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Teaching Tips 94

International Women's Day '06
World Book Day '06

International Women's Day '06

International Women's

International Women's Day takes place on Wednesday 8th March & there is already lesson material on the site to use at the Tip 'Women's Day' :

This is what they say at about this year's Day:

International Women's Day is the universal day that connects all women around the world and inspires them to achieve their full potential. IWD 2006 launches another year of working progressively for women's equality worldwide. It is an important day around the world because the collective power of women is witnessed by millions, and the brave achievements of women past, present and future are respectfully honoured. International Women's Day 2006 will be celebrated globally on Wednesday 8 March. Join the action !!

Pay equality is an issue almost everywhere, so to coincide with Women's Day you could use the following article in class. It could be suitable for an upper intermediate group & upwards, business or general adult class:

Women workers earn £500 less a month than men, says EOC

John Carvel, social affairs editor Wednesday January 14, 2004 The Guardian

Women working full time expect to earn the same as men, but on average gross £559 (c.815 euros/$981US) less a month, the Equal Opportunities Commission said today at the start of a fresh assault on unfair pay.

It published results of a poll by the market research firm BMRB International showing that 88% of women expect to earn the same as a man with the same qualifications, rising to 94% among women under 25.

These women were "heading for disappointment" because the latest data showed the difference in average pay between men and women working full time is just over £6,700 a year - about 18%.

The commission will today distribute thousands of mock pay slips to commuters arriving for work in London, Glasgow and Manchester, showing loss of earnings for "being a woman" alongside other deductions such as tax and national insurance.

Under the slogan "it's time to get even", the campaign will urge women to check whether they are being paid fairly, using a salary calculator available via the commission's website, .

The poll found 29% of women did not know what their colleagues earned, compared with 20% of men. As a result women were more likely than men to be unaware of pay discrimination. More people in professional and managerial positions knew what most of their colleagues earned than in clerical and manual jobs.

Julie Mellor, the commission's chairwoman, said: "Forget about sex, politics and religion, pay is the new taboo. In Britain today the whole business of pay is shrouded in mystery, and this survey also shows that if you are a woman on a lower wage you are even more likely to be in the dark on how much you should expect.

"Discrimination flourishes in this culture of secrecy when people cannot be sure they are rewarded fairly."

The commission said it was against the law to pay women less than men for similar work. It called on companies to mount equal pay reviews to establish whether disparities are due to discrimination or occupational segregation, involving recruitment patterns that cluster women in a narrow range of lower-paid occupations.

Meanwhile the union GMB published new research showing that the gender pay gap had grown to more than £400 a week in the City of London.

The average was £200 in London, £145 in eastern and south-east England, £120 in the south-west, £115 in the north-west, £113 in the West Midlands, £111 in Scotland, £109 in the East Midlands, £91 in Wales and £90 in the north-east.

Karen Constantine, the union's equal rights officer said: "The only way to resolve the problem of equal pay effectively is to ensure that all employers take their responsibility seriously and conduct equal pay audits.

"There has been a marked lack of enthusiasm by employers to do so voluntarily, so compulsion is the only way forward.",11505,

A brief procedure:
1. Intro
- introduce Women's Day by reading out the paragraph at the beginning of this Tip. Elicit responses - do they celebrate it in their country, how etc...>> Elicit some inequalities between the sexes >> pay inequality.

An alternative intro to differences between the sexes is through a dictation - have two columns - male /female - & dictate activities & students write the activity in one or both columns depending how they feel it is done best by the sexes, students compare answers & then a general class discussion ensues. Then on to Women's Day...

2. Extensive reading - set a couple of general questions & give a time limit so they read quickly, not getting bogged down in the vocab. Tell them before they begin that you'll be looking at the vocab after & to just concentrate on answering the task. Ask the students why they are doing the set task - awareness is half the battle won.
Stds read >> compare ideas in pairs >> feedback

For lower levels you could read out loud or summarise the first few paragraphs of the article, without using the text as a reading stage. Then into variations of the speaking activities below.

