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Teaching Tips 180

Autonomous phonology
Ten 100-year predictions
All Shook Up!

Autonomous phonology


It's the Chinese New Year on 23rd January, the start of the Year of the Dragon.
On the site there's a lesson plan that looks at different aspects of the celebration: it lets you find out your animal, looks at some fortune cookie sayings, provides a reading on the celebration & also an outline of each of the animal characteristics.
To view the plan:
To view the materials:


Improving pronunciation is one of the important areas that students feel the need to come to class for. This feeling that the teacher is the only one that can help them is true to an extent but students can also help themselves. Here are a few ideas to help promote autonomous phonology:

1. Awareness of what is involved in phonology is clearly a good starting point & point them towards a realistic view of how native-like they might become - see:

2. Lots of listening & analysis of where the difficulties came. Discuss 'sounds in combination' aspects- see:

3. Recommend areas of phonology they need to individually work on & sources for practice materials - books, self-access centre, internet.....

4. Work on nationality specific phonological problems. Clearly easier if you are teaching monolingual groups but well worth the extra effort with multilingual groups as well.

5. Get you students to keep their learner diaries orally - tape, phone, mp3 etc. They can hand/send in at regular intervals. Encourage comparisons between present & past entries.

6. Give clear language records - with phonological aspects clearly marked (word stress, sound difficulties, tone units, tonal movement) & look at what they are writing down to make sure their records are clear & not missing anything. Talk to them about the usefulness of the records & hopefully they will refer back to the phonology when reviewing & referencing their notes.

7. Student-student & self-correction of phonology errors.

8. Dictionary training for word stress & sounds.

As with a lot of what we do in class, it comes down to awareness. If you take phonology seriously & talk about how much they can do on their own then your students will realise it is another area in which they can really help themselves.

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Ten 100-year

I came across an interesting article on the BBC Magazine site, 'Ten 100-year predictions that came true', an article that fits in very nicely with the theme of predictions.

Here's a brief, fairly straightforward, lesson procedure to accompany the article:

1. Elicit language to talk about the future: to predict, to tell the future, to forecast......

2. Elicit what life was like 100 years ago - & then if they can imagine someone predicting the future 100 years ago - what kind of things might they say? Put ideas from the stds on the board - add some ideas of your own so that there are 6-8 ideas.

3. Introduce the article - instructions - read the text very quickly to see which of the ideas mentioned on the board are in the article.
Tell them they don't need to read for detail or understand all the vocab, just to concentrate on the task.
Give a time limit - rule of thumb - read it yourself & then double it(?).

4. Handout texts > stds read & answer task.

5. Stds in pairs compare ideas.

6. General feedback.

7. Set the more intensive task - true/false sentences - see examples below.

8. Stds read & answer, including the writing of sentences for their partners to say if correct or not.

9. General feedback.

10. Elicit a response to the text: 'Which of Watkins' correct predictions do you find the most surprising?' - you could do this as a class or put them into pairs/small groups to chat first before class feedback, the latter is more productive as all have more to say.

11. Set up the speaking - students make predictions - 100 years in the future, what do they think will happen?
Before beginning review the language of prediction, elicit & drill, give a record of the language.

12. Feedback - on the ideas they come up with & also the language output, with particular attention to the prediction language.

Other ideas:

If you would like to use the theme & ideas in the text with lower levels, you could do a live listening - you tell them about the text & ideas, as you might to a friend, but clearly grade it for the level. As you tell, put up the ideas on the board. Elicit reactions as you go along. And then they go into a discussion of them as above.

- stds write an email to Watkins telling him about how his predictions came out & other things that are different now.
- stds could write an email to a friend telling them of the article & giving their opinions.

Language focus - there's a lot in the article that could be exploited - ask students to 'notice' the language area eg. get them to underline it - & then lead them to working out an explanation of the meaning & form (rather than telling them - get rather than give).

The language of probability:

Here are a few ways of expressing the different degrees of probability:

Yes definitely:
- X is sure to/bound to happen.
- X will definitely happen.
- I'm sure that X'll happen.

- X will probably happen.
- I expect X'll happen.
- I wouldn't be surprised if X happens.

- X may/might/could happen.
- Perhaps X'll happen.

Probably not:
- X probably won't happen.
- I doubt that X'll happen.

No definitely not:
- I'm sure that X won't happen.
- X will definitely not happen.
- There's no chance of X happening.

True or false?

1. All of John Watkins' predictions have come true.

2. Watkins was a scientist.

3. He thought we would be sending photos like emails.

4. He predicted we would all have mobile phones.

5. He predicted that cameras would enable us to see things happening in different parts of the world.

6. His idea about cars in cities is partially right.

Now write three true/false sentences about the text & give them to your partner to say if they are correct or not.

