A web site for the developing language teacher

MARCH 2012


Welcome to the March '12 Newsletter




1. Hello

I was contacted by Kim, who is based in North Hackney, London, & is looking to become involved in some volunteer English language teaching. Can you help? If so, please get in touch with me & I'll pass your message on. Thanks.

I'm off for an adventure to China, training teachers in Beijing, - hence the rather shorter newsletter this month. If anyone has any advice do get in touch.

This is a recent project on the sister site Developing The preparation courses are for experienced teachers who feel a need to develop their teaching & achieve an internationally recognised qualification at the same time. The DELTA Module 1 consists of two one and a half hour exams & Module 3 consists of a 4,500 assignment on a specialist area of ELT. The courses cover a wide range of input, lots of discussion of issues, & clear guidelines on how to pass the exams & submit the assignment.
Each course lasts for three month courses starting on 1st September & leads up to the exam/entry at the beginning of December.
For more information on both courses:

Happy teaching!





Time to embrace learning languages - In a world where multilingualism is the norm, how to tackle defiant young monolinguals

'On a recent school trip, some pupils asked me if it was okay to ask for ice cream in English - after all, we were in a big city in the north of France and people were likely to understand them. I answered that they would get a smaller ice-cream if they asked in English. Sure enough, lots of pupils ran back to tell me it was true and show me how much bigger their ice cream was because they had asked for it in French. I even got a nice comment from the ice cream lady on how nice it was that my pupils had "made the effort".'

A post from Ken Wilson's blog about EL teachers who became novelists.

'MANY English teachers around the world use The Economist to help teach English as a foreign language. We (the newspaper as a whole, and this blog) would like to help them out, but so far, ideas are hazy for how to do so. Are there any English teachers, or anyone else, among our readers who have good ideas about how we might use and this blog to teach English? Please jump in in the comments if so.'

Booming English-medium schools in India:




Our main site with a host of teaching ideas, plans & articles.

A choice of online development courses to enhance your teaching.

A range of web hosting options for teachers.

Online teacher training courses
Online language development courses - FCE, CAE
Short face-to-face courses
To get in touch:




A rationale for an integration of explicit and incidental learning approaches to vocabulary acquisition at a post-intermediate level by Scott J. Shelton-Strong

1. Introduction
With a renewed awareness of the primacy of lexis within language related activities, the complex issue of learning and teaching vocabulary in English as an Additional Language (L2+) has inspired an increasingly extensive amount of research over the past two decades (Schmitt, 2008; Meara, 2002). Many questions remain, however, concerning how vocabulary is acquired, automaticity developed, and word knowledge processed.
The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of how explicit and incidental learning approaches are thought to inform vocabulary acquisition, and how through a combined integration, a complementary approach might be argued for and encouraged as a pedagogically appropriate option for learners of English at a post intermediate level.

The paper begins by providing a background outlining the inherent challenges and relevant issues of vocabulary acquisition upon which the eventual analysis and argument is based, and moves on to examine the reported effectiveness of learning vocabulary through a direct, explicit approach, and within an incidental, meaning focused framework. In this light, the effectiveness of extensive reading will be reviewed and the possible gains in vocabulary learning discussed. Additionally, noticing and its role in learning vocabulary will be examined and evaluated in view of its association with increasing opportunities for acquisition to take place.
Through an analysis of reported finding in which these elements are thought to converge to aid acquisition, an argument for a synthesis will be explored. This discussion will be based on current research and hypothesis, and related to previous findings in the area of vocabulary acquisition and extensive reading. Suggestions for pedagogical application will be implied, and the impact of learner strategies will be noted. Finally, a summary will be offered in support of an integrated approach, with focused noticing and learner engagement as crucial elements to be fostered within the creation of the necessary conditions for vocabulary acquisition to flourish.

2. Background
Let us begin by examining, in brief, some of the challenges facing learners in reference to vocabulary learning. In focusing on what a learner needs to know about a word, the first distinction made is usually the meaning-form connection. This might also be described as 'sight vocabulary', and is what is needed for automaticity to begin and continue to develop. The meaning-form connection, while adequate for recognition and general meaning, has its limitations, however, and at this initial receptive level, a number of further distinctions need to be made; for example, the word's sound/spelling relationship or likely patterns in which it can be found (Schmitt, 2008).
For recognition to be taken to the level of retrieval and production (Nation 2007: 7 in Schmitt ibid.) it is considered necessary that learners begin to make a number of contextual associations, an act which provides opportunities for deeper processing of the words encountered, allowing increased automaticity and acquisition to take place (Schmitt, ibid.). What is more, further knowledge regarding possible grammatical patterns, collocation, and constraints such as frequency and register need to be taken into account and learnt gradually (Schmitt, ibid.: 333-335). This underpins the incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition, which is thought to develop through extensive and regular exposure and the resulting incidental learning gains derived from the repeated encounters of vocabulary in context (Schmitt, 2005: 118; Nation, 2003: 238).

