A web site for the developing language teacher

Teaching Tips 107

Happy New Year
For sale
Lifting it off the page


Lifting it off the page

Martin Luther Day
The third Monday of january is Martin Luther Day in the US so if you are after lesson material see last year's Tip. There are mp3 excerpts from two of his famous speeches, together with lesson ideas.

Burns Night
And on the 25th it is Burns Night in Scotland, a celebration of Robert Burns' poetry. You can find some lesson material at the following link which has the famous poem John Barleycorn together with illustrations to help clarify the meaning of the poem.

Indian Republic Day
26th January - material at:

Australia Day
26th - material at:


We've already had a Tip called 'Lifting it off' which was about using reading & listening texts for noticing tasks, lifting the language from the texts, enabling the students to see the language in context, & then going on to work on the relevant aspects of the language.

This week we're referring to lifting tasks & material off the page of the coursebook to make it all the more interesting & motivating. It's easy to work through a page of the coursebook but the students soon get tired of moving from one exercise to another. Here are just a couple of ideas:

- Decide which parts of the page you really need to focus on using the book. A speaking task might just require you to give the instructions orally, so why bother with the book?

- Could you dictate the relevant bits that the students need to do the task? The dictation in itself becomes another task.

- a variation would be to use a running dictation - see

- Instead of going straight into the book, can you introduce the theme away from the book through pictures, storming vocab on the board, having a pairwork & then a class discussion of some introductory issues....

- Analyse the language coming up in the unit, present & practice away from the book & then give the book tasks for homework.

- Use characters from the book in presentations. For example, younger learner books often have characters that occur throughout, so use these characters in the presentations& then go to the book for the practice activities.

- with reading texts, could the students design their own tasks if you feel the ones in the book are inadequate? You could set an extensive reading task & they could design their own intensive task, swapping them around for others to complete. This makes them read the text in detail while they design the task, provides a bit of fun & all goes to helping them become more autonomous learners.

- Maybe make a photocopy of the page you are using & cut out the bits you need & copy this for the students - one copy between two perhaps as they can refer to it later in their books.

Most of us do have to use a coursebook, helping us to provide direction & consistency, but there is the danger of the coursebook taking over the whole process. One valuable way of staying in control is by constantly trying to 'lift the material off the page', providing stimulating & interesting lessons as a result.

Back to the contents


For sale

Here's some nice material for a reading & speaking lesson about Sealand, the tiny principality in the North Sea off the east coast of Britain, that's been put up for sale. Have a read:

Principality of Sealand is a man-made off-shore installation named HM Fort Roughs, a former Maunsell Sea Fort located in the North Sea 10 kilometres (six miles) off the coast of Suffolk, England, as well as territorial waters in a twelve-nautical-mile radius.

Since 1967, the population of Sealand has consisted of the associates and family members of Paddy Roy Bates, a former radio broadcaster and former British Army Major. Critics claim that Roughs Tower has always remained the property of the United Kingdom, a view that is disputed by the Bates family. The population of the facility rarely exceeds ten, and its area is 5920 sq. ft.

Sealand's claims to sovereignty and legitimacy are not recognised by any country, yet it is sometimes cited in debates as an interesting case study of how various principles of international law can be applied to a territorial dispute.

And a more detailed summary of its history:

HM Fort Roughs, also called Roughs Tower, is one of several World War II installations that were designed by Guy Maunsell and known collectively as His Majesty's Forts or the Maunsell Sea Forts. It is not an island, but a man-made structure, similar to an oil rig. The purpose of HM Fort Roughs was to guard the port of Harwich, Essex. It was constructed in the United Kingdom, towed into position and deliberately sunk at 51°53′40″N, 1°28′57″E on Rough Sands - a sandbar located approximately six miles from the coast of Suffolk and eight miles from the coast of Essex, England.

In October 1965 Roy Bates gained control of HM Fort Knock John after winning a physical fight over squatters representing the offshore station called Radio City. He wished to use it for radio broadcasting to the UK mainland.

Roy Bates decided to move his radio equipment from HM Fort Knock John to HM Fort Roughs after he was found guilty in the UK of illegal broadcasting from HM Fort Knock John because it was within the 3 mile territorial limit. However, HM Fort Roughs was occupied by staff representing Ronan O'Rahilly who represented the two Radio Caroline ships which formed a British network. Physical fighting to gain control of HM Fort Roughs lasted until September 1967. Roy Bates and his associates finally physically expelled the existing squatters representing Radio Caroline, and on September 2, 1967, he claimed it as his own.

In 1967 Britain's Royal Navy tried to remove Bates. As they entered territorial waters, Bates tried to scare them off by firing warning shots from the former fort. As Bates was a British citizen at the time, he was summoned to court in England following the incident. The court ruled in Bates' favour that Sealand was outside British jurisdiction as it was beyond the three-mile limit of the country's waters. In 1975, Roy of Sealand introduced a constitution, followed by a flag, a national anthem, a currency and passports.

In 1978, Professor Alexander G. Achenbach, then Prime Minister of Sealand (appointed by Bates), attempted a coup. Together with Dutch businessmen, who were on Sealand to discuss a business deal, they kidnapped Michael Bates (Roy's son) and seized control of Roughs Tower. However, they were soon overpowered by mercenaries employed by Roy Bates, and were held as prisoners of war before eventually being released.

In early 2007 Sealand was offered for sale. As a principality cannot technically be sold, Sealand's current "owners" plan to "transfer" custodianship.

And one of the prospective buyers:

The Pirate Bay Plans to Buy Sealand and Create a Copyright Free Zone

The Pirate Bay, the largest bit torrent tracker in the world, has begun raising funds to buy the micronation of Sealand which is for sale. The Island has been valued at £504 million but what it will actually sell for remains unclear.

