A web site for the developing language teacher

January 2001 - issue 1/01


Welcome to the Newsletter & the New Year.

Another year - another new millennium, the real one this time - & I was wondering whether the profession had changed over the past year & whether it will change this coming year. I soon came to the pessimistic conclusion that not much had or will change. Teachers will continue to be paid badly, work long & unsociable hours & the profession will have the same profile with the layperson. The idea that teaching English is only good for a year out while at university is still being perpetuated - by a well- known prince among others. Demeaning & ageist attitudes abound.

Not all is pessimism though. I've always thought that teaching must be a dreadful job if you didn't like it & the other side is true as well - if you do like it, it is one of the best jobs you can have, a very creative & rewarding job. It is a job in which the teacher is constantly developing skills & creativity - skills that more than qualify teachers to carry out many other jobs that involve people & management. It's a job where you are helping & contributing to your learners' possibilities & where one can see progress & achievement.

So it's not the actual job that's the problem but the conditions in which the profession exists. So what's the solution? Open up a language school? Not many of us have the financial means. There are lots of people trying to make ELT more professional - organisations that need our support such as IATEFL ( & TESOL ( ) & the recently formed British Institute of English Language Teaching ( It is through this type of teacher organisation that some changes will come about.

Join these organisations &, on a smaller scale, if you haven't already, why not start a teacher development group in your own workplace or town. This could be a meeting twice a month. You could pass on great classes that you've recently given, activities that you've thought of & materials you've designed. You could discuss a pre-set area, perhaps members could take it in turns to prepare something.

For sure, employers need to pull their weight & with continual pressure, professionalism will slowly evolve. Put your energy into changing the things that you can & make it work for you.

This month, due to the holiday, the theme is a reduced one & takes a retrospective look at the year gone by & the one to come through providing you with a few links where you can cull material for the New Year lessons.

The Xmas Draw was won by Simon Gill in Olomouc in the Czech Republic - congratulations. The activities sent in are at:

Happy teaching! Happy New Year!





1. THEME - the New Year

Year 2000 Quiz - here you'll find a list of questions about the past year - get your students to write some more local questions.
Twenty-five images, selected from 750.000, which are thought to sum up last year. There's also a video of the year's major events.

'The year 2000 started with the promise of global meltdown caused by computers inability to recognise any date ending in 2000. But despite the dire warnings, there were no major problems and, free from the threat of the Millennium Bug, the last year has seen some dramatic advances in science, technology and medicine. BBC Science takes a look back at some of the highlights of the year.' A good article for intermediate & up.

Check out last January's newsletter for end/beginning of year activities - change millennium ideas to those for last year.

As the internet was all the rage last year, if your students are regular surfers you could get them to collate their top/bottom ten web sites.
The Independent newspaper is running a joke competition. Print off the jokes & run the competition in class. Then compare the results with your own. Great reading practice.
To give you an idea, here is the winning joke - most have a slightly adult bent.

Good luck, Mr Gorsky

On July 20, 1969, as commander of the Apollo 11Lunar Module, Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon. His first words after stepping on the moon, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," were televised to Earth and heard by millions. But just before he re- entered the lander, he made the enigmatic remark: "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."
Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the "Good luck Mr. Gorsky" statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled.
On 5 July, 1995, in Tampa Bay, Florida, while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year-old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question. In 1938 when he was a kid in a small Midwest town, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a fly ball, which landed in his neighbour's yard by the bedroom windows. His neighbours were Mr. and Mrs. Gorsky. As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky. "Sex! You want sex?! You'll get sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!"

Another one - I don't mean to offend anyone - look what is said about the British after all - this might be an interesting start to national stereotypes:

How many nationalities can you offend in one joke?

On a beautiful deserted island in the middle of nowhere, the following people are stranded:
* 2 Italian men and 1 Italian woman
* 2 French men and 1 French woman
* 2 German men and 1 German woman
* 2 Greek men and 1 Greek woman
* 2 English men and 1 English woman
* 2 Japanese men and 1 Japanese woman
* 2 American men and 1 American woman
* 2 Australian men and 1 Australian woman
* 2 New Zealand men and 1 New Zealand woman
* 2 Irish men and 1 Irish woman

One month later, the following things have occurred:
* One Italian man killed the other Italian man for the Italian woman.
* The two French men and the French woman are living happily together having loads of sex.
* The two German men have a strict weekly schedule of when they alternate with the German woman.
* The two Greek men are sleeping with each other and the Greek woman is cleaning and cooking for them.
* The two English men are waiting for someone to introduce them to the English woman.
* The two American men are contemplating the virtues of suicide, while the American woman keeps on bitching about her body being her own, the true nature of feminism, how she can do everything that they can do, about the necessity of fulfilment, the equal division of household chores, how her last boyfriend respected her opinion and treated her much nicer and how her relationship with her mother is improving. But at least the taxes here are low and it is not raining.
* The two Japanese men have faxed Tokyo and are waiting for instructions.
* The two Australian men beat each other senseless fighting over the Australian woman, who is checking out all the other men, after calling them both 'bloody wankers".
* Both New Zealand men are searching the island for sheep.
* The Irish began by dividing the island into North and South and setting up a distillery. They do not remember if sex is in the picture because it gets sort of foggy after the first few litres of coconut whiskey, but they are satisfied in that at least the English aren't getting any.

