A web site for the developing language teacher

January 2006 - issue 1/06


Welcome to the January Newsletter.

A Happy New Year to all.

A slightly shorter newsletter this month as we try to get out of holiday mode. There's another article & lesson plan from Greg Gobel, this time about motivating the advanced learner through grammar. There are the usual link sections & a link to a simple year 2005 quiz to use as a springboard for discussion.

More free Google GMail accounts to give away - if interested, get in touch.

Happy teaching!




7. PS - Internet/computer-related links



Developing TheWeb, our associate web hosting site offers three very affordable hosting plans - all with cPanel - Bronze $8/month, Silver - $12/month & Gold - $15/month. For details:

phpBB Forum installations - up & ready to go without any need to know anything about web design. A simple way to instantly create your own online community. For details:

Online Course Support: Moodle installation, 300mb of space, 1gb of bandwidth/month - $12/month Even comes with a PayPal module so that you can integrate charging for your courses. For details:

Pay for the year to get two months free & your bandwidth doubled!
Pay for six months & get a month free!
Very reasonable domain registration also offered - .com - $20/year.

Reliable & friendly hosting services. For more information:




The online courses are hosted at one of our sister sites, ( ). The individual, personalised courses develop with the experience, needs & interests of each participant at their own rate.

We use Moodle, an excellent course management system, each course having its own password so only the individual participant plus the trainer can gain access. The central focus on the courses within Moodle is the forum & where there may be three or four different threads going on at the same time. Attached to these are a variety of resources. All are very easy to operate in Moodle. For more information, get in touch & check out:


How Grammar Can Help to Maintain Motivation of Advanced Learners by Greg Gobel


Teachers often feel challenged to think of ways to motivate themselves and their learners to want to learn grammar, i.e., as Rinvolucri points out, how to get 'the "game" locomotive [to pull] the grammar train along.' Fair enough, as a certain scariness or insecurity seems to be associated with grammar. I have heard it called the 'Grammar Monster'; Batstone calls it a 'beast.' Perhaps these worries are sometimes in the wrong place, though, judging by two surveys I have recently done to compare teachers' and learners' attitudes to teaching/learning grammar. The results showed an interesting contrast in attitude regarding grammar in relation to motivation. Learners expressed a much more optimistic view of grammar as a motivating tool than did the teachers. 'Somehow or other, teachers (or "the system") fail to capitalise on the students' curiosity and enthusiasm.' Grammar teaching and learning has traditionally been very form- focused. As a result, it then went through a phase in the 80's on the periphery or not focused on at all. From both perspectives, focusing on grammar would not motivate learners. This paper, however, is written with two assumptions about grammar in the classroom, as suggested by Thompson:

* ' is now fully accepted that an appropriate amount of class time should be devoted to grammar, this has not meant a simple return to a traditional treatment of grammar rules.'

* '...the focus has now moved away from the teacher covering grammar to the learners discovering grammar.'

With these assumptions in mind, this paper explores how we can exploit methodologically progressive ideas for dealing with grammar to help maintain advanced learners' motivation. In doing so, we also help our learners improve their overall communicative competence by increasing their grammatical proficiency.

Why is maintaining motivation of advanced learners important?

Dornyei highlights the importance of maintaining and protecting learners' motivation, saying it 'needs to be actively nurtured. 'Maintaining advanced learners' motivation can be difficult at times to the point where at least one activity book has been written specifically for this purpose. Advanced learners, I have noticed, have reached a stage where they are highly efficient in using the language, their learning curve is not as immediately evident as with lower-level learners so they may perceive they are not improving, and some even feel that they have learned enough. These conditions can easily lead to lethargy. In my
experience, even having a goal such as passing the CAE does not always maintain their motivation. The surveys: what advanced learners tend to think about grammar

The teacher survey was completed by colleagues at work and other teachers that I know. The learner survey was completed by CAE and CPE level learners through paired discussion followed by individually writing notes to summarize their opinions. The surveys were not scientific, but give me a good indication of general beliefs. One survey item asked what some good reasons to teach/learn grammar are, with one of the choices being to motivate the learners. Of the learners, 82% were positive, 12% were not sure, and only one said increasing motivation would not be a good use of grammar. In contrast, only one teacher thought that grammar could be a tool for motivation. This informative difference shows learners seem to view the potential effects of focusing on grammar quite differently - more positively - than many teachers. For me, this is rather alarming because it means that teachers, including myself, may not be aware enough of what actually helps their learners want to learn.

To view the rest of the article

And the accompanying lesson plan:

Preliminary information

Main aims:
To raise learners awareness of a more authentic way of reporting in English. For learners to help each other work out patterns and types of reported speech (i.e., summary and approximation/constructed dialogue).