3. More intensive reading - this could focus on the numbers - choose half a dozen key numbers & students find what they refer to >> compare in pairs >> feedback. Or a straightforward comprehension task.

4. Vocab focus - you might look at the following items through a dictionary task: gross - heading for disappointment - mock pay slips - it's time to get even - shrouded in mystery - Discrimination flourishes in this culture of secrecy. Students chat about the meanings through the contextual clues & then confirm in the dictionary >> general feedback.

Or ask the students to underline all words connected with the lexical set of Money & work - see below. A follow up task could be a gap fill or a series discussion points about 'work' that require use of the words.

Other language areas - the article's discourse structure might make an interesting focus, how the text develops & why the writer chose this way. A look at the choice of direct & indirect speech might also be useful.

Money & work lexis:

Earn - average gross - unfair pay - average pay - working full-time - pay slips - loss of earnings - deductions - tax and national - insurance - salary - pay discrimination - professional and managerial positions - clerical and manual jobs - a lower wage - equal pay reviews - occupational segregation - lower-paid occupations - gender pay gap - union's equal rights officer - equal pay - employers - conduct equal pay audits

5. Students' response to the article - what do they think about the issue & the article. You could use the following questions, change to suit. Pairwork or small groups & then a class discussion.

Discussion points:

1. Is there unequal pay between the sexes in your company, or in a company you know?

2. Are there any jobs that you think should be done by one sex rather than the other?

3. Are there any jobs that you think one of the sexes is generally better at than the other sex?

4. What do you think can be done to promote pay equality between the sexes?

5. Do you think pay inequality exists between people from different ethnic backgrounds in your country?

6. Follow up tasks - You could include the following roleplay. Rather than giving purely oral fluency practice, it would be worth briefly looking beforehand at some functional exponents that they would need in the activity.


Manager: Your business is having financial difficulties so you have to save money where you can. One of these ways is to pay women less than men. You think that a woman’s place is in the home & if they want to work as well, then they shouldn’t expect equal pay. One of your female workers wants to talk to you.

Female worker: You are highly qualified & do an excellent job. You think you do a better job than most of the men in the company & you think you are on a lower salary than the men. Talk to your boss about the situation

Other follow up tasks:
- produce a poster promoting equal pay under the slogan "it's time to get even".
- roleplay - bring together representatives of the different parties mentioned in the text - union, employers etc  for a discussion.
- letter to the editor expressing opinions on the article.

This can clearly be an emotive issue so tread carefully. If you are thinking of using this in a business context, sound the students out first to avoid any conflicts that may arise, you might have male & female students in the same group where pay inequality exists. It is an interesting article & could make for a very productive lesson, however, if in doubt, choose something else.

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World Book Day '06

World Book Day '06

It's World Book Day on the 2nd March in the UK & Ireland.

World Book Day is the biggest annual event supporting books and reading in the UK and Ireland and the emphasis for 2006 is celebration. Schools, libraries, bookshops and other venues will be encouraged to hold even more book-related events, activities and parties than in previous years!

World Book Day grows every year − continuing activity will include pre−school and secondary school registration in the UK to receive schools packs and World Book Day £1 Book Tokens. Please note that UK primary schools and all Irish Schools will automatically receive this material as usual. There will once again be six special World Book Day £1 Books that can be exchanged for the £1 Book Token. '

Any ideas to get people reading more is always a good thing. For our learners extensive reading is essential for language development to take place & to encourage extensive reading is a real responsibility for teachers. Try to get hold of the book 'Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language', an excellent collection of activities that helps you put into place a systematic approach to your extensive reading programmes.

The operative word is 'systematic' as it's not enough just to throw texts out in the hope that all your students will begin reading authentic texts. Stage the reading programme by building up from short articles to longer articles, to readers & then to short stories & finally to longer authentic literature. Clearly this goes hand in hand with general language development, lower levels just don't have the language to cope with complicated texts. That isn't to say that you do less reading, all it means is that you choose texts carefully that are manageable & enjoyable.

