A web site for the developing language teacher

November 2001 - issue 11/01


Welcome to the November Newsletter

This month we're thinking about lively-ing up, getting on down & generally grooving along in our classes with some music & song - ideas for using them in class, an article & useful links for both you & your students.

There are a couple of books to help you with ideas on using songs in class & you can buy these through the site's books page. Please keep coming through the site to buy books from Amazon as it is one of the ways we can keep this Newsletter & the Tips free of charge. If the book you want isn't on the list, search for it though the search box at the bottom of the books page - if you eventually buy we'll get a few pennies, at no extra cost to you.

As you can see from the PS - internet-related section we tend to waste more & more of our time playing & viewing on the net. 'A rest is as good as a good surf!' You know what it's like - you sit down to write your lesson plan or do that two-week timetable, just check to see if there is any e-mail, follow up a couple of links you've heard about, back to check the e-mail from which you get a great link about exercising goldfish which keeps you fascinated for an hour or two - & then it's probably time for bed! Tomorrow's another surfing day. If you come across anything bizarre, fun or just interesting then send us the link. Almost forgot - oops! - the same for any teaching links that you think others would find useful.


1. THEME - music & song

2. THE SITE - lesson plans & articles







9. PS - Internet/computer-related links


1. THEME - music & song

Whenever teachers talk about using a song in class, soon after gap fill activities are mentioned. Students are asked to listen to a song & complete the lyrics. I've never been sure why this is the case as most tasks in coursebooks that accompany dialogues & monologues don't have gap fill exercises. It seems to be that the need to understand everything means that songs & gap fills go together. It doesn't have to be the case. Below are a few ideas for using music & song, in no particular order.

- Music vocab: musician, musical, song, sing, play, tune, rhythm, composer, lyrics, music, notes, key, beat, different genres: blues, rock, reggae etc., band, group, vocalist, singer, choir, backing singers, guitarist, drummer, bassist, top ten, charts, cd, single, mini-disc, MP3, player, album, solo album, cover, hi fi, cassette recorder, recording session, studio, concert, recital, gig, on the road, roadie, groupie, fans, stars, live, record company, label, jukebox, music to my ears, musical chairs.

- Background music is a good idea when doing roleplays & discussions as it gives the shy std something to hide behind. I wouldn't put it on during a silent reading activity as it can be very distractive for some. What kind of background music? Soothing classical music never fails. If it is music the stds really like you run the risk of them concentrating on the music rather than the lesson. I would certainly make a point of making sure the lyrics were in English. In Suggestopedia music is used while dialogues are being read out. The first 'active' concert uses music from early & classical romantic periods such as Beethoven, Mozart & Hadyn as it is dramatic & therefore emotionally engaging. The second 'pseudo-passive' concert uses Baroque music such as Vivaldi, Telemann or Corelli as this is supposed to be less personal & provides a background of order & regularity which is better for the presentation.

- Music taste questionnaires - stds write their own & fill it in & feed back on the classes' tastes in music.

- Play a selection of different genres - stds identify & discuss which they like.

- With the selection of genres, stds match moods to the different excerpts.

- Using a song is a really nice way of starting a theme off.

- Reading & writing music reviews - stds could bring in own music for the others to listen to who then write the review.

- Music discussions: give out discussion points - e.g. 'Music with offensive lyrics should be banned.' 'Downloading music from the internet is not illegal.'

- For the very young learner music & songs are a must. Lots of language can be learned by repetition & a good store of songs is essential. Get to the EFL Playhouse link below.

- Provide the language to talk about music. Eg. the language of like/dislikes - 'a great sound', 'love the bass line', 'it doesn't do much for me', 'when I hear this I think of....' etc.

- Music & the past - 'which songs encapsulate each period when you were growing up?' Take in examples from your development & get the stds to bring their own in.

- Play music & stds think of a film type that might 'go' with that music & then a scene that would be suitable, & then they write the script for that scene, & then practise acting it out, & finally act it out in front of the class with the music in the background.

- Listen & tick 'emotion adjectives' that the song evokes & then students compare & give reasons.

- Listen & unjumble the verse order.

