A web site for the developing language teacher

February 2004 - issue 2/04


Welcome to the February Newsletter.

This month we have lots of the usual. We are joined by Adam Simpson with a short article about the internet chat room & by Sandra Bradwell with an article that helps us sort out that infamous of all lexical areas: multi-word verbs. Along with some recent interesting postings, in the Forum section we answer the question - How many forum users does it take to change a light bulb? If you haunt any type of forum you'll find this amusing. And this month's book review is of 'English Pronunciation In Use' by Mark Hancock (CUP). Plus there are the sections on internet links for class & for fun.

Hope you find the newsletter interesting & useful.
Happy teaching!









7. 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!



The Internet Chat Room as a Learning Tool by Adam Simpson, CALL Centers, Istanbul Bilgi University


An issue often discussed among teachers is the dilemma of getting students to use language in real time situations. This article discusses the implications of getting language learners to use internet chat rooms for language learning purposes.

Advantages of Chat Rooms

Firstly, language students can use a chat room at any time to interact with any number of people anywhere in the world. They allow learners to interact in an authentic context with native speakers without being restricted by location. In many ways, this is an unprecedented learning opportunity.

Secondly, Chat rooms can promote autonomous learning. This is primarily due to the fact that the teacher's role is minimized. Transcripts are generated which are useful for studying the language used. Every line of conversation is recorded, and can be seen in full thereafter. Another advantage is that students have the opportunity to observe the language used by native speakers. Learners are able to see how a conversation develops, and also to notice what kinds of response are suitable (or unsuitable) in given situations.

Chat rooms also promote active involvement. The learner is enticed into conversing with others, and yet can withdraw as and when they feel like it.

Learners are also given the opportunity for skills development and practice. Chat rooms offer the learner the chance to produce language which is somewhere between everyday spoken English and the language in its written form. Many learners may not have previously been exposed to such informal written English.

Finally, and importantly, they allow communication to take place in real time. This is a truly authentic communicative device. The conversations are real and the frameworks around which they are built are extremely loose. They therefore necessitate a degree of spontanaeity and adaptation. Also, the sense of real time is a little more forgiving than a face to face spoken encounter. Firstly, there is that all important thinking time between seeing what the other person has written and making one's reply. Secondly, there is the factor of anonimity which potentially increases the learners' confidence.

Learners' Difficulties with Chat Rooms

Learners' keyboard skills in English are usually slow which means that they often miss part of the conversation thread. It is the nature of chat room dialogue for conversations to move very quickly at times, thus leaving the learner somewhat confused and downhearted.

Furthermore, the way the conversation scrolls down the screen requires the participant to read text very quickly. This is often difficult for EFL students, due to deficiencies in the type of reading skill which native speakers would inherently possess.

Chat room participants also often use slang and abbreviations which EFL learners may not be familiar with. Having previously stated that students may benefit from seeing how native speakers use the language, it should be noted that an 'internet language' is evolving rapidly, which differs in many ways from spoken English.

Native speakers using chat rooms may discuss topics which are culture specific to the English speaking world, or inappropriate or offensive to some learner groups. This may lead to misunderstandings which have nothing to do with the learner's knowledge of the language.

A Final Word

The author would like to mention that he has used chat rooms in his own language learning, and has found most of the advantages mentioned are generally realistic. Furthermore, the author has found that introducing himself as a learner of Turkish has proven beneficial in setting up the nature of the dialogue.

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


Helping Upper Intermediate learners come to grips with multi-word
verbs by Sandra Bradwell

Knowledge of a wide range of idiomatic expressions, and the ability to use them appropriately in speech and writing, are among the distinguishing features of a native-like command of English. Cowrie, A.P. and Makin, R.(1993:422) Oxford Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

In communicative approaches to language teaching learners are generally exposed to multiword verbs from a very early stage in their learning. In any beginner course, learners describe their daily routine and are exposed to wake up, get up as lexical items. A lot of classroom language includes multiword verbs: listen out for the expressions, take out a pencil and paper, and in these early stages they do not cause many problems because they are relatively straight forward as their meaning is literal or the context in which they are used is very clearly understood. As learning continues learners meet more complex forms: get on with ..., look forward to ..., which they understand and can use in controlled situations but which they tend to avoid in freer situations. At First Certificate level, course books focus on 'phrasal verbs' in each unit. Different course books classify them in different ways. It is at this stage that confusion really sets in because both learners, and teachers, feel overwhelmed and decide that multiword verbs are impossible to understand and learn. This is a great pity because they are a common feature of informal spoken and written English and the distinguishing feature of an excellent command of the language. Learners who do make an effort to use them and manage to use them naturally have the edge on those who do not.

