Teaching Tips 133
Do you timetable your lessons? It's easy to let the coursebook do it for you but that's not really taking full responsibility for the course you're providing - the coursebook writer didn't write the book for your particular group of stds. You need to see how your stds' needs are being met & how a balance & variety of skills & input are being kept.
Here's a timetabling procedure to start you off:
1.Draw up a grid - make a box for each lesson over the 2/3 week period.
Then have a cup of tea as a reward before continuing!
2.Put in the fixed things like time in the library, computer room, language lab, tests, project work etc.
3.Think back to what you've done over the past two weeks.
4.Think about what your stds need re. language, skills & interests.
5.Look at what's coming up next in the coursebook.
6.Decide what might be useful & what to discard.
7.Decide if there's anything from the last two weeks/month that you can incorporate - recycling.
8.Fill in the skills work - the listening, speaking, writing & reading.
9.Fill in the 'input' - the language work - grammar, function & vocabulary.
10.Look at the balance & change things around.
11.Write 'Provisional' at the top of the page! Try to follow it but be flexible at the same time.
12.Give a copy to each std - they can then mentally prepare themselves before each lesson.
Apart from being a logical stage in the course planning, it saves a lot of time in the long run - a couple of hours every two weeks saves no end of time in the day-to-day planning of your lessons. All you have to do each day is plan the lesson, rather than run through the timetabling decisions every day.
An excellent book to help you with your planning:
Planning Lessons and Courses: Designing Sequences of Work for the
Language Classroom - T.Woodward (CUP)
To see the review on the site:
Ig Nobel Prizes
Have a read about the Ig Nobel Prizes:
'The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.'
"The Ig Nobel awards are arguably the highlight of the scientific calendar." Nature
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 2, at the 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. We will soon post video of the ceremony.
NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert,, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.
MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University, USA, for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.
COGNITIVE SCIENCE PRIZE. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.
ECONOMICS PRIZE. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that a professional lap dancer's ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings.
PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.
CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.
LITERATURE PRIZE. David Sims of Cass Business School. London, UK, for his lovingly written study "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations."
High level stuff if you want to use it per se. You could ask your higher level students to choose interesting overall appropriate winners & rank them in order of imaginativeness, usefulness, fun etc...
You could use it as a basis for a live listening task - you tell the students about the content & get a discussion going.
On a related theme, some more material & ideas about inventions on the site:
Past Tip - Inventions:
Inventions lesson plan:
101 Gadgets that saves the world:
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Spell it out
How's your spelling? Are there certain words that you always have
to stop & think about? Take the test - which spelling is correct.
Clearly you need to spell correctly. Have you ever been corrected
by your students with your board work? If you have any doubts,
check the spelling out before the lesson.
To coincide with International Spelling Day on 30th September,
here's the Ghoti Tip:
Have a look at the following words. Which do you think could be
You can easily guess but could your students? The sound-
spelling relation is a complex one in English & although some
rules may be manageable, there are a lot which are just too
complicated to pass on. When our students meet a new written word
they either use their existing knowledge of English to guess at
the pronunciation or fall back on their native language
convention for the particular letter combinations. The task
above, guessing which combinations could be possible & then
discussing why & why not, is a useful one.
The idea of sound values is crucial to this. Some letters can
have one sound value while others can have two or more. The
letter 'd' has only one sound value as in 'daft', 'did', don't'
etc. The letter 'g', with very few exceptions, has two sound
values - the first as is 'g' followed by 'i', 'e' or 'y' has the
sound of 'dj', as in 'imagine' & 'gent'. The second is the sound
'g' as in 'gun' & 'grey'. (The exceptions to the first include
the words 'give', 'girl', 'anger', 'eager', 'gear', 'get')
The letter 'c' has two sound values. Look at the following words & work out the rule: ::
It is a very confusing area & one that the teacher needs to be
George Bernard Shaw gave one of the nonsense words above,
'ghoti', as an example of the ridiculous system behind English
sound-spelling by reasoning that it could have the same
pronunciation as the word 'fish'! He got this by taking the 'gh'
from 'tough' for the 'f', the 'o' from the word 'women' for 'i' &
then the 'ti' from the word 'nation' for the 'sh' sound. A nice
example for your students.
