A web site for the developing language teacher

July 2004 - issue 7/04


Welcome to the July Newsletter.

I'm sure you must have come across words that are very difficult or impossible to translate into a different language. Today have carried out a survey amongst translators worldwide to find the top 10 untranslatable foreign words & the top 10 English words. Here are their results:

The ten foreign words that were voted hardest to translate:

1. ilunga [Tshiluba word for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time. Note: Tshiluba is a Bantu language spoken in south-eastern Congo, and Zaire]

2. shlimazl [Yiddish for a chronically unlucky person]

3. radioukacz [Polish for a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain]

4. naa [Japanese word only used in the Kansai area of Japan, to emphasise statements or agree with someone]

5. altahmam [Arabic for a kind of deep sadness]

6. gezellig [Dutch for cosy]

7. saudade [Portuguese for a certain type of longing]

8. selathirupavar [Tamil for a certain type of truancy]

9. pochemuchka [Russian for a person who asks a lot of questions]

10. klloshar [Albanian for loser]

The ten English words that were voted hardest to translate:

1. plenipotentiary

2. gobbledegook

3. serendipity

4. poppycock

5. googly

6. Spam

7. whimsy

8. bumf

9. chuffed

10. kitsch

To read the rest of the article

Interesting lists. Might well make a nice springboard into translation considerations for advanced learners.

This month Mandy Jore introduces us to Eurolta - a certificate for language teachers in Europe, Qing Gu examines English language teaching in China, Emma Worrall gives us a glimpse of the course planning process & Tanju Deveci offers an introductory lesson on collocation. Many thanks to all four for their contributions.

We're continuing the publishing of postings from the Forums. We hope they give you a chance to see the kind of topics covered & the interest to go to the Forums & reply to the postings.

If you or a friend is comtemplating a CELTA course in the near future, one of our advertisers, the British Language Centre, is giving a huge 25% discount on August, September & October CELTA courses, from now onwards, if you mention this newsletter. Check out their ad below.

Happy teaching!



1. THE SITE - articles & plans





6. PS - Internet/computer-related links



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EUROLTA - The European Certificate in Language Teaching to Adults by Mandy Jore

This article was published in full in the sent newsletter - to read the article


Bridging Belief Gaps in ELT Teacher Education in Cross-cultural Settings by Qing Gu

This article was partially published in the sent newsletter - to read the article


In 'Course Planning - a process' by Emma Worrell, Emma offers us the chance to see how the process really works & as a result how important this stage is to successful teaching.

To read the article



An introduction to Collocation - a lesson plan by Tanju Deveci

Level: Pre-Intermediate
Length of Lesson: 50 minutes
Type of Lesson: Lexis-Collocations

Main Objectives:
By the end of the lesson students will have:
a - been encouraged to notice some collocational usages of the words 'make', 'do' and 'have' in a written (in the form of a letter seeking for advice)and recorded dialogue by listening to the conversation first and then reading the typescript.
b - recorded these collocations on a worksheet provided by the teacher.
c - practiced using these collocations in context by writing sentences about themselves or their family members.

Subsidiary Objectives:
By the end of the lesson students will have had some practice on listening for specific information.

To see the plan


Thanks to Mandy, Qing, Emma & Tanju.

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

ADVERTISING - We reach a few thousand teachers every week with the Weekly Teaching Tip & the same each month with the Newsletter, not to mention the 1000+ unique visitors a day to the site. If you've got a book, course, job…anything that you'd like to advertise, then do get in touch.


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



A few recent postings - get along & post some replies :

I've been in Greece for one year now and am finding the employment situation more and more frustrating. I moved here because my husband's job brought him to Athens for a couple of years. I finished DELTA in June and will be getting the results in August. Before moving here we lived in Sicily where things are certainly not perfect, but compared to Greece it now seems like paradise. The pay is awful and native speakers don't get a look in. The quality of teaching also seems to be very low. Anyone out there with similar experience or am I just unlucky?

Please, could someone suggest a task to help students with vocabulary after reading a text? To develop reading for gist skills, do you think the only way is to give a set of general questions? And only t/f questions for fast reading technique?

I think this is a problem that many teachers are facing -- students using SMS abbreviations in place of words and phrases. Other than circling such SMS text and reminding students not to use such text in their writing, is there some other approach to stop this.

Ziggy Stardust:
I have been teaching English in Korea to children for 3 years. I have a problem that I have never been able to resolve. This problem is giving instructions. Now, when I have a class for some time, they eventually get accustomed to what I am after but when I am asking them to do something new I could spend the entire class trying to explain to them what to do and we don't get to the planned activity at all sometimes. I know someone is going to suggest that I be as direct and as simple as possible to avoid any possible confusion. I do.
Now I am teaching on the internet and the problem has become more acute since my ability to use body language, gestures and demonstrations is even more limited. This is very frustrating. I had very little problem instructing Spanish adults but Korean students of any age have been a nightmare for me this way.
Does anyone have a similar experience that they have overcome somehow (especially those who have taught in Korea or other East Asian countries)? How did you do it? I'd also like to hear from those who have had similar problems on the internet.