And the list goes on so we'll stop there & point you towards Sarn Rich's article on how to use pop music in the classroom. There are lots of ideas & materials.

The materials attached to the article are a hefty download so please be patient.

And do check out:
'Music & Song' by T.Murphey (OUP)

'Musical Openings' by D.Cranmer & C.Laroy (Longman)

You can get these through the site.

Here are some music & song-related links:

ELT music-related sites

'This page is dedicated to all teachers of second or other languages who like to use music-- and especially popular songs -- to enliven, enhance, and invigorate their classes.' There's also a free downloadable zip file of 200+ song activities (164kb).

The EFL Playhouse - a resource for teachers of younger learners. Lots of songs.

Ernie's EFL Song Activities

Lots to read & hear from the BBC World Service.

Other general music sites:

And the Rolling Stone newsletters, daily & weekly;

The New Musical Express from the UK.

Get on board.

And for jazz, enough said.

Classic classical

British folk.

Roots World - listening to the planet.

Huge reference encyclopaedia of all genres & artists.

If you listen to music on your PC, this is a site for you.


There's so much good free music on the net - two sites to bookmark.

Download the free Jukebox to play all your MP3s through - one of the best - excellent.

Palavista - digital music metacrawler.

You've got the CD but not the cover. Now you have.

'The most comprehensive daily music newsletter covers all genres from rock to hip-hop, classical to jazz and more. Features headlines, news summaries and links to full stories. Get up-to-the-minute music news each and every day.'

If you need them, get the lyrics & save yourself a lot of time:

The Lyrics Ring is a chain of web sites containing lyrics to all kinds of songs and music styles. You can skip from web site to web site, looking for the words of that special song you've been looking for forever.

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The new lesson plans on the site include the following:

There's another lesson from Gerard Eley. This one contains a presentation and give controlled practice of 'could I + inf' and 'could you + inf' for polite requests.

Connected to the theme there's a listening lesson about gossip. Marvin Gaye's 'I heard it through the grapevine' is used & there is a rumour type tapescript.

There are some new articles on the site this month:

'Using the News in Class' by Katie Riley & there's also an accompanying lesson plan.

'Formal Letters for Everyone: Ideas of why and how to bring formal letters into every classroom in fun, interactive ways' by Alex Case.

And, as mentioned above, Sarn Rich's article on how to use pop music in the classroom.

If you've given a course or seminar or have a lesson plan & would like to give it a public airing then do send it to:

ADVERTISING - If you are interested in advertising on the site or the Weekly Teaching Tip & this Monthly Newsletter then please get in touch at:

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Connected to this month's theme, a great piece of material to have at hand for your teenage groups is the recent top 20 music singles charts. Hand out a copy to each group of three or four stds & get them chatting at the beginning of a lesson
- do they agree that e.g. Michael Jackson's single should be at no. 1.

- who would they vote for no. 1 - explain why - the language of comparison & persuasion.

- design their own top 5, from the top 20 they have in front of them - persuade another group that their list makes more sense.

- describe songs to each other that not yet heard.

- discuss why certain songs have descended in the list.

- can they remember any of the words to any in the top 5?

- etc.

A local chart is better but if you need an international/US-based one the address below takes you to Billboard's Hot 100 - should keep them chatting for a while!

You must have a favourite warmer! Dig it out & send it in & we'll publish it here & put it in the warmer list on the site.



Maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course.

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"For external use only. For off-road use only. For office use only. For recreational use only. Do not disturb. Freshest if eaten before date on carton. Hand wash only, tumble dry on low heat. If a rash, redness, irritation, or swelling develops, discontinue use. If condition persists, consult your physician. If defects are discovered, do not attempt to fix them yourself, but return to an authorized service center. If ingested, do not induce vomiting, if symptoms persist, consult a doctor. Keep away from open flames and avoid inhaling fumes. Keep away from sunlight, pets, and small children. Keep cool; process promptly. Limit one-per-family please. No alcohol, dogs or horses. No anchovies unless otherwise specified. No animals were harmed in the production of these documents. No money down...." The Ultimate Legal Disclaimer from David Burrows. You're on the theme of shopping/complaints - get your students to sort it all out - there's more on the site.

