A web site for the developing language teacher

May 2007 - issue 5/07


Welcome to the May Newsletter.


7. PS - Internet/computer-related links


This month Rolf Palmberg & Malgorzata Bryndal join us again, Rolf with a lesson plan about making holiday plans, & Malgorzata looks at DOGME as well as providing a lesson plan to see how it works. There's also a new lesson plan built around an article on complaints about neighbours.

IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, recently held their conference in Aberdeen recently & to accommodate those that could not make it, they have set up a site to show some of the talks given. All you need to do is get along to the link below, create an account & see what went on.

We're still running the short survey about using coursebooks on the site. This asks you to answer a few questions, so if you have a couple of minutes we would appreciate it if you could get along to:
We'll publish the results next month.

Have you got your free copy of the first five units of 'Fullspate', the advanced coursebook? Get along to the following page & grab a copy:

As usual, thanks for reading.
Happy teaching!


ELT training in beautiful Switzerland! Zurich center offers semi/intensive CELTA, CELTYL, YL extension and DELTA courses year round. Join this globally recognized program with A++ tutors in the heart of Europe. Housing can be arranged. Visit for more info or write to for an info packet.


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


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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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Making a holiday trip – a lesson plan by Rolf Palmberg - Abo Akademi University, Vaasa, Finland

Travelling to foreign destinations becomes more and more common, also for young people. The lesson plan outlined below suggests ways in which EFL learners can be trained to make travel plans using Internet sites while at the same time practising basic communication skills (suggesting alternatives, arguing, agreeing, disagreeing, persuading and defending). The lesson plan includes individual work, pair work, and group work.

There are a few things that the teacher must decide before introducing the project. One such thing has to do with the number of destinations to be covered. The more destinations the learners are working with, the more facts there are to be checked. And the more facts there are to be checked, the more questions there are to be asked and answered. Then again, having only one destination for the whole class makes it easier for the learners to discuss the selected destination in detail and to make relevant comparisons.

Another thing has to do with the choice of destination(s) to be covered during the lesson (or, if needed, sequence of lessons). Allowing learners to make their own decisions increases their motivation. Then again, destinations selected by the teacher will probably result in more carefully prepared and qualified topics of conversation.

Other factors to be considered are the classroom time available and the teaching goals of the learning session. If the teacher wants to concentrate more on learners’ “reading for meaning” skills than on their “speaking English” skills, many of the activities suggested under “possible post-internet tasks” below can be carried out in the learners’ native language. If s/he wants to devote more time to learners’ writing skills, “day-by-day” tasks of the type suggested below can be integrated into the lesson. Such tasks are to be carried out by the learners during their presumed holiday trip and can easily (as demonstrated) be designed to include grammar points (adjusted to the learners’ level of proficiency) as well.

Pre-internet tasks

Pre-teach or (depending on the learners’ proficiency level) invite them to revise select vocabulary items relating to travelling.

Ask the learners, individually, to write a list of the ten most important items to take along when going for a trip to a foreign country. Encourage them to use bilingual dictionaries whenever necessary.

Ask the learners, in pairs, to share their lists and agree upon the eight most important things to bring along.

Internet tasks

Tell the learners that they are going to make a holiday trip. Next, divide them into groups of four and ask each group to find out a number of things about a specific destination using the Internet (and, again, using dictionaries whenever necessary). They must do the following things:

• Locate the destination on a world map and identify nearby cities and neighbouring countries.
• Find the most convenient way to travel to the destination.
• Find out the weather forecast at the destination during the coming week.
• Find out about the local currency and the current exchange rate.
• Find a nice, moderately-priced hotel to stay in.
• Identify half a dozen restaurants in or near the hotel area.
• Find out how to say “Hello”, “Thank you” and “Where is the xxx?” in the local language.
• Find and agree upon five places to visit and/or sights to see during the trip.
• Discuss and decide what to do during each of the five days of the holiday.

While the learners are working, move around in the classroom supervising, providing help whenever needed, and reminding learners that all conversation should be carried out in English.