Subsidiary Aims:
For learners to interpret dialogue from television show segments and make somewhat successful attempts to report these to their peers by using summarizing and approximation/constructed dialogue style of reporting.

Timetable fit:
We are progressing through Unit 8 in the Advanced Gold coursebook, which includes a small section practicing reported speech in the typical way that grammar and coursebooks present it, which Yule calls 'quite inadequate accounts of what...learners are likely to encounter...outside the classroom' (Yule, 1992: 245). Two lessons prior to this one, we took a look at those activities because I wanted to find out what the learners already knew about reported speech. The downside to this is that perhaps it reinforced these mechanical rules. The upside, however, is that I know they are quite good with these mechanics. I elicited their opinions about these mechanical rules and they said they were quite hard and that it seemed unnatural to have to slow down fluency to make sure they change all the tenses correctly. I told them not to worry, and that we will investigate another way of approaching reported speech soon.

At the start of the lesson, we will spend some time brainstorming and discussing types of 'life change' and any personal experiences the learners may have had or anticipate to help activate schemata and set the scene and topic for the rest of the lesson. Learners will also listen to the authentic taped segments that will be used in Stage 1 in the lesson plan below. The learners will listen for gist understanding of each segment by deciding who the speaker in each segment is and what 'life change' he or she is talking about. This way they will have a better chance at success in stage 1 and the weaker listeners will be more comfortable with the recorded material.

Homework: Learners will get a summarized version of the information that Yule presents about authentic ways of reporting. Their task will be to read it and come to the following class with any questions they may have. As in class we will be taking an inductive approach to the grammar area, I think it would be helpful for learners to get a clear description of what they discover in class for reinforcement and further clarification.

In part of a future lesson, the learners will take part in mock CAE speaking exams. They will take turns being candidates and examiners. In their role as examiners, they will have to report to other 'examiners' how the exam went and what their 'candidates' spoke about. This will give learners more practice and reinforcement with using summarizing and constructed dialogue types of reported speech.

Learners will appreciate and relate to the summary-type of reported speech as this is a natural way of reporting in Spanish.

Learners are capable of discovering the pertinent concepts of the focus language themselves (i.e., learners are capable of guided self-discovery).

Using authentic materials and real people's voices (audio recordings and DVD) will help motivate learners.

Teaching and learning these styles of reporting are useful and helpful for learners at advanced level.

Anticipated Problems and Possible Solutions:
Learners may be intimidated by being asked to report what they hear from a real television show. Solution: Playing the DVD segments more than one time and letting learners take notes and consult peers to get ready to report should help reduce anxiety. The room can get stuffy and hot. Solution: T will be aware of room temperature and open the door to let some fresh air in when needed.

Learners may not be that forthcoming with a personal life change in stage 5. Solution: Let them know that the life change could be a positive one and that it need not be that serious if they are not that comfortable with that.

One of the audio clips talks about a father dying from cancer. Some learners may be sensitive to this issue. The speaker speaks sensitively about the issue, so hopefully this will prevent possible problems. This class is mature, so I think they will see the audio clip for what it is and not let it affect them too much. Solution: That said, if a learner does become emotionally overwhelmed, he/she can step outside the class if needed.

Learners will be used to reporting mechanically and not automatically adjust to a more authentic style of reporting. Solution: This is to be expected, so in making attempts to report more naturally they are starting to solve this on their own; they cannot be expected to be able to do it perfectly in one lesson's time.

Classroom aids-related:
The lesson is reliant on audio material. I must be ready for malfunctions with the machines or a power outage in the school (which has happened already this school year). Solution: I will also have the CD recordings on tape in case the CD player does not work well. Also, I will have batteries for the tape player in case there is a power outage. I will also have all the transcripts handy as a last resort. I will act out the Seinfeld dialogues for the learners if there is a power outage.

Learners may have trouble understanding some of the Seinfeld characters' dialogue. Solution: Multiple playings of the cd to give learners enough opportunity to listen. They are encouraged to help each other understand it, so they do not have to understand every little bit. Also, as they do not need to report every word, they do not need to understand every word.

In previous lessons I have spent too much time in T-S feedback to activities and lost precious time in the lessons. Solution: Less time will be spent in T-S feedback than in prior lessons.

Number of learners:
An odd number of learners would mean that during the reporting sequence with the DVD there would be one group of three. Solution: Use a group of three and two learners would share the reporting.

Lesson Rationale:
Much of the grammar included in Advanced Gold, the coursebook we are using, is revision and consolidation of grammar points from earlier levels. This is useful for learners, serving as a reminder and re-focusing their attention on what the CAE exam assumes they should know. However, based on past experience, I believe that high-level learners need more than just revision of grammar to sustain their motivation. Although this coursebook does include new grammar points as well, opportunities to make revised grammar points into new and exciting ones are often overlooked.

