Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 51

An Introduction to TEFL

What exactly is TEFL? You probably already know that TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. If you are a native speaker of English, you are probably
aware of English programmes aimed at immigrants in your own country. You might be forgiven

TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) programmes. What is the difference? After all, they both involve teaching English
for thinking these are TEFL courses. In fact, they are not. They are to non-native speakers, don't they? Well, yes that is true, but TESL is carried out in a country where English is the first language whereas TEFL is not. What difference does that make? Quite a lot, actually. If you stop to think for a moment, you will realise that ESL teachers are likely to have three big advantages over EFL teachers. What do you think they are?

ESL teachers have the following advantages over EFL teachers:

Since they are living in an English-speaking country, ESL teachers have huge quantity of materials and resources, such as newspapers magazines, TV and radio broadcasts etc. Their students have many opportunities to practise English with native classroom, and are constantly surrounded by the English language. ESL students are very likely to have stronger motivation to learn than because ESL students need English in order to function successfully in the are living. In other words, they need it to survive day to day life. unlimited access to a literature of all types, speakers outside the EFL students. This is country in which they

What is taught? Though it may be true, it is just too simple to say 'English' in answer to this question.
We cannot, of course, hope to teach the entire language. It is just too big - not even people normally considered to be native speakers know all of their own language. We must content ourselves with teaching a useful sub-set of the language. This includes both vocabulary and grammar. On the vocabulary side, we teach phrasal, idiomatic and functional language alongside word combinations, or as we prefer to call them, collocations, such as 'apologising profusely' or 'heavy rain.' On the grammar side, among other things, we teach the parts of speech (nouns, verbs, prepositions, clauses etc) and the English tense system (the present perfect, past continuous etc). We also teach pronunciation, punctuation and the four language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking). Teaching these skills to adults who can already use them well in their own language may seem strange but it is necessary. In addition to the above, it is important to understand that TEFL breaks the language down for teaching purposes into areas so as to better meet the needs of the students. For most people that means a course of General English but for others it may mean English for Specific Purposes (ESP) which includes English for Vocational Purposes (Business English, English for secretaries, etc), English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Science and Technology (EST). Finally, EFL teachers are also regularly called upon to teach their students examination skills and techniques. This is usually for International Exams such as the Cambridge University First Certificate in English (FCE) or the American TOEFL.

What sort of people become EFL teachers? It is first necessary to say that there is no 'typical'
EFL teacher. EFL teachers come from all walks of life and bring with them invaluable knowledge and experience gained in many different fields. They do, however, share some characteristics. They are individualistic, independent and are able to live and work in an alien environment. The last is important and needs to be stressed. EFL teaching is NOT for those who are not flexible enough to adapt themselves to a radically different culture the language of which they are unable to speak. As far as age is concerned, people can and do start working in EFL at any age, that said, the majority of new EFL teachers are aged between 22 and 26 and stay in the field for one to three academic years.

Why do people want to become EFL teachers? The reasons are many and varied: to enhance
their career prospects, to experience a different culture, to improve their knowledge of the language of the country in which they intend to work, to be near friends, because they are not yet ready to start a career at home, etc. One thing is for sure, it certainly isn't for money as most EFL schools pay only a modest local salary.

What qualifications are required? The most essential prerequisite is to have a good command of
English. If you have this, there are a number of routes into EFL. The best known of which are as follows:

Cambridge University's Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) or Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners (CELTYL). Trinity College of London's Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate or Certificate in teaching English to Young Learners (CTEYL). In-house initial teaching certificates such as those offered by EFL schools like Language Link. A Bachelor's Degree in TEFL.

For more information about the various types of EFL courses on the market, see TEFL courses.

What are the students like? Students are people, and you can expect to meet and teach all types.
We do not choose our students: they choose us. They are our customers and as such deserve the respect and commitment of their teachers. They may sometimes be difficult and demanding. This is often because they are spending a substantial portion of their family budget on English lessons in order to improve their career prospects, or, perhaps, to enrich their lives and need to be sure they are getting good value for their money. Just as there is no typical EFL teacher there is no typical student. They too come to us from all walks of life and for a multitude of reasons. They come with high expectations, different learning styles, and with widely differing levels and experience of the English Language. Like students in other fields some work hard and some do not, some find learning English easy and some find it difficult. In short, they are no different from students everywhere.

What do language students expect of their teacher?

expectations of your teachers when you were a student.

Take a few minutes to recall your own

Language students expect their teacher to:

be knowledgeable about English and English-speaking cultures be able to explain clearly both grammar and vocabulary items help them with their pronunciation problems correct their errors and mistakes teach them well motivate them provide interesting lessons be at all times professional be well prepared be punctual be friendly Think about it. It's not too hard. They

What do language schools expect of their teachers?

expect everything their students expect plus that teachers will:

complete class registers keep a record of what has been taught, in case a class has to be taught by a different teacher perhaps because the usual teacher is ill complete any necessary reports or other paperwork in time and accurately conduct regular class test and report the results call in when they are sick or are unable to teach sufficiently early that cover can be arranged or that students can be informed that their lesson is cancelled behave and dress in an appropriate and professional manner co-operate with the school management and with their colleagues As you can see from the above TEFL is a serious business. These days, with students becoming more and more discerning and critical, schools are less tolerant towards teachers who consider EFL as a paid holiday. Competition is tough so standards must be high to ensure a school's survival. The 'good old days', when it was enough to be a native speaker, are long gone and will never return.