Some useful links

Since it is in the teacher’s interest that relevant information be found by the learners with an appropriate level of effort and/or difficulty, here is a list of useful internet sites that can be used for the present project (there are, obviously, many, many more):

Google’s zoomable world map
Opodo – let the journey begin
World Weather
FX Currency Converter
Foreign Languages for Travellers
Quick Fix – Essential Holiday Phrases
Lonely Planet Destinations

Possible post-internet tasks

Ask the learners to prepare posters introducing their destinations.

Ask the learners to prepare individual, pair, or group reports based on their worksheet notes to be presented orally in class.

Invite the learners to present their destinations through role-play activities.

Divide the learners into groups (with learners from different groups forming new groups) and invite them compare their destination(s) or daily activities with each other.

Divide the learners into pairs and invite them to interview each other on topics relating to their holiday.

Additional day-by-day tasks

Day One: Ask the learners to write individual picture postcards where they describe their destination to a friend at home.

Day Two: Ask the learners to write individual picture postcards where they tell a friend at home what they really enjoy about their hotel.

Day Three: Ask the learners to write individual picture postcards where they tell their parents at home what they did the day before.

Day Four: Ask the learners to write individual picture postcards where they tell their teacher what they are going to do on the following day.

Day Five: Ask the learners to write individual picture postcards where they describe what they would have done the day before if it hadn’t rained all day.

Day Six (on the way back home): Ask the learners to write individual picture postcards to the hotel manager where they evaluate the hotel and make suggestions how to improve customer services.

To view the plan on the site:

Other articles from Rolf:
Starting with multiple intelligences – activities for foreign language teachers
by Rolf Palmberg



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Dogme ELT by Malgorzata Bryndal


The following assignment explores a recent methodological proposition in TEFL, known as Dogme ELT. In Part I of this assignment, Dome’s theoretical background and practical applications are presented. This is followed by a short discussion of my professional interest in this approach and a final section listing the set objectives for the experimental lesson and the ways of measuring the outcome of this experiment. Part II includes a detailed lesson plan with a commentary and a retrospective evaluation with an action plan for future professional development.

Dogme ELT’s theoretical basis.

Just like many other language teaching methods and approaches in the past (cf. Richards & Rodgers, 1986), the philosophy of Dogme ELT has originated as a reaction against current trends in the language classroom. Its proponents, Scott Thornbury and Luke Meddings, fighting against the omnipresent culture of grammar-driven, level-oriented course books, have called for material-free (or material-light) teaching, unburdened by an excess of materials and technology (Thornbury 2000 & 2001, Thornbury & Meddings 2001). Inspired by the Dogme-95 film group, whose intention was to rid film-making of an obsessive concern for technique and to rehabilitate a cinema which foregrounds the story and the inner life of the characters, Thornbury (2001) has adopted their name and adapted their vows of chastity arguing for leanness and rigour of language teaching practice (1). The resulting Dogme ELT is pedagogy restored to its pre-method state of grace, focusing on the social nature of learning and social purposes for which languages is used. It is pedagogy of bareessentials (or poor pedagogy, cf. Thornbury & Meddings 2001), where the sources of all materials are learners themselves and learning is grounded in the experience, beliefs, desires and knowledge of the people in the room (Thornbury 2001). This is what makes it humane and relevant. After all, language is not only grammar, language is a socio-cultural artefact. As Stevick (1980) pointed out, successful language learning depends less on materials, techniques and linguistic analyses and more on what goes on between the people in the classroom.