The letter 'c' rule
It's the same as with 'g' - if it is followed by 'i', 'e', or 'y'
then it takes the 's' sound, otherwise it takes the 'k' sound.
To explore this area further check out 'Teaching English Spelling:
A Practical Guide' by Ruth Shemesh & Sheila Waller (CUP)
A couple of spelling rules sites:
Answers to the spelling test:
(Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)
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A couple of interesting Days to pick up on in class this week:
It's International Tourism Day on the 27th September & to
coincide it might be an idea to get out those ubiquitous tourist
development roleplays. It usually centred around an unspoilt
island that would be ideal as a tourist resort. The roles involve
those for & against the development. For example;
Mayor - you are in favour of developing the island as all would
benefit from the tourists. Think of a few examples to use in the
Representative of the environmental protection group - you think
it would be a disaster. Tourists would destroy the wildlife & the
natural parks on the island. Think of a few examples to use in
Villager - you are for the developments as you feel it would
provide employment for the younger people so they wouldn't have
to leave the island in search of work. Think of a few examples to
use in the discussion.
Villager - you think it wouldn't be a good idea as tourism would
destroy the traditional lifestyle of the island, affecting the
community as a whole. You are worried about the local language
dying out. Think of a few examples to use in the discussion.
Developer - you want to develop certain areas. Think of a few
arguments & examples to use in the discussion.
More roles can easily be added to suit.
It might be argued that one of the results of international
tourism results in the decline of minority languages. This links
to the European Day of Languages on September 26th.
For material on a past Tip on this:
Council of Europe page on the European Day of Languages:
'The year 2008 marks the 10th anniversary of the entry into force
of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. "This
Charter is designed to protect and promote regional and minority
languages as a key aspect of cultural heritage in Europe and to
allow people who speak a regional or minority language to use it
in private and public life", Terry Davis, Secretary General of
the Council of Europe said at a press conference. Up to 2008, in
order to protect their linguistic diversity, 10 Member-states
have signed the Charter and 28 have ratified it.'
Wikipedia's info on European Day of Languages.
An interesting article connected to this which might be useful
for the more advanced group, used as a jigsaw reading with each
student given one of the language profiles to read & explain, the
communicative purpose to discuss which ones might be the most
deserving to save (not that they all are!):
Peter K Austin's top 10 endangered languages
The linguistics professor and author shares a personal selection
from the thousands of languages on the brink of disappearing
* Wednesday August 27 2008
Peter K Austin has published 11 books on minority and endangered
languages, including 12 Australian Aboriginal languages, and
holds the Märit Rausing Chair in field linguistics at the School
of Oriental and African Studies where he is also director of the
Endangered Languages Academic Programme. His most recent book is
1000 Languages: The Worldwide History of Living and Lost Tongues,
which explores the state of languages around the world.
There are more than 6,900 languages used around the world today,
ranging in size from those with hundreds of millions of speakers
to those with only one or two. Language experts now estimate that
as many as half of the existing languages are endangered, and by
the year 2050 they will be extinct. The major reason for this
language loss is that communities are switching to larger
politically and economically more powerful languages, like
English, Spanish, Hindi or Swahili.
Each language expresses the history, culture, society and
identity of the people who speak it, and each is a unique way of
talking about the world. The loss of any language is a loss to
both the community who use it in their daily lives, and to
humankind in general. The songs, stories, words, expressions and
grammatical structures of languages developed over countless
generations are part of the intangible heritage of all humanity.
So how to choose a top 10 from more than 3,000 endangered
languages? My selection is a personal one that tries to take into
account four factors: (1) geographical coverage - if possible I
wanted at least one language from each continent; (2) scientific
interest - I wanted to include languages that linguists find
interesting and important, because of their structural or
historical significance; (3) cultural interest - if possible some
information about interesting cultural and political aspects of
endangered languages should be included; and (4) social impact -
I wanted to include one or more situations showing why languages
are endangered, as well as highlighting some of the ways
communities are responding to the threat they currently face.
Jeru (or Great Andamanese) is spoken by fewer than 20 people on
the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. It is generally believed
that Andamanese languages might be the last surviving languages
whose history goes back to pre-Neolithic times in Southeast Asia
and possibly the first settlement of the region by modern humans
moving out of Africa. The languages of the Andamans cannot be
shown to be related to any other languages spoken on earth.
