December 2001 - issue 12/01
Welcome to the December Newsletter
Christmas will soon be on us & in most
places over here in Europe the shopping fever is now fairly
virulent. So, carrying on in the same vein as the Buy Nothing
Day Nov. 19th Teaching Tip this month's theme is about shopping
& consumerism. There are a few teaching ideas on the theme,
quite a few links & a lesson plan from the Save Harry.com
web site. There are also a few new articles & plans up
this month - see the Site section below.
If you're starting to thing about your Christmas
lessons then check
out last year's Xmas competition activities. And if you've
got any more, send them in & we'll add them in.
1. THEME - buying,
2. THE SITE - lesson
plans & articles
3. E-MAIL COURSES
6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
7. TRAINING COURSES
8. PS - Internet/computer-related
9. THE BIT AT THE END
1. THEME - consumerism, shopping etc..
This is generally a well-worn theme in coursebooks.
Below are just a few ideas & vocab sets & the links
will hopefully give you plenty of interesting authentic material.
a lesson plan that uses material from the Save Harry web site.
The site demonstrates against the use of the Harry film (definitely
worth going to see) by the drinks company - they have the
exclusive global marketing rights. (BTW, if you haven't seen
the film, I'd recommend you read the book first.) There's
a lot more on the site to use, apart from visiting it for
its own sake & passing on the link. Here's the lesson
The lesson is suitable for teenagers &
adults alike, upper intermediate upwards, although if you're
teaching the former you could make the lesson a part of a
larger project about junk foods.
- consumer, consumerism, consumption, buyer,
customer, purchaser, shopper, user...
A couple of definitions from the Enough site
- a quick matching & discussion to get the topic rolling:
This is where people purchase or participate in goods or services
which attempt to replace existing ones with something designed
to be 'friendlier' and less damaging to ecosystems and natural
This is a development of green consumerism which considers
a variety of wider issues than just a product's green credentials,
such as whether or not the manufacturer invests in the arms
trade or has supported oppressive regimes. Through a comprehensive
monitoring of the behaviour of modern business, ethical consumerism
aims to encourage trade to be as responsible as is possible
within the current economic system.
however, challenges many of the assumptions about what is
needed in contemporary society. Taking the view that the rich
nations of the world are fundamentally damaging the planet
and themselves in the pursuit of material acquisition, it
raises the question, "How much is enough?" Rather
than just buying green or ethically- produced goods, different
ways of living, trading and working are advocated in order
to 'live more lightly' on the Earth and be less dependent
on buying things to feel good about ourselves.
- contrast - earn, win & gain & beat/borrow-lend.
- shop related: types of shops, chain store,
department store, market stall, window shopping, shopping
centre/assistant, out of stock, products, sell, on sale, chain
stores, branches, a sample, trade mark, make, model, shop
till you drop, buy, sell, to bargain, a bargain, to barter
- money related: special offer, receipt,
voucher, refund, reduction, discount, guarantee, hire purchase,
monthly installments, on easy terms, credit card, pay by cash/cheque/standing
order/credit card, salary, earnings, worth....
- complaint related: complain, receipt, voucher,
refund, a letter of complaint...
- to have something done - passive for talking
about services, shopping lists for 'need'...
- straightforward shop roleplays are good
for practicing achievement strategies - it's a thing for....,
it's a thingummy that ......etc. Teach the exponents you want
to practise - from a tape of different shop dialogues - &
then give pictures of objects that they won't know the names
for to the students who are the customers & then set up
shopkeeper / customer roleplays.
- the activity 'Hard Bargaining' from Advanced
Conversation Games by Jill Hadfield. Each student has to get
something they need & they have something that they don't
need. The task is to mingle & do deals along the way to
get what they need. The activity in the book is centred around
animals but could be changed to anything. Works every time!
- questionnaires about shopping habits &
opinions: where do you usually shop for food/clothes/music
etc, what was the last cd/article of clothing you bought,
what would you cut down on if you had to etc.