One such opportunity arises in unit 8 with reported speech. Like most published material focusing on reported speech, Advanced Gold (pages 96-97) takes a mechanical approach, asking learners to change tenses, perhaps change deictic markers (with no explanation of why, though), with brief attention to reporting verbs and dependant prepositions. Yule, however, rightly indicates that these areas of reporting could be broadened to include more authentic and natural approaches saying, 'This situation is particularly problematic for those learners who have mastered the widely taught mechanics of converting direct to indirect speech forms, yet still need guidance in becoming familiar with the range of options used to present reported discourse...' (Yule, et al., 1992: 245). It is this 'guidance' and some of this 'range of options' that this lesson seeks to help learners to discover and explore. Even though these are advanced learners, they will likely be surprised by these new possibilities of reporting, so I do not want to overload them by presenting all of the range Yule proposes. I have limited the focus to 'summarized reports' (see Yule, 1998: 275-276) and 'constructed dialogues' (see Yule, 1992: 248-249) because they seem very useful, common and achievable for learners.

This lesson draws heavily on authentic material (stages 1,2,3) from well-known personalities, real reports, and the American sit-com Seinfeld and takes a retrospective approach (see Thompson, 1996: 11) featuring guided self-discovery (stage 2) to aid awareness and comprehension of new language. The lesson, taking into account its place in the timetable fit, is an extended test-teach-test. The first test was in a previous lesson, taking a look at some of the coursebook's brief revision of reporting, useful perhaps for the CAE English in Use paper, and working out whether the learners knew about Yule's suggested possibilities of reporting. I felt it was important to discover
how informed the learners were of more natural reporting techniques. The learners were clearly very confined to the mechanical reported speech of classic grammars. Based on this, stages 1 and 2 are the teach phase, giving learners opportunities to discover and discuss summarizing and constructing dialogues. Learners will have plenty of time to avoid feeling rushed through this discovery phase. Stages 3 and 4 are the second test phase, giving learners opportunities to report what they hear from the DVD and also from personal experience, thus catering to as many learners as possible through engaging tasks with both guided and freer speaking and active, participatory listening. Learners will have reason to listen out of curiosity: what they did not see in the DVD and to learn about their peer.

Acklam, Richard and Sally Burgress. 2001. Advanced Gold Coursebook. Pearson Education.
Thompson, Geoff. 1996. 'Some misconceptions about communicative language teaching.' ELT Journal, Volume 50/1 January 1996. Oxford
University Press.
Yule, George, Terrie Mathis, and Mary Frances Hopkins. 1992. 'On reporting what was said.' ELT Journal, Volume 46/3 July 1992.
Oxford University Press.
Yule, George. 1998. Explaining English Grammar. Oxford University Press.

To view the plan


Lesson material:

The Year 2005 - a simple quiz to provoke speaking skills practice.

To view the quiz


Thanks to Greg.


ARTICLES - If you've given a course or seminar or have a lesson plan & would like to give it a public airing, do get in touch.

ADVERTISING - We reach more than a few thousand teachers every week with the Weekly Teaching Tip & the same each month with the Newsletter, not to mention the 2000+ unique visitors a day to the Site, & the site has the Google PR5. If you've got a book, course, job...anything that you'd like to advertise, then do get in touch.



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



A couple of recent posts:

Start teaching English business to adults in 3 weeks for the first time, any advice?

Does anybody know any ways to recycle vocabulary? My students (all elementary and pre-intermediate) are really having difficulty remembering vocabulary.

I teach in Portugal in a school which is a perfectly pleasant place to work except that they are completely clueless about testing students. Most of the students are aged from seven to seventeen, and are aiming at some time to take Cambridge exams. Another teacher and I have a fairly good idea how to put together tests that will provide a fair and balanced measure of the students' progress. However, we expect to meet some resistance as the school has been using the same archaic test methods for many years. We want to back up our arguments with written matter - you know how people love to believe the printed word.
Can anyone recommend a book or two (ideally by a respected author) that will outline some of the testing methods preferred by modern EFL schools?

I'm just wondering if anyone is pursuing or has pursued the Asian EFL Journal TESOL Certification course. I am planning to get certified in TESOL and am seriously considering one of INTESOL's programs. However, after coming across the Asian EFL Journal website, I became interested in its TESOL course because, well, it's supposedly "free". If any of you have done or are doing the course, please share your thoughts on it with me. Thanks.

William M. Tweedie
CV posted & looking for offers.

