A web site for the developing language teacher

February 2002 - issue 2/02


Welcome to the February Newsletter

There was a lot of excitement over here when the new currency came out so this month we've got a lesson plan & a few sites about the euro. All seems to have gone very well with the change with most people using the euro after the first couple of days so as not to get confused mixing the two currencies.

As well as Valentine's Day, the Chinese New Year is nearly upon us so there's a lesson plan about this - see The Site section below - & there are links to last year's Valentine's Day lesson plan, with a new plan coming up in next week's Teaching Tip, & for teaching ideas check out the Romance theme in the Feb. 2000 Newsletter too. Also new on the site there are some articles, one with an accompanying lesson plan.

By the way, if anyone has got a Harry Potter lesson plan then send it in. If we get a good response we'll put up a collection of Harry plans.

Happy teaching!



1. THEME - the euro

2. THE SITE - lesson plans & articles







9. PS - Internet/computer-related links



1. THEME - the euro

The lesson plan that accompanies the newsletter this month uses the 'euro' as the focus. The lesson begins with a questionnaire about the euro & then goes on to a prediction activity on the text used. The text, taken from BBC Online, is about a boy in the UK who made money from a mistaken currency exchange rate in a department store. It has been divided into two for a 'mutual dictation' task - in pairs the students dictate their parts of the text to each other & when they have the full text they do a comprehension task. The follow up tasks include a discussion & roleplays to choose from. You can find the lesson plan at:

A few links to get materials on the euro:

Lots of articles, many now a bit out of date, but still worth checking out.

Euro essential from the European Commission.,10627,621200,00.html

Guardian's special report on the euro,11306,606524,00.html,5961,617162,00.html

Online Guardian quiz from UK perspective.

Here are some haikus on the euro from a British point of view, from a Guardian newspaper competition. For more get along to:,11306,634403,00.html

A rainbow of notes
Divided up into cents.
To some it makes none.

by Diarmuid Fogarty

recipe for success or
menu for failure?

by Sue Sims

the euro is here
but not actually here
it's just over there

by Steve Wiseman

It won't affect the
pound in your pocket and pigs
glide in formation

by Peter Charles

Champagne, red carpet
welcomes "euro" baby's birth!
Economic boom?

by Prema Mootoo

Euroka! Well, not quite.
Sterling stays while other
currency has gone.

by Michael Jefford

A new currency:
you can use it anywhere
you go in Europe.

by David Eldridge

For more on haikus, check out the 4th February Teaching Tip, Hopeful Haikus. This looks at what they are, some examples & a procedure on using them in class.

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As well as the Euro lesson plan there is another plan that moves away from Europe & over to the Orient. The Chinese New Year falls on February 12, 2002. It is the first day in the Year of the Horse & the year 4699 by Chinese calendar. If you were born in 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978 or 1990 then this is your year. There's a lesson plan about this - there are a series of Fortune Cookie Sayings to start of with & then a reading about the Chinese New Year. This is followed by an introduction to the Chinese calendar & an interpretation of the animal signs. Lots or reading & vocabulary.

For a Valentine's Day

And the February 2000 Newsletter that had Romance as its theme

There are some excellent new articles on the site this month.

Jeanette Corbett is back with an article & lesson plan about grammar. As Jeanette says at the beginning of the article, 'What is grammar and how should we teach it ?',

As so much has been written about grammar we could be forgiven if we admitted to confusion. Each person whether a learner or a teacher has an opinion. Likewise different styles of teaching equate to the varying opinions on how it should be taught, if indeed it should or can be taught.

So two questions with very open answers, which I will attempt to reply to in this paper. Firstly, I will look at what grammar is considered to be from the learners perspective and that of the teacher, including my opinion. Then I will answer second question looking at how grammar is being taught today, focusing on it's usefulness for the learner and my experience.'

The upper intermediate/first certificate level lesson plan aims are:
Main aim: To introduce and review comparisons through a text, then heighten students´ awareness of the use of modifiers and nouns with comparatives.

