A web site for the developing language teacher

September 2002 - issue 9/02


Welcome to the September Newsletter

We're a bit late & a bit shorter this month due to the holidays being upon us. Nothing like a break.

In this issue, an excerpt from Robin Walker's article looks at the beginning of the current debate raging amongst teachers interested in phonology - what kind of phonology work should be most usefully exposing our students to? And to complement the article, in the teaching links section there are pronunciation-related links.

English-to-Go have sent us three lesson plans which can be viewed on the site. Poland, Spain & China are the destinations for the jobs adverts & there are some fun/interesting PS links.

Hope you find it all interesting.

Happy teaching!


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1. THEME - Choosing a model for pronunciation

2. THE SITE - lesson plans & articles







9. PS - Internet/computer-related links




Choosing a Model for Pronunciation - Accent Not Accident by Robin Walker

In March last year I attended my first TESOL-Spain conference in Seville, and was, as many committee members know, thoroughly delighted with the experience. I spoke about pronunciation at the conference, and as a result, I couldn't help but notice the range of accents I was surrounded by during my stay. The UK accents of London, Liverpool and Manchester among others, accompanied my own Newcastle twang, and I was also fully aware of a range of American accents, although obviously here I was less able to pin them down geographically speaking. Of course, to this inspiring range of native-speaker identities, I was quickly able to add an Andalucian English accent, a Madrid English accent, a Basque English accent, and a Catalan English accent.
The experience perfectly mirrored something which was to happen to me only a few weeks later at the IATEFL annual conference. After nearly two weeks in the British Isles, having been in Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Cambridge, I heard my first RP accent as I entered the conference centre on the seafront at Brighton. Both experiences raise the thorny question as to just which of these accents we should use with our students when we practise the pronunciation of English. Do we go for one of the prestige native speaker accents, Received Pronunciation in the British Isles, and General American in the United States? Alternatively, do we try for one of the less marked regional native speaker accents, or, and this really is going out on a limb, do we allow our students to imitate their local non-native speaker accent? The answer to this difficult conundrum is far from easy, since it requires us to consider not only phonological issues, but sociological, psycholinguistic, and political ones, too.
If we take the first of our options, the use of the appropriate prestige NS accent, it is easy to state the advantages of this approach: neither accent is associated with a particular region or social group in its respective country; both accents have been widely studied and are now understood in enormous detail; both accents figure widely in pronunciation course books: high-quality recordings of both accents are easily available for use in class and self-access facilities, etc. However, in the case of RP, as I so graphically discovered in Britain in April very few people actually speak this model. Indeed current estimates for the number of RP speakers in Great Britain place the figure at less than 3%. and falling, And whilst I have no figures for GA in the United States, I am aware as I listen to programmes and films produced there, that I am being exposed to a huge range of accents, and only occasionally to GA.
The use of either of these prestige models is not without its drawbacks, the first of which is the decision as to which of the two to use in Spain. For geographical reasons, given that our students are presumably more likely to come into contact with British English, there are arguments in favour of RP. On the other hand, with around 300 million users of English as a mother tongue in North America, and less than 60 million users in the British Isles, there are strong arguments in favour of GA. But leaving numbers to one side, and ignoring for one moment the arguments of geographical accident, there are important reasons why RP, at least, is not such a good model as we initially thought. First and foremost, is the fact that it is not actually that easy to understand. In the summer of 1999, at an international conference being held in Oxford, the translation teams were required to help out on two occasions. In both instances, the speakers were British-born, Oxford dons, yet despite their RP accents, or rather because of them, the lecturers in question were not actually intelligible to the vast majority of the skilled, English-speaking, multinational audience. With its elisions, assimilations, schwas and massive vowel reductions, RP is an accent which many non-native speakers of English find depressingly difficult to understand once they reach the British Isles. Indeed, time and time again, my own students comment that it is much easier to follow other non-native speakers of English than to understand my compatriots.

To read the rest of the article

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We've mentioned them before & probably will again as they seem to go from strength to strength. English-to-Go have sent us three lesson plans. They say that these plans are representative of 'many lessons available to subscribers to the Library of Instant Lessons. … just print and teach!'. If you don't know them:

Here are the lessons they have sent:

Elementary Instant Lesson - Stowaway Cat

Intermediate Instant Lesson - Cold and Flu

Advanced Instant Lesson - Life Saving Computing


Michael Berman finishes his article, 'Storytelling for the Classroom', with the fourth part.
The Burden Basket
In the Native American tradition, the Burden Basket was hung outside the Tipi as a reminder to guests to leave their personal complaints or problems outside before entering. The custom was honoured or the visitor was permanently barred from returning again because entering another person's home with a black cloud of worry or neediness was considered to be very bad manners.
Being in the present moment and being willing to be a welcome guest requires strength of character. If everyone considered the Sacred Space of others before speaking or acting, balance would more easily be maintained in all communal living conditions.

