A web site for the developing language teacher

March 2001 - issue 3/01


Welcome to the Newsletter

This month we’re looking at ‘crime’ in the theme. It’s a topic that comes up in most coursebooks as everyone has an opinion about it & usually a morbid interest in it. There’s a lot of material out there on the net & we’ve brought together some useful sites & a series of classroom activities.

Don’t forget the Recruitment page on the site. If you’re looking for a job you can have a page for free to put up your CV. And if you’re looking for a teacher then send me a short description & I’ll put it in the Newsletter & on the site.

There’s still time to apply for the April/May full-time DELTA course being run at the British Language Centre in Madrid. If you are a subscriber to the Newsletter then you’ll get a hefty discount. If interested contact:

Contributions & suggestions are very welcome - e-mail them to

Happy teaching!





1. THEME – Crime

- different crimes vocab: arson, burglary, theft, fraud, murder (false friends – for Spanish learners ‘crime’ is a false friend & means ‘murder’), manslaughter, mugging, terrorism, vandalism…see the lesson plan for a chart for stds to fill in – the crime, the criminal, the verb.

- different punishment vocab: fine, community service, prison sentence, warning, death penalty …

-different stages of the criminal procedure: committed a crime, got caught, got arrested, charged for the crime, held in custody, released on bail, be on trial, sentenced - let off/acquitted, imprisoned, appeal, released ….Students could order the process & compare with their own country.

- other related vocab: fingerprints, plain-clothes policeman, cell, evidence, detained, handcuff, witness, judge, magistrate, verdict, coroner, inquest, trial…..

- ‘fitting punishments’ - match the crimes to the punishments e.g. what punishment would you give:

a wealthy housewife caught shoplifting for the first time/a terrorist who planted a bomb that killed two people/a man who killed his wife in an act of anger after finding out that she had been unfaithful …

- Discussions That Work – the activity ‘Prisoners’ - some profiles of prisoners & the discussion centres around who is most suitable for parole.

- discussion points: judicial system too soft/hard in your country, any reforms like to see made, what do to reduce the crime rate, how to effectively deter criminals, check out where you can reclaim your stolen property, probably from the actual thief, for a reward – use this idea as a discussion point….

Site selections:
This is a very comprehensive site to search for crime materials. Anything to do with crime &, at times, unfortunately easy to find.
A very useful imaginary crime case site. There are lots of solved cases with all of the evidence & story laid out to use. There’s a new case each week to work on.
This is taking homework to another level. We’re always looking for authentic activities & you can’t get more authentic that having an inmate as a pen pal, & maybe even one on death row.
The site from the boys in blue. Lots of information about present & past campaigns. There’s a Wanted section with accompanying photos & there’s some good jigsaw reading material in the Prevention section. Get them to exchange useful information & practise language at the same time.
A site devoted to legislation with limited appeal. Set in the States but with links to the laws of the country you happen to be in
These are some of the useless laws given for England. You could ask your students to discuss why they might have been made laws.

All English males over the age 14 are to carry out 2 or so hours of longbow practice a week supervised by the local clergy.

London Hackney Carriages (taxis/cabs) must carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats.

Chelsea Pensioner may not be impersonated.

A bed may not be hung out of a window.

It is illegal for a lady to eat chocolates on a public conveyance.

Mince pies are not to be eaten on Christmas Day.

It is illegal to leave baggage unattended. (there’s a link explaining this one)

Picking up abandoned baggage is an act of terrorism. (there’s a link explaining this one)

It is illegal for a Member of Parliament to enter the House of Commons wearing a full suit of armour.

If a steam locomotive is driven on roads, a man must walk in front of the vehicle with a red flag during the day and a red lantern at night to warn passers-by.

All steam locomotives are limited to 4mph on roads.

It is legal for a male to urinate in public, as long it is on the rear wheel of his motor vehicle and his right hand is on the vehicle.

Placing a postage stamp that bears the Queen (or King) upside down is considered treason.
As they say ‘The intention of this site is to bring a clear understanding of the history of organized crime, mainly during the early part of the 20th Century…….(&) to showing how these individuals with their political ties, union connections and power through various criminal activities helped shape our culture in its present state.
Search the Web for legal information anywhere in the world.
One site among many devoted to those family-loving hoods.
From the University of Alaska in Anchorage, they say ‘The purpose of this site is to provide Alaska citizens and other members of the public with a source of information on the death penalty so that they can make informed decisions on this important issue.’

