A web site for the developing language teacher

March 2006 - issue 3/06


Welcome to the March Newsletter.

A recent report from the British Council is worth checking out.

'English Next was commissioned by the British Council and written by researcher David Graddol - a British applied linguist, well known as a writer, broadcaster, researcher and consultant on issues relating to global English.

The report draws attention to the extraordinary speed of change to issues affecting English identified in the 1997 publication: The Future of English?

The new report argues that we are already in a very new kind of environment and a new phase in the global development of English. What are the new rules and who will be the winners and who will be the losers? In this new study David Graddol suggests some of the answers by analysing demographic and economic trends in the Twenty First Century which affect Global English and the language policies worldwide and will influence its future.'

This month Michael Berman returns with a look at using divination in the classroom, Steve Schackne also returns with an article on teaching advanced learners & Robert Berman joins us for the first time with an article about EAP instruction & how successful it has been at Canadian universities.

If you are thinking about taking a taster course in English language teaching, or you have a friend who is toying with the idea, check out St. Peter's School of English. An excellent introduction to the profession. See their advertisement a little further down.

More free Google GMail accounts to give away - if interested, get in touch.

Happy teaching!


7. PS - Internet/computer-related links



Practical courses in London & Canterbury covering techniques & skills. Ideal as an intro or a refresher. Certificate provided.

£180 for a 20 hour course over one weekend

St. Peter's School of English
(Established for 40 years)   e-mail:



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For more information, get in touch & check out


Has EAP instruction at Canadian universities been successful? by Robert Berman University of Alberta


Because most universities in Canada are engaged in aggressive programs of internationalization, and Canadian immigration has increasingly drawn from language groups other than English, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of students using English as a second language in undergraduate university programs. This increase has resulted in: 1) changes in policies regarding language admission requirements; 2) a heightened concern over the use of language proficiency testing in the selection of students for university admission (Clapham, 2000; Simner, 1998); and, 3) a proliferation of support programs that are either available to or required of L2 students as part of the undergraduate admission process. What these support programs share, according to the guidelines provided by the Canada Language Council, is their overall intent to prepare L2 students to use EAP at university level and to help with these students' transition to Canadian general academic and discipline-specific culture. However, a survey of EAP programs across Canada (Berman,
2002) reveals little consensus on fundamental approaches, designs or procedures within these programs, and an absence of research to document their effectiveness. There is little research regarding specific EAP program outcomes at university level (Berman, 2002; Cheng & Myles, 2002; Fox, 2002) or how much time is required to support L2 students with such programs while they adjust to the demands of academic study. Given the increasing number of L2 students in undergraduate programs at Canadian universities, the varying nature of EAP approaches and the lack of studies, particularly large-scale comprehensive studies regarding the key causal factors that account for success or failure, this study is of critical importance at this time, not only to Canadian universities and society, but internationally as well (Hyland & Hamp-Lyons, 2002).


Funded through a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) researchers from three Canadian universities, the University of Alberta, Carleton University and Queens's University, set out to answer six questions, the first two of which will be answered in Phase One of the study, or its first year, and will be addressed here:

1. Is EAP important in L2 students' success in their undergraduate studies?

2. What other key factors contribute to (or impede) the success of L2 students?

3. What are the stages in the inter-cultural transition of L2 students?

4. What role does EAP play in the transition of L2 students to undergraduate study?

5. What pedagogical interventions best meet the needs of L2 students in the process of transition?

6. What EAP program support has the greatest benefit for the least cost?

To view the rest of the article


The Common Sense Approach-Advanced EFL by Steve Schackne


We have two advanced EFL courses at my school-one carries the designation [Advanced] the other [Fluency]. In reality, one is advanced and the other is, well, more advanced. Neither course has a text, and they tend to be rotated between teachers in the Humanities Faculty and the English Language Center. I have often seen teachers at other schools turn these courses into "special topics"; that is, instead of skills courses, they become literature courses or sociolinguistic courses. What is it about advanced EFL courses that make them difficult to develop, define, and teach?

Well, for one thing, these students already know so much; that's why they are advanced. There is an abundance of language that can be addressed with our beginning and intermediate students-they have gaps in grammar organization, pronunciation, and usage. However, advanced students have often mastered much of what is traditionally taught in EFL courses, so that at advanced level many students see no point in continuing their EFL studies, and opt for mainstream courses. Contrary to common perceptions which often see these students as "easy to teach because of their good English," advanced students can actually be more difficult. They are often highly motivated, demanding, and in need of challenge; furthermore, they have a hard time perceiving progress.
Consequently, advanced EFL courses often concentrate on polishing their English, or as Harmer says, "learning better how to use what they already know."

