A web site for the developing language teacher

December 2003 - issue 12/03


Welcome to the December Newsletter.

This month we are lucky to be able to reprint Julian Edge's thoughts on ELT & international politics at large. Julian works at Aston University's Language Studies Unit on the MSc course they offer & is a respected ELT author. Have a read & then tell us what you think at the thread we have started in the Forums for responses to the article - see below for the link.

If you have been to the site recently you may have noticed some adverts on certain pages. Please do click on these as they generate pennies to the upkeep & development of the site. When your mouse is over the advert link, if you right-click on your mouse you will be able to choose to open the advert in a new window & not leave the page you are on, making it more convenient for you.

Another way to support the site is to buy your Amazon Xmas presents through the book page of the site. Again, we get a few pennies each time a buy is made. And talking of Xmas presents, an ideal present for anyone interested in language is the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language by David Crystal. It is an excellent journey through many aspects of the English, as well as being superbly produced. This month we have a review of the book - see below - & you can buy it at & through Developing

Happy teaching!



1. THE SITE - TEFL & international politics + plans & articles







8. CVs & JOBS

9. PS - Internet/computer-related links


STREAMING SPEECH: A Course in Listening and Pronunciation for Advanced Learners of English - An electronic publication that aims to solve the problem of the misrepresentation of speech.

If you'd like to buy a Streaming Speech course you will receive a discount if you tell Richard you heard about it at Developing!



TEFL & international politics: A personal narrative by Julian Edge

I wonder how many people read Bill Templer's article in Issues 173 about ELT and Iraq, and how many were turned off by the topic, and how many found themselves engaged by it. In my own case, my position has changed over the years, and I do believe that we now live in critical times.

When I started out teaching EFL (in 1969), I made a point of insisting that I just taught the language. What people did with it was up to them, and whether they were bothered about my cultural background, or I about theirs, might be a matter of some interest, but was definitely not central to how I earned my living.

Something changed for me in the mid-seventies, when an Egyptian medical student, whose English was unlikely to see him through the upcoming exams, asked me with a great deal of passion exactly why I thought he should be stopped from becoming a doctor in his own country simply because he couldn't learn my language.

I came to see that English is a barrier to personal and professional aspiration to exactly the same extent that it is a gateway. Except, of course, that it is a barrier to many times more people than it is a gateway. I came to see myself as inevitably implicated in this system of repression and reward, and I came to live with this perception. It is, after all, little different from any other educational situation, isn't it? A student might ask, 'Why should I be stopped from becoming a carpenter, just because I can't learn to use tools precisely?' or 'Why should I be stopped from becoming an accountant just because I can't learn to calculate numbers accurately?' The list is endless and the answer is always the same: 'Because that's the way things are. Because those are the skills that you need. Because not everyone can realise every aspiration.'

And in the bigger political picture, the English language itself is also neutral. It is the particular situation that determines its role and function. So, the same language that had to be displaced in the Tanzanian struggle for independence was a tool for liberation in the South African struggle. As an EFL teacher, I provide access to an international language that a lot of people want to learn - their politics is their business, and mine is my own.

An important next step for me was coming to understand the concept of hegemony: that we act in ways that reinforce the power structures that control us because, in the end, we see it as being in our interests to do so. We may do this consciously or unconsciously. So, I go to the cinema and watch almost exclusively Hollywood movies, even though I dislike the hegemonic relationship through which Hollywood styles and values of storytelling threaten to eliminate other indigenous styles of film-making. My Egyptian medical student continued to study English (finally passing the requisite exam) and, in so doing, supported the system of English requirement that angered him so much. We have choices, albeit constrained by the over-arching systems and power structures of 'the way things are.'

Recently, things have changed for me again. The invasion and occupation of Iraq by the USA, Britain and Australia opened up a new chapter in my political awareness, and in my sense of the political significance of what I do for a living. It is not simply that the USA, Britain and Australia are the three major English-language teaching providers in the world, although that point helps highlight what is going on. It is, for me, more important to consider the change from a relationship of economic, cultural and political hegemony, which involves constrained consent, to one of outright and overt military force. If it is true that the USA is shifting from its age of republic to its age of empire, English becomes once again an imperial language, and that is significant. If Iraq, for example, is to emerge from its current turmoil in any way that is foreseen by its present rulers, then that will be an Iraq in which the ability to communicate effectively in English is of paramount importance. Without English language teaching, imperial policy would be infinitely more difficult to impose. To put that another way, English language teaching is an arm of imperial policy - out in the open - in ways that were not so obvious before. I believe that it is now possible to see us, EFL teachers, as a second wave of imperial troopers. Before the armoured divisions have withdrawn from the city limits, while the soldiers are still patrolling the streets, English teachers will be facilitating the policies that the tanks were sent to impose. And wherever, and to whomsoever, I teach EFL, I am a part of that overarching system.