To read the fourth part of the article

Thanks to Robin, Michael & English-to-Go.

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 - We reach a few thousand teachers every week with the Weekly Teaching Tip & the same each month with the Newsletter, not to mention the site. If you've got a book, course, job…anything that you'd like to advertise, then do get in touch at:

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Please don't forget to go through the books page when you want to buy from Amazon - we get a little bit & you pay the same. Every little helps to keep the newsletters free. Thanks.



Relax this summer & maximise your time by getting started on a quality personalised teacher development course. There are a couple of sample pages to view.

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To continue in the same vein as Robin's article, the links are all related to developing pronunciation. We'll be putting these links on the phonology index page so if you know of any more phonology-related links please send them in.

A selective bibliography on teaching English pronunciation from the IATEFL Pronunciation Special Interest Group site.

And from the same site, six articles from their newsletter:

Phonetic Resources

The International Phonetic Association.

OUC's ESL Pronunciation Online

Lots of listening - free & for members.

Pron stuff from

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab - lots of listening fro you & your students to explore.

The Phonemic Inventory of Modern Standard Vulcan according to the Consensus Transcription
A Vulcan Academy Linguistics Department Web Booklet

Have you got any favourite teaching links? Send them in.

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Disclaimer - as with any job check it out carefully. We don't endorse the schools that advertise below.
The ads are sent in & we mention them here & put them up on the site.
A note for advertisers - please post your advert in the Forum - see the link from the Front Page - then we'll put it on the recruitment page & mention it in this newsletter.

The Swiss International School of Poland is looking for a fully qualified Geography/English/Ethics teacher to work at SISP School in Wietrzno. Teaching at Lower Secondary School. Polish language knowledge will help. Contact Maciej Koæmit immediately at web site:

We are looking to employ an EFL teacher with a university degree and a recognised EFL qualification (CELTA/DELTA or Trinity College) who has at least two years experience in teaching all ages and levels but in particular young learners. Experience of Cambridge and Trinity College exams, ability to communicate in Spanish at a basic level and knowledge of computers/internet are a must. Applicant must be an EU passport holder. We are a well-established language school dedicated to quality language teaching and teacher training based in South-east Andalucia. For more details:

EF English First in Qinhuangdao is looking for dynamic and open-minded teachers to come and teach children, teenagers and adults in Qinghuangdao, Hebei Province. Requirements - Minimum one year's experience. (Preferably including teaching children), an internationally recognized TEFL certificate, a university degree Conditions - 5.500 RMB net per month for a year's contract, free accommodation, free return flight for a year's contract & free medical insurance. Contact: Keith O'Hare (Academic Coordinator) at To find out more about EF English First visit:

And teachers looking for work:

Allan Madsen is looking for work in Madrid

And the same for Rory Palframan

Peter Todorov is looking for teaching work in an English speaking country

Just some of the recent CVs on the site - a page is waiting for your CV.

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

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Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

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 October & November '02


Six month part-time course: October '02 - March '03

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

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9. PS - Internet/computer-related links

A bit of light reading & then some fun with some of their games - e.g. Shakespeare vs. Britney Spears - What is art? Which artists produce the greatest works of art?

Take the test.

A search engine that's a bit different - check it out, it might appeal. You get your search results in a map in the form of a ball. Mouse over & the sites are described. Slick.

Interesting stories from Time Lab 2000

A race across the screen - love it.

Well, I can think of worse ways to spend my time. Chewing gum & deadly koala bears.

Got one of life's difficult decisions coming up? 'With this site you can benefit from the experiences of others who have had to make similar decisions to your own by navigating the database of problems, answering simple yes/no questions until you come to a resolution.' Interesting idea.

Mahjongg anyone?

Lots of great ideas. Essential browsing!

Acno's Energtizer - warning - strategic thinking involved.

If you are interested in designing web sites ten check this out - the results of a competition to design web sites that weigh in under 5k.

Shape of your mind - test your psychic abilities - or the site's!

Liven up your time on the net with lots of wacky links.

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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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