A web site for the developing language teacher

March 2007 - issue 3/07


Welcome to the March Newsletter.


7. PS - Internet/computer-related links



Since we launched the free downloads of the first units from 'Fullspate', the advanced coursebook, there has been a steady daily demand. We hope you are finding the units useful. If you would like the remainder of the book, get along to the following page:

A couple of new articles on the site - Cambridge ESOL return this month with a profile of the teacher that is taking the new Teaching Knowledge Test(TKT). For the people I've talked to who have done the Test, it's certainly worth looking into. It is mainly designed for the non-native English-speaker teacher although there are quite a few native English-speaking teachers taking it for the same developmental reasons.

And Hall Houston joins us for the first time with some activities from his book 'Creative Teaching'. If you like the activities, follow the links to get hold a copy of the book.

On a totally different note, the group Harvey Danger have put their new album up on their website for free download. Pioneer thinking - read their reasons for doing this & download the album at:

Thanks for reading.
Happy teaching!


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The online courses are hosted at one of our sister sites, ( ). The individual, personalised courses develop with the experience, needs & interests of each participant at their own rate.

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How are teachers performing in the new TKT? by Nadezda Novakovic, Research & Validation Group, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations

A study of teachers taking the new TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test), a badge of professional knowledge, has revealed its growing importance as a refresher among experienced teachers.

Cambridge ESOL first launched the TKT a year ago as a new addition to its range of teaching awards. The test has been developed for both pre-service and practising teachers, and consists of three free-standing modules, each relating to a different aspect of knowledge about the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. The challenge for the test producers has been to ensure TKT could be relevant to the wide range of teachers, in terms of both age, experience and location.

TKT is a flexible test, created to fit in with busy working lives. The three modules (Language and background to language learning and teaching; Lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching; Managing the teaching and learning process) can be taken together in one session or separately, as well as in any order. There is no compulsory course component or teaching practice in TKT: candidates can choose to prepare for the test through self-study or by following a guided course of study. Results are given in bands (from Band 1 up to Band 4), with the opportunity for both inexperienced and experienced teachers to demonstrate their particular level of knowledge.

So far TKT has been offered in more than 25 countries around the world. Each module has been taken by many thousands of candidates, with the large majority of the candidates taking more than one module. At every examination session, candidates were asked to fill in a Candidate Information Sheet (CIS), which provides, among other things, information on their age, gender, country of origin, teaching qualification and experience, their level of English language competence and reasons for taking the test. This information gives us a chance to look at who’s taking the test and how they’re performing.

To view the article:

This is a follow up to the article 'The development of the Teacher Knowledge Test':


Warming Up to Creativity: Starting Points By Hall Houston

My new book, The Creative Classroom, has many ideas for improving language learners' creative skills. In this article, I will suggest some activities you can use to get students thinking about a topic creatively. The activities here are all short and can be used as warmers. They are not intended to be complete lessons, but just brief ways to introduce a topic.

You will need to choose a topic for students to discuss. This can be something from your coursebook or you can pick something you think students would find interesting. These activities work best with intermediate and advanced level students.

If you like the activities I have included here, you might want to find a copy of my book, The Creative Classroom, published by Lynx Publishing (

Activity #1 - Special Guest

- Write your topic on the board. Ask students to write a few questions they might ask a stranger about the topic. Then, tell one student to go outside and find a person who would be willing to sit in your classroom for about 5 minutes. Invite the stranger in, and have the person sit in front of the class. Encourage students to ask their questions.

Activity #2 - Line Up

- Line students up into 2 rows, facing each other. Make sure everyone has a partner. Tell them you want each pair to take turns calling out words related to the topic. After 2 minutes, have one line move down, and the student on the end will go around to the other side of the line. Now everyone has a new partner. This time have them say short phrases related to the topic. After 2 minutes, have them move again, and tell them to ask (but not answer) questions related to the topic. When two minutes have passed, move the line again, and tell them to exchange facts related to the topic. For the last turn, have them say their opinions. (Note: If you have an odd number of students, you have two choices: join the activity yourself, or ask one student to police the activity and call out each time 2 minutes are up.)

