Service.

Brain games

10 Essential iPhone Apps for Runners

InvisibleHand - Firefox add on to find the best prices - UK, US & Germany at the moment.

The Best Free Software of 2010,2817,2361876,00.

'Remember the days when everyone communicated using paper and ink? Correspondence was a craft: personal, and intentional.
At Paperless Post, we seek to redefine the tradition of paper stationery so that people can send custom, personalized invitations and announcements with the same thought and care as previous generations, but the way we communicate today: online.
Paperless Post stationery is as tasteful as its tangible counterpart, but it also makes life simpler. In minutes, members can send out invitations for any occasion- dinner parties, anniversaries, save the dates - whenever they want to send something more personal than a simple email or awkward PDF. After sending, they can then monitor as guests receive and reply to their invitations.'

The Auteurs - view lots of indie cinema for $5 a film.

The Complete Guide to Ripping and Converting Flash Videos

101 reasons to play Sudoku

Lists & make your own lists.

British Library - Virtual books - check out extracts from the 1911 Scott Antarctic expedition

'Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others. The seeds of Instructables germinated at the MIT Media Lab as the future founders of Squid Labs built places to share their projects and help others.' Do check it out.

'Bender Converter is an easy-to-use online application for downloading and converting videos from such services as YouTube, Daily Motion, Vimeo,, Veoh,, Google Video and many others. You can download video and audio in MP3, AVI, FLV Flash, iPod / iPhone and other popular formats. The service is fast and doesn't require you to register. All that you need is a link to a page with a video and our software.'

BBC Wildlife

Rainy Mood

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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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