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A spell in Hungary? Lovely country. Eva writes: 'We are a private language school in Hungary preparing students for international exams mainly. We also teach business English at intermediate level. We are currently looking for an enthusiastic native teacher of English as a foreign language.' Contact Eva Bangocs head-teacher -

For a limited period you can post an abbreviated version of your CV on the Developing web site. This will give you a high profile amongst employers who visit the site. For more information



Send your questions about teaching to us. Anything from classroom management problems through to grammar problems.

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The 30% discount continues during January. Maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course.


For your business-oriented students, a very useful site - 5.000 definitions and 15.000 links between related terms.

The following list of points about security came in a newsletter from Zone Labs & it looks good for classroom use.
There's a lot you can do with it:
- read & put points in order of importance
- give one to each std & they mingle & fill out an information sheet, deciding on the four most important points
- add more points
- present simple & adverbs of frequency focus
- as a springboard for getting together a list of classroom rules.
- discussion - how realistic are the points? paranoia fuelled by business interests? - etc.......

Rules of the Internet-connected Household from Zone Labs
A free Internet security policy for your family. Post everywhere you have a computer Locking up when leaving the home is the responsibility of everyone in the family, right? Develop the same rules for computer and Internet security, and make sure everyone who uses a computer in the home follows your home security rules.
1.We believe computer security is the business of everyone in this home.
2.We never download freeware or shareware from web sites we don't trust.
3.We never swap software, games, or files, unless we're sure they don't contain viruses.
4.We never open email attachments unless we know who they're from.
5.We never respond to spam or junk mail.
6.We don't give out our address, phone number or other personal information in chat rooms.
7.We don't shop at web sites that don't respect our security and privacy.
8.We always use passwords and we change them often.
9.We never use pirated or copied software.
10.We make sure our computer and Internet security are always up-to-date.

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As always, free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail. Sign up!



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

A twelve hour course taking place over six Fridays, 12.00>>14.15, during the February & March.

A thirty two hour course, Monday & Wednesday mornings - 11.00>>13.15, during February & March.

Full-time four-week courses: February, March, April ...
Twelve week part-time courses: January>>April & then April>>June.

Full-time eight-week courses: April & May & then July & August 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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8. PS                                                                     
This is a very welcome Christmas present from my favourite, incredibly quick, search engine Google. They are making searching even easier. Instead of going over to a search site to hunt down something you can do it straight from your links toolbar - IE or personal toolbar - Netscape.
To start with you need to put the feature on your toolbar. There's no downloading as it's only a bookmark & all you have to do is drag & drop from the site into the links section of your toolbar & there you have it! Now when you've got a page open all you have to do is highlight a word & Google will automatically give you a list of search results - from over one billion web pages. From there you go on to what you want. I searched for 'engine' & in 0.1 seconds it found 140.000.000 pages!
That's not all - when you go to another web page, click on the Google search & a search box will open, write in what you want, enter & it will show you every page that matches. You need x4 browsers plus for this to work.
There's also 'Google Scout' - which gives related sites to the page you're on & '' - that takes you to their search home page. Magic. All is clearly & visually explained at the site. Slap it on!
IE users on a PC
Netscape users on a PC
IE users on a Mac

Netscape users on a Mac
Here's another button to add to your toolbar - a dictionary - highlight, click & Merriam-Webster gives you a definition.
If you're interested in comparing the search engines around then this is for you. Among the things you get to find out are the sizes of each database & the number of dead links in each.
A newsletter from, Newbie Notes, offers tips & advice on all things to do with your computer - 'a new column that translates geek speak into layman's terms. 'Until computer manufacturers start thinking like car manufacturers, your computer--unless you own an iMac--generally looks the same as your cousin Vinnie's. Stop pondering the variations of gray, because just as mothers, teachers, and self-help gurus have always said, it's what's happening on the inside that matters! Subscribe & see.
Another font site - zap up your documents free of charge. All are listed by category & also alphabetically so it's easy to get around. Easy to install.

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