If we take Harmer's words at face value, then an advanced course would place a greater emphasis on practice rather than on introducing new language. Most teachers would probably agree that practice at the advanced stage should be free or communicative rather than controlled. Deciding on communicative practice, a teacher can logically move to the next step and create practice activities that embody challenge, spontaneity, and genuine communicative purpose; in other words, communicative practice which is not artificial, "real communicative practice."

A Theoretical Foundation

In previous articles I have argued that students should have control over subject areas they want to explore in developing their L2, and that as they progress through their L2 learning they should reduce formal classroom contact with their language teachers and start engaging in real life issues as a platform to polish their language. Students who have control over their content, who can bring their own life concerns to the course will more likely have a real communicative purpose. Any issue a student brings to a teacher which requires the student to use the L2 to educate, inform, amuse, entertain, or persuade can be deemed "real communicative practice."

A Proposed Guideline

First, let students brainstorm topics they wish to develop. In intermediate classes, students can choose topics, then let the teacher develop exercises and activities around those topics. At the advanced level, I prefer to have the students develop broad topics, then narrow them; in other words, pair topics and spin- off projects.

To view the rest of the article


Making Use of Divination in the Classroom by Michael Berman

Divination is defined in the Introduction to Loewe and Blacker's Divination and Oracles (1981) as 'the attempt to elicit from some higher power or supernatural being the answers to questions beyond the range of ordinary human understanding'. If we concur with the belief that such techniques enable us to catalyze our own unconscious knowledge' (see Von Franz, 1980, p.38), then divination can also be claimed to be the attempt to elicit the answers to such questions from what is commonly referred to in New Age texts as the "inner shaman".

The practice of divination can be traced back into the distant past and by biblical times it was clearly idespread. Despite the warning given to the people of Israel not to follow the"abominable practices" of neighbouring nations, which included human sacrifice, divination, soothsaying, sorcery, mediumship, and necromancy, (see Deuteronomy 18:9-11) we now know that 'Israelite divination corresponded broadly in the range of its uses to the utilisation of divination in Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the Near Eastern environment' (Cryer, 1994, p.324). And there is actually 'no reason to believe that the various phenomena which the Israelites banned as "practices of the peoples" were actually derived from Israel's neighbours' (Cryer, 1994, p.326). Historical linguistics suggests that the forms of magic used in Israel were in all likelihood domestic (see Cryer, 1994, p.262). A good example of this is the goral-lot, for which there is no useful extra-Israelite etymology from the early pre- exilic period. So how come practices forbidden by God were not only utilised by the people of Israel but are also likely to have been domestic rather than the foreign imports they were previously believed to have been by scholars. The answer is simple. 'The strictures against certain types of divination were probably a 'means of restricting the practice to those who were"entitled" to employ it ... to the central cult figures who enjoyed the warrants of power, prestige and, not least, education' (Cryer, 1994, p.327). Cryer's explanation makes perfect sense for if the practice had not been restricted to the chosen few, then the cult figures would no longer have been cult figures and would have had to look for alternative employment.

As Lama Chime Radha, Rinpoche points out, one can scarcely expect such a process will be totally convincing to someone who has never experienced the reality of divination ... and whose culture conditions him to an almost instinctive and unthinking rejection of everything relating to magic, mystery and the operation of forces and principles which are not at present recognised by modern Western science, [though] ... Jungian psychology, with its concepts of the supra-individual reaches of the unconscious mind, and of intuition as a function of equal validity to that of reason, offers the easiest way for the modern sceptic to arrive at an intellectually respectable position (Loewe & Blacker, 1981, pp.12-13).

It can also be argued that if divination had not been sufficiently successful over the years, it would not still be practised so widely. There remains the possibility, however, that when people are desperate, as a last resort, they are prepared to try anything and that this is the real explanation for its appeal. Clearly more convincing arguments need to be found in order to justify its use.

Kim suggests that 'Instead of trying to rationalize away the irrational nature of shamanism, we need to see that it is precisely its irrationality which gives it its value and its healing power. Irrationality is important in the field of misfortune, since the experience of misfortune does not really make sense to the sufferer in rational terms' (Kim, 2003, p.224). The same argument could be applied to the use of divination. It would seem to me to be doubtful, however, that experience of misfortune or the results of divination would make any more sense were they to be explained in irrational terms, and that consequently the suggestion is not particularly helpful to our cause. So let us instead consider the "Jungian" position in more depth by turning to the work of one of his followers, the psychotherapist Von Franz.

