A web site for the developing language teacher

March 2003 - issue 3/03


Welcome to the March Newsletter.

We've got lots of reading for you this month. Andrew Wright sends us an article on storytelling, together with answers we have posed in the form of an interview. We also review two of his storytelling books. Hugh Deller questions the usefulness of language corpora, Jody Skinner tells us about his Koblenz model
where the students become the teachers, Ignacio Bermejo Larrea looks at how to help students read Time & Newsweek magazines & our regular contributor, Dimitiros Thanasoulas, looks at discourse & language teaching. Hope you find them all interesting.

We got a posting in the Forums from a teacher development group in Korea. Here it is:

KOTESOL - Korea TESOL - has monthly meetings in Seoul. At each meeting, English teachers give 50-minute presentations about any topic related to teaching. I'm offering any English teachers in (or near) Seoul to make a presentation.
What? 50-minute presentation about any teaching topic
When? Third Saturday of each month, 3:00
Where? Sookmyung Women's University, Main Building Room 508B
Who? KOTESOL (Korea TESOL), national teachers' organization
Why? Meet other English teachers, share good teaching tips

Teaching can sometimes be a lonely job & one way of continuing your development & meeting other teachers is through a teacher development group. If you haven't got a group near you, then why not get one going? They're easy to set up - use our Forums to start with. We'll help you with ideas in the Forums & advertise your meetings in this newsletter. If you already belong to one, let us know how you operate so others can follow suit. The Teacher Development Forum is the place.

We are intentionally late this month as we don't want to clash with the Weekly Tip at the beginning of the week. And talking of the Tip, 8th March is Women's Day & last Sunday's Tip gave a lesson plan about the Day & its origins. You can find it all at the Current Tip on the site. Next week's Tip will look at eaching ideas for St Patrick's Day.

Happy teaching & see you in the Forums!



1. THEME - Storytelling & Andrew Wright

2. THE SITE - articles









11. PS - Internet/computer-related links



1. THEME - Storytelling & Andrew Wright

YOU are a story absorber and a storyteller by Andrew Wright

Stories are the sap in the tree You have been absorbing stories from the moment you were born and it didn't stop when you became a teenager or adult. Stories are
the sap in the tree. People go to war because their stories are incompatible. The Vikings wanted to make their wild slaughterings acceptable so they employed storytellers to make the tales sound good. The royal family has appointed a storyteller (spin doctor) I believe, to make their story more palatable. And we all know that Blair and Bush ride on a sea of spin doctors.

Enough! Stories are for all of us, not just for kids.

You are a storyteller

And every time you tell someone about missing a train or plane or losing your watch or having a rotten Christmas or having to cope with the wretched behaviour of another are telling a story. You cannot tell all the select. You decide what to say first and then sequence for effect and understanding. You decide what words to choose and how to move your body and use your voice...for expression.

To say you are not a storyteller is like saying you're not political because you don't vote. Not voting is a political act. We are all storytellers.

Language teaching?

Every one of our students, young or old, wants a story. They may not want them all the time but basically they all need stories.

Stories are largely based on words. Stories give meaning to words and students want them. Why aren't stories more central to language teaching?

To read the rest of this article

An Interview with Andrew Wright

- When, where & why did you begin teaching English?

I have always been a worker for teachers rather than a language teacher. It's a bit like being a maker of violins for others to play. Of course, I can and have knocked out some tunes on the violin myself but basically I am a maker.

- What is your involvement now in ELT?

I run a language school with my wife. My school organizes London Chamber of Commerce Cert TEB courses for teachers of Business English with Mark Powell. I do some work with teachers in various countries each year. I write articles for teachers' magazines.

- Which books have you published & why? Which are you most proud of?

I have been writing non-stop for forty years, almost exactly. So I can't list all my books. Like a bit of flotsam I have been lucky to have been thrown forward by the wave of developments in language teaching for much of that time. I am very proud of being the writer (co-author with David Betteridge and Nicolas Hawkes) of the very first topic-based textbook ever written: Kaleidoscope, published by Macmillan in the 1960s. Now out of print.

I am also proud of the fact that my Games for Language Learning, (co-author David Betteridge and Michael Buckby), is still going strong after 25 years. It was the first book in ELT to be based on the cookbook recipe layout of the activities.

Five Minute Activities, also with Cambridge University Press, has sold over 100000 copies in its ten years of life. Penny Ur, my wonderful co-author and I, conceived and wrote the book very quickly, not exactly in five minutes but very quickly.

Perhaps I can mention just one more? I wrote a book for Longman with Saphia Haleem, Visuals for the Language Classroom, which hardly sold at all and is now out of print but it was special for me. I think it is the only book in language teaching which is based on the idea of the character of the medium suggesting all kinds of special ideas for language teaching. The smears on the old-fashioned chalkboard can be interpreted, as Leonardo said, as 'landscapes and armies marching' or any other kind of image from the imagination. You can fold paper and hide all kinds of things underneath...guess what it says...guess what the picture is, etc. The medium is just like a person; it has character and can suggest all kinds of ideas, if you listen to it.

To read the rest of the interview with Andrew

See the book review section for the two books Andrew mentions.

Other links to Storytelling on the site:

Storytelling for the classroom by Michael Berman

Warrior, Settler or Nomad by Michael Berman

June '01 Newsletter with theme on Storytelling

Effective Storytelling - A Manual for Beginners - lesson plan

Back to the index


Here are the new articles on the site:

'What have corpora ever done for us?' by Hugh Dellar

The use of computers to store and help analyse language has obviously revolutionised many aspects of language teaching, and corpora linguists have become an ever-increasing presence at IATEFL and other similar conferences. Obviously, much good has come from this. We have had a whole new generation of much improved dictionaries, all of which contain better information about usage, collocation and frequency; superb new reference books such as the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English have been made possible, and, perhaps inadvertently, corpora linguistics has helped to launch the Lexical Approach and to thus help move language back into the centre of language teaching. Nevertheless, it seems to me that despite all these advances, corpora linguistics has also had several negative side-effects on the way teachers perceive their roles, and that they have actually enslaved us in ways which are not entirely healthy

To read the article


'The Koblenz Model within Anglo-American Cultural Studies at
German Universities' by Jody Skinner

What's the best way to motivate listless, uninterested students? Simply turn them into teachers! The technique practised at several schools and universities, most notably at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and at more and more grammar schools in Germany is called Learning by Teaching and requires a radical shift in the traditional roles of teacher-learner. The results are overwhelmingly positive, especially in the field of foreign language instruction. Learning by teaching is not an exclusively modern didactic method. Seneca wrote 2000 years ago, docendo d iscimus: "We learn by teaching." At St. John's College, students teach each other philosophy and physics, ancient Greek and the integral calculus by using the "Great Books," the original works of Euclid, Shakespeare, Newton, and Freud. There are no textbooks and no professors; the "tutors," as they are modestly called, see themselves as guides who know what questions to ask and, more importantly, know when to listen. St. John's students are not extraordinarily brilliant, but they are extremely motivated and critical. By the end of the first semester at the latest, they realize that they themselves are responsible for the quality of the seminars and tutorials.

To read the article


'Teaching EFL/ESL Students How to Read Time and Newsweek' by J.
Ignacio Bermejo Larrea

Time and Newsweek have always been favourite sources of teaching material at advanced levels for several reasons:
- These magazines are easily available all over the world andthey can be taken to class as examples of "authentic" English because they are written by native speakers for native speakers.
- The lesson will focus on meaning rather than on form, which is the best way to promote language acquisition, according to authors like Prahbu (1987) or Nunan (1989).
- Students will find these texts especially motivating because they will learn something new about the modern world while practising English: the lessons will have signification, relevance and the perceived value of the activities will increase (Williams and Burden: 1997).

But teachers have a decisive role to play as "mediators" (Williams and Burden: 1997) to help students cope with the challenge of reading these texts. First of all, we have to be aware of the "house style" of these publications. Then, we have to design lesson plans which train students to deal with the peculiarities of this style, those that hinder and those that facilitate reading comprehension. In other words, we have to teach how to read Time and Newsweek as particular examples of
authentic journalistic style.

To read the article


'Discourse for teaching purposes' by Dimitrios Thanasoulas

A cursory glance over old and newly produced EFL coursebooks attests to the assertion that too much reliance has been placed on the traditional "text" format as the primary source of information about how language is used and functions. Here, it will be argued that English language teaching is deprived of discourse as "live language" and "grammar above the sentence," being characterised instead by a slavish adherence to "form," which leads to stilted language and other features that are not typical of natural language use.

To read the article


Thanks to Andrew, Hugh, Jody, Ignacio & Dimitrios.

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 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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To complement the article & interview above, this month there's a review of 'Storytelling with Children' & 'Creating Stories with Children' (OUP) both by Andrew Wright.

'Storytelling has been a fashionable idea for an effective & enjoyable way of teaching children for a number of years now & Andrew Wright's 'Storytelling with Children', (1995) & the sequel 'Creating Stories with Children' (1997) are packed with stories & lesson plans to delight the younger learner.'

To read the review & links to Amazon to buy them

Please don't forget to go through the books page when you want to buy from or . The books have links to both .com & .uk & if the books that you want aren't there, do a search with the search boxes at the bottom of the Books page. We get a little bit & you pay the same. Every little helps to keep the newsletters free. Thanks.



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...

Check them out

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



' is committed to providing educators, parents, and students from all over the world, the BEST resources on the Web.'

'Education Planet's experienced educators, programmers and business professionals are committed to delivering powerful, easy to use web-based applications to K-12 teachers. Education Planet's K-12 resource portal ( also provides teachers, students and parents with convenient access to quality, teacher approved educational resources.'

'Reading Online is a peer-reviewed journal of the International Reading Association ......Since its launch in May 1997 it has become a leading online source of information for the worldwide literacy-education community, with tens of thousands of accesses to the site each month.'

'The Forum is a quarterly journal for teachers of English as a foreign or second language. The Forum has been published since 1963. Currently 60,000 copies of the magazine are distributed in over 100 countries. It features articles by well-known scholars, readers worldwide, and the editorial staff. Articles focus on the theory and practice of teaching English and include discussions of methods, techniques and ideas useful in the classroom. Thematic content varies, often focusing on an aspect of American culture or a particular language skill or teaching approach.' 1993-2001 articles online.

'The Conversation Worksheet Bank is a bank of topic-based question worksheets for use in the TEFL classroom. The bank is absolutely FREE!' Free, that is, if you send in a worksheet yourself - nice idea.

English for academic purposes web links. 'This online resource aims to achieve two principal goals for those involved in the field of English for Academic Purposes: first, to facilitate the locating of appropriate WWW-based teaching and learning materials; and second, to allow teachers and students the opportunity to share their own materials and ideas.'

Lots & lots of very useful links from Steven Schackne.

The home of A Word A Day, Internet Anagram Server & The Wordserver.

'Links to thousands of biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, diaries, letters, narratives, oral histories and more.'

Famous Quotations Network

From the University of Oregon - 'a sampling of the many web sites available for children and youth. Most of these are educational in purpose.'

Webography: Best Sites for Children

'eLibrary is a comprehensive digital archive for information seekers of all ages. Users can do business research, use it for homework, get background materials for term papers, find out about both current and historical events, and more, all in one vast database designed for both depth of content and simplicity of interface.'

'WordWeb is a free cut-down version of the WordWeb Pro. It includes a comprehensive English thesaurus and dictionary, and can be used to look up words from within most programs. The Pro version also has word finding, anagram, editing and customization features. Compatible with Windows 95/98/2000/NT/ME/XP.'

Have you got any favourite teaching links? Post them in the Forums or send them in.

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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:



Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

Recent Tips have included:

- Women's Day 8th March lesson plan
- Human Billboards - a plan about a new form of advertising
- Breaking News - ways of using the radio news
- Valentine's Day links, plans & ideas
- Getting It Right At The Beginning - ways of correcting students

Next week there will be St Patrick's Day links & ideas.

To see the Past Tips

To sign up to receive them

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Madrid, Spain
We are looking for experienced/qualified in-company English language trainers for company classes in Madrid full and part- time for an immediate start. Please contact Interlang and ask for Sean O' Malley or Raquel de Nicolás on 91-5642447 ASAP or send CV to

Rome, Italy
The Wall Street Institute of Rome - Corporate Division - is currently looking for dynamic, motivated, qualified EFL language instructors (native speakers) to teach our courses to adults, in companies all over Rome. We offer initial and on-going training with excellent backup and support, 15 to 20 working hours per week, one-year free-lance contract and incentives. We require recognized TEFL qualifications (CELTA/Trinity), university degree, computer literacy and strong interpersonal skills. Tel: 039 06 54225466 Fax: 039 06 54607030 Contact Person: Pauline Kinniburgh (Rome Corporate Service Manager)

As with the Jobs, please post CVs first in the Forums & then we'll take them up from there.




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

Full-time four-week courses, next courses - May, June, July ....

Full-time eight-week course, April/May & 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.

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11. PS - Internet/computer-related links

Create your own newspaper 'CRAYON is a tool for managing news sources on the Internet and the World Wide Web. CRAYON uses a simple analogy that everyone can understand - a newspaper to organize periodical information. The result is a news page customized for you with the daily information that you are most interested in.'

'A directory of wonderful things'

Free tutorials for Office 2000.

You know the feeling, you've just made yourself a coffee & then get interested in something on the net & before you know it, your coffee is cold. Now here's the answer!

Animal, vegetable or mineral - 20 questions.$$tablecontents.html

Ralph Waldo Emerson boldly states, "Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment."

The Traffic Light Wars - they'll never seem the same again.

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