Answers - t, f, t, f, t, t

Ten 100-year predictions that came true

11 January 12, BBC News Magazine

In 1900, an American civil engineer called John Elfreth Watkins made a number of predictions about what the world would be like in 2000. How did he do?

As is customary at the start of a new year, the media have been full of predictions about what may happen in the months ahead.

But a much longer forecast made in 1900 by a relatively unknown engineer has been recirculating in the past few days.

In December of that year, at the start of the 20th Century, John Elfreth Watkins wrote a piece published on page eight of an American women's magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, entitled What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.

He began the article with the words: "These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible," explaining that he had consulted the country's "greatest institutions of science and learning" for their opinions on 29 topics.

Watkins was a writer for the Journal's sister magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, based in Indianapolis.

The Post brought this article to a modern audience last week when its history editor Jeff Nilsson wrote a feature praising Watkins' accuracy. It was picked up and caused some excitement on Twitter. So what did Watkins get right - and wrong?

10 predictions that Watkins got right...

1. Digital colour photography

Watkins did not, of course, use the word "digital" or spell out precisely how digital cameras and computers would work, but he accurately predicted how people would come to use new photographic technology.

"Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.... photographs will reproduce all of nature's colours."

This showed major foresight, says Mr Nilsson. When Watkins was making his predictions, it would have taken a week for a picture of something happening in China to make its way into Western papers.

People thought photography itself was a miracle, and colour photography was very experimental, he says.

"The idea of having cameras gathering information from opposite ends of the world and transmitting them - he wasn't just taking a present technology and then looking to the next step, it was far beyond what anyone was saying at the time."

Patrick Tucker from the World Future Society, based in Maryland in the US, thinks Watkins might even be hinting at a much bigger future breakthrough.

"'Photographs will be telegraphed' reads strikingly like how we access information from the web," says Mr Tucker.

2. The rising height of Americans

"Americans will be taller by from one to two inches."

Watkins had unerring accuracy here, says Mr Nilsson - the average American man in 1900 was about 66-67ins (1.68-1.70m) tall and by 2000, the average was 69ins (1.75m).

Today, it's 69.5ins (1.76m) for men and 64ins (1.63m) for women.

3. Mobile phones

"Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn."

International phone calls were unheard of in Watkins' day. It was another 15 years before the first call was made, by Alexander Bell, even from one coast of the US to the other. The idea of wireless telephony was truly revolutionary.

4. Pre-prepared meals

"Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishment similar to our bakeries of today."

The proliferation of ready meals in supermarkets and takeaway shops in High Streets suggests that Watkins was right, although he envisaged the meals would be delivered on plates which would be returned to the cooking establishments to be washed.

5. Slowing population growth

"There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America [the US]."

The figure is too high, says Nilsson, but at least Watkins was guessing in the right direction. If the US population had grown by the same rate it did between 1800 and 1900, it would have exceeded 1 billion in 2000.

"Instead, it grew just 360%, reaching 280m at the start of the new century."

6. Hothouse vegetables

Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by the farmer, said Watkins, with electric wires under the soil and large gardens under glass.

"Vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants to grow larger and faster, and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of coloured light will hasten the growth of many plants. Electricity applied to garden seeds will make them sprout and develop unusually early."

Large gardens under glass were already a reality, says Philip Norman of the Garden Museum in London, but he was correct to predict the use of electricity. Although coloured lights and electric currents did not take off, they were probably experimented with.

"Electricity certainly features in plant propagation. But the earliest item we have is a 1953 booklet Electricity in Your Garden detailing electrically warmed frames, hotbeds and cloches and electrically heated greenhouses, issued by the British Electrical Development Association.

"We have a 1956 soil heater, used in soil to assist early germination of seeds in your greenhouse."

7. Television

"Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span."

Watkins foresaw cameras and screens linked by electric circuits, a vision practically realised in the 20th Century by live international television and latterly by webcams.

8. Tanks

"Huge forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains of today."

Leonardo da Vinci had talked about this, says Nilsson, but Watkins was taking it further. There weren't many people that far-sighted.

9. Bigger fruit

"Strawberries as large as apples will be eaten by our great-great-grandchildren."

Lots of larger varieties of fruit have been developed in the past century, but Watkins was over-optimistic with regard to strawberries.

10. The Acela Express

"Trains will run two miles a minute normally. Express trains one hundred and fifty miles per hour."

Exactly 100 years after writing those words, to the very month, Amtrak's flagship high-speed rail line, the Acela Express, opened between Boston and Washington, DC. It reaches top speeds of 150mph, although the average speed is considerably less than that. High-speed rail in other parts of the world, even in 2000, was considerably faster.

