A web site for the developing language teacher

March 2008 - issue 3/08


Welcome to the March Newsletter


7. PS - Internet/computer-related links


1. Hello

A late & slightly shorter newsletter this month as we've been setting up a new site, & we've been tied up in mailing list woes. Anyway, the site:

You are cordially invited join Developing (, a networking site for English language teachers.

When you register (for free) you will be given your own blog, a place to upload files, a 'wall' for others to write messages to you & a place to keep your rss feeds. The profile you give of yourself allows you to disclose as much information about yourself as you wish. Privacy is taken very seriously.

The site revolves around different communities which you can join. The communities already set up are:

* Pre-school teaching
* Primary school teaching
* Secondary school teaching
* General teaching of adults
* Teacher Trainers
* Business English training
* Academic English teaching

Each community has its own wall, blog & file upload area. You can join as many communities as you want.
So apart from individuals interacting, communities provide meeting places for teachers with the same teaching situations to share ideas & materials.

We will add more communities as the demand becomes clear. We are already thinking of CELTA & DELTA teacher trainer communities.

This is all free. It is hoped that teachers all over the world will meet here to exchange ideas, activities & information of all kinds.

Please take time out to have a look & register at Developing - The more people the better.

See you there.

Unit 4 of Michael Berman's upper intermediate business
course is now available for download at:

Download Tony Buzan's iMindMap. Try it out & see how efficient it can make you.

If you have any information you'd like to include in the Monthly Newsletter, please do email it with the subject: 'Monthly News addition'. Thanks.

Happy teaching!


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.





Time to develop your teaching from the comfort of your computer?

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.

We use Moodle, an excellent course management system, each course having its own password so only the individual participant plus the trainer can gain access. The central focus on the courses within Moodle is the forum & where there may be three or four different threads going on at the same time. Attached to these are a variety of resources. All are very easy to operate in Moodle. Choose between the full, seven-module course, & an elective four-module course.

For more information, to get in touch & check out:


Breathing Life into Checking Answers by Hall Houston

What aspect of teaching do you find the most uninspiring? Is it taking attendance? Or grading papers? Or perhaps passing out exam papers?

One area I've found particularly dull is checking answers to exercises in the coursebook. While most of the exercises serve a good purpose, I feel as if I'm on automatic pilot. The energy level drops and I look forward to doing something else. I suppose my students feel the same way.

In order to make the class more engaging and interesting for everyone, I started to devise some new ways of checking the answers. I tried these out with my students this semester. I found students were more eager to interact, as they were no longer just reading out their answers, but having fun as well.

First, I would like to present a few pointers for making this part of your lesson a little more playful.

Vary the order of the questions. You can go from the last question to the first, or skip around.

Vary the pattern of interaction. You can allow students to call on each other or have a student come up to the front of the class to check answers. Alternatively, you can have students ask you some of the questions.

Vary the ways students give their answers. You can ask them to call out their answers, write their answers on the board, or even write their answers on index cards that they pass to other students to read.

Give students some choice. Permit students to select the question they want to answer, or who they want to answer the question for them.

Let students become critics. Call on a student to answer a question, and then get another student to evaluate the first student's answer. You can also ask students to critique the questions in the book by giving each question a score, or ranking them from best to worst. If there is enough time, get students to brainstorm some clever ways to improve the exercise. (For more information about brainstorming in the EFL/ESL classroom, I refer you to my book, The Creative Classroom, Lynx Publishing, 2007).}

Introduce a game-playing element. This can raise the interest level, particularly if you give a small prize to the winner of the game.

Take a break. Stop right in the middle of the page and tell students to look out the window. Challenge them to name 10 things they see outside.

Don't let the coursebook take over the class. Set the book down occasionally and ask the students how they are today. Comment on a student's new hairstyle or clothes.

Now I'd like to present some teaching ideas you can try out in your classes.

Your Worst Teacher

Tell students to imagine their most feared or hated teacher from a previous class or school. Ask them these questions:

What was the teacher's name?
What did the teacher look like?
What were the teacher's pet phrases?
Did this teacher have any funny mannerisms?
How did the teacher behave when upset?

Call on a couple of students to describe this teacher. Then ask one of the students to come to the front. You give the student your teacher's manual to check the answers in the role of the teacher she described.

To read the remainder of this article::

More articles by Hall:
Warming Up to Creativity: Starting Points by Hall Houston

Hall Houston has been teaching English for over a decade. His first book, The Creative Classroom, was published in 2007 by Lynx Publishing ( He taught EFL for many years at universities in Taiwan. Now he is a full-time English Instructor at the English Language Centre at City University of Hong Kong. His professional interests include cross-cultural communication, discourse analysis, creativity and critical thinking. He is currently working on his second book.


