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January 2003 - issue 1/03


Welcome to the January Newsletter & a very Happy New Year.

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Well, that's the idea. If for any reason you have any problems with any of it, please do let us know. Although we have tested it all out ......Thanks.

On to the Newsletter. To begin the year we've got articles by Dimitrios Thansoulas & Edna Aphek a review of 'Using the Mother Tongue' by Shelia Deller & Mario Rinvolucri plus a Quiz of the Year 2003 & a lesson plan that uses the 100 Great Britons BBC site competition, plus other usual sections.

Don't forget to drop into the Forums regularly & get involved

Happy teaching!

See the note in 'the bit at the end' about ReferWare.



1. THEME - motivation

2. THE SITE - lesson plans & articles







9. PS - Internet/computer-related links



1. Theme - Motivation and motivating in the foreign language classroom by Dimitrios Thansoulas


In grappling with the subject of motivation in the foreign language classroom, we will eschew a discussion of its various types, as they have been researched and talked about to death. In this paper, we will briefly examine a variety of techniques, strategies and macrostrategies, which teachers can employ in order to motivate their students. As Dornyei (2001: 116) notes,
'teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness'. Even though there have been a lot of education-oriented publications providing taxonomies of classroom-specific motives, they fall short of offering an efficient guide to practitioners. Thus, our main goal is to
familiarise any putative "practitioners" with a set of techniques and strategies (henceforward, "motivational strategies") for motivating foreign language students.

Power in the classroom

Prior to presenting some of these motivational strategies, it would be of relevance to say a few things about the teacher / learner relationship. Whichever way we look at it, this relationship is riddled with power and status. For many, power plays a large part in the relationship (see "Language and Power in Education" for further details). The rights and duties of teachers and learners are related to power. For example, many teachers might assert that they have the right to punish those learners who misbehave. In any social encounter involving two or more people, there are certain power relationships 'which are almost always asymmetrical' (Wright, 1987: 17). Social psychologists distinguish between three different types of power-coercive, reward-based, and referent (ibid.). The basis of coercive power is punishment. Some individuals or institutions have the authority to punish others. The basis of the second type of power is reward. Some individuals or institutions have the power to reward what they deem appropriate behaviour. For example, business organisations reward employees with a salary, a bonus etc. The basis of the third type of power is motivation. In this case, individuals or institutions appeal to the commitment and interest of others. In view of this three-fold paradigm, it is of importance to concern ourselves with the fostering of learner motivation, as it is considered to be the most effective and proactive, so to speak, power relationship.

Group processes and motivation

A discussion of motivation and motivational strategies would not be complete without a consideration of group processes, in as much as there is usually a group of people that we as teachers are called on to motivate. Tuckman (1969, quoted in Argyle, 1969) established that a group went through four stages from its formation, which has important implications for the study of the classroom and the use of group activities during teaching.

Stage 1 Forming: At first, there is some anxiety among the members of the group, as they are dependent on the leader (that is, the teacher) and they have to find out what behaviour is acceptable.

Stage 2 Storming: There is conflict between sub-groups and rebellion against the leader. Members of the group resist their leader and the role relations attending the function of the group are questioned.

Stage 3 Norming: The group begins to develop a sort of cohesion. Members of the group begin to support each other. At this stage, there is co-operation and open exchange of views and feelings about their roles and each other.

Stage 4 Performing: Most problems are resolved and there is a great deal of interpersonal activity. Everyone is devoted to completing the tasks they have been assigned.

Experience shows that almost every group goes through these four (or even more) stages until it reaches equilibrium and, thus, taps into its potential. In reality, this process may go on forever, since student lethargy and underachievement norms in the classroom are considered to be basic hindrances to effective teaching and learning (Daniels, 1994). Against this background, we will try to design a framework for motivational strategies.