2. N|u (also called Khomani)
This is a Khoisan language spoken by fewer than 10 elderly people
whose traditional lands are located in the Kalahari Gemsbok
National Park in South Africa. The Khoisan languages are
remarkable for having click sounds – the | symbol is pronounced
like the English interjection tsk! tsk! used to express pity or
shame.The closest relative of N|u is !Xóõ (also called Ta'a and
spoken by about 4,000 people) which has the most sounds of any
language on earth: 74 consonants, 31 vowels, and four tones
The Ainu language is spoken by a small number of old people on
the island of Hokkaido in the far north of Japan. They are the
original inhabitants of Japan, but were not recognised as a
minority group by the Japanese government until this year. The
language has very complicated verbs that incorporate a whole
sentence's worth of meanings, and it is the vehicle of an
extensive oral literature of folk stories and songs. Moves are
underway to revive Ainu language and cultural practices.
Sun Moon Lake of central Taiwan is the home of the Thao language,
now spoken by a handful of old people while the remainder of the
community speaks Taiwanese Chinese (Minnan). Thao is an
Austronesian language related to languages spoken in the
Philippines, Indonesia and the Pacific, and represents one of the
original communities of the Austronesians before they sailed
south and east over 3,000 years ago.
Yuchi is spoken in Oklahoma, USA, by just five people all aged
over 75. Yuchi is an isolate language (that is, it cannot be
shown to be related to any other language spoken on earth). Their
own name for themselves is Tsoyaha, meaning "Children of the
Sun". Yuchi nouns have 10 genders, indicated by word endings: six
for Yuchi people (depending on kinship relations to the person
speaking), one for non-Yuchis and animals, and three for
inanimate objects (horizontal, vertical, and round). Efforts are
now under way to document the language with sound and video
recordings, and to revitalise it by teaching it to children.
6. Oro Win
The Oro Win live in western Rondonia State, Brazil, and were
first contacted by outsiders in 1963 on the headwaters of the
Pacaas Novos River. The group was almost exterminated after two
attacks by outsiders and today numbers just 50 people, only five
of whom still speak the language. Oro Win is one of only five
languages known to make regular use of a sound that linguists
call "a voiceless dental bilabially trilled affricate". In rather
plainer language, this means it's produced with the tip of the
tongue placed between the lips which are then vibrated (in a
similar way to the brrr sound we make in English to signal that
the weather is cold).
The Kusunda are a former group of hunter-gatherers from western
Nepal who have intermarried with their settled neighbours. Until
recently it was thought that the language was extinct but in 2004
scholars at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu located eight
people who still speak the language. Another isolate, with no
connections to other languages.
8. Ter Sami
This is the easternmost of the Saami group of languages (formerly
called Lapp, a derogatory term), located on the Kola Peninsula in
Russia. It is spoken by just 10 elderly people among
approximately 100 ethnic Ter Sami who all now speak Russian as
their daily language. Ter Sami is related to Finnish and other
Uralic languages spoken in Russia and Siberia, and distantly to
9. Guugu Yimidhirr
Guugu Yimidhirr is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken at
Hopevale near Cooktown in northern Queensland by around 200
people. A wordlist was collected by Captain James Cook in 1770
and it has given English (and the rest of the world's languages)
the word kangaroo. Guugu Yimidhirr (like some other Aboriginal
languages) is remarkable for having a special way of speaking to
certain family members (like a man's father-in-law or
brother-in-law) in which everyday words are replaced by
completely different special vocabulary. For example, instead of
saying bama dhaday for "the man is going" you must say yambaal
bali when speaking to these relatives as a mark of respect and
Ket is the last surviving member of a family of languages spoken
along the Yenesei River in eastern Siberia. Today there are
around 600 speakers but no children are learning it since parents
prefer to speak to them in Russian. Ket is the only Siberian
language with a tone system where the pitch of the voice can give
what sound like identical words quite different meanings. (Much
like Chinese or Yoruba). To add to the difficulty for any
westerner wishing to learn it, it also has extremely complicated
word structure and grammar.
Wikipedia's page on endangered languages.
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