You've probably heard lots about Moodle, the framework for providing online courses. Have you thought about having your own? At Developing (a sister site of Developing we provide you with your own Moodle for only $12/month or $60/seven months. Your Moodle installation comes with 300mb of space & 1gb/month of bandwidth.

We set it all up for you & you provide the courses. You don't need to provide the actual course, this can simply be an online presence, a way of keeping in touch with your students, a meeting place with individuals or whole classes, an extension of your lessons.

We like it so much that we run our own online development courses at Developing with Moodle. For more information:

Reliable & affordable Web Hosting for the English Language Teaching Community!


Time & Timeliness by Alicia Delahunty @The Wednesday English Conversation Club

Let's get started…
Were you late this week? Daylight Savings Time (DST) began 9 March 2008 at 2 a.m. in the USA. We put our clocks an hour ahead. DST will end on 2 November 2008 at 2 a.m. when America puts the clocks back an hour. Does the time change make a difference to your daily schedule? Are you always late anyway? Today we will look at time and timeliness among our family and friends as well as in our home countries!
To view the rest of the speaking plan:

For more lesson plans, check out the lesson plan index:


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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"Call for Speakers" for the First Annual ATEFLC Conference on
June 14, 2008 in Guangzhou, China. Contact Noel at:

CCEL (Christchurch College of English Ltd) is one of New Zealand’s leading private language schools with a reputation for excellence.
We are seeking a new Head Teacher. The role encompasses managing our CELTA courses (approximately 3 courses a year) and other teacher training, providing pedagogical leadership to our teachers and some teaching. This is an opportunity to be involved with training at both pre-service and in-service level and to make a powerful contribution to the academic standards of the school. Start date: Preferred start date 4 May 2008
For more information about CCEL, see Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. It is close to beaches and ski fields. For more information see
Applications and any preliminary enquiries to Glenys Bagnall, General Manager, CCEL
A bi-monthly magazine with traditional and contemporary stories from all over the world, plus notes for teachers on how they can be used in the classroom - from Michael Berman.
Learn English guide, all about how to learn English and how to speak English.
Brainstorm online.
Online dictionaries & translators.
For native speakers...
'Comic strips for fun.'
English Gateway: 'Online vocabulary topics for intermediate and advanced ESL learners. Exercises on idioms, phrasal verbs and collocations.'

If you've 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, among many, to plan your lessons around in March:
1st - St. David's Day - Wales
2nd - World Book Day (UK & Ireland)
8th - International Women's Day
10th - United Kingdom Commonwealth Day
17th - St Patrick's Day
20th/21st - 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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The latest review is of the classic 'Once Upon A Time' by Morgan & Rinvolucri (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers CUP). If you don't already have the book, read the review & buy it - you won't regret it.
To read the review;

And check out all the other reviews:

If you know of a useful book that we haven't looked at & that we should review, do let us know & we'll see if we can get a review together.

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:
- Air balls - communication strategies
- Principled creativity - writing skill & lesson ideas
- Little Tiger - younger learner storytelling
- Love is in the shops - lesson material on Valentine's Day.

To see the Past Tips:

To sign up to receive them:

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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
So you think you know your geography?
The world's 50 most powerful blogs.
'21 Powerful Reasons To Exercise' - if you are in any doubt.
GMail shortcuts.
This site is about providing visitors with informative information that tap into a collective knowledge of interesting facts, which not only gives one the opportunity to know and learn but also to answer pondering questions about interesting things they never knew before. In other words, Tell Me Why: Answer your Questions and Satisfy your Curiosity.
'Every rule of thumb on earth in one place.' - actually quite interesting & addictive reading.
Launchball game.
7 online imaging editing apps.
20+ Free Web Design Ebooks And Guides.
Free PDF to Word Doc Converter is such a desktop document conversion tool to convert Adobe PDF file to Mcirosoft Word Doc file - and it's totally for FREE!
The program can extract text, images, shapes from PDF file to Word Doc file and preserve the layout. It can convert all the pages, or any pages range of the PDF file.
And it is a standalone program - you can convert PDF to Word Doc without Adobe Acrobat Reader or Microsoft Word installed!
Love thy enemy - from Zen Habits.
20 science fiction novels.
Qtrax - free legal downloads - you need to download & install a programme.
TV theme tunes.
Solar system exploration from NASA.

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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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