- discussions on consumerism -
"...many developing countries at the
Earth Summit in Rio described northern nations, which pressurised
developing countries into protecting their rainforests and
other habitats without addressing northern levels of consumption,
as 'green imperialists'" Ethical Consumer, issue 27
& "Measured in dollars, the world's
people have consumed as many goods and services since 1950
as all the previous generations put together' WorldWatch,
& "but the poor do not exist as
an act of destiny, their existence is not politically neutral
or ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system
in which we live and for which we are responsible. The poor
are marginalised in our social and cultural world. They are
the oppressed, the exploited, the workers cheated of the fruits
of their work, and stripped of their being as people. The
poverty of the poor is not an appeal for generous action to
relieve it, but a demand for the construction of a different
social order." Gustavo Gutierrez, Practical theology
& 'The plain fact is that we are starving
people, not deliberately in the sense that we want them to
die, but wilfully in the sense that we prefer their death
to our own inconvenience." Victor Gollancz
quotes taken from the Enough site - see the
sites below for more ideas on this.
- shop dialogues >> complaints roleplays
>> letters of complaints
- see the Trading Standards link below for
advice on writing letters of complaint.
- a few specific shopping roleplays:
You've been short-changed & you reckon it wasn't an
accident. Try to get your money back.
You just served a 'difficult' customer. You want to get
rid of him/her as soon as you can. You think most of these
'difficult' customers invent excuses to be difficult.
You bought an iron last week & it didn't work when
you tried to use it. Talk to the shopkeeper who sold it
to you & get your money back.
You don't accept any refunds or exchanges four days after
selling an item.
You are trying to find out some more information about
a TV that you want to buy - the different makes, sizes,
functions etc. Ask the shopkeeper.
You feel it is your job to sell electronic goods but not
inform the customers. You feel they should decide what
they are going to buy before they come into the shop.
You are looking around a clothes shop that you come to
regularly. You are actually wearing a shirt that you bought
here last week.
You work in a clothes shop & you see a customer in
one of your shirts. You think that s/he must have taken
the shirt to the changing rooms to try on & came out
wearing it as if it were his/hers. You think s/he is trying
to steal it. Talk to him/her.
You are very concerned about green issues. You are in
a shop that clearly imports goods from developing countries
that pays the workers who make the goods a pittance. Try
to convince the manager that s/he shouldn't be selling
manager: You sell a variety of goods from all over the
world & business has known better times. You aren't
particularly sympathetic towards green issues.
- mentioned in last month's newsletter this
is the 'Standard Disclaimer' - lots of warnings & disclaimers
are brought together - get your students to sort it all out
into the different products. http://winn.com/bs/disclaimer.html
Some links related to consumerism:
'The UK's only alternative consumer organisation
looking at the social and environmental records of the companies
behind the brand names.'
And lots of links on this & related subjects:
The links page - to lots & lots - on
the Ethical Consumer site.
The Enough anticonsumerism campaign.
Great site devoted to anti-consumerism. We
were given permission to use material from this site in
the Buy Nothing Day lesson plan for the Teaching Tip.
Lots of links to 'green'-related movements;
anti-consumer, animal rights, ethical investment, food &
genetics, gay rights, peace etc...
Big corporate criminals worldwide exposed.
The Transnational Institute, interesting
in its own right but it also covers the movements of Susan
George who comes highly recommended as a voice to be listened
to about the Citizens' Movement.
One World's extensive site.
Media Channel's articles about Christmas
UK-based consumer rights sites:
National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux
- 'Advice that makes a difference'. There's a section on volunteering
& the qualities that they are looking for in applicants
- nice authentic material for an interview roleplay.
The Office of Fair Trading. In the Consumer
section there is a series of articles about different consumer
alerts - good for an advanced jigsaw activity. There's also
an informative section on how to complain. Worth a rummage
around to find some good reading material.
