A web site for the developing language teacher

June 2003 - issue 6/03


Welcome to the June Newsletter.

This month's theme has an article about listening & pronunciation by Richard Cauldwell from Birmingham University in the UK. 'Streaming Speech: Listening and Pronunciation for Advanced Learners of English' is an article about a ten-part electronic course that Richard has developed. It's really nice to find a course like this as phonology & listening courses combined are few & far between - especially when they're this good. We like the course so much that we have come to an agreement with Richard that offers a discount to Newsletter readers on the course price. All you have to do is say you found Streaming Speech through Developing Read the article & then check out his site.

We also have articles on 'My Methodology' by Costas Gabrielatos, 'Schools and Ideology: A Critique' by Dimitrios Thanasoulas & 'Designing a twenty hour timetable for advanced learners' by Scott Shelton. In addition there is a book review of Ruth Wajnryb's book 'Stories - narrative activities in the language classroom'.

Do you plan lessons around important days of the year such as Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving? I try to but always seem to miss most of the lesser known days, realising too late that it would 've been a good idea. With this in mind, we're collating a Days of the Year reference guide to help us remember.

If there are more days to add please do let us know by posting in the Forums. Thanks.

Happy teaching!



1. THEME - Streaming Speech

2. THE SITE - plans & articles




6. CVs & JOBS


8. PS - Internet/computer-related links



The two-sides rule in teaching listening and pronunciation by Richard Cauldwell

1. Pronunciation: the misrepresentation of speech

I have long believed in the rule that listening and pronunciation work are two sides of the same coin - the coin being 'the spoken language'. This is the two-sides rule which has an important implication. Every time you do a pronunciation activity, you are teaching students something about the spoken language. Therefore, like it or not, you are teaching students something of how to listen. So if pronunciation activities consist primarily of the accurate articulation of the segments of isolated words, then students are learning - like it or not - 'facts' about the spoken language. These 'facts' are, of course, not facts at all - they are misrepresentations. Unfortunately, such misrepresentations are common: vocabulary lists, and dictionaries give information about the pronunciation of the citation forms of words, and promote a view of the spoken language as a sequence of citation forms - words bounded by pauses, stressed, with falling tones. Clearly, this is a misrepresentation of the spoken language as experienced by the listener. It is also (because of the two-sides rule) a misrepresentation of speech-production - in pursuit of segmental accuracy (a worthy aim in itself), students practise disfluent speech.

The listener's experience of normal speech (however one might choose to characterise 'normal') is of a stream, words flow into each other in patterns (tone-units, tone-groups, breath-groups, pause-groups) in which some words retain resemblance to the citation form and others are pulled out of shape.

2. Ying's dilemma and the sound-shape of words.

Pronunciation work therefore, insofar as it focuses on citation forms promotes a view of speech which is an obstacle to effective listening. Students learn ideal sound-shapes for words (citation forms), but do not learn the wide range of sound-shapes that a word can have when 'streamed' in normal speech. Even within the speech of one speaker, words take on different sound-shapes according to their position in the variety of patterns known as tone-units. These sound-shapes vary according to speed, volume, whether the words are prominent or not, whether or not they are the location for tones. We don't teach this variability in our work on speech. We should - because students are asking for it, as the words of Ying's diary indicate:

'I believe I need to learn what the word sounds like when it is used in the sentence. Because sometimes when a familiar word is used in a sentence, I couldn't catch it. Maybe it changes somewhere when it is used in a sentence' (Goh 1997, p. 366)

For Ying, words that are 'known' become 'unkown' in streamed speech. This is 'Ying's dilemma'. Our typical response to Ying's dilemma has been to throw our hands in the air and say that the only way around this problem is immersion or osmosis: immersion by living in countries where the language is spoken (Rost, 1990) or tested osmosis, unmediated by pedagogic intervention, in the form of extensive listening.

We throw our hands in the air because we believe that the variability is so great, so unpatterned, that it is impossible generalise, and therefore impossible to teach. I disagree. There are patterns in the stream of speech: and we can use these patterns as a mode of presentation of speech for both listening and pronunciation materials. If we do, then it is possible to teach pronunciation in such a way that it represents normal speech more accurately, and practises accuracy and fluency simultaneously. In doing so it thereby promotes a picture of speech, which aids, rather than obstructs, the acquisition of listening skills.

3. Streaming Speech

'Streaming Speech: Listening and Pronunciation for Advanced Learners of English' is an electronic publication which aims to solve the problem of the misrepresentation of speech. It does this by using normal spontaneous speech as the model to be imitated and emulated; and it rejects the 'immersion' and 'extensive listening' solutions to the problems of teaching listening, by paying close attention to the fastest stretches of speech, where Ying's dilemma is likely to be at its most acute. It makes use of the patterns of speech identified in the work of David Brazil (Brazil, 1994, 1997) - he calls them tone units, I call them speech units - to present samples of spontaneous speech for both the teaching of listening and pronunciation. A key feature of the publication is the use of web-based multi-media technology, which allows students to click on a line of transcript, and to hear it as it was originally spoken.

