A web site for the developing language teacher

June 2001 - issue 6/01


Welcome to the June Newsletter

This month we're having a quick look at storytelling. It's a great tool for the classroom - who doesn't like stories? And there are literally hundreds of sites about stories & storytelling.
Also in the Newsletter, there are links to some more articles on the site, an advanced sound/spelling warmer, jobs & lots of teaching & net links.

Summer is arriving here. It's suddenly got very hot - Spring came & went in a flash. In the Teaching Tips in June we'll have some ideas for summer school teaching.

Happy teaching!





3. WARMER - A new English language








11. PS - Internet/computer-related links


1. THEME - Story Telling

Story telling is a very under-used technique & activity in the English language classroom. Here are some possible aims:

To give listening practice
To introduce a theme
To expose students to specific language areas
To introduce specific language - vocab, structure, function
To increase awareness of the target culture
To increase awareness of other cultures
To 'pass on' a story
To integrate a natural form of communication into the classroom

And when students tell their own stories, all the above &:

To give practice in telling a story in English
To practice specific language through the story telling
To diagnose language weaknesses
To provide oral fluency practice

It is a natural, entertaining & captivating activity that uses language - perfect for us. How about a language course taught solely through the medium of stories? Story-based learning!

The lesson plan this month uses a web page 'Effective Storytelling - A Manual for Beginners', with kind permission from Barry McWilliams & is from his storytelling web site. The idea behind the plan is not only to help the learners with telling stories in English but also to develop an appreciation of storytelling & hopefully to help them with storytelling in their own native language.

Barry's web site address is:

The web page we use is:

To see the lesson plan & the reproduced material

An excellent book for storytelling & the ELT classroom is ' OnceUpon a Time' - Morgan & Rinvolucri (CUP) - every school should have one. There is some sound advice on how to go about telling a story, lots of classroom ideas & best of all, a collection of story skeletons. A skeleton is the best way to begin as you can make the story more natural as you fill in the language. If you
try to memorise a story it will come out sounding contrived. With a skeleton all you have to remember are the facts.

A few ideas connected to storytelling:

As a way of getting your students into stories, tell stories about events that happened to you since you last saw them & encourage them to do the same. Use stories for introducing a new theme/lesson.

Play around with beginnings, middles & ends of stories - the students
providing the missing parts.

Drama - mime stories

- tell the story & the students mime - the students could walk around in a circle as you tell the story.

- students tell each other stories to mime.

- give three key words - the students invent a short scene & the others try to guess the original words.

- a variation on the above - give a short story to mime plus three or four adjectives - surprise, anger etc that they should include - the others guess the adjectives.

Chain stories:

- you begin eg. 'One morning Ben got up & went to work.' A student is invited to continue with another sentence & so on round the class. You provide the linkers - 'and then', 'so', 'next', ....' finally'.

- good for conditionals. 'If Josh had gone to the party he would have met Helen', 'If he had met Helen he would've seen the film', 'If he'd seen the film, he would've .....' etc....

- To teach vocabulary - choose a group of vocab that you want to teach & think up an anecdote or story that includes the vocab. As you tell the story use the vocab naturally but check the meaning as you go on. At the end elicit the meaning of the words & if told clearly they should be able to come out with them.

- Give key words or picture prompts & students invent a story.

- There are some ideas in this week's Teaching Tip 'Picture the story' which gives some ways of using picture stories in class.

A university creative writing class was asked to write a concise essay containing these four elements

- religion

- royalty

- sex

- mystery

The prize-winning essay read:

"My God," said the Queen. "I'm pregnant. I wonder who did it?"


A SELECTION OF STORY SOURCES ON THE WEB - there are lots sites on the web & the sites below have excellent links' pages.

This is Papa Joe's Travelling Storytelling Show! ..'serving the ancient art of storytelling in the 21st century. To be a storyteller, you need only to tell stories. To be a better teller, tell more stories.'

