A web site for the developing language teacher

November 2006 - issue 11/06


Welcome to the November Newsletter.

Are you finding your teenage group a bit difficult to teach? Help is at hand with the article reprinted in full below, 'Inspiring teenagers: issues of motivation and discipline' by first-time contributors Philip Prowse and Judy Garton-Sprenger, which provides a series of sensible & achievable directions.

Also new to the site this month, Mark Firth offers an article on 'Critiquing Qualitative Research Articles'. He takes a sample article & applies his criteria to it.

The online teacher development courses are in full swing with only a couple of places open at the moment. So if you want your own personalised & individual course check out the Developing & get in touch at:

A few more teachers are taking up the Online Course Hosting at Developing We host & set up the Moodle course framework for you & you design & run your own courses online. Very easy & effective online learning for your students.

Happy teaching!




6. PS - Internet/computer-related links



More web space & bigger bandwidth!

Developing TheWeb, our associate web hosting site offers three very affordable hosting plans - all with cPanel - Bronze $8/month, Silver - $12/month & Gold - $15/month. For details:

phpBB Forum installations - up & ready to go without any need to know anything about web design. A simple way to instantly create your own online community. For details:

Online Course Support: Moodle installation, 300mb of space, 1gb of bandwidth/month - $12/month Even comes with a PayPal module so that you can integrate charging for your courses. For details:

Pay for the year to get two months free & your bandwidth doubled! Pay for six months & get a month free! Very reasonable domain registration also offered - .com - $20/year.

Reliable & friendly hosting services. For more information:




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, get in touch & check out


Inspiring teenagers: issues of motivation and discipline by Philip Prowse and Judy Garton-Sprenger

Many of us can identify with a teacher’s feelings of humiliation when teenagers won’t behave, and recognise the subsequent desire for control. But is control the answer? Indeed, is there any real sense in which a teacher can be said to ‘control’ a class?

Peter Hook and Andy Vass in Teaching with Influence argue that the answer to both questions is no. All you can actually control is your own behaviour, and the way you behave influences the way your students behave. You cannot make students behave, you cannot force them to do what you want, but you can influence their behaviour. Hook and Vass’s ideas are based on extensive work with UK secondary teachers, but their ideas are relevant to ELT, and can be adapted to English classrooms worldwide.

Being explicit

A good start is to be open about what goes on in the classroom. Every group has its own rules, and these need to be made explicit in order to be effective. This process can be described as the development of learner/teacher contracts, but ‘contracts’ makes it sound rather grand. The form of the discussion/agreement will depend on particular schools and individual teachers and classes – each school, for example, will have its own disciplinary code. The important thing is open discussion and agreement about both teacher and student roles – it’s a two-way process and an ongoing one with regular review. This agreement could be a piece of paper with mutual rights and obligations pinned to the wall (eg Students: We will listen to each other and respect each other’s views. We will be punctual. Teacher: I will discuss each week’s learning plan with you. I will be punctual and mark your homework within three days.) or it might something much less formal.

Being open about what goes on in the classroom also means being explicit about the language learning process. A cooperative classroom is one where both teacher and students focus on awareness of this process. This involves highlighting cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies – fundamental to the development of learner independence. We aren’t trying to make a case for developing learner independence because that case has already been made. Activities which promote conscious reflection on the language-learning process lead to more successful learning outcomes, a vital factor in student motivation.

The importance of choice

Cooperation implies flexibility on the part of both teacher and student. It’s clear from our awareness of differences in students’ learning styles and backgrounds, interests and aptitude, that a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work for language learning. Equally, the lesson we plan is rarely, if ever, exactly the one we teach, since we respond to classroom interaction. We create the lesson by the choices we make as we teach it, but choice pre-supposes things to choose between. Therefore it is our belief that while there is a common core of materials which all students cover, teachers need to be equipped with exercises at different levels to cater for mixed ability and, equally importantly, with a range of extra possibilities at every stage of the lesson so that they are prepared (without having had to prepare themselves) to react to feedback and to change or add an activity as appropriate. We believe this is best done mainly in the Teacher’s Book of a course so that the new materials/activities come fresh to the learners. For most Student’s Book activities, we would expect the teacher to be given one or more optional activities to have ‘up her sleeve’.