If the death penalty is going to be the focus of a lesson then go no further. There are many links with all points of view. Ideal for setting up a for & against debate.
After all this talk of crime we thought it might be nice to find out where people are happiest & what they actually mean by that. They say ‘The World Database of Happiness is an ongoing register of scientific research on subjective appreciation of life. It brings together findings that are scattered throughout many studies and provides a basis for meta-analytical studies.’

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There’s an intermediate reading lesson related to the theme – ‘crime’.

There are a couple of other new things on the site:

A lesson plan from Simon Ferdinand in which he experiments with cuisenaire rods.

A combined article & lesson plan from Darron Board about Information & Communication Technology:



A friend sent this riddle recently – you could use it as a warmer. The students could ask you Yes/No questions to help them to the answer. But do you know the answer?

What is;

- greater than God?

- more evil than the devil?

And what do;

- the poor have?

- the rich need?

And when you eat it you die?

The answer is at the end of this page!

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


‘If one small area, (2,640 sq km/ 1,019 sq mi, with a population of 541,000,) can be this bizarre just imagine what the rest of the country, and indeed, the whole of the rest of the world is like. Perhaps the point is that the unusual isn't unusual at all, or is Gloucestershire just a particularly weird place?’

A great site for interesting & bizarre classroom articles taken from the local newspapers. If it’s time to zap up your lessons get over to strange Gloucestershire.

Some headlines from the Classics section:

Fat Sam takes a slimline step

Unproven RAF Padre spanker returns to work

Barking PC collars his man

‘Big cat’ alert for parents as dog is attacked

King’s head ‘buried with pets’

The uninvited ghost

Swooping seagull is back – this time with a mate

Record breaking hamster dad

UFO’s over Gloucestershire
From the History Channel ( ) here is a page to have bookmarked - This Day in History. You get a major story from the past. When I was last there they also had links to This Day in Automobile, Technology, Civil War, Cold War, Crime, Entertainment, Old West, Technology, Vietnam War, Wall Street, Literary, WWII History. Check it out before you begin planning & then see if you can draw any interesting things into the lessons.
I’m sure that this free downloadable programme is the first organiser of many to come. It helps the learner organise their studies, both on & offline, doesn’t take long to download & it’s very easy to use. It’s basically divided up into sections: Studybook, Vocabulary, Notebook, Texts, Cool sites & Web Tools. In the Vocab section you add new words & as you go on you can test yourself on them. The Cool Sites offers lots of links to English language learning sites & the Web Tools offers links to dictionaries. Try it yourself & then pass the link on to your students. There’s a Spanish learner’s version too.
‘Fun & games for playful brains’. This is a site for you to while away those rainy days - & might be good practice for your advanced students. There are countless word games, quizzes, limericks etc. with a heavy emphasis on crosswords. When you need a breather, try out the Impressionist paint programme or interactive paper dolls. A very busy site in itself, there are also lots of links to related sites if you’re still in need of more.

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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: March, April, May, June

Twelve week part-time courses: April>>June.


Full-time eight-week courses: April & May & then July & August

There is a discount for subscribers to the Newsletter.

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


8. PS                                   
I’m sure most of us use at least one Microsoft product, if not three or four, on our computers. So to help you save lots of time Microsoft have put all of the keyboard shortcuts in one place – Word, Windows, Internet Explorer, Excel, Access etc….Get along to the page & choose the programme & then you’re away.
They start off saying, on the front page, that they’re not as good as Goggle. But what Goggle can’t do & they can is give you a thumbnail of the sites it finds. This then gets you surfing quickly until you get what you’re after. Not the greatest search engine by any means but a taste of things to come.
Priceless is the operative word – all of the quality freeware that it features are just that - free. Lots for the Windows user – programmes for business, graphics, internet, multimedia, system, text, security…Have you tried Sun’s Star Office – an excellent free alternative to Office? Or in need of an anti-virus programme?
This is quite a nifty page from McAfee – a world computer virus map. They provide a map of the world, colour-coded to show the latest spread of viruses or infected computers over the last week or 24 hours. Pretty.


The answer to the riddle is 'nothing'!

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