An excellent ring of storytelling sites - connected to Papa Joe's site as he was a founding member. And this is the links page at the ring site:

The Story Palace is the place to get your stories for the classroom - masses of them.

' resources regarding children's and adolescent literature.'

This is an excellent site. It looks at the why & how of storytelling, has a great story library - the stories in the plan are taken from here - & with the link below, lots of ideas for storytelling in the classroom.:

This is a site 'with content on fairy tales, folk tales or mythology; stories, essays, discussion, creative writing, and anything related to the literature of myths, fairy tales and folk tales ..'

Some sites we've mentioned before in past newsletters that are connected to storytelling:

We couldn't finish this section on storytelling without some mention of the recently departed hitcher - Douglas Adams. A few links to check out:

The Earth Edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!

As with most things, the more you tell stories the easier it becomes.

Happy storytelling!

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There are some new articles on the site this month.

The first is from Mark Wilson titled 'Is My Map To Scale?' which offers a series of teacher development tasks which help 'to provide ways of questioning the relative value of various aspects of our classroom practice... The tasks are intended for in-service training sessions or teacher development or discussion

There are two new articles on the site from Professor Edna Aphek. These are about children as trainers. As Edna says: 'The Net Generation, is a generation that combines the values of humanism with societal and technical aspects.....In a world where many children speak the language of the computer and the internet as their "mother tongue", where many of them possess the qualities
that make good teachers, it would be most appropriate and only logical to train the children who know, how to teach other children and adults computer and internet skills, be it other children in their schools, or children in other schools.'

The first article is about children teaching other children computer skills & the second article is about children teaching senior citizens computer skills.

If you've given a course or seminar & would like to give it a public airing then do send it to:

Articles can be, as two of the above are, about an aspect of training outside of ELT. I'm a big fan of looking to other disciplines for ideas to help us with our job as language teachers so please don't restrict contributions to ELT.



I came across this on the net the other day. Give it to your advanced students to get into a sound/spelling discussion.


The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year
phase-in plan that would be known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the"k". This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be ekspekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e"s in the
language is disgraseful, and they should go away. By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi to understand ech ozer.

If you've got a favourite warmer that you'd like to share, then send it in.

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Nobody has got back to me to claim ownership. If you do know who has written it please let me know & all credit will be given. Perhaps the author doesn't want to be recognised! If you have any contributions of your own to the Bluffer's Guide, then send them in. To see the full guide on the site.

Here's some more from the tongue-most definitely-in-the-cheek Guide to TEFL.

Tefl's most sacred word and the barometer for all classroom atrocities. The Communicative Approach was designed for those who can't handle grammar and who never grew out of Blue Peter. To win the hearts of your tefl buddies look critically at any coursebook activity and intone: " Hmmm, not very communicative is it?" Communicative is such a vague woolly term that it can exploited to advantage on numerous occasions. Even though no one can
adequately define it, it is of course "a jolly good thing."

Error Correction
Current orthodoxy has it that "error correction is much neglected. This is the line of argument a bluffer should take. In truth, however, it is highly knackering and totally ineffective so no one bothers with it. Nonetheless, a good time-wasting activity is a bit of 'creative error correction' - the technique
of inventing errors for on-board correction. A useful sleight of hand to follow monitoring.

Grammar is anathema to teflers. Do not mention the dreaded 'G' word as this is tantamount to declaring yourself a linguistic fascist. True blue teflers feel uncomfortable with grammar as they do not understand it. Similarly, avoid all reference to semantics as this discipline threatens the entire bedrock of tefl

Learner Training
Everybody knows, but naturally refuses to admit, that this is a complete load of drivel. LT has been flavour of the month for over a decade which is a highly depressing thought in itself. Nevertheless, it is a cardinal sin for the tefl bluffer to knock LT in any shape or form because otherwise you will become
embroiled in the sort of tedious argument best avoided. Should the subject of LT raise its ugly head, nod sagely and say something enigmatic like "Learner Training is alright in theory, the problem lies in the methodology." Do not expand on this. LT comes in handy for scoring TefI brownie points in a workshop. Regardless of the subject under discussion, bang your fist down
firmly on the table and declare: "Don't forget the Learner Training!" Your audience will be suitably impressed.



Maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course.

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'Visit the UK's biggest online library of English teaching resources for photocopiable worksheets, lesson plans and schemes of work - everything you need for planning tomorrow's first lesson or (for the very efficient) next term's scheme of work ..these are downloadable and photocopiable - all you have to do is find a suitable topic and a photocopier! The Teachit libraries
now offer over 1000 pages of free resources! And don't forget, as well as English teaching materials, we also offer resources for teaching Drama and Media Studies, and online lessons to access 'live' in the computer room (teaching made easy?!).'

An excellent quote portal - lift them out for your lessons.

Anything & everything to do with calendars - 'Comprehensive categorized calendar catalog currently containing countless correlating connections & calzone recipes!'

Your personal newsportal! This site collects headlines from 1578 sources around the web and lets you manage them in new ways.The appearance of the site is very customizable (skins, language, pages etc.).

Haiku's galore - get your students writing them.

Lots & lots & lots of US-based newspapers & articles online from one page.

Good news for everyone....'the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will make the materials for nearly all its courses freely available on the internet over the next ten years'. Now this is what the internet should be about.

A directory of online courses, online learning and online education in 37 subject areas offered by educational institutions, companies and individuals from all over the world - online training, long distance learning, distance education, e- learning & web-based training

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We've recently been contacted by a teacher starting a Cambridge DELTA teacher training course, asking for support with the assignments - a very good idea. We have lots of experience with the course so if anyone else is in the same position & would like some on-going external support throughout the course, then do get in touch.



Teachers can post CVs on the site & employers can post job adverts - both are free services at the moment. Check out:

There are a few CVs up at the moment - two recent ones. The first from Emma Robinson who is looking for teaching work in the US. And the second is from Susan Bowen who is looking for teaching work in France or the UK. Can you help out? If so, get along to the site for their contact details.

A couple of jobs:

The International School of London currently seeking 2 full-time ESL teachers to start in September 2001. Applicants must have TEFL/TESOL certification and some experience of working with young people in the 11-18 years age group. We are looking for enthusiastic, dynamic teachers prepared to give lots of ideas and energy to their classes. ISL is a modestly sized International
school with approximately 350 students, of which many participate in some stage of the ESL curriculum. The ESL department is a busy area and working well with other subject teachers is imperative, therefore the successful applicants will be committed and proven team players. If you are interested in applying for these positions, please email your CV with covering letter to: Please type 'FAO ESL Department' in the subject line. Please note that applicants must be legally able to live and work in the UK.

There's also a post for Director of Education to work at Qingdao International House in Qingdao China from 16.7.01 or later - a 12 month contract. For more contact Julia Bishop (



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



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


Full-time four-week courses: July, August & September


Full-time eight-week courses: July & August

Six month part-time course: October '01 >> March '02

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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11. PS - Internet/computer-related links                             

Do you reckon your reflexes are good? Don't mind wasting a bit of time? And end up wasting quite a bit of time? Get along & test yourself! An Olympic sport in the making..

Karenware is Karen Kenworthy's site. She is the author of PowerTools - the free Windows programme that 'makes life easier with Windows'. There's the Power Tools to download, many more useful free programmes & a newsletter to subscribe to.

This is a site devoted to helping you find the most suitable search engine for your specific purposes. They say that 'specific topics will be found more efficiently with specific search tools'.

Another troubleshooting site for your computer problems.

For those with an e-complaint, you can see if anyone else has had a problem with a particular product or provider & you can post your own for all to see.

If you're ever in need of updating your drivers, then this is the place. They have a huge database of drivers & resources & all free.

For something a little different! A star in the making - cool crooner.

And after Eugene, sit back & enjoy this - a treat in flashy design.

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