The balance of power in the classroom is a delicate one and all too often students feel disempowered in the face of an all-powerful teacher. Equally a teacher who feels at a loss is still viewed as an authority figure (and an easy target). The normal reaction of many teenagers is to challenge authority, to regain some power. But what if the teacher presents them with the power of choice to start with? Peter Hook and Andy Vass emphasise the importance of offering choice – what is the difference between these pairs of statements?

If you don’t do it now, I’ll send you out.
If you choose not to do it now, you’re choosing to go out.
Sit down and shut up.
I’d like you to choose to sit down and be quiet.

The difference lies in making students aware that they are responsible for their own behaviour, that they do indeed have choices. And this awareness of responsibility enhances motivation.

Success orientation

Cooperation in the classroom is fostered by the achievement of objectives – success in the given language learning task. This is why it is important to set a series of smaller achievable tasks, rather than one, possibly unachievable, task. And to motivate students to attempt the task, two factors are needed: interest and pleasure. Language lessons cannot only be lessons about language – content and interest are essential for engagement. We advocate a topic based cross-curricular approach where students use English to learn something beyond the language. We also advocate classroom activities which the students enjoy and learn from at the same time, such as brainteasers, games, songs, and amusing sketches which demonstrate the use of the target language.

To conclude, by controlling our own behaviour and language, and by offering choices, we can influence our students’ behaviour and empower them. A classroom where the students feel empowered is a cooperative, motivating learning environment.

To view the article:


Critiquing Qualitative Research Articles by Mark Firth

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how we can critique a qualitative research article according to the criteria as recommended by McMillan & Wergin (1998:pp.7-12). The sample article being examined is by Goh (1999), A cognitive perspective on language learners’ listening comprehension problems. Whilst it is not possible to reproduce the article here, it is suggested that the critique procedure itself is being exercised in order to demonstrate its usefulness to readers of qualitative research. The guiding questions operate as effective criteria to understanding the quality and benefits of any given qualitative research paper.


With regards to qualitative designs, Punch (1998:p.150) explains that within any given piece of research a combination of elements from different designs can overlap. As a result, a study may not necessarily be a case study, an ethnographical study nor a work based on grounded theory but rather a mixture of two or more of these approaches. Punch does however suggest that it is ‘still useful to consider each separately’. This is important to keep in mind when critiquing an article such as this as in fact components of different approaches and paradigms co-exist within the one research body as the author has attempted to uncover what it is she is looking for. This does not necessarily mean however that a research article needs to be labeled as being one type of research or another, but rather to take it as what it is; within the context of the investigation and considering the limitations in which it was carried out, we can still grasp an idea of its validity and usefulness.

Is the general purpose of the study clear? The introduction cites numerous references of previous research describing general and specific factors affecting listener difficulties in a second language. The author, Goh (1999), describes the different approach to be taken in this particular research concerning categorizing ‘real-time processing problems’. Paradigm issues in regards to methods for gathering and indeed the ways of treating data are revealed in the introduction. This provides the reader with a feeling for the approach to which the researcher values and thinks about evaluating listeners’ difficulties.

Is the study significant? We are directed to go along with the assumption held by the researcher about the potential value of understanding the mental processes relating to difficulties in listening and gaining insights into students’ attitudes towards these difficulties. Again, the value of such research to the discipline of language acquisition is relative to the approaches within the approach of using metacognitive processing data and categorizing according to cognitive frameworks. For the purpose of thinking about learner listening difficulties and how teachers can cater for students’ needs the research is justified.

Will it make a practical or theoretical contribution? The pragmatic potential benefit of this study is mentioned in the introduction i.e. to be better able to identify the source of learner difficulties from a cognitive point of view, but oddly enough a lengthy paper is presented after the summary of findings. Here the researcher prescribes how teachers should deal with learners’ listening difficulties. Therefore, the researcher could be seen to be trying to verify her own beliefs about teaching approaches and how to assist learners in becoming better listeners and to support what certain others have suggested, namely Field (1998) on p.69. Assuming good reliability the recommendations made by Goh could be viewed as being potentially very useful.

Following this, the article serves another purpose regarding methodology; as introduced in the abstract, the author attempts to validate the methods used and suggests similar approaches for further research. This suggests that if the reader is willing to accept the way in which the data has been treated and analyzed then there is a potentially significant contribution to be made to the conceptualization of and in turn practice of dealing with listening difficulties.