Hi, my name is Joy from ETEC (English Teachers' Employment Connection). Our company willingly help you with great attentive service. I've selected several most decent positions for teachers struggling to find a reliable position but be at a loss. See posting for job descriptions

The next destination to extend your overseas teaching experience! It will be a rewarding overseas experience to teach in Taiwan! You can experience the Asian culture and earn competitive salary through John Dewey! Prepare for the job opportunity --- John Dewey provides the information and even the contract for your future career in Taiwan before you complete your course! Develop your teaching skills here --- Don't worry if you have limited experience! Most of John Dewey's schools are happy to develop your teaching skills! More info in the posting

ETEC (English Teacher's Employment Connection) is recruiting for teaching vacancies and we currently have opportunities for E1 teachers in the for Changwon, Daegu. If you are an enthusiastic and fun teacher and you would like to work in a professional and friendly atmosphere, it is an offer for you. Start dates will be in early ~ mid of Jan. More info in the posting

Lots of different Forums to choose from. Check them out. 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.


At we occasionally carry out consultancy work. The different projects have included tutoring DELTA candidates by email, offering advice on curriculum design & materials choice & short training courses in person & by email. If you would like us to help in any way, please do not hesitate to get in touch.



If you have visited a site that you think would be beneficial for all or would like your site to appear here, please get in touch. Thanks.
New Year Resolutions article for the classroom, including a brief summary of NY traditions in a selection of countries.
An article for a lesson focus for the internet-focussed learner about the most frequent searches made on the internet during the past year.

And similarly, the 2005 Google Year End Zeitgeist
Business cartoons to use as a springboard.
Biz lesson plan from Biz/Ed - lots of other materials to check out.
'The Earth Calendar is a daybook of holidays and celebrations around the world.' Useful for lesson planning.



A few days to plan your lessons around in January:

1st - New Year's Day
6th - Three King's Day
8th - Elvis Presley's official birthday
20th - Martin Luther King Jr Day
22nd - Chinese New Year
25th - Robert Burns' Day - Scotland's national poet
26th - Australia Day

To see the list of Days

Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:
Some holiday origins.



'English for Business Life' - Elementary & Pre-Intermediate Courses by Ian Badger & Pete Menzies (Marshall Cavendish). An excellent course series for the business student.

To read the review

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.



Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

Recent Tips have included:

- Happy Holidays - Xmas lesson links & materials
- Absurd materials - using authentic web materials
- Questioning it - more on writing feedback - student questions about their work

To see the Past Tips

To sign up to receive them


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

Part-time course twelve-week course starts January '06
Full-time four-week courses; January, February

Part-time course twenty-week course starts mid-January '06

Part-time course ten-week course starts mid-January '06

Full-time two-month courses, April/May & July/August '06

10% discount on all courses if you mention the newsletter!
Reasonably priced accommodation can be arranged for the duration of all courses.


7. PS - Internet/computer-related links from

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

The following links are taken from the Linkletters. Sent out free every fortnight, fifteen links every issue to follow up & help you enjoy the internet. To subscribe:
Relax with random pics, videos, facts, laws, phobias....
All about Thai food!
How many seconds can you survive?
'Musings of a design junky.'
Find out 'Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age' - just type in your age to see.
Spherical Perspective - a brief tutorial - 'I'm here to undermine your world view. We always assume that what we are taught about perspective is the way we actually see. But it's not.'
Travel & explorer literature.
'The National Recording Preservation Board, mandated by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, is an advisory group bringing together a number of professional organizations and expert individuals concerned with the preservation of recorded sound.'



This newsletter is ReferWare. If you enjoy reading it and find useful information in this newsletter, you are asked to help spread the word about it. You can do this by forwarding a copy to your friends, telling them about it, and/or putting a link to from your site. You cannot:

1.Post this newsletter in part or in whole on your site.
2.Forward this newsletter issue after issue to people - just send them a single issue and tell them to subscribe.

Has to be.

Disclaimer - all of the recommendations for computer-related software are personal recommendations. We take no responsibility for anything that might go wrong when downloading, installing or running them - not that anything should, but you never know. It's your decision, your responsibility. The same applies to the jobs mentioned above. And anything else that you can think of that we might be responsible for as a result of this newsletter!

Comments, suggestions, questions, advertising or problems unsubscribing then please contact us

SUBSCRIBE - it's free!
If you are reading a friend's copy why not subscribe yourself - it's free! Get along to the Front Page of the site & fill in the box.
Have no fears about your e-mail address - we will not pass it on to any third party.

If you change e-mail address please use the link above to unsubscribe the old one & then subscribe with the new one. This helps us enormously. Thanks.

This newsletter is a free service of the Developing and is Copyright (c) 2001-2006 Developing All rights reserved. No part of this Newsletter may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission.

To subscribe to the Newsletter

To the index of Past Newsletters

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing