A web site for the developing language teacher

March 2005 - issue 3/05


Welcome to the March Newsletter.

A couple of articles to check out:

In this school, the classroom revolution is now a reality - all 360 degrees of it: Teachers circle the room in an experiment that could change the shape of education. And the pupils love it.

Vanessa Thorpe and Anushka Asthana report - Sunday February 27, 2005 - The Observer

Inside a dingy-looking prefab hut near the Toxteth area of Liverpool, an experiment is determining the shape of things to come; or at least the shape of the world as British schoolchildren will know it.

A new teaching system, revolutionary in more than one sense, has been developed and tested in secret. Known as the 360 degree flexible classroom, it challenges the techniques used by teachers down the ages.

Although the year eight boys of St Margaret's High School in Aigburth look conventional enough as they file into class in their ties and blazers, they are effectively entering a Tardis full of futuristic gadgetry.

When their afternoon maths lesson begins, far from having to keep themselves awake by flicking elastic bands at each other, they are careering around the room on wheels.

Instead of simply standing at the front, their teacher, Tim Wadsworth, circles them on a curved 'racetrack', occasionally taking up a position on a podium in the centre of the room. No longer can reluctant students skulk at the back of the class or plant themselves on the periphery of the teacher's field of vision.

To the outsider the scene looks chaotic, but for the designers of this prototype and the children who have studied in it for seven weeks now, the classroom is a hit.

To read the rest of the article:,6903,1426369,00.html

Not the Queen's English: Non-native English-speakers now outnumber native ones 3 to 1. And it's changing the way we communicate.

By Carla Power - Newsweek International

The name-Cambridge School of Languages-conjures images of spires and Anglo-Saxon aristocrats conversing in the Queen's English. But this ambridge is composed of a few dank rooms with rickety chairs at the edge of a congested Delhi suburb. Its rival is not stately Oxford but the nearby Euro Languages School, where a three-month English course costs $16. "We tell students you need two things to succeed: English and computers," says Chetan Kumar, a Euro Languages manager. "We teach one. For the other"-he points to a nearby Internet stall-"you can go next door."

The professors back in Cambridge, England, would no doubt question the schools' pedagogy. There are few books or tapes. Their teachers pronounce "we" as "ve" and "primary" as "primmry." And yet such storefront shops aren't merely the ragged edge of the massive English-learning industry, which in India alone is a $100 million-per-year business. They are the front lines of a global revolution in which hundreds of millions of people are learning English, the planet's language for commerce, technology- and, increasingly, empowerment. Within a decade, 2 billion people will be studying English and about half the world-some 3 billion people-will speak it, according to a recent report from the British Council.

To read the rest of the article:

If you come across any interesting articles, let us know & we'll pass the link on.

Again, we've got some free Google GMail accounts to give away - if interested, get in touch.

Happy teaching!



7. PS - Internet/computer-related links



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The Common Sense Approach - How One Teacher Organized A Speaking Course For 200 Chinese Graduate Students by Steve Schackne

Most efl-esl training programs around the world try to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Depending on the department, some leans towards the theoretical, others towards practical classroom application. Indeed, the move away from theory in the United States has transformed applied linguistics courses into narrowly focused teaching methodology courses, and prodded many colleges and universities to move applied linguistics from the linguistics department to the English or education department. In a previous paper [see Schackne, 2002] I argued that there was a lot of relevant research on second language acquisition that was not being applied in the classroom. However, if we accept that successful learning strategies and styles differ depending on personality, educational and cultural background, and personal preference, then applying a theory may only benefit some of the students. The missing component is a knowledge of the students, specifically their current academic, political, and socio-economic pursuits, and, just as importantly, their attitudes towards, and experience in, language learning. While a needs analysis can shed light on student attitudes and desires, actual teaching experience might be the most crucial variable in intuitively tapping into what approaches will both benefit and satisfy language students. Bearing in mind these three crucial factors--second language acquisition theory, classroom practice, and student insight--let us now use a common sense approach to develop an oral skills class.

In the fall of 2002, a Chinese university asked me to teach speaking-listening to about 200 graduate students (4 sections x 50). There were no materials, no guidelines, simply the general goal that the students "learn something" from the course. The students ranged in age from 21 to 50, and came from various departments, including hard sciences, social sciences, liberal arts and fine arts. They were evenly divided between Masters students and Ph.D students. They were in class approximately 90 minutes a week over the course of 2 semesters (approximately 30 weeks). Their levels ranged from low intermediate to low advanced.

To view the article:


Arzu - a detailed analysis of a language learner by Kendall Peet

Learner Profile: General background

Arzu is a 26 year old Turkish female living in Istanbul with her family (mother, father, sister 24, brother 28, and brother 16). She is engaged to be married next year. Her fiancé, Coskun, completed a degree at Istanbul University in Foreign Trade and a degree in Business Administration at Anodolu (open) University. He is currently working for a customs company. Arzu also attended Istanbul University where she completed a Diploma in Foreign Trade. She is currently completing a business degree part-time through Anadolu (open) University. She has been working for MSC, a freighting company, for five and a half years, and is presently working in the import department as a customer representative, acting as an intermediary between MSC worldwide agents and MSC clients. She works Monday-Friday, approximately 45 hours a week.

Language learning background

Arzu first started learning English at high school at the age of 16. Her teachers were non-native speakers. The main method used was grammar-translation with elements of behaviourism, such as drilling and other stimulus response activities where the teacher provided tangible rewards and immediate, more often than not negative, feedback. She did not enjoy learning English at that time, as the teaching approach did not match her learning style.

Her second experience learning English was at Istanbul University, where she was required, as a part of her course, to take several classes in English. Unfortunately, the learning situation did not cater to her particular learning needs and so again she failed to get much out of the course. Her third experience to-date has been her last two years at International House, where she attends on Monday and Thursday evening from 7-10 pm. The teachers at IH are native speakers. The teaching approach is communicative, which matches Arzu's learning style. Arzu has a positive attitude toward learning English and has said that she now really enjoys learning English. Her attendance record is excellent, she participates well in class, and regularly completes her homework. She has recently completed the Cutting Edge pre-intermediate text.

To view the rest of the article:


EFL Colleges Management by Piotr Jednaszewski

EFL Management is all what I would call the EFL institution leader contribution to the development of his organisation in terms of:

* Manager contribution within the system
* The management realities
* Perspective Management
* Personal Development

For organisations, if not for academics, the key purpose of any organisation theory or approach is to help them analyse and rectify the weaknesses and problems of their current situation, and to assist them in bringing about the changes necessary to achieve future objectives. Not surprisingly many managers look for simple, foolproof solutions.

In this article I would like to focus on Manager's contribution within the system as this is the main root from which grow out such issues like: perspective and development. The realities shape our vision of the surrounding world. Hence the way of perceiving the world is very individual and can be shaped through personal retrospective on achieved experience, knowledge and outcoming from them possibilities. The article presented below shows the way of development approachable for every Teacher - Manager as I firmly believe.

To view the article:


Thanks to Steve, Kendall & Piotr



There's an upper intermediate lesson plan based around an article about the opening of an Ikea store in London last month - 'Slowly but steadily, madness descended lesson plan'.

To give extensive & detailed reading practice
To give freer speaking practice
To give oral practice with functional areas involved in the speaking activities: blaming, disagreeing etc..
To look at lexical sets within the article: shopping, insecurity, responsibility etc..

To view the plan:

There should be some more plans going up on the site this month so keep checking back.


ARTICLES - If you've given a course or seminar or have a lesson plan & would like to give it a public airing, do 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 1500+ 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.


To the index

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



A few recent Forum postings:

Barmadu asks:
I was wondering if anyone knew of any good sites on the net for Oil Industry related materials to use in class? I'm currently teaching some Oil workers, and they need to know more about pumps and spanners than apples and oranges in the shop.

pkb1104 is searching:
I'm looking for some new activities to do with 4th graders who are working on North Carolina's three regions. Any ideas?

HannahECU asks:
I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations on books or tips for teachers working with English as a second language students. For example, I am trying to get a student fluent in Japanese to learn English. Thanks for your ideas!

ARWEN wonders:
Hi there, I'm pretty new to teaching and have been looking online for some time-saving resources - mostly for displays. I have already been to and have bought a load of time saving CD-Roms from but are there any other sites you can recommend? Thanks

Alvaro needs some advice:
I have only started teaching recently and one of my first students is a 27 year old with impaired hearing. During my teacher training course one of my students also had a hearing problem. However, my new student's impediment seems worse and, as an added difficulty, these lessons will be one-to-one. I would be very greatful if teachers with previous experience in similar situations could give me some advice on how to approach these lessons. Additionally, I would be very greatful if anybody could tell me of any websites where I can find specific material for students with impaired hearing. Thanks in advance.