Annette Margolis writes in "Newly qualified teachers need a strong dose of the real world" (The Guardian Weekly, May 20th, 2004) that there is a over belief among TEFL-teachers holding the precious CELTA or other recognized TEFL diploma of their own competence. She also presents a number of the potholes a newly qualified TEFL-teacher risks falling into. My husband is one of the privileged ones. After doing a degree in Nordic languages and linguistics, he signed up and paid a lot of money to do a 5 week course with 6 hours of classroom practice. Then he applied for, and got a post in Sweden, teaching mainly adults in evening classes communicative English to get them by on their holidays.
He soon found it rather frustrating, never to be able to go deeper into the intriguing parts of language learning and applied for a post at a council run 6th form, where his CELTA at first was not recognized as being enough. After 7 years of being the only native speaker at the school he was finally recognized as being qualified enough and got offered a permanent post by an exception of the rules put up by the government and unions.
I started my teaching degree in 1997 by doing two full years of English for teaching purposes. The level of English taught in Swedish schools is generally very high, since all children study the language from the age of 9, many before that, and therefore of course the level of the English courses at university is quite high as well. Apart from the obvious theoretical courses in grammar, vocabulary, language history, text analysis and literature, we also got to study curriculum design, evaluation of teaching materials, methods of teaching English in an historical context and of course classroom management in theory and practice. During my 5 years at university I had 6 weeks of supervised work experience at a 6th form school, evaluated and discussed in seminars with experienced teachers and my tutors at college. I also did two years of Swedish and comparative literature before getting my Master's degree in upper secondary
The summer before my last year I got a job as a TEFL teacher in Cambridge. The condition was that I did not mention the fact that I was not a native speaker, since the school advertised as only having native speaking teachers, but obviously my spoken level of English was such that my employers thought that I was going to manage. And I did. My colleagues appreciated the job I did, and my course director was very happy. So was I; I liked the job, and I felt well prepared for it by my university course.
Now, after another two years working full time as an English and Swedish teacher at a Swedish 6th form, we decided to move over to England, the land of milk and honey for overseas teacher at the moment. That is, if you hold a CELTA or equivalent. Employers don't look twice if you don't have it, if they don't give the course themselves. Then they are only too happy to offer it at your great expense. A few language schools that I have been in contact with after they have refused my application agree that it seems rather silly having to do a 5 week course after having done a Master's in teaching English (as a foreign language), but the CELTA is apparently a mark of quality. Even the funded schools teaching immigrants Basic Skills demand the TEFL qualifications, even though they are not directed especially towards teaching adults or basic literacy, work that I have experience of. I can fully understand if the state schools are a bit doubtful
about a foreign speaker's ability to teach British children English, how ever proficient the teacher might seem. At least they recognize the degree! But it seems, in my view, rather snobbish and a great waste of resources not to let well qualified and experienced teachers in. The only reason I can see is that employers are afraid that the pay would rise if they did. So, it is not only the overseas TEFL teachers who have this tunnel vision, so have the employers.

Slarritt is looking for work. To see her CV:

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.

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Some days to plan your lessons around in July:

1st - Canada Day
International Joke Day
4th - US Independence Day
14th - French Bastille Day
Tour de France bicycle race

To see the Days of the Year
Some holiday origins.

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This month we've got a review of 'Meanings and Metaphors: Activities To Practise Figurative Language' by Gillian Lazar (CUP).

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:

- Noising It Up - using background noise with listenings
- Lexicheck - considerations when teaching vocabulary
- A Place to Call Home - lesson ideas for World Refugee Day
- Ctrl + v, Ctrl + c - lesson ideas around an article about plagiarism at universities.

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 July, August & September '04
Part-time, twelve week courses, October >> December '04

Part-time, six months, October >> March '05

25% discount on August, September & October CELTA courses if you mention the newsletter!

Reasonably priced accommodation can be arranged for the duration of all courses.

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6. 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

The following links are taken from the Site Linkletters. Sent out free every fortnight, lots of links to follow up & help you enjoy the internet. To subscribe:
Most sources are available for syndication. Put news on your website or in your desktop aggregator. The free feeds are supported by advertising.
Free software downloads from
Make the chicken obey your orders.
The Ig Noble Awards.
Stuff you never needed to know but your life would be incomplete without.
An excellent site packed full of all things to do with buddhism - something for everyone. Check out the daily readings & the great computer wallpaper.
'Throughout the ages, man has pondered the question, "How much is inside?" With a few extra bucks, and a decent spot on the internet, we at expose these long-hidden truths.'
Useful knife throwing info.
'Wretched Writers Welcome! Competition for the worst opening sentence of all time. Beat this by --Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830): "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."'
'Every Weekday, we (Buzz, Melvin, and Chip) will showcase new sites peppered with our own ripping comments served up in two different ways. For those of you who grew to love the ease and simple style of Mirsky's original work, we've created the classic style. However, for those of you who want to play with a horde of Netscape 4+ enhanced features, we've created the new style for Worst of the Web™. Be sure to vote on how bad the new featured site stinks every day!'

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