Subsidiary aims:

a) Vocabulary: to introduce and revise vocabulary associated with the family.
b) Speaking: To give students the opportunity to talk about their families & use comparisons as required.
c) To evaluate student knowledge of character and description adjectives related to people.

'What is learner autonomy & how can it be fostered' is the article from Dimitrios Thansoulas this month. The introduction to the article:

'Over the last two decades, the concepts of learner autonomy and independence have gained momentum, the former becoming a 'buzz-word' within the context of language learning (Little, 1991: 2). It is a truism that one of the most important spin-offs of more communicatively oriented language learning and teaching has been the premium placed on the role of the learner in the language learning process (see Wenden, 1998: xi). It goes without saying, of course, that this shift of locus of responsibility from teachers to learners does not exist in a vacuum, but is the result of a concatenation of changes to the curriculum itself towards a more learner-centred kind of learning. What is more, this reshaping, so to speak, of teacher and learner roles has been conducive to a radical change in the age-old distribution of power and authority that used to plague the traditional classroom. Cast in a new perspective and regarded as having the 'capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making, and independent action' (Little, 1991: 4), learners, autonomous learners, that is, are expected to assume greater responsibility for, and take charge of, their own learning. However, learner autonomy does not mean that the teacher becomes redundant, abdicating his / her control over what is transpiring in the language learning process. In the present study, it will be shown that learner autonomy is a perennial dynamic process amenable to 'educational interventions' (Candy, 1991), rather than a static product, a state, which is reached once and for all. Besides, what permeates this study is the belief that 'in order to help learners to assume greater control over their own learning it is important to help them to become aware of and identify the strategies that they already use or could potentially use' (Holmes & Ramos, 1991, cited in James & Garrett, 1991: 198). At any rate, individual learners differ in their learning habits, interests, needs, and motivation, and develop varying degrees of independence throughout their lives (Tumposky, 1982).'

Alex Case has another article up, this one titled 'Reading: Preparing Intermediate Students to Tackle Authentic Texts' & is about:

'The theory and practice of taking the stress out of authentic reading texts.

Simply from the two terms used, it seems obviously preferable to use something 'authentic' rather than 'inauthentic', but when you are tackling an authentic piece of reading text in a foreign language for the first time, or have possibly tried and failed many times before, this is easier said than done. This article plans to examine how the stress can be taken out of this experience for intermediate students. To this end the article will examine

- my own personal interest in this area
- a brief history of reading in EFL
- reading in general in both L1 and L2
- classroom activities to prepare these students for authentic texts
- how well current published materials deal with this skill.'

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:

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Here's a nice warmer sent in by Annie Jones in the UK:

'When my students come in at the beginning of the morning they're yawning away & in no mood for anything. So to wake them up I get them to stand in a circle & we all do a few physical warm-up exercises together. These are mainly stretching exercises like touching your toes five times. It works & it's fun. We can then all get on with a productive lesson. I sometimes do this during a lesson & I imagine the same can be done for the class that begins at the end of the day too.'

Thanks Annie - do you have a favourite warmer? Send it in & we'll publish it here & put it in the warmer list on the site.



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



An excellent support site for the FCE & CAE Cambridge exams - both students' & teachers' sections with fortnightly newsletters.

Lots & lots of links related to vocabulary. Scroll down past the first bit.

And lots of grammar quizzes that you could direct your stds for extra consolidation after looking at the area in class.

Online English Grammar.

A ten-part business English course to help with work & travel. You follow two characters in Manchester through videos, readings, vocabulary work & quizzes.

Internet-Based Projects for Business "Networking" - list of resources

From University College London - 'The Internet Grammar of English is an online course in English grammar written primarily for university undergraduates. However, we hope that it will be useful to everyone who is interested in the English language. IGE does not assume any prior knowledge of grammar.
The Internet Grammar of English will be accessible free of charge to users from UK educational institutions (i.e. for those who log in from a domain ending in For a limited trial period only, IGE will also be accessible free of charge to all other users.'