Reading has to be enjoyable or it won't happen, so choosing interesting texts is crucial. This means finding out about your learners' interests. Find out what they read in their mother tongue & then try to find the same in English. Involve the students in the search for texts by getting them to search the internet & bring in texts to swap in class.

When you & the students have decided on the programme, get them to keep a diary of their reading, noting down the title, publisher, genre & their opinions of the text, as well as the language they might have got from the text. This could be connected to their 'learner diaries. See the past Tip 'Using Learner diaries'

Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers)  by Julian Bamford & Richard R. Day
(CUP) To read the review

There are a couple of past Tips on using class readers:
Grade the reader 1
Grade the reader 2
There is a good book on graded readers called 'Class Readers' by Jean Greenwood (OUP).


Even if you are not based in the UK or Ireland, you could still use the event to introduce the promotion of more reading in your classes. One of the links from the World Book Day takes you to the Readathon site,, an idea to stimulate children to read & raise money for charity at the same time. They'll send you a free pack of goodies to get started on the project. A great idea which is related to an activity in ' Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language' called 'Reading Marathon'. This is a competition that can take place over a couple of weeks to a month where students read as many books as they can & for each book read they are awarded points in kilometres or miles of the marathon course. The marathon course could be in diagrammatic form on a poster in the classroom & each student marks progress in the marathon as books are read. When each completes the course a small prize is given. You have to be realistic about how much will be read so a group who won't read many books might be given larger sections of the course for each book. A nice idea.

As with anything, extensive reading programmes need you to be
enthusiastic & the learners need to be aware of the importance of
the programme, as well as the short & longer term aims.
Happy reading.

Other reading Tips:
Olive oil texts
Burns Night - poetry
In the news
Skeleton texts
Jigsaw holidays
Looking ahead - prediction
Read out
Speedy reading
Campaign for real reading
Scan reading

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Have a look at this extract from Lewis Carroll's 'Jabberwocky':

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

from 'Jabberwocky' by Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

Answer the following questions on the text above:

  1. What were the toves like?
  2. What did the slithy toves do?
  3. Where did they gyre and gimble?
  4. Do you think the toves would be pleasant to touch?

Easy, no? 1. slithy 2. gyre and gimble 3. in the wabe 4. No.
You have answered the task correctly but you're probably feeling slightly confused as you don't really understand it. This is what Alice had to say after reading the whole poem:

"It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that's clear, at any rate---"

This is a well-used activity for looking at reading & listening tasks on training courses. Do you know what a 'tove' is, or what 'slithy' & 'gyre and gimble' are? A good example to highlight the difficulty in designing tasks as it is sometimes not necessary to understand the content in order to answer the tasks correctly. Careful when you write comprehension tasks.

Jabberwocky toves

Here's the full poem:

Lewis Carroll(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

After reading the poem you'll probaby feel like your students do, & as Alice did, when reading a challenging text.

A glossary of some of the words in the text can be found at:
Wikipedia's page on jabberwocky:

Another use for the poem with advanced students or on training courses is to highlight some sound-spelling rules. Although it's a nonsense poem, native speakers would agree on how the poem is pronounced, on how the 'i' in 'slithy' would be pronounced like the 'i' in 'pie', & 'gyre' begins with a 'j' sound, but 'gimble' begins with a hard 'g' sound, & so on.

A very good practical treatment of the sound-spelling rules can be found in Joanne Kenworthy's 'Teaching English Pronunciation' (Longman):
To buy the book at To buy the book at

After looking at some of the rules & a part of the poem, the students could be asked to invent their own nonsense words, thinking about how they are pronounced, & then get a fellow student to pronounce them, the original student correcting. As it is a complex area, in combination with some of the more manageable rules, it is an area that benefits from a development of intuition, by asking 'how do you think it should sound?' & getting your students guessing.

A previous Tip on sound-spelling 'Ghoti' can be found at:

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