A web site for the developing language teacher

May 2004 - issue 5/04


Welcome to the May Newsletter

Thought you might be interested in the following. What do you think of these sentences:

'At this moment in time, to be honest, this is, with all due respect, like, absolutely the most irritating sentence I could write. Basically, I hear what you are saying but at the end of the day, going forward, let's touch base and apply some blue sky thinking to this language thingy.'

This was taken from The Times (24.3.04) as a way of summing up the most irritating phrases around at the moment. The Plain English Society released this press release:

At the end of the day... we're fed up with clichés.
Plain English supporters around the world have voted "At the end of the day" as the most irritating phrase in the language.

Second place in the vote was shared by "At this moment in time" and the constant use of "like" as if it were a form of punctuation. "With all due respect" came fourth.

The Campaign surveyed its 5000 supporters in more than 70 countries as part of the build-up to its 25th anniversary. The independent pressure group was launched on 26 July 1979.

Spokesman John Lister said over-used phrases were a barrier to communication. "When readers or listeners come across these tired expressions, they start tuning out and completely miss the message - assuming there is one! Using these terms in daily business is about professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ringtone on your phone.

"George Orwell's advice from 1946 is still worth following:
'Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.'"

The following terms also received multiple nominations:

address the issue
around (in place of "about")
ballpark figure
basis ("on a weekly basis" in place of "weekly" and so on)
bear with me
between a rock and a hard place
blue sky (thinking)
boggles the mind
bottom line
crack troops
diamond geezer
epicentre (used incorrectly)
glass half full (or half empty)
going forward
I hear what you're saying..
in terms of...
it's not rocket science
move the goal-posts
pushing the envelope
singing from the same hymn sheet
the fact of the matter is
thinking outside the box
to be honest/to be honest with you/to be perfectly honest
touch base
up to (in place of "about")
value-added (in general use)

( 23 March 2004)

If you're toying with the idea of doing a teacher training course this year, do check out the British Language Centre's advert below. They're offering a 15% discount if you mention this newsletter when you apply. Time for a DELTA course?

Happy teaching!




1. THE SITE - articles & plans
7. PS - Internet/computer-related links


STREAMING SPEECH: A Course in Listening and Pronunciation for Advanced Learners of English - An electronic publication that aims to solve the problem of the misrepresentation of speech.

If you'd like to buy a Streaming Speech course you will receive a discount if you tell Richard you heard about it at Developing!



'JUNGLE FEVER' Visualisation and the Implications for Writing Extensive Readers by Jo Appleton

This article focuses on the importance of visualisation when reading extended texts, and discusses the implications for materials writers, teachers and learners. The research I conducted looks at an Extensive Reader and how content, style and genre which encourage visualisation can provide greater pleasure and therefore motivation for the language learner to read in the L2.

What is Extensive Reading?

The literature provides numerous definitions for Extensive Reading. For example, 'Pleasure Reading ' (Krashen & Mikulecky) and 'Free-Voluntary Reading' or 'Sustained Silent Reading' (Krashen). For me Extensive Reading is 'to willingly engage with extended texts for pleasure'.

What is Visualisation?

Through my own reading and teaching experience I have discovered how vital the role of visualisation can play. Not only is visualisation widely used in the world of Sport Psychology, Therapy, and Counselling, it is used in our everyday lives as a kind of water-colour of the mind's eye. It is to me what speech is to audio communication as visualisation is the language of the processing of thoughts. In this article I use visualisation it to refer to both visual images and aural images, but others such as touch, hearing and smell are also important. A mass of data can be found confirming the prevalence of visualisation in first language (L1) reading (see Thompson, 1987). Tomlinson (1996: 255) reports ' among 80 L1 teachers of English at seminars in England, Japan and Spain revealed that 95% of them saw images in their minds (varying in detail and vividness) when reading texts such as 'River Station Plaza' by Sheldon Flory (1990)'.