Which Online. You need to become a member
for full access to the detailed reports. They offer a 30-day
The Trading Standards site. Lots of advice
leaflets to print off & use in class, including leaflets
on how to write letters of complaint at:
The Consumer Watchdog from the BBC - as usual
from the BBC there's a lot of information & material.
The reports are especially useful material for class.
Back to the index
2. THE SITE
There are some new articles on the site this month.
Sarn Rich & Alex Case each have another
article & plan up on the site this month. Sarn's looks
at a voice
setting/quality approach to phonology as a manageable way
in for both our students & us.
'Discourse Analysis, Advanced Learners and the Cambridge CPE
Exam' looks at the how discourse analysis can help our advanced
Gerard Eley's also got another plan up this
month - 'An
outline on how to present and give controlled practice of
nine phrasal verbs with the particle 'up' or 'down''
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:
ADVERTISING - If you are interested in advertising on the
site or the Weekly Teaching Tip & this Monthly Newsletter
then please get in touch at:
Back to the index
3. E-MAIL COURSES
Give yourself an early Christmas present
your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher
development course. Take a few of the modules or the whole
course - you choose.
4. LINKS FOR TEACHING
Not really for your students but one to get
you thinking - the toughest word game on the web - Etymologic.
For when you begin a topic, as well as looking
at the lexical set, present them with a set of clichés
Here's an interesting idea - 'a collaborative
project to produce a complete encyclopedia from scratch. We
started in January 2001 and already have over 16,000 articles.
We want to make over 100,000, so let's get to work--anyone
can edit any article - copyedit, expand an article, write
a little, write a lot.'
Nothing to do with teaching but you might
not make it to the PS section. Another noble cause - click
& provide money for WaterAid, care of Thames Water.
Back to the index
CELTA Trainer needed in Perth, Australia.
'I have just had your email address passed
on by a friend after asking if they knew of anyone available
to do a CELTA in January. We have had our January trainer
unexpectedly pull out. I'm the coordinator at Phoenix English
Language Academy in Perth, Western Australia. Penny Jones'
can post CVs on the site & employers can post job adverts
- both are free services at the moment. Check out:
6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
As always, free weekly practical teaching
tips by e-mail. Sign
Train in Spain - Courses running in the near
future at the British Language Centre in Madrid:
CAMBRIDGE CERTIFICATE IN ELT - CELTA
Part-time twelve-week course, January >> Easter
Full-time four-week courses, January & February
CAMBRIDGE DIPLOMA IN ELT - DELTA
Six month part-time course: January
>> June '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 http://www.cospa.es/blc/TED/ttframe.htm
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to the index
8. PS - Internet/computer-related links
If you've been with us a while & you
actually read this part of the newsletter you may remember
Snarg. They're back with more of the same.
You ever spun a person? Now's your chance.
Very neat little game. Just use the 'up'
arrow key to keep going.
Generally quick loading games at a very slick
site. A must visit if you're into web design - check out the
Lots & lots of free downloads - impressive.
Get your herd of penguins to the other side
so that the echidna doesn't notice when he wakes up. Watch
them explode when he does!
'Search Bar is a little program I created
because I hated having to open a new browser window, go to
a search engine site, wait for it to load and then do my search.
Search Bar is a little window that sits on top of all your
windows to give you quick access to many different search
engines. It comes with 6 popular search engines (Altavista,
Excite, Google, HotBot, Lycos, and Yahoo), but you can add
almost any engine you want. You can minimize the program to
an icon in the system tray for quick access to the Search
Bar.' Patrick Deal
We try to cater for all types, so if staplers
are your thing & life is getting to be a bit too much
then this is for you. Also send a Xmas greeting stapler with:
A celebration - of old computer games &
the song Fame.
Make some great mixes & add in a slice
They're all out to get you, you know. Get
them first in 'the way of the stick'!
9. THE BIT AT THE END
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