In brief, dependent on the personal goals of the language learner and his or her initial point of proficiency, what is necessary to be known about a word, and the number of words that need to be learnt and sustained, is a complex and challenging task. Learners of English, particularly at a post-intermediate level, are often heard to comment that what they lack above all is vocabulary. This is corroborated by research studies, in which the vocabulary sizes of learners often fall quite short of goals set, or the requirements necessary to operate in English comfortably (Laufer, 2000 in Schmitt, 2008: 332).

To read the rest of the article:

Working across Cultures – Issues in Managing a Teacher's Association by Alan S. Mackenzie, Senior Training Consultant, British Council India & Sri Lanka & Amol Padwad, President ELTAI


English Language Teaching Association of India has been running for the past 40 years. It has shown particularly strong growth in the past ten years in terms of increased membership, launch of several new branches across India and high attendance at its annual conferences. It applied for and won funding from the IATEFL-Hornby Trust Teacher Association (TA) Development Funds Scheme to undertake a "Chapter Leadership Development Project" last year. The project aimed at providing training in leadership and management skills to the (largely novice) chapter leaders, identifying ways of networking and mutual support among them and initiating mechanism and practices for leadership development and continuity. As a part of the project, two leadership development training workshops were conducted in Delhi and Chennai by George Pickering, a renowned consultant and trainer from the UK. The project was supported by the British Council India, with the active participation of and inputs from some of its staff.

Among the organisational and management issues addressed in the workshops were issues like marketing, membership, communication, fund-raising, leadership succession, etc. Comparing the inputs and training by the UK trainer and the BC participants with the responses, comments and observations of the Indian (i.e. ELTAI) participants, it appeared that there were two culturally different undercurrents.

One represented the 'western' or the 'UK' perspective on these issues, while the other represented the Indian perspective, though it is certainly premature to make such a 'national' generalisation. This comparison hinted at the different ways the 'two sides' looked at TAs and various aspects of managing TAs. This warranted further investigation.

To read the rest of the article:

Analysis Of Turkish Students' Morphological And Syntactical Errors In Writing by Ali Karakas


It is widely known that in a large number of settings including Turkey, teaching English is associated with teaching grammar. This is because it is the core element of language teaching and it must be definitely attained by second language (L2 henceforth) learners. However, the notion of grammar itself is too complicated and abstract to conceptualize. Once, it was regarded as 'the science of language' in its broadest understanding (Fowler, 1985). In contrast, it can also, in its narrowest sense, be defined as the combination of words to form phrases and sentences. Although Ur (1996) finds this definition 'over-simplified', he maintains that "it is a good starting point (and an easy way to explain the term to young learners)" (p.75). When the latter definition is adopted, then, the notions of morphology and syntax emerge as two components of grammar. In this case, morphology can be understood as the study of structure and formation of words, while syntax as the study of rules to combine words into phrases and phrases into sentences (Fromkin, Rodman & Hyams, 2007).

Syntax and morphology are of great significance in L2 acquisition because how students' performances are monitored and evaluated, especially at lower levels, are based on their morphological and syntactic productions. To evaluate these productions, teachers generally tend to look into their pieces of writing. However, it is known that students commit many errors while forming sentences due to violation of the rules of syntax and morphology. Therefore, in this paper, it is aimed to identify and analyze the morphological and syntactic errors in a small corpus drawn out from Turkish students' writing samples. Secondly, the potential causes of the errors will be explored with brief explanations.

To read the rest of the article:

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Keynote talks from TESOL Academic.

Early Language Learning in Europe - Edited by Janet Enever
'The ELLiE study provides a detailed insight of the policy and implementation processes for early foreign language learning programmes in Europe, giving a rich description of learner experiences and contexts for learning. Evidence is drawn from over 1,400 children, their schools, teachers and families in seven country contexts, exploring how early FLL is currently taking shape in Europe. The scale and longitudinal design of the study is likely to make many of the findings also highly relevant to other similar contexts.
The book is free to download in pdf format, but please note it is a very large file (30MB)'

Vocabulary Resources developed by Paul Nation.

Language Learning & Technology - Volume 16 Number 1 (February 2012)

London's 66,000 guns - talk

Camera Obscura project

If you've visited a site that you think would be beneficial for all or would ike your site to appear here, please get in touch. Thanks.

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Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.
Recent Tips have included:

Expanding the talk - Speaking skills
Speaking in mother tongues - Translation
All you need is... - Teaching ideas
Interesting letters - reading & process writing

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A few days, among many, to plan your lessons around in February, March & April:

1st - St. David's Day - Wales
4th - 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
22nd - World Water Day
26th - Independence Day of Bangladesh
27th - World Theatre Day

1st - April Fool's Day
2nd - International Children's Book Day
7th - World Health Day
14th - Anniversary of Titanic sinking
International Moment of Laughter Day
18th - Record Store Day - UK
Crossword Puzzle Day
22nd - Earth Day
23rd - St. George's Day - England
International Day of the Book
Anniversary of Shakespeare's death (1616)
25th - International Noise Awareness Day, varies slightly each year
Carnival time
London Marathon

To see the list of Days:

Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:

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