Is the introduction well organized and clear? Difficulties in reading the article may arise simply by the layout of the document. Notably, the combining of the literature review with the introduction makes it hard to distinguish between the empirical studies which form a historical context for thinking about the issues involved and the current literature that has led the researcher to formulate the specific research questions. Ideally it would have been better to separate these for their attributing purposes.

The organization of the introduction does however effectively establish a framework for the way in which the researcher proposes to study difficulties in listening. Firstly, the idea of understanding problems from learners’ own perspectives and secondly, the cognitive framework for understanding language comprehension.

To view the remainder of the article:


Lesson Plan
There's a brief lesson plan around the article 'Pilgrim-to-Rent' from the Reuters website. Carlos Gil is renting himself out as a pilgrim on behalf of those that can't physically make the pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal. He accepts credit cards.

The theme of this lesson could simply be a different way of doing things or it could be a way into changing values in the modern world. Or it could be just about pilgrims & pilgrimages & the miracles at Fatima.

To view the plan:


Thanks to Judy & Philip, & Mark.


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.

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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.


'A site created to address the needs of higher level students, and focuses on teaching material based on current events.
Baggetta Ware Teacher Tech 'offers a free software download each month and specialize in unique software for English teachers, including popular Literary, Social Studies, and Grammar Test Generators. Also some unique classroom management software for all teachers.'
From the Australia Network - 'Study English - IELTS preparation, is a series of English language programs for intermediate to advanced learners. Our content draws on authentic material that you can watch, read and listen to plus study notes, tips and activities for practice and consolidation.'
Yahoo finance for your professionals.
Business English stuff & links.
The English Teaching Forum Online.
Education World - "the place where educators go to learn"
Teachers @ Work from New Zealand.
Teach with Technology.

If you have visited a site that you think would be beneficial for
all or would like your site to appear here, please get in touch.

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A few days to plan your lessons around in November:

5th Bonfire Night
7th Marie Curie's birth 1867
11th Remembrance Day
16th International Day for Tolerance
17th World Peace Day
25th Eid Al Fitr
28th Buy Nothing Day (varies)
30th St Andrew's Day, Scotland
US Thanksgiving Day - 4th Thurs. in month. Buy Nothing Day in US is the day after Thanksgiving.

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 review up on the site of 'Global Issues' by Ricardo Sampedro & Susan Hillyard (OUP- Resource Books for Teachers). An excerpt from the introduction to the book:

'Research among 11-16 year olds indicates that over 80 per cent are interested in Global Issues and feel they should learn about them at school (MORI 1998, for the Development Education Association). Social, economic, health, and environmental concerns, all Global Issues themselves, increasingly affect our lives. Every new natural disaster that results from human activity, every new war waged, and every new globalization-related problem that condemns millions to a new dose of suffering and poverty impinges upon us.

There is increasing interest in Global Issues among the teaching community world-wide. Both of the major international English teachers associations have established sections focusing on them: the IATEFL Global Issues Special Interest Group and the TESOL Social Responsibility Caucus. Local organizations such as the Japan Association of Language Teachers have also founded Global Issues
interest groups. This points to a new direction in language teaching.'

To read the review:

To buy the book from

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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:

Working with dialogues - a series of different ideas
Compensate - a way of viewing multiple intelligences & the using NLP in the classroom
Developing Millennium - lesson ideas to coincide with United Nations Day
Easy reading - reasons why extensive reading might be difficult for our students
Columbus Day - lesson ideas around the Day

To see the Past Tips:

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6. 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
For a fun interactive search with Ms Dewey. Forget Google….well for a while.
Talking of Google, a very useful new tool is the 'Docs & Spreadsheets' tools they offer for those with Gmail accounts. Not for sensitive information but very useful all the same.
Free online Office-compatible suite with 1Gb of space.
Sort out your sports injuries.
Check out your disease risk.
The largest collection of Darwin's writings ever assembled.
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder asks; 'I would like to gather from the community some examples of works you would like to see made free, works that we are not doing a good job of generating free replacements for, works that could in theory be purchased and freed.
Dream big. Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license?'
Find out how long you've got left.
The website for 'Imagining the Tenth Dimension' - string theory explained very nicely.
Funny ads.
Give the dog some orders.
Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books
10 years of the The Onion.
All about sleep.
Paste in text to see which gender wrote it.
Design a record label & send it to a friend.

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