Dogme ELT opposes material-driven teaching not because published language materials and available technology are intrinsically bad, but because they have the power to inhibit the necessary conditions for language learning. The masses of photocopies, flashcards, OHP transparencies, videos, CD-ROMs, textbooks, etc., suffocate real learning opportunities, real communication and the inner life of the student. As Woodward (1991) puts it:

“…content is very distracting. We all tend to be blinded by content. Students, when asked what they learned at school that day, are very likely to remember interesting flashes of parrots and desert islands rather than the main learning point the teacher was trying to illustrate.” (Woodward 1991, p. 66)

Dogme ELT views language and language acquisition as an emergent and complex phenomenon, socially motivated and dependent on the concerns, interests, desires and needs of the user. Engaging learners in a L2 dialogue fosters L2 acquisition in the true Krashen sense of this notion (Krashen 1981). It happens at the background, emerges slowly, without ostentatious learning taking place. Therefore, any attempt to control it from the outside (for instance by means of a prescribed textbook) is futile. The worst scenario in Dogme ELT is to allow imported grammar-driven materials to rule teaching and learning, and in effect, reduce our learners to passive consumers of “grammar McNuggets” as Thornbury calls them (Thornbury 2000 (i)). Feeding our students with discrete units of grammar, irrespective of their own learning needs and styles is similar to Freire’s banking model of education: teachers make deposits of information which students are to receive, memorise and repeat (Freire 1970). The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop critical thinking, creativity and communication skills.

The abundance of teaching materials results in our treating the language as something coming from outside, rather than something coming from inside, i.e. a tool for self-expression. By bringing the socio-cultural aspect of language back into the forefront of teaching, Dogme ELT captures language as a means for self-expression. Language learners are, after all, individuals and their learning goals are defined by what the learner wishes to express. This means that they have their own unique and personal learning syllabuses. Therefore, Dogme ELT forbids any pre-selected syllabus of grammar or lexical-notional items. Instead, language learning is to happen through social interaction and dialogue. A course syllabus must be negotiated with the students.

The concept of dialogue as an essential prerequisite in learning has its roots in dialogical pedagogy (Freire 1970) and informal education (Jeffs & Smith 1996). It allows learners to take ownership of their learning and share responsibility for what is being taught in the lesson. Dialogue helps Dogme ELT to achieve the same goals that ‘conventional’ teaching achieves through the more closed varieties of interaction, characteristic of transmissive teaching or even the communicative approach. Emergent in its character, dialogue tends to be unpredictable, and if placed at the centre of Dogme lesson activities, may pose quite a challenge for teachers, especially the less experienced ones. It requires them to 'go with the flow’ and show the capacity to respond to situations and students’ experiences, to shape the language that emerges from participant-driven input, output and feedback, and most of all to see an opportunity to teach. This is a reactive focus on the learners’ language, where language is as much the process as the product of instruction (Thornbury & Meddings 2001 (i)).

The article continues at:

The lesson plan:

Preliminary information

Time: 60' (first lesson of a 2.5 hours session)

Level: Pre-Intermediate

No. of students: 8

Timetable fit
In the previous lesson, students were introduced to a wide range of lexis related to the topic of home/house and were working on a mini project involving designing and furnishing their dream home. In the experimental practice lesson, students will continue with the same topic but will focus on problems and breakdowns at home. This will give them a chance to recycle the vocabulary they studied last week in a new context and an opportunity to introduce new useful phrases and functional language. The lesson will be followed up with a practical homework where students will have to search for information about local services on the Internet using website. In the next lesson, students will look at different ways of making complaints and writing a complaint letter about a faulty appliance to a producer or about a badly performed service to a service provider.

Aims and Objectives

Main aims:

To introduce and practise vocabulary pertaining to household problems.
To practise the skill of speaking in the context of household problems and making a phone call to book a service call.

Sub aims:
To foster learner autonomy and confidence.
To practice the reading skill of scanning to quickly find required information.
To revise and recycle lexis pertaining to the topic of home covered in previous lessons.

Personal aims
To lower my profile in the classroom and allow more student-driven input, output and feedback.

Assumed knowledge
Students are familiar with the basic vocabulary related to managing a household.
Students are familiar with the concept of a role play.
Students are familiar with the organisation of Yellow Pages and other telephone directories.