A framework for motivational strategies

As we have already said, skill in motivating students to learn is of paramount importance. Until recently, however, teachers were forced to rely on "bag-of-tricks" approaches in their attempt to manage their classroom and motivate their learners. Good and Brophy (1994: 212) hold that these approaches have been influenced by two contradictory views: a) that learning should be fun and that any motivation problems that may appear should be ascribed to the teacher's attempt to convert an enjoyable activity to drudgery; and b) that school activities are inherently boring and unrewarding, so that we must rely on extrinsic rewards and punishment with a view to forcing students to engage in these unpleasant tasks.

Rewards and punishments may be a mainstay of the teaching-learning process, but they are not the only tools in teachers' arsenal. Dornyei (2001: 119) believes that 'the spectrum of other potentially more effective otivational strategies is so broad that it is hard to imagine that none of them would work'.

The central question in designing a framework of motivational strategies is to decide how to organise them into separate themes. The following taxonomy, around which our main discussion will revolve, is based on the process-oriented model by Dornyei and Otto (1998). The key units in this taxonomy are as follows:

* Creating the basic motivational conditions, which involves setting the scene for the use of motivational strategies;
* Generating student motivation, which roughly corresponds to the preactional phase in the model;
* Maintaining and protecting motivation, which corresponds to the actional phase;
* Encouraging positive self-evaluation, which corresponds to the postactional phase

Dimitrios goes on to look at the following areas:

Creating the basic motivational conditions:
Appropriate teacher behaviour and good teacher-student rapport
A pleasant and supportive classroom atmosphere
A cohesive learner group characterised by appropriate group norms

Generating student motivation:
Increasing the learners' 'goal-orientedness'
Making the curriculum relevant for the learners
Creating realistic learner beliefs

Maintaining and protecting motivation:
Increasing the learners' self-confidence
Creating learner autonomy

Encouraging positive self-evaluation:
Increasing learner satisfaction and the question of rewards and grades

To read the article

A bit more on Motivation - a few non-ELT sites that look at motivation:

Lots on motivation.

Motivational Quote of the Day:

'What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.' Bob Dylan

'Motivation 123 provides hundreds of simple tips and ideas that are guaranteed to help you find the motivation you are looking for.'

Captain Bob Webb - 'Discovering and developing natural talent is the source of motivation, whether it be self-development or workplace efficiency.'

Maslow & motivation.

General principles of motivation from Honolulu community College & then click on the Teaching Tips.

Personal Peak Performance Unlimited - articles.

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We've got a Year 2002 Quiz for your classes.

and there are also lesson ideas for using the BBC pages where they held a competition to find the 100 Great Britons.


Two more articles:

The Internet and the school librarian: a description of one course by Prof. Edna Aphek

In 2002 I gave a course on The School Librarian and The Internet to Librarians, at the David Yellin College of Education, in Jerusalem. The David Yellin College runs a three year program for librarians, at the end of the program the students receive a diploma and can serve either as librarians at one of the public libraries, or as school librarians. The studies are conducted once a week, for a whole day, at the college. It was my first experience in teaching librarians and the objective was to expose the librarians in their last year of
studies to innovative educational theories and to the marriage between these theories and the use of the internet. However, as I'll show in this paper, the emphasis, in light of the students' requests, tended to shift from the theoretical basis to practical hands-on use of the Internet. When I prepared for the course I was told that the students were acquainted with the various uses of the Internet, but in practice, I learnt that most of the learners had very little exposure, let alone thorough knowledge of how to use the Internet. The paper describes the course, the students' reactions and requests, the assignment given to the students and their comments and my concluding remarks.