To continue the article


English and Globalisation : a slave to the market? by Marnie Holborow

ELT needs to reposition itself in a broader political context. More particularly it needs to take full account of three recent geopolitical developments:

* The adoption of the neoliberal agenda and how it has affected
institutions of higher education
* The military face of globalisation and the recent war on Iraq
* Global opposition to both of these

All three have direct bearing on how English is perceived and what and how we teach.

Two aspects of these developments are highlighted here:

1) The quest for International Students in Universities and ELT involvement in this process
2) The effect on language - World English made from above but also from below.

To continue the article


PISA and the Development of Reading Literacy in Teacher Training
by Liesel Hermes

The PISA study (Programme for International Student Achievement) was first conducted in 2000 and will be repeated every three years. It assesses reading (in the mother tongue), mathematical and scientific literacy. In the 2000 survey, reading literacy was at the centre of the researchers' interest. The results in Germany proved to be quite disastrous in the eyes of the German public, authorities and ministries of education. In all three fields assessed, German pupils(1) came out well below the OECD standard or average. The aims of this article are the following: it will explain what PISA is about and what the results in Germany were in general. It will then go on to demonstrate how important reading literacy is for students of foreign languages and for teacher training programmes in particular and what measures can be taken to raise students' awareness of how reading comprehension functions.

To continue the article


Teaching vocabulary and encouraging learner autonomy by Sam Smith

Teaching a group of upper intermediate learners on a course timetabled to finish mid year, followed by a five month break led me to think of ways in which to help them maintain their level and learn on their own during this break.

I thought of different ways of doing this reading extensively, listening to what is available via international media such as satellite TV, watching films in English and as is quite popular here in Madrid, a conversation exchange. We have discussed these methods in class and the school's resources being available during the break, the students have responded quite positively.

To continue the article


Thanks to Jo, Marnie, Liesel & Sam.

ARTICLES - If you've given a course or seminar or have a lesson plan & would like to give it a public airing, 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 c.2000 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.


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



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.

A couple of things recently posted:

Sam writes: Thanks for the kind reply on how to approach the reading task. I was wondering if you could help me again. I have to teach my elementary students countable and uncountable nouns (through food and drink). As usual, I need a student-centred lesson and I have to keep my students motivated and involved at all stages. Please, any ideas to help me? Any help would be appreciated!

i + 1 writes: My students are clamoring for something to act out. Textbooks have dialogues (<yawn>), but does anyone know: Where can I find some snappy dialogues or 5-line "plays" which use VERY basic vocab and structures (can, like...)? The students are around 10 years old.

Blinger writes:
Looks like an interesting online program for teaching ESL online. I will probably get around to taking classes once I finish my MA. Thought I would share the info with others here.

Elena writes: We are currently looking for 6 ENGLISH TEACHERS to work in the new Language School in North London. Creative, well- organised and hard-working applicants are welcome. If you can be a part-time teacher and take some responsibilities as a Principal - that would be great. please, send a SHORT covering letter (plz, give details of your qualifications), no cv's required.

Sarah writes: If you are looking to teach English in Korea and want someone you can trust, someone who has experience teaching as foreigner, and will keep your interests and concerns in mind... continue to read, please! I am a recruiter who has taught English in hagwons in Korea before, and I currently work for an American company who recruits native English speakers for the same reason.

aacircle writes: Teach English in Taiwan at one of our Catholic, Bushiban, or Government recognised schools.