A site for mainstream education - 'Scholastic Inc., the global children's publishing and media company's corporate mission, which is supported through all of its divisions, is to instill the love of reading and learning for lifelong pleasure in all children. Recognizing that literacy is the cornerstone of a child's intellectual, personal and cultural growth, Scholastic, for more than 80 years, has created quality products and services that educate, entertain and motivate children and are designed to help enlarge their understanding of the world around them.'

'TESL-EJ began as the brainchild of a group of scholars who saw the need for a freely-distributed academic journal. It has grown to become an internationally- recognized source of ESL and EFL information for people in scores of countries.'

'What are Brain Binders? Each page linked below contains one puzzle with a finished picture. The goal is to fold the puzzle into a shape with a solid color on each side. Simply print, cut out, and fold to match the finished sounds easy until you try it!' Get them explaining to each other how they do it.

A really nice children's site - designed for native English youngsters but there's no reason why your students won't get loads out of the site. The 'What if..?' sections provide lots of excellent different subjects for interactive work.

- even if you don't have the excuse of teaching younger learners or have children of your own, get
along & check it out!

Lots of listening material with suggested pre, while & post tasks from Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab. If not to use in your own classes, certainly worth passing on to your students.

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If you're looking for teachers don't forget to check out the CVs on the site.

Bursa, Turkey

Private Turkish school near the city of Bursa looking for qualified native speaker teachers. The school offers a salary of $1000 dollars a month with free accommodation. If interested contact TimVincent on

Teachers can post CVs on the site & employers can post job adverts - both are free services at the moment.




As always, free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail. Sign up!

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


Part-time twelve-week course, January >> March

Full-time four-week courses, January, February.


Six month part-time course: January >> June '02

Reasonably priced accommodation can be arranged for the duration of all courses.

You can see brief descriptions of all of the current courses on the BLC web site The postal address of Teacher Education at the British Language Centre is Calle Bravo Murillo 377, 2, 28020 Madrid, Spain.
The phone number is (00 34) 733 07 39 & the fax number is (00 34) 91 314 5009.
The e-mail address is

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9. PS - Internet/computer-related links             

"The Ongoing Story of an Egg and His Favorite Pair of Pants" A sublime comic strip.

And this search engine looks into the message boards for what you want.

We mentioned the last page of the Internet so while ago. It's still there if you want to see it:

Now you can turn off the internet here.

After you have closed it down, Ctrl-W will close it down!

'IconTown is not just another website offering icons for download - it's an international project where each structure you see is a contribution from people who love making icons. Join the community and become a citizen in this village of pixels!'

And then get along to the Pseudoroom for a look at a lovely site. There are icons & fonts to download.

If you've got a web site & you want to change the cursor of your visitors, here's the place to do it - choose the cursor & get the code.

Is this what the net is really for? I never did like them anyway.

'Tiny versions of classic games for your sneaky worktime pleasure.'

Fancy yourself as an IT ninja - test your ninja skills on this entertaining problem.

Get rid of those pent up irritations with CutieQuake 'The Ultimate Flash Shooter! Fast, violent and now more challenging, but still just as sick ...hmm, we like.

Kneel before General Zod! You basically have two choices - kneel before him and swear eternal loyalty to Zod or die by his hands for your defiance and treachery.
If you choose option 1, you will be saved. You will continue on with the rest of your life as his slave, forever. Keep in mind how much honor there is in devoting your life to serving your rightful leader, General Zod. Much honor indeed.
If you choose option 2, he will crush you with his bare hands. A most unsettling fate for you. He will also kill any small "pets" such as "puppies" that you have acquired.
Not too much of a choice really.

Joel Veitch presents a '' flash movie 'Tales of the Blode - Episode 3 - Marmot Mayhem'.

Spaced Penguin - catapult Kevin back to his spaceship!

Loads of entertaining lego games.

Then you can download the seriously addictive Macigame - like Tetrus but better.

Joseph Palmer's step-by-step guide to making his paper planes.


While you're here, ....................... - for Spanish speakers.

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