...and four he didn't

1. No more C, X or Q

"There will be no C, X or Q in our everyday alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary."

This was obviously wrong, says Patrick Tucker of the World Future Society, but also remarkable in the way that it hints at the possible effects of mass communication on communication itself.

2. Everybody will walk 10 miles a day

"This presents a rather generous view of future humanity but doesn't seem to consider the popularity and convenience of the very transportation breakthroughs [moving sidewalks, express trains, coaches] forecast elsewhere in the article," says Mr Tucker.

3. No more cars in large cities

"All hurry traffic will be below or above ground when brought within city limits."

However, many cities do have pedestrian zones in their historic centres. And he correctly forecast elevated roads and subways.

4. No mosquitoes or flies

"Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been exterminated."

Watkins was getting ahead of himself here. Indeed the bed bug is making a huge comeback in the US and some other countries.

Maybe the end of the mosquito and the house fly is something to look forward to in 2100?

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All Shook Up!

The 8th January is Elvis Presley's birthday. As interest in Elvis is still going strong, a lesson based around him would be of interest to most adult classes. Below is first a series of quotes by & about Elvis. Students could read & discuss, possibly making up their own quotes about Elvis. Then there is a gapped biography, with the missing words below. It would be appropriate to then go on to a song - for lyrics to Elvis' songs.

There is an alternative biography that could be used as an information gap task after the official biog below. As they say on this last page, 'This biography emphasises aspects of Elvis's life and character which do not feature strongly in official biographies, namely: his spiritual search and the controlling influences in his life. Elvis had to undergo various trials and tribulations on his journey through life.' A bit more interesting.

A couple of quotes from Elvis
"Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. You never walked in that man's shoes."
-Elvis often used this adaptation of a well-known quotation.

"Some people tap their feet, some people snap their fingers, and some people sway back and forth. I just sorta do 'em all together, I guess."
-Elvis in 1956, talking about his way of moving on stage.

A few quotes about Elvis

"His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid smelling aphrodisiac...It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people."
Frank Sinatra, 1950's

"There is something magical about watching a man who has lost himself find his way back home...He sang with the kind of power people no longer expect from rock 'n' roll singers."
John Landau
Review of Elvis, (1968 TV Special).

"Elvis is the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He introduced the beat to everything, music, language, clothes, it's a whole new social revolution - the 60's comes from it."
Leonard Bernstein, 1960s.

"Elvis had an influence on everybody with his musical approach. He broke the ice for all of us."
Al Green

"There have been a lotta tough guys. There have been pretenders. And there have been contenders. But there is only one king."
Bruce Springsteen

" was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody's ear, and somehow we all dreamed it."
Bruce Springsteen

"When I first heard Elvis' voice I just knew that I wasn't going to work for anybody; and nobody was going to be my boss...Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail."
Bob Dylan

"Elvis was the king. No doubt about it. People like myself, Mick Jagger and all the others only followed in his footsteps."
Rod Stewart

"He was a unique artist - an original in an area of imitators."
Mick Jagger

"Before Elvis, there was nothing."
John Lennon

"He was the firstest with the mostest."
Roy Orbison

"...if any individual of our time can be said to have changed the world, Elvis Presley is the one. In his wake more than music is different. Nothing and no one looks or sounds the same. His music was the most liberating event of our era because it taught us new possibilities of feeling and perception, new modes of action and appearance, and because it reminded us not only of his greatness, but of our own potential."
Greil Marcus
From his book, Mystery Train.

"You know, Bush is always comparing me to Elvis in sort of unflattering ways. I don't think Bush would have liked Elvis very much, and that's just another thing that's wrong with him."
Bill Clinton
During the 1992 presidential campaign.

"Ask anyone. If it hadn't been for Elvis, I don't know where popular music would be. He was the one that started it all off, and he was definitely the start of it for me."
Elton John

A biography of Elvis Presley - from the Official Elvis web site
Fill in the gaps in the text with the words below

Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances, was __________ to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to __________ as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.

Elvis' musical influences were the pop and __________ music of the time, the gospel __________ he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, he began his singing __________ with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording __________ was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and __________ barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new __________ of American music and __________ culture.

He starred in 33 successful __________ , made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, __________ concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has __________ over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have __________ him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 141 different __________ and singles, far more than any other artist. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which he __________ at age 36, and his being __________ One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without any of the special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably __________ his country in the U.S. Army.

His talent,_________ , sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he __________ throughout his life. Known the world over by his first __________ , he is regarded as one of the most __________ figures of twentieth century popular culture. Elvis __________ at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977.

popular - films - name - country - albums - born - served - career - era - grow up - demonstrated - earned - good looks - important - sold - music - died - contract - named - racial - live

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