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'The Materials Development International Association strives to bring together researchers, publishers, writers and teachers to work towards the development of high quality materials for the learning of languages. MATSDA is a non-profit making association, which was founded in 1993 by Brian Tomlinson. We hold conferences which focus on issues related to the development of language learning materials and we organise materials development workshops for teachers and curriculum developers. MATSDA acts as a consultant to textbook projects around the world and has published 2 books about Developing Materials for Language Teaching. MATSDA members receive Folio, our journal published twice a year, which focuses on theoretical and practical issues related to the development of language learning materials. To find out more about our events and to join MATSDA visit '

Will from in the Forums passes this next one on:
'I've just come across a great free Audio Pictionary at ... and - in case you haven't heard about the site yet (a collaborative project looking for volunteers) - it's definitely worth a visit. It's a simple but brilliant place to see and hear words - and test basic vocabulary level in a fun way by moving the cursor over the images. The site will really help beginners to quickly expand their basic vocabulary - and also be very useful to higher level learners who want to test their knowledge of important words.'

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Some days to plan your lessons around in May:

1st - May Day - Labour Day
10 nations join the EU in 2004
5th - Cinco de Mayo - Mexico
8th - World Red Cross Day
12th - Limerick Day - birthday of Edward Lear
17th - International Museum Day
24th - Victoria Day - Canada

To see the Days of the Year
Some holiday origins.

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This month we've got a short review of '700 Classroom Activities' by David Seymour & Maria Popova (Macmillan2003) - a host of teaching ideas ideal for easy reference & use.

To see the review

To buy the book at

To buy the book at

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:

- Scribbling Away - taking note of students' spoken output
- May Day Transitions - lesson transitions & May Day lesson links & ideas
- Slaying Dragons - St George's Day lesson ideas & links for adult & younger learners

To see the Past Tips

To sign up to receive them

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

Full-time four-week courses, next courses June, July & August '04

Full-time two-month course, July & August '04

15% discount on all courses if you mention the newsletter! Reasonably priced accommodation can be arranged for the duration of all courses.


7. PS - 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
'What exactly is Google Print (BETA)? Google's mission is to provide access to all the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible. It turns out that not all the world's information is already on the Internet, so Google has been experimenting with a number of publishers to test their
content online. During this trial, publishers' content is hosted by Google and is ranked in our search results according to the same technology we use to evaluate websites. ' Similar to Amazon's idea of having a peep inside books.
Getting the real lowdown on questions you've always asked yourself from Slate.
'MorphOS, time for a change. Combining scalability, performance and ease of use into a single package, MorphOS steps onto the scene delivering the rewarding computer experience that has been long promised. With a beautifully designed user interface, as well as a modular system design, MorphOS provides the embodiment
of years of OS development.'
Japanese smileys.
'Ewisoft Web Builder is a web publishing tool, designed for beginners and non-technical users. It allows you to create a web site based on various templates, that only require you to enter your custom text, using a word processor style interface that allows you to apply formatting and also insert images, download links, tables, embed movies and more. Additional features include integrated FTP upload (requires free registration), browser preview, spell check and more.'
'This activity allows you to take on the role of the Surgeon throughout a total knee replacement surgery. Saw bones, construct a new knee joint, and suture flesh!' And if that isn't enough try the next link....
Explore the world of forensic science - not for the faint-hearted.
123 Password Recovery - 'Most applications allow you to store their passwords, such as the password of your dial-in ISP, the password of your email client or FTP tool. Once the password is stored, it is hidden under a row of ***** asterisks and can not be read by you again, e. g. in the case you forget your password. Now, this nifty utility allows you to read any of your passwords that are covered by the asterisks by simply dragging the 007 special cursor over such a password field. Once the 007 cursor is on top of a "*****" password field, the "007 Password Recovery" utility displays the password instantly on its screen .'
Need images?
Tips on memorizing.
Do you ever wonder about the wonder of it all?
'Create and print a brochure orflyer in minutes. Choose a theme and then customize with photos and text. It's a great way to create brochures and flyers that work'
You like gadgets? Wired's Gadget Lab.
A flash in the pan - lots to play with.
'Welcome to Identifont(r), the unique font identifier that enables you to identify a font from a sample by answering a series of simple questions. It is ideal if you want to match an existing typeface, or identify a typeface you have seen in a publication.'



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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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