To read the article

Thanks to Adam & Sandra.

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



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.

Thinking of going or know anybody who might be going to China? Interesting recent postings from Teng about conditions for teachers in China: 'China ESL - An Industry Run Amuck':

And also 'CHINA EFL/ESL JOBS: A Case of False Advertising'

Sean tells us about his linguistics & ESL blog:

If you've got any opinions, post away.

How many forum users does it take to change a light bulb?

1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed
14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently
7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs
27 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs
53 to flame the spell checkers
41 to correct spelling/grammar flames
6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ...
another 6 to condemn those 6 as anal-retentive
2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"
15 know-it-alls who claim *they* were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct
156 to email the participant's ISPs complaining that they are in violation of their "acceptable use policy"
109 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a lightbulb forum
203 to demand that cross posting to hardware forum, off-topic forum, and lightbulb forum about changing light bulbs be stopped
111 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts *are* relevant to this forum
306 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty
27 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs
14 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's
3 to post about links they found from the URL's that are relevant to this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group
33 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"
12 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy
19 to quote the "Me too's" to say "Me three"
4 to suggest that posters request the light bulb FAQ
44 to ask what is a "FAQ"
4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"
143 to say "do a Google search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"
1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again

Found at:

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'Wordcounter ranks the most frequently used words in any given body of text. Use this to see what words you overuse (is everything a "solution" for you?) or maybe just to find some keywords from a document. '
'This site is for British Council language assistants. It's updated weekly from September to May with tips, materials and links to help you with your teaching, plus a discussion group to share teaching ideas. There's lots here for any teacher of English.'
Five different languages' translator
Another translator.
Dorling Kindersley & Google bring us a new encyclopedia. 'e.encyclopedia combines the best of a traditional encyclopedia with an extra digital dimension. The book's dedicated website has been created with Google, the world's leading search engine. It guides the reader to the most helpful, appropriate and amazing sites the web has to offer.'
Countries & comparatives information.
James Trotta's ESL Blog

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A couple of days to plan your lessons around in February - doesn't appear to be a particularly interesting month:

2nd - Groundhog Day
14th - Valentine's Day
29th - Leap Year

To see the Days of the Year



This month we've got a review of 'English Pronunciation in Use' by Mark Hancock.
'English Pronunciation in Use is a new addition to the In Use stable of books that began with the very successful English Grammar in Use. As with all books in the series, this book is designed to be used by the individual learner, & in this case with the intermediate & above learner. You may know the author Mark Hancock, through using his excellent Pronunciation Games.'
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:

- Getting a perspective - levels of intelligibility
- Burns Night - poetry ideas with John Barleycorn
- Listening In - to the writing process with protocol analysis
- Ghoti - sound/spelling
- New Year Rock - Elvis Presley lesson ideas

To see the Past Tips

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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 February, March, April '04
Part-time twelve week course, M/W/F 10.30-14.00, April >> June '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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7. 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
Need a calendar - try this Geek Trivia calendar - free download.
And this free Geek Trivia Weekly Planner.
'Radio-Locator, the most comprehensive radio station search engine on the internet. We have links to over 10,000 radio station web pages and over 2500 audio streams from radio stations in the U.S. and around the world.'
'Google News Alerts are sent by email when news articles appear online that match the topics you specify. Some handy uses of Google News Alerts include: monitoring a developing news story, keeping current on a competitor or industry, getting the latest on a celebrity or event, eeping tabs on your favorite sports teams'
How many people in the UK have your name?
Find awful reviews c/o, of your favourite albums.
'This site is dedicated to collecting absolute truisms that have no profound meaning whatsoever... it's easier said than done.'
At loggerheads at home or at work? 'You Draw Straws is a great way to randomly make a selection from a number of choices. It can be used for any kind of group decision-making.'

A list of all those phobias you've got. I have a phobia of 'Tyrannophobia'.
How to fry an egg on a computer!
Different e-cards.
The Bored Boards.
'I was a captive of the Surly Robot'. 'Comic book news & noise.'
Digital IQ test.
'Three of America's most compelling presidents - Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon - bugged their White House offices and tapped their telephones. They left behind thousands of secretly recorded conversations, from momentous to mundane. In this documentary project, American RadioWorks eavesdrops on presidential telephone calls to hear how each man used one-on-one politics to shape history.'
The Faerie Wars minefield.
Grinning Planet - saving the planet one joke at a time.

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