She points out how the belief that a statistical truth is the truth is in fact a fallacy as all we are really handling is an abstract concept, not reality itself. And then goes on to add that if we make the mistake of imagining we are dealing with absolute laws in the field of mathematics, we can then be open to the criticism that we are identifying ourselves with the godhead (see Von Franz, 1980, p.32). On the other hand, people who live on the level of the magic view of the world, such as practitioners of divination, never believe that magic is like an absolute law (see Von Franz, 1980, p.37). Incidentally, nor do they talk about magic in such terms, unless they happen to be unprofessional charlatans.

To view the article at the site

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Now Available!

'The Shaman and the Storyteller' by Michael Berman

with an Introduction by Jonathan Horwitz from the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies - Price: £12

To buy the book at Amazon .com
To buy the book at Amazon

10% of all the Royalties will be donated to the Scandinavian Centre for Shamanic Studies to set up a scholarship fund.


Thanks to Robert, Steve & Michael.


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.

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A couple of recent posts:

Lina asks:
Hello everyone! I think it's common knowledge that children love watching TV. Wanting to "take advantage" of this habit of theirs, I am looking for DVDs that can be used with young learners of English. There are some products available in the marked, but I think that DVDs originally made for native speakers of the language maybe more interesting, as long as they target to young learners. After all, all children of the world learn a language the same way, don't they? Please let me know of any DVDs that you think can help my students make their first steps in learning English and enjoy themselves as well! Thanks a lot!

jamestrotta lets us know:
SMU-TESOL is looking for a methods teacher and an SLA teacher. The SLA position is really exceptional because you get to work with me

Among many jobs, karen68 offers:
Location: Daegu or Ulsan and Chagnwon. - Number of vacancies: one person / A valid passport holder under the age 35 from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa/ Bachelor's degree from E1 is essential. - Length of contract: 1 year or 6 months. - Start Date: ASAO. - Salary: 2.0 M won per month ( USD 2000 per month). - Duties: Teach kids English, textbook provided but teachers are encouraged to be creative in their lessons and activities. - Teaching hours: at most 30 hours per week. Total hours spent at work: up (Including the teaching hours and class preparations). (More info in the posting)

Among many jobs, Joy ETEC offers:
The following is the condition of the institute. -Location: In cheon ( Gye yang gu in Incheon). - Starting Date: beginning of April. - Teaching Targets: elementary and middle school students. - Numbers of the students in a class: 12 (Maximum). -Working Hours: Monday to Friday 2:30pm~10:00pm. (Including preparation time and breaks). -Actual teaching hours: 27.10 hours per week (Maximum). - Salary: 2.0 M won per month. - Housing: fully furnished brand-new single studio apartment (5min walking distance from the institute). (More info in the posting)

Lots of different Forums to choose from. Check them out. 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.

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At we occasionally carry out consultancy work. The different projects have included tutoring DELTA candidates by email, offering advice on curriculum design & materials choice & short training courses in person & by email. If you would like us to help in any way, please do not hesitate to get in touch.



If you have visited a site that you think would be beneficial for all or would like your site to appear here, please get in touch. Thanks.,,1711347,00.html
'Seeing the way the world is turning - Marjorie Vai makes the case for the study of globalisation as part of postgraduate teacher training.' - article.,,1711343,00.html
'How learning has escaped from the box - Technology is getting easier and its rapid development is changing language education, making it possible to link the classroom to the real world beyond' - article.
100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English - from
100 most often mispelled misspelled words in English - from
The origin of words & names.
Berlitz have come up with an amusing video ad.

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A few days to plan your lessons around in March:

1st - St. David's Day - Wales
2nd - World Book Day
8th - International Women's Day
10th - United Kingdom Commonwealth Day
17th - St Patrick's Day
20th - First day of Spring

To see the list of Days

Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:
Some holiday origins.



Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers) by Julian Bamford & Richard R. Day (CUP). An excellent array of activities to start, support, maintain & exploit this vital activity.

To read the review

To buy the book at Amazon .com
To buy the book at Amazon

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:

- World Women's Day '06 - lesson ideas
- World Book Day '06 - some extensive reading ideas
- Jabberwocky - tasks & sound-spelling
- CLL - community language learning
- Newsletter Projects - using newsletters in class

To see the Past Tips

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

Part-time course twelve-week course starts April '06
Full-time four-week courses; Aril, May, June

Full-time two-month courses, April/May & July/August '06

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,collid,1387,tk,lg,00.asp
'Top Free Fun Files of 2006 - Here are the most popular Fun and Games files so far this year. Dig in and don't pay a cent.'
Tweak your icons on Windows.
Lots of animal skulls - match them up to the animal.
Download Apple's QuickTime standalone player - without iTunes.

One extension among many, an extension for the browser Firefox that lets you search for free ebooks. You are using Firefox, aren't you?
Google Video.
The Best of Google Video.
Real time world statistics.
Test the speed of your internet connection.
Excellent free alternative to Word.
Different news from lots of sources.

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