That is where I have come to now and, like every such statement, it invites the question, 'So what?' Either there is a so what, the pragmatist might say, or all of this is so much hot air. I believe that there is a so what, but I'm not altogether clear at the moment what it is or how to articulate it. I no longer believe that it is sufficient to say, 'That's the way things are.' I have come to see the above parallel with carpenters and accountants as facile and self-serving. It is no longer credible (if it ever was) to teach EFL and blinker out the political impact of the large-scale endeavour to which one contributes. It is not that I am forgetting the personal triumphs and individual aspirations that one can enjoy being a part of, it is more that I feel now that the shadow has grown larger beyond those sunlit images.

We need to look again at the materials we use in class and the worldviews that they represent, at the methods that we use and the interactional and learning styles that they foreground, at the choices we make in selecting the content of our courses, at the extent to which we teach a language of compliance to the exclusion of a language of protest, at the tests we use, to what purpose, and at the policy decisions we make in language planning. Fundamentally, when we are asked, as EFL teachers, what contribution we make to a better world, we need to be ready to reply.

In the Language Studies Unit at Aston University, we are planning a symposium at which we hope to develop further some responses to these so what aspects of a growing perception that we are implicated up to our communicative necks in the building of an empire with whose purposes we may not wish to align ourselves, but whose uniforms we may be seen to be wearing. The symposium will take place on 15 and 16 December, with Christopher Brumfit and Sarah Benesch as the keynote speakers. If you would like to know more, and perhaps be involved, please contact me at:

I am aware that there is a literature to which I have not referred, and I in no way wish to disrespect those concerned, any more than I would want to endorse without reservation their varying analyses. I list a small sample of these authors and their work below. My purpose in this article has been to chart a personal shift of perception and, with it, of response. And to seek a resonance in the profession.

This article first appeared in IATEFL Issues, No. 175, pp. 10-11, in October 2003.

Benesch, S. (2001) Critical English for academic purposes: Theory, policy and practice, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
Canagarajah S (1999) Resisting linguistic imperialism in English teaching, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pennycook A (2001) Critical applied linguistics: A critical introduction, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum
Templer W (2003) ELT in the 'reconstruction' of Iraq, IATEFL Issues 173, 4-5
Tollefson J (Ed.) (2002) Language policies in education, critical issues, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum

Julian Edge's TEFL background was built in Jordan, Germany, Egypt, Singapore and Turkey. He now teaches on Aston University's distance-learning MSc in TESOL - . His most recent book was 'Continuing professional development: Some of our perspectives', edited for IATEFL in 2002.

How do you feel about the issues that Julian raises? Have your say in the forums at this thread:


A Learner Profile by Scott Shelton
This month Scott Shelton offers us another article. This time he offers us a very detailed & revealing profile of one of his advanced learners, Beatriz. Scott gives a learning background & then tests Beatriz through a CAE exam that he goes on to analyse.

To read the article


Lesson plan
There is a new plan up for upper intermediate & advanced students about science scandals. It uses a recent Guardian article & has the following main aims:

To give intensive listening practice
To give extensive & intensive reading practice
To introduce vocab connected to 'forgeries' & 'fakes'
To give freer speaking practice

To read the lesson plan


Thanks to Julian & Scott.

ARTICLES - 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 - We reach a few thousand teachers every week with the Weekly Teaching Tip & the same each month with the Newsletter, not to mention the 1000+ unique visitors a day to the site. If you've got a book, course, job...anything that you'd like to advertise, then do get in touch at:


No ordinary Master's: become an action researcher with Aston
University's MSc in TESOL Aston University Language Studies Unit:

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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...they are there for you to use.

An interesting recent posting:

Some of the students I'm teaching are learning to read and write for the first time - they're not literate in their first language. Most of the course book material I've seen so far assumes literacy. I'm looking for two types of material.

1. Does anyone know of published material that doesn't assume literacy, but can be used to base an entry level speaking / listening course on?

2. Does anyone know of material for teaching reading and writing through a phonics approach that's designed (a) for adults, (b) for non-native speakers?

If you've got any ideas:

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Relax & maximise your time by getting started on a quality
personalised teacher development course



Lots of material about Globalisation, Human Rights, The Environment & War and Peace, adapted from the global issues magazine, the New Internationalist & written specifically for learners of English. For Teachers - printer-friendly pages, classroom activities, guided websearches, links & resources.

'If you've ever wondered how things are made - products like candy, cars, airplanes, or bottles - or if you've been interested in manufacturing processes, like forging, casting, or injection molding, then you've come to the right place. AIM has developed an introductory website for kids and adults showing how various items are made. It covers over 40 different products and manufacturing processes, and includes almost 4 hours of manufacturing video. It is targeted towards non-engineers and engineers alike. Think of it as your own private online factory tour, or a virtual factory tour, if you wish.'

Royalty-free clip art for the language classroom

Mother of all Greylists - get the lowdown on schools before applying.

The EFL Playhouse - lots of practical stuff for the younger learner.

Lots of free ebooks from Slate.