3.1 The speakers

Streaming Speech is a ten-chapter electronic publication which features recordings of eight speakers of English from the United Kingdom (seven speakers) and Ireland (one). All the recordings are of unscripted, spontaneous speech, and contain many features that would be edited out of the written language: pauses to give planning time, re-starts, self-corrections, repetitions. Such features provide a discourse syllabus for both listening and pronunciation which I shall return to in 3.3 below.

All of the speakers are associated in some way with the University of Birmingham in the UK: they are either lecturers (full-time or part-time), or senior figures in the administration. Their recordings are largely (but not wholly) monologic - and this makes them suitable for the identification of samples for modelling pronunciation. All but one of them consist of biographical talk: the exception is of one person giving a lecture on early English grammar. There is one accent from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland (Chapter 8) but the other accents are close to Standard Educated British English - again this makes the recordings suitable for use for modelling pronunciation. There are however some slight differences, with two speakers having certain characteristics of a London accent, and two others have characteristics of the British West Midlands.

3.2 Two layers and a filling

The first eight chapters have a common structure, which has its origin in the two-sides rule - but is best thought of as a structure akin to a cake with two layers, with a filling in between the two layers. The top layer consists of two sections devoted to listening, the bottom layer consists of two layers devoted to pronunciation. But first, a description of the filling.

To read the article

Discount on the course! If you'd like to buy a Streaming Speech course you will receive a discount if you tell Richard you heard about it at Developing!

Richard's web site is at: & not only contains the Streaming Speech course but also the excellent Centre for Discourse Intonation Studies. All very well worth checking out.

Richard's other article on the Developing site is titled, 'Grasping the nettle: The importance of perception work in listening comprehension'.

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Learn to build a house at the Shelter Institute this summer - and pick up some new teaching techniques at the same time! Earn teacher recertification credits and/or college credits as you enjoy a learning vacation on the coast of Maine. Design, build, or contract your own home, saving money and building equity in your future. Teachers who take our course often find themselves building houses every summer thereafter. Visit us on the web at or at our wooded campus 873 Route One, Woolwich, Maine 04579. Call (207) 442-7938. Next class runs July 7-25.



Here are the new articles on the site this month:

My Methodology by Costas Gabrielatos

Much has been written in the ELT literature about the importance of a teacher's self-awareness, and the extent to which personal views and interpretations shape teaching. I for one am convinced that knowing why I teach the way I do gives me control over my teaching and development. Prompted by an online discussion on ELT methodology1 I decided to draw a brief outline of my practices and the rationale behind them, as an exercise in self-awareness. I expected to end up with a short piece, but the more I thought about the 'what' and 'why' of my practice, the more I wrote. I apologise for the list format, but a proper text would defy the purpose of the exercise. Of course this isn't a comprehensive account, and I would be surprised if it contained anything that hasn't already been said or done. Still, it's unique, because it's a subjective interpretation of thinking in ELT and its informing disciplines through an individual teacher's personal filters. I present it as an invitation to colleagues to share their own personal theories and methodologies.

To read the article


Schools and Ideology: A Critique by Dimitrios Thanasoulas

Introduction The pressure upon schools to improve and raise achievement is unlikely to recede over the next decade, which would suggest that the school effectiveness and school improvement research fields are likely to remain influential and popular with practitioners and policy makers alike. Until recently, these two traditions have gone their separate ways, mainly because of differences in methodological orientation and ideological position. The purpose of this paper is to provide the background and context for the analysis and critique of school effectiveness and improvement, within a cultural and political framework. More specifically, the present work sets out to portray the various processes that permeate the core of educational systems in most western societies, and show that schools are nothing but political arenas where the struggle for power and domination is the norm.

To read the article


Designing a twenty-hour course for advanced learners by Scott Shelton

Introduction The following document outlines a twenty-hour course designed for an identified group of advanced learners who are preparing to sit the examination for the Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English at the end of the term. It is divided into two parts. The first provides a rationale for the course, the process by which the course content has been selected and sequenced, as well as a brief examination of the principles of syllabus planning and how these were applied when planning the course. How this course reflects the learning needs of this particular group is also addressed, as well as how these needs were determined.

To read the article

Thanks to Richard, Costas, Dimitrios & Scott

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

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 at:

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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...

From the Teaching Forum:

In response to Captain Kangaroo's great list of vocabulary pre-teaching activities, ryandalcampbell responds:

'Following on from Capt Kangaroo's sterling pre-reading efforts here's an occasionally amusing technique for brightening even the dullest textbook reading:

Split your class into teams of roughly equal numbers using whichever technique you use for deciding teams (a communicative task to pick the teams is normally best if time is not too pressing eg: 'Find the four people whose birthday is closest to your own and make your team' etc etc. Once the teams have formed allot each a paragraph in the reading. Tell them that this is their paragraph and they must defend it from the sneaky other teams who will be trying to steal points from their paragraph. Every team must have at least one paragraph. If there's any spare paragraphs left call these the bonus rounds. Give the teams a shortish period of time to read the passage (basically enough time for a good look at their own paragraph and a skim at the rest).