Activity #3 - Role Play

- Call on students to give you an abstract noun, a concrete noun, a verb, and an adjective, all having some relationship to the topic. Write these up on the board. Put students into pairs and have them role play a situation that relates to your topic, using all 4 words on the board. After 5 minutes, put every pair together with another pair to make groups of 4. They take turn performing their role plays for each other. When they are finished, they vote on who has the best role play, and send that pair up to the front to perform for the class. (Note: If you have a monolingual class, you can ask them to perform the role play in their native language the first time.)

Activity #4 - Room with a View

- Take your students to the window of your classroom. Tell the class to choose a person outside and describe him or her briefly (you probably don't want them to stare). Now, everyone sits down and writes a paragraph about the topic from the person's perspective. After 5 minutes, tell students to put their pens down. Call on a few students to read out their paragraphs. (Note: If there is no window in your classroom, consider leading students to another window in the school or even outside. If this is too troublesome, you can ask students to look through their textbook for a person to write about.)

Activity #5 - Honey and Mumford's Learning Styles

- Before class, put up four large blank sheets of papers in four corners of your classroom. Each poster should have one of these words on it: Activist, Pragmatist, Reflector, Theorist. Explain to your students Honey and Mumford's Learning Styles. (There are four learning styles. An Activist learns by doing things. A Pragmatist dislikes abstract ideas and prefers to see how something can be used in the real world. A Reflector just wants to watch and think about what he is observing. A Theorist prefers to learn by absorbing theories, facts, and concepts.) Ask students to stand up and go to the poster that has their favorite learning style. Tell them to write a few ideas related to your topic (not about the learning style). Then put them in groups of 3 or 4. Each group should be made up of students with different learning styles. Have the groups exchange their ideas and thoughts about the topic, as well as how they would like to learn about the topic.

Activity #6 - Inspiration Cards

- Put students into four groups. Give each group 13 index cards. Assign each group a phrase structure, such as VERB-ARTICLE-NOUN or NOUN-VERB. Tell groups to write a different phrase on each card, using the structure you gave them. Emphasize that the phrases can be wild, surreal or nonsensical (IGNORE THE SUN, DOG SMILE). Collect the cards. Tell the class your topic. Invite a student to come to the front of the class, choose a card at random, and read it out. The rest of the class must find some connection between the phrase and your topic.

To view the article online:


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Click on the link & try it out with a free trial:


Thanks to Hall & Cambridge ESOL.


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 more than a few thousand teachers every week with the Weekly Teaching Tip & the same each month with the Newsletter, not to mention the 2000+ unique visitors a day to the Site, & the site has the Google PR5. If you've got a book, course, job...anything that you'd like to advertise, then do get in touch.


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At Developing 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.

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Focus on academic writing:
Lots of links & explanation from Wikipedia.
'These pages allow you to kibbitz the discussions that take place in one-to-one consultations when Birmingham students bring their drafts of written work for consultation with EISU staff. Each kibbitzer page contains the discussion of a language problem. This problem may be mainly lexical (mostly to do with vocabulary), syntactic (mostly to do with grammar), or discoursal (how ideas are linked), or it may be from more than one of these areas.'
'This site will help you expand your academic vocabulary using the Academic Word List (the AWL). All students, home students and overseas students, need to learn the technical vocabulary of their field. As learners of English preparing for academic study you also need to learn general academic vocabulary, words such as: feature, illustrate, regulate, strategy. This core academic vocabulary is used by writers in many different subject areas. Learning vocabulary from the AWL will help you improve your comprehension of academic texts. It will also help you write assignments in an academic style.'
'An Academic Writing Module: Paragraphs - Writing exercises for self-directed study.'
'The Academic Phrasebank is a general resource for academic writers. It aims to provide you with examples of some of the phraseological "nuts and bolts" of writing organised under the headings to the left. It was designed primarily with international students whose first language is not English in mind. However, if you are a native speaker writer, you may still find parts of the material helpful.'
'The Writing Machine is an Internet resource created at the English Centre, at the University of Hong Kong. It is designed to help students understand and master the process of writing academic essays.'
Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students.
Materials Bank - a collection of teaching materials
'Academic Grammar is a Web-based resource to help students with their academic assignments.'
'Using English for Academic Purposes - A Guide for Students in Higher Education'


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.