Anticipated problems and solutions
Students do not generate enough target language
Solution: Teacher intervenes by asking open questions to elicit language, uses picture prompts, mime etc.
Several students lack confidence in speaking and tend to shy away from participating in class discussions.
Solution: Group and pair work activities will be set to avoid putting shy students on the spot. Correction activities will be done at the end of the session, collectively.
More confident students dominate initial class discussion.
Solution: Teacher gives the role of a discussion moderator to the dominant student indicating that she has to get everybody involved in the talk.
Students find teacher’s profile too low and want to see the teacher as the focus of the group.
Solution: Teacher sets pair activities, monitors work and gives support only when other support options failed (peer correction, dictionary).
There are not enough telephone directories in the library.
Solution: Teacher brings in a few extra copies just in case.

Materials and teaching aids
Bare essentials of the classroom in the library (whiteboard, markers)
Library resources, if required.
Extra Yellow pages and phone directories, if required.

The lesson plan continues at:

Love thy neighbour? lesson plan
There's a lesson plan based around neighbour complaints at:
The plan is divided into the three parts of the article - the general reason for an increase in complaints of this type, the areas that people complain about & brief monologues from people from different areas. At the end there is a garden party for the neighbours - the class all complain to each other.

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'The CELTE Self-Access Centre is a collection of materials for learning English for Academic Purposes and Study Skills. The materials have been developed at the Centre for English Language Teacher Education at the University of Warwick. They do not provide a complete English course - they are intended to supplement classroom teaching.'
English for International Students Unit: Kibbitzers - '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.'
'The Writing Turbocharger is for first-year students at the University of Hong Kong. The Turbocharger will show you how to use your computer to write better essays and assignments right from the beginning of your university career.'
English for Professional Communication.
The Oral Presentation Skills site.

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 to plan your lessons around in May:

1st - May Day - Labour Day
5th - Cinco de Mayo - Mexico
8th - World Red Cross Day
12th - Limerick Day - birthday of Edward Lear
18th - International Museum Day
24th - Victoria Day - Canada

To see the list of Days:

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

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There's a brief review of 'The Experience of Language Teaching' by Rose M. Senior (CUP - Cambridge Language Teaching Library). Taken from the end of the review:
'The Experience of Language Teaching is an excellent book for all levels of teacher experience, although rather than looking forward, it is more to look back on experience & take stock & assemble present thoughts. Those that are moving into teacher training or director of studies-type roles would benefit enormously. Just as the DELTA course gives teachers the confidence to deal with other teachers, this book does the same, bringing together a host of common sense classroom & professional views & options.'

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:

- The little things in life... ideas on instruction giving
- Colourful teaching - ideas on using colour in lessons.
- A grid, clues: down across (9) - part 2 - more ideas with crosswords
- Good habits - some essential teaching habits.

To see the Past Tips:

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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
The World's Healthiest Foods.
The 20 Greatest Historical Myths.
'We are able to view all entities, from the microworld to the universe, from a single perspective. By setting them up against a scale, we are able to compare and understand things which cannot be physically compared. Today, using the electron microscope and astronomical telescope, we can see the objects which we have not been aware of its existence before. Are you able to fathom, or even roughly grasp, these sizes? See our Universcale and experience the sizes of various objects.'
'Dark Room is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment. Unlike standard word processors that focus on features, Dark Room is just about you and your text.'
Wiki-based Software Guide.
'ShoutSafe was created in response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami. Contacting your loved ones when a disaster hits can be difficult. ShoutSafe makes this easier.'
'A ficlet is a short story that enables you to collaborate with the world.'
Once you’ve written and shared your ficlet, any other user can pick up the narrative thread by adding a prequel or sequel. In this manner, you may know where the story begins, but you’ll never guess where (or even if!) it ends.'
Nice wallpaper.
'traineo is a free and simple website that gives you the motivation and support to reach your weight loss and fitness goals.'
'What is Desktop On Demand (DOD)? Think of it as an online version of your personal computer, and then some. Do the things you'd expect to do on a computer - surf the web, deal with email, edit and save documents and photos, download stuff, play music and games, customise the look and feel, and more. Now add to this the ability to access your desktop and content securely from just about anywhere, transfer and store as much data as you need for as long you need, encrypt, share and stream files and even collaborate on-the-fly and you have a good feel for what DOD is all about. We also start you off with 1GB of free disk space.'
Tips on speeding up XP.

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