Once the time is up ask each team for a buzzer noise (mine generally like a scream or an aaaaaaaaa for this) (the buzzer noise is to stop them all shouting at the same time and also just for an extra giggle). Then explain the following rules:

2 points for a question answered correctly in your own paragraph. No penalty for an incorrect answer. 5 points for a question answered correctly from another teams paragraph but -2 if wrong. In the bonus round it's a quick fire 3 points for a right answer -3 for a wrong answer. If you've used up all the paragraphs for the teams the bonus questions can come from anywhere in the passage.

Generally these types of questions work best: Start with straight factual questions who? What? Why? etc then move these onto inference questions with students having to infer answers from the text or the grammar in the passage. You can make this as hard as you want for your students and use it to concentrate on any weak areas. Students love the quick fire questions and seeing their score shoot up and down with the negative scoring. Speed is the key so if you don't think quickly on your feet, pre prepare the questions.

Rationale: This is fun and can be made as challenging as the teacher wants. It's adaptable to almost any coursebook reading. Focusing on one area as here has been proven in native speakers to increase comprehension of the whole passage so it should have similiar and even more beneficial effects for learners. It encourages students not to get bogged down in one word but try to work it out from context. There's tons more benefits of this but try it and see what works for you.'

To see Captain Kangaroo's activities

Can you offer advice on the following recent postings?

- kracker would like some information on reading skills.
- Javier would like some advice on how to use the idiom sections in the Language In Use workbook.
- ryandalcampbell wants to know why we use 'many a'.
- asia's after project ideas for younger learners.

Check them out:

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Relax & maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course.



The review this month looks at Stories - Narrative activities in the language classroom by Ruth Wajnryb (CUP, 2003):

'Stories & narratives have long been seen as an important tool in the classroom for both the teacher & the student. For the teacher they provide a versatile activity that can be fitted in almost anywhere in a lesson for a multitude of different aims & for the student, they are an important part of both productive & receptive communicative ability. 'Stories' by Ruth Wajnryb, author of 'Grammar Dictation' helps to enrich this area.'

To read the rest of the review

Buying books? 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.



If you or your students are thinking of the UK for an English language course then The New School of English in Cambridge should be at the top of the list of schools to consider.

Here are a few reasons for choosing The New School of English

- centrally located in the city of Cambridge
- small enough to provide very personal attention to our students in the classroom
- accommodation and in their social activities
- no large numbers of one nationality
- high-quality language classes with experienced, well-qualified staff
- self-catering residential accommodation in the summer for students who want more independence

If you mention that you found them at Developing, you'll get a 5% discount on the course fees. To visit their web site:

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Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

Recent Tips have included:
- Student Teachers - ideas for giving the class back to the learner
- Skeleton texts - helping with reading skills
- There once was a teacher.. - ideas on using limericks in class
- Silently Chatting - using the chat room idea for writing in class

To see the Past Tips

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7. CVs & JOBS

Mary Anne Zabawa is looking for a job in the Middle East, Su Laforge in Costa Rica is looking for a change & Scott Chiverton in California is on the move. Check out their CVs at:

We are starting to get postings of CVs in the CV Forum. If you'd like to have your CV on the site then please go to the Forums first. We will then pick it up & give it a page on the site. The same goes for job adverts - in the Jobs Forum & then on the Recruitment page of the site. Thanks.

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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

Full-time eight-week course, July/August '03

5% discount on all courses if you mention the newsletter!

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


8. PS - Internet/computer-related links

Back in 1996, I created the original Ancient Scripts web site during the wee hours of the morning. I have been a great enthusiast for writing systems and linguistics in general, but I could only find meager resources on the web about this subject in those early days. So I went to work, taking class material from Linguistics 11 (Writing Systems) at UCB as well as my own research in dusty libraries. Many years later, despite problems with servers and having to earn a living, Ancient Scripts is still running.

'The best place on the Internet - the ultimate online HelpDesk, the home of computer support:'

And on, 'Through our support service we often come across problems caused primarily by programs running in the background, programs which in most cases start at the same time as Windows. Sometimes these programs are useful and need to be there; quite often, however, they are not needed, and in too many cases they cause severe problems.' Check out which ones you need.

Your chance to vote for the seven modern wonders of the world.

The Online Resources Handbook - 'deals with practical aspects of using the rapidly growing global on-line information resource, in which the Internet plays an increasingly important part. The book is distributed in a form designed to be easily accessible with the maximum range of computers, printer types, and search programs. In this way, it is compatible with most electronic reading devices for the blind. Many frills, such as fancy formatting, extraneous characters or tags, have been omitted to achieve this... The main subject of the handbook is what you can get out of the global online resource.'

Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive.

Yahoo's search page.

'A place for those who like to take quizzes and especially for those who like to make them.'

If you like the number 37.....

Free access to Google, AOL, Yahoo, eBay, and others on your desktop.

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