Mr.G is still looking:
I have a group of young learners that have been with us for some time. Very happy they have gone through the all Chatterbox books (up to book 5) Shocked . They are not old enough to start the adult books yet Sad (11/12 years old). So I need help to find a good book for them. Could anyone help me? Thanks

elm0812 did get an answer:
Is there anybody out there who could offer me a SIMPLE definition of the difference between sematics and pragmatics. I thought (VERY simply) that pragmatics is how we say something and semantics is what we say.However, having searched on the net for an explanation I'm not too sure that this is correct - although I admit, I have been having trouble trying to understand a lot of explanations! Any help, would be much appreciated.

hr_bill offers:
Experts, consultants, advisers invited, immediate payment. Online service consultant. Home or part time job, immediate payment, if you can provide rational advice in one or more fields you are qualified. Registration, more details and faq at Person that have free online time and need additional earnings will be best suitable candidate.

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.

To the index

SITESKIMMER.COM is the website that helps you enjoy your internet experience. We provide you with sites to visit - not just any old site, but sites worthy of your time. There are so many web sites that the internet can often feel verwhelming so more often than not it is just too much work to look for new interesting sites. takes the work out of surfing the net because we have already been there. We siteskim the net to bring you sites worthy of visiting. This selective sufing cuts down on wasted time & also avoids stumbling across the more unsavoury side of the internet. The SiteSkimmer Linkletter is sent by email every two weeks in text format.

All you need to do is sign up & wait for the next issue of the SiteSkimmer Linkletter to enjoy the net. To sign up for the free linkletter:


'Wikipedia, a free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit.' Add your own knowledge to this most democratic of encyclopedias. Going from strength to strength!
'Maybe some dull, basic English grammar stuff here, but I know how to get to the meat of any subject. Join me as I nose my way through the least you need to know to bluff your way through Freshman comp or any general writing task.'
'Department of Education & Skills - Grammatical knowledge for teachers.'
Good source for 'Children's Storybooks Online - Illustrated children's stories for kids of all ages'.
'The Literacy List is a large collection of free Adult Basic Education and ESL/ESOL Web sites, electronic lists ("listservs"), and other Internet resources for adult basic skills learners and teachers. The resources have been suggested by adult literacy and ESOL practitioners.' Lots & lots of links!

To the index


Some days to plan your lessons around in March:

1st - St. David's Day - Wales
8th - International Women's Day
10th - United Kingdom Commonwealth Day
17th - St Patrick's Day
First Day of Spring

For lesson ideas on Women's Day:

For lesson ideas on St Patrick's Day:

To see the list of Days:
Some holiday origins.



No new review this month. Do check out the review & invest in the excellent 'Language Activities for Teenagers' by Seth Lindstromberg (CUP). Here's how the review begins:

This book, part of the Cambridge Handbook for Language Teachers series, is aimed at teachers of students aged between 11-16. Many of the 99 activities include suggested variations so the teacher really is presented with a lot of options. In the introduction, Lindstromberg recognises the realities and potential challenges of teaching this age group - poorly motivated students and large, mixed ability groups. Solutions to these problems are offered throughout. The editor also points out that the vast majority of students in this age range are learning English in an L1 community and, as a result, will not have much opportunity to express themselves in the language outside of the classroom in the near future. He states that 'poorly motivated students are rarely persuadable by such arguments as This will all be very useful to you one day.' Therefore, the activities selected aim to motivate learners by being intrinsically interesting and varied. Most of the tasks outlined have clearly achievable goals, require more than just producing the correct forms brainteasers, quizzes etc.), use non-language stimuli (pictures, objects, mime and sound), and incorporate movement and humour.

To read the rest of the review:
To buy this from
To buy this from

To see the recommended book index:

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:

- Dewi Sant - a couple of ideas for St David's Day on 1st March
- Toning it down- a look at the discoursal approach to intonation
- Real Why - speaking practice & a lesson plan
- Phoning - ways of developing telephone skills

To see the Past Tips:

To sign up to receive them:


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

Full-time four-week courses, next courses April & May '05
Part-time course twelve-week course starts April '05

Full-time two-month courses, April/May, July/August '05

10% 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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7. PS - Internet/computer-related links from

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, fifteen links every issue to follow up & help you enjoy the internet. To subscribe:
Lots of interesting stuff to keep you entertained.
Doodles, Drafts & Designs - Industrial Drawings - 'A traveling exhibition developed by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Behring Center, from the collections of the National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.'
The best definitions and explanations for over 1 million topics.
Yet more innovation from Google.
White ninja comics.

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