Also from University College - 'The Survey of English Usage (SEU) is an English Language research unit, based in the Department of English Language and Literature at University College London. This department was rated 'excellent' in the Teaching Quality Assessment, and was awarded a 5* in the 1996 and 2001 UK Research Assessment Exercises.

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Near Venice, Italy

Our school, located in the heavily industrialized northeastern part of Italy (about 35 miles from Venice) is looking for teachers for both general and business English. Applicants must be native speakers, preferably with teaching experience. Contact us - Mike Brown Sed Etiam srl, via Forniz, 1,I-33080 Porcia (PN) tel. +39 0434 591277

Utsunomiya, Japan

Full-Time English Teacher Wanted at the Banana Kid English School. Established school in Utsunomiya-city, seeks motivated, energetic native English speaker in April of 2002 to teach children and adult. 250,000yen ­ 280,000yen/month. 40 hour work-week includes teaching / preparation. Sponsorship/furnished housing provided. Casual atmosphere/dress, long summer holiday
Contact :

Madrid, Spain

Qualified EFL teachers part and full-time required in and around Madrid for in-company work must be mother tongue English and have some ELT experience. Please send CV to

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



As always, free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail. Last week haikus & next week a Valentine's Day lesson plan. Sign up!



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


Part-time twelve-week course, April >> June

Full-time four-week courses, April, May, June….


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

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9. PS - Internet/computer-related links

Google whacking anyone? The task is to find the shortest number of everyday words that can be entered into the Google search engine that come up with one - but only one - "hit".

A very casual way to see the date & time - created by Yugo Nakamura. The "Industrious Clock" is a small, Macromedia Flash movie (@160 Kb) that uses your Web browser to display your system clock. What's the point? Well does there have to be one?

And while you're there check out the rest of the site out the rest of the Yugop site. Click on the dots.

Another showcase site.

More lovely web effects.

"[I]nner concerns do not have their issueless private character by nature. They do so only when [we are] increasingly unable to assimilate the data of the world around [us] by way of experience. Newspapers constitute one of the many evidences of such an inability. If it were the intention of the press to have the reader assimilate the information it supplies as part of his own experience, it would not achieve its purpose. But its intention is just the opposite: to isolate what happens from the realm in which it could affect the experience of the reader. The principles of journalistic information (freshness of the news, brevity, comprehensibility, and, above all, lack of connection between the individual news items) contribute as much to this as does the make-up of the pages and the paper's style... Another reason for the isolation of information from experience is that the former does not enter 'tradition.' Newspapers appear in large editions. Few readers can boast of any information which another reader may require of him." Worth checking out.

Buy a book the cheapest way - feed in a book & get comparisons of online prices.

Optical illusions galore - present deduction, it looks like etc…

And more 'a site devoted to optical illusions, 3D stereograms, online games and other mind-teasing oddities!'

'At the core of the story in The Fellowship of the Ring are five very different types of beings, united in a desperate battle against the Dark Lord, Sauron. It is by their actions that the future of Middle-earth will be decided. Men are a fledgling race just coming into their own, Hobbits are gentle and close to nature, although have an inner strength which shows itself in adversity. Elves on the other hand are noble, proud and immortal, while Dwarves are short, loyal and incredibly tough. Wizards, of course, are supremely powerful and magical.

So who are you most like? Will you be brave like Aragorn, or do you have the perseverance and courage of Frodo Baggins? Perhaps you possess Gandalf's magical powers, or the vision and wisdom of Galadriel? Or maybe you see yourself as Boromir, the valiant warrior?? '

You've always thought you could have psychic powers, no? Here's your chance to find out.
'Many people have had precognitive dreams and successful intuitive hunches and would like to know, "Could I be psychic?"
We've created some informal tests for "psi" abilities based on the same techniques used in more formal laboratory experiments. You'll get immediate feedback about your performance, however keep in mind that your results should be considered suggestive, as high scores in these tests can be due to chance as well as to actual abilities. Only repeated testing can distinguish between "lucky" scores and genuine skills.'

An alternative history of the web

If you are the type who likes reliving films or books through lego then this is where you must really go!

Game on!

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