To read the article


Culture, Cognition, and Intelligence by Dimitrios Thansoulas

There seems to exist an implicit assumption that, in as much as teaching and learning concern the transfer and assimilation of knowledge and skills by persons equipped to do so, the assessment process involves sampling the pool of knowledge, skill, and competence. This assumption is based on the further belief that if one can produce evidence of having mastered the assimilated knowledge and skill on demand, one not only knows but also can
put these abilities to use whenever they are required. Nevertheless, this conception of knowledge and its assessment falls short of the mark, as it ignores the fact that the traditional assessment process is heavily dependent on the ability of the person being tested to recall and symbolically represent knowledge and to select iconic representations of skills (see Armour-Thomas and Gopaul-McNicol, 1998: xv-xvi for further details). In reality, one works with others in order to solve problems and often complements one's own knowledge and skill with those of others. Moreover, one actually engages in
performances that contribute to the solution of real problems rather than producing symbolic samples of one's repertoire of developed abilities. As Armour-Thomas and Gopaul-McNicol (1998: xvi) assert, 'there is some dissonance between what we typically do in the assessment of intellect and the ways in which humans exercise intellective functions in real life'. In the present paper, we shall discuss culture and cognition in relation to
intelligence, trying to show that the latter does not rest on test scores but 'is a multifaceted set of abilities that can be enhanced depending on the social and cultural contexts in which it has been nurtured, crystallized, and ultimately assessed' (ibid.: 129).

To read the article

Thanks to Dimitrios & Edna.

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This month there's a review of 'Using the Mother tongue' by S.Deller & M.Rinvolucri (DELTA publishing).

'A book on 'Using the Mother tongue'! But haven't we always been told that we should try to get meaning across in English, that we would create bad habits if we started using it & anyway, contrasting English & another language as a way to teach English has been discredited. This is all a bit unnerving - I feel a paradigm shift coming on. I need to go away & cut something up!'

To read the rest of the review

Please don't forget to go through the books page when you want to buy from or . The books have links to both .com & .uk & if the books that you want aren't there, do a search with the search boxes at the bottom of the Books page. We get a little bit & you pay the same. Every little helps to keep the newsletters free. Thanks.



Lots of different Forums to choose from. Post your jobs, your CV, your questions, finds on the net, ideas, activities, questions, grumbles, suggestions, your courses......

Check them out

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A New Year Resolution? To get started on a quality personalised teacher development course.



If you're unsure about what a particular idiom means, here's a
site to help you out.

For the native younger learner but lots for our students too.

Have you got any favourite teaching links? Post them in the Forums or send them in.

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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, January, February, March.....'03
Big discount for last-minute registration for the January 8th course

Full-time eight-week course, April/May '03

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

Find your Middle Earth name - according to the Red Book of Westmarch, In Middle-earth, I was a Drunken Fallohide & my Hobbit lass name is Hanna Cotton from Tookbank

New things from Google's technology playground:

'The Google Viewer displays the pages found as a result of your Google search as a continuous scrolling slide show. You can view your search results without using your keyboard or mouse and you can adjust the speed with which the images move across your screen. Each image of a page's contents is accompanied by a short "snippet" describing that page.'

'Froogle is a new service from Goggle that makes it easy to find information about products for sale online. By focusing entirely on product search, Froogle applies the power of Google's search technology to a very specific task: locating stores that sell the item you want to find and pointing you directly to the place where you can make a purchase.'

'Google WebQuotes annotates the results of your Google search with comments from other websites. This offers a convenient way to get a third party's opinion about each of the returns for your search, providing you with more information about that site's credibility and reputation.'

' is a Web-based free-form personal information manager ("PIM"). "Free-form" means that OnlineHB dispenses with the many forms, fields and menus typical for other services. Instead it offers users an interface that is "as simple as a sheet of paper". Users can quickly and easily create, manage and share notes and reminders and have them accessible from anywhere and anytime. OnlineHomeBase also enables users to easily create
email reminders that will be sent to the user's cell phone or email address.'

The 3rd Annual 20 Worst People, Places, And Things On The Internet For 2002

'simple. you'll see one word at the top of the following page. you have sixty seconds to write about it. as soon as you click 'go' the page will load with the cursor in place. don't think. just write.' Just like Fastwriting, no?

'My ultimate goal here is to create a kind of Internet journalism that reaches out to modern audiences in new ways. Ultimately, I want to get people more involved in the news, especially younger people, the kind of people that newspapers and television keep losing. The answer is not more channels or simpler stories; it lies in new perspectives and tools.'

' of the oldest and certainly the liveliest film and movie review destinations on the Web!' they say.

Wondering what that file extension means?

Loads of free help with computer matters.

Play the numbers game against the computer - nothing too taxing, probably fixed anyway!

Stress Relief Paintball

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