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Some days to plan your lessons around in December:

1st World Aids' Day
7th Pearl Harbour Day
21st Winter Solstice (& June 21st)
World Peace Day
24th Christmas Eve
25th Christmas Day - Xmas in general
26th Boxing Day
31st New Year's Eve
Tolerance Week - 1st week of Dec.
International Language Week

To see the Days of the Year

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This month we've got a review of 'The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language' by David Crystal. The review is written by Seamus O'Muirchartaigh & leaves you in no doubt about what to buy friends this Xmas.
To see the review

To buy the book at
To buy the book at

If you're going to or 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.

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Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

Recent Tips have included:

- Beam me up - ideas for using the overhead projector
- Buy Nothing Day 2003 - lesson ideas
- Ambiguity tolerance ideas & International Day for Tolerance lesson ideas
- Being observed - some advice

To see the Past Tips

To sign up to receive them

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8. CVs & JOBS

We at People Recruit are all ex-ESL teachers who have had bad experiences in the past with institute owners and/or the recruiters that placed us there, so we are determined not to let the same thing happen to you and to provide a professional recruiting service that focuses on your needs and concerns.

Of course, ALL recruiting companies claim that they are caring and sympathetic and will not just take your money and then never want to hear from you again. You have nothing to tell recruiters apart until you use them. We encourage you to look at our website at, and hope that you find our frank descriptions of how the ESL recruiting industry works and of life and teaching conditions in Korea refreshing especially the part that explains that if we place you in a bad job and you decide to leave, then we are legally required to pay back our recruiter fee to institute owners, which means that we have a financial motivation to place you into good jobs and to make sure that you know what to expect before you arrive.

Please send us your resume with a scanned recent photo, and preferences for employment if you have any, to, and we will email or call you immediately to confirm that we have received your email and to give you realistic expectations of how soon we expect to place you in a job. The jobs we will offer will have standard conditions such as 1.8-2.2 million won per month salary with bonus at the end of the contact, medical insurance, and rent-free accommodation and air-tickets provided by your employer.

Once we have found you a job, you have accepted it, and we have set the ball rolling for you to come Korea, then we will be available at any time to call or email you about any questions and concerns you may have, no matter how trivial. We can't guarantee this, you will just have to try us for yourself. We remember how daunting it was for us to come to Korea the first time, and want to make it as smooth and worry-free for you as we can. People Recruit Consulting Tel : 82-51-627-8905 / 82-51-627-
8906 Fax : 82-51-627-8930 Address : 1408 Hyundae O/T.,
Daeyeong3dong, Namgu, Busan, South Korea Zip-code : 608-805

Zhaoqing, China
Canadian-American School is looking for an experienced English teacher to be in charge of IELTS program and three oral English teachers. The school prides itself on having enlightened management in line. We seek the teacher who is dedicated, knowledgeable in EFL, flexible and willing to develop and apply his /her skills. In exchange, we provide teachers with pleasant living conditions, a competitive salary, useful and challenging work, and a chance to grow with the school. Ideal applicant should be native English speaker, has a university degree, has teaching certificate and some IELTS teaching experience; some foreign working experience is preferred. The position starts in the November until the January, 2004.

To apply, please submit an online application form via our website along with a copy of your resume, university qualification, a recent photo, and your passport copy.

Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou and Nantong, China
C&C International Culture & Commerce Centre (Canada) has been authorized by 10 Chinese high schools which are in Shanghai, Wuxi, Suzhou and Nantong to seek Esl teachers. In these high schools, teaching hours will be 16 per week, and the students' ages are from 15-18. If you have interset, please contact our China office. Requirements: Internationally recognised TEFL qualification (CELTA, TEFL Diploma, MA TESOL etc) or about one- year teaching experience. Contact: China office: 4 floor, No.34 Wuai road, Wuxi city, Jiangsu province, China 214031 Tel: 86-510- 2791740, 86-510-8911653 Fax: 86-510-2791740

For the Jobs Forum

William Tweedie is looking for an ELT post. If you can help out,
his CV is at:

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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, next courses January, February, March '04
Part-time twelve week course, M/W/F 10.30-14.00, January >> March '04

Full-time two-month course, April & May, July & August '04

5% discount on all courses if you mention the newsletter!

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

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9. PS - 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

What to do if the internet goes down.

Elevator Mood Commission

Search the web help.

Keep ahead of the weather

How to tell if the relationship is over.

Twisted questions - 'a playground for your mind'. For example, 'Who would you rather be: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Ladin, or George Bush?'

Free post-its for your computer

Ever wondered how you look when you walk?

Mmmm - know which insects are edible.

Check out how many calories you burn.

Escher & lego.

Ergo tips for computer users.

Always knew toasters were dangerous.


Shoot those varmints!

Keep the ball in the air!

Mini golf?

'Welcome to Insolitology, the site about web oddities. Some people say that humour is only veiled derision - here at Insolitology, all of our derision is explicit.' Not for the easily offended!

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