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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
International Women's Day - March 8th - lesson ideas:
10th - United Kingdom Commonwealth Day
17th - St Patrick's Day
St Patrick's Day text & links:
First Day of Spring

To see the list of Days:

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

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Some of the books we recommended in February:

Drama - C.Wessels (OUP)

Drama with Children - S.Philips (OUP)

Music & Song - T.Murphey (OUP)

Roleplay - G.Porter-Ladousse (OUP)

Writing - P.Hedge (OUP)

Language Activities for Teenagers - S.Lindstromberg (CUP)

Games for Language Learning (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers) by Andrew Wright,
David Betteridge & Michael Buckby.
To buy the book from
To buy the book from
To buy the book from

Teaching for Success - M.Fletcher (Brain-Friendly Publications)

Teaching Children English - D.Vale (CUP)

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:

- Ten Commandments - good learning areas.
- The Oscars - lesson ideas.
- Fire Pig - lesson ideas about the Chinese New Year.
- My Valentine - lesson ideas.
- All aboard - life coaching & what we might learn from it.

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7. PS – General internet/computer-related links

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

'According to Gizmodo, today begins boycott the RIAA month. It was even good enough to put together a manifesto against the RIAA. I think it is a great idea. I thought I might share with you why I think so and give a few thoughts on how to do so.'
10 Free and Legal Torrent Sites.
Way Odd!
The Skeptic's dictionary
Did you know? from:
'LibriVox provides free audiobooks from the public domain. There are several options for listening. The first step is to get the mp3 or ogg files into your own computer.'
'WinPenPack is a collection of free and open source portable programs.
This allows a new way of working with your preferred software on any PC: our collection is optimized for use with a USB pen drive, but can also be copied on to the hard disk of your PC or Laptop!
You can choose between some standardized configurations, all small enough to fit on your USB Pen Drive.'
What Do You Want to Change in the World?
'FileHamster is a version tracking application focused on meeting the needs of content creators.
FileHamster provides real-time backup and archiving of your files while you work. It enables you to monitor specific files on your hard drive and automatically create incremental backups whenever those files are modified. It also enables you to store notes about the changes that have been made, allowing you to quickly locate a specific revision or provide a detailed account of the work you've done on a project.
Best of all, FileHamster is COMPLETELY FREE!
Search for our symptoms.
Looking for a domain name? check out these expired names.
Free photos.
9800 free fonts.
Meet Pamela - the ultimate sklype add on.
'Find open source software alternatives to well-known commercial software' - essential!
'Stray Cinema is an open source film. Here you are able to download and re-edit the raw footage from a film we have shot in London. This will provide people from all over the world with an opportunity to create their own version of the film. Stray Cinema will navigate the film experiment out of the online digital world, into the 'real world' with a screening of the top five films in London. The footage shot in London is the first of many open source films to be provided by Stray Cinema.'
'Hugg is a new project by TreeHugger —a source for user-generated green news. What does this mean? It's simple—how many times have you found an article, a video or a website that you’ve wanted to share with all your green friends? Well, Hugg lets you to share this stuff with everyone.'

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Disclaimer - all of the recommendations for computer-related software are personal recommendations. We take no responsibility for anything that might go wrong when downloading, installing or running them - not that anything should, but you never know. It's your decision, your responsibility. The same applies to the jobs mentioned above. And anything else that you can think of that we might be responsible for as a result of this newsletter!

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