If they are successful, The Pirate Bay plan to move their servers to the island where there will be no copyright laws. Citizenship of Sealand will be given to anybody that donates towards the purchase.

The Pirate Bay is currently based in Sweden and has been the target of anti-piracy groups for some time. If they do not raise enough to buy Sealand The Pirate Bay are planning to buy another island somewhere and declare independence.

The Pirate Bay web page about buying Sealand:
The forums at Pirate Bay where there are discussions on how to go about setting it all up:

Images of Sealand from Google images to provide more of a visual focus:

So what to do with all of this? Clearly a reading for levels that can cope with the language. If not then an oral summary by you of the salient facts. And then on to the speaking centred around what ideas the students have if they could buy Sealand - a variation on a much used ELT speaking theme. The following headings could be given to centre the group discussions around: Name - Flag - Purpose - Laws - Politics - Infrastructure - Economy - etc..

The students could then present their proposals to the class & then all could vote on the best. This could include the making of a poster.
Or while they are discussing, one student from each group could visit the other groups to get more ideas & then report back so that they can expand their ideas. At the end a member of each group gets together with one person from each of the other groups & individually they present their ideas to each other. This last idea promotes the most involvement as all are speaking all of the time, as opposed to group presentations.
The idea of the students knowing at the beginning of the discussion that they will be expected to produce something at the end to the others is a good way of maximising the effectiveness of the discussion activity. This provides a degree of stress to the task & as such the students will take it more seriously & will take more notice of the language they are using.

Back to the contents

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to all.

For those who don't receive the Monthly Newsletter, we announced a partnership in the January edition between Developing & the advanced coursebook 'Fullspate'. We are giving away the first five units of the book for free. All you need to do is go along to the following page & download your pdf copy:

And then, if you like what you see, you can download the other eighteen units for the ridiculous sum of $10 = 7.5 euros.

Hope you find it all useful.

If you are an author with an unpublished book & would like Developing to promote, sell & distribute your book, then do get in touch.

For a lot of us, it's back to the classroom after the Christmas break, so to ease into the new term & not entirely abandon the festive season, there are a couple of lessons for you to use.

Year 2006 Quiz
The first of these is a Year 2006 Quiz for classroom use at:
This is an opportunity to look back over the past year on a global level, practise past tenses, & then move onto how the year was on a personal level, before going on to look at the year ahead, the students plans & what their predictions for 2007. And there are also links there to the quizzes from the last few years to make a fun memory & discussion task. Lots of speaking practice all round.

New Year Resolutions.
And for the second, there is a lesson plan on the site about New Year Resolutions at:

In addition, I came across the following article which would make a good focus for a lesson. Have a read:

Psychologists seek key to successful new year resolutions

Ian Sample, science correspondent, Friday December 29, 2006, The Guardian

The first mass-participation experiment to unravel what makes a new year's resolution a successful step towards self-betterment - or more commonly, a dismal failure of willpower - is launched by psychologists today. Volunteers taking part in the study can take comfort from knowing that no matter how badly they fail to keep their resolutions they will help psychologists identify the best, and worst, techniques for motivating people to change their lives for the better.

Richard Wiseman, a professor of psychology at Hertfordshire University, hopes to enrol around 10,000 people in the online experiment.

At regular intervals during the next six months those who sign up for the experiment will be invited to give updates on how well they are doing. "We know millions of people around the world will be trying to keep to new year's resolutions, but we don't have a clue what is the best advice to give them to succeed," said Professor Wiseman. "We want to find out what's the best way to go about it."

Most of the few studies conducted on new year's resolutions have focused on a very small number of people. The latest experiment, online at, is intended to attract volunteers of different ages from around the world.

The psychologists have identified five tips to help keep resolutions. The first is to make only one resolution: if you are an obese, misanthropic, SUV-driving smoker, Prof Wiseman recommends picking just one aspect of life to improve, to increase your chances of success.

They also suggest planning your resolution in advance, instead of waiting until New Year's Eve. The extra time will allow you to reflect on what you really want to achieve. Another tip is to avoid repeating a previous resolution, or at least try a different technique to keep it. So if trying to lose half a stone did not work last year, plan to exercise more instead. "If people think they can do it they probably can, but if they've already tried and failed, their self-belief will be low," Prof Wiseman said. The remaining tips include keeping resolutions specific and rewarding yourself by buying a new book or CD if you manage to lose a few pounds or cut down on smoking.

The most common new year's resolutions focus on improving health, either by eating sensibly, exercising more, or cutting out smoking. "By a long way, stopping smoking is the hardest, because there are physiological responses involved, it's an addiction," said Prof Wiseman.,,1979625,00.html

A few comprehension questions:
1. What is the experiment about & where do you sign up for it?
2. What is the main objective of the experiment?
3. what has been the difference with this type of experiment in the past?
4. What are the 5 tips on keeping resolutions?
5. Which is the most difficult resolution to keep & why?

The text is suitable for the more advanced group but for the lower levels you could give an oral summary, providing some listening practice at the same time. There are lots of language areas in the text to pick up on; tenses, in/direct speech, gerunds/infinitives etc..

The questionnaire is in English & gives the students a small project. They fill in the three page questionnaire & then they are emailed in a few weeks & then after six months to see how they are keeping up with their resolutions. At each stage they can report back to the class on how they are getting on.

As the sales are in full flow now there is a lesson plan about the sales that went wrong at IKEA:
And there's a lesson plan about taking presents back to the shops:

Back to the contents

To the Past Teaching Tips

Back to the top

Tips & Newsletter Sign up —  Current Tip —  Past Tips 
Train with us Online Development Courses    Lesson Plan Index
 Phonology — Articles Books  LinksContact
Advertising — Web Hosting — Front page

Copyright 2000-2016© Developing