What are the teaching conditions like?

This really depends on the country you are working in and who you are teaching. If you are teaching general English, you may well find yourself teaching in a state school classroom or perhaps in a rented room. In some African countries you might even have to teach in the open air. If, on the other hand, you are teaching 'in-company', then you can expect to teach in an office or possibly in a meeting room.

Class sizes

vary greatly, in Europe 10-15 students is the norm. In China and some African countries classes of 60 are possible. Frequently it is the size of the teaching space that dictates how many students are accepted into a group. Most schools have a library of resource books for the use of teaching staff, and course books and teaching materials are usually provided. Facilities such as photocopiers may either not be available at all or their use may be restricted on cost grounds. The bigger schools often provide computers with access to the Internet as a wealth of teaching materials can be found there. If you wish to have a look at some of what is available on the net, check out the Macmillan publishing house's web site www.onestopenglish.com. Over Head Projectors are rarely provided. A blackboard (Remember these? - You need chalk to write on them!) or a whiteboard is considered essential and so one or the other will usually be present in the classroom. However, incompany teachers may find themselves without any form of board at all, or, if they are lucky, using a flipchart.

How should I teach?

There are many approaches to language learning and teaching. Probably the most widely used today is one called The Communicative Approach.

What then is this 'Communicative Approach?

It is communication. The set of principles that underlie this theory are that:






Learners learn a language through using it to communicate. Authentic and meaningful communication should be the goal of classroom activities. Fluency is an important dimension of communication. Communication involves the integration of different language skills. Learning is a process of creative construction and involves trial and error.

The goal of CLT is communicative competence. In order to foster communicative competence the teacher has two main roles: the first being to facilitate the communication process in the classroom. The second is to act as an independent participant within the learning-teaching group. The teacher is also expected to act as a resource, an organiser of resources, a motivator, a counsellor, a guide, an analyst and a researcher. This list is not exhaustive: there are many other minor roles expected of a teacher. Further examples include being an actor and an entertainer. Do you find this a little strange? It isn't! A good lesson must be interesting for the students or they will 'switch off' and learn nothing. 'That's all very well,' I hear you asking, 'but what does all this mean in practical terms?' Well, in order to address this question we must consider the following:

Teacher-Student Interaction Activities Materials

Since our aim is communicative competence it is essential that students be given every opportunity to practise communicating. In the old-fashioned classroom it is usual to see the teacher standing at the front of the class lecturing for most of the lesson. This allows the students very little opportunity to practise communication, and so is totally unsuitable for the communicative classroom. In the communicative classroom 'teacher talking time' (TTT) must be kept to a minimum. This is not to say that the teacher should not speak but merely that TTT must be controlled and appropriate. The classroom should be learner centred. The teacher's role is to facilitate student communication. This is done by the careful

selection of materials and activities relevant to the aims of the lesson in which they are used. Communication can be divided into two categories: input and output. The four communicative skills can be put into these categories.

Listening Reading

Speaking Writing

Whichever of these skills is being taught the main focus must be on the student and not on the teacher. The interaction therefore should usually be student to student and should include the teacher only where necessary. During most classroom activities the teacher will monitor the communication intervening only when needed. One very simple model for a communicative lesson or part of a lesson might be as follows:

Stage 1: Teacher (T) gives a short presentation of a grammar or vocabulary point. T then gives students
(Ss) opportunity to practise the point in a controlled exercise. (Interaction T >Ss)

Stage 2:

The Ss carry out the controlled exercise while T monitors and intervenes where appropriate. (Interaction S <> S)

Stage 3:

The Ss are then asked to take part in an activity designed to get them to produce the vocabulary or grammar they have been taught. T monitors and notes errors and interesting points. T intervenes only when asked or when absolutely necessary. (Interaction S <> S)

Stage 4:

Feedback session, in which T feeds back in a non-threatening way the errors he/she noted during the activity. Ss also have the opportunity to clear up puzzling points. (Interaction T <> Ss) This follows a method called Presentation-Practice-Production or PPP for short. This was the standard method until a few years ago. Now there are a number of possibilities open to the teacher. You will be introduced to these at a later stage.

Classroom activities should, as far as is possible, be carried out in the target language (English). Having said this, there may sometimes be occasions where allowing the students to briefly discuss a point in their native tongue can promote greater understanding and assimilation of new information. However, this is controversial issue and should not usually be permitted. There are many different types of activities. They provide speaking, listening, writing and reading practice as well as aiding production. These include games, role-plays, simulations, information gaps etc. They can be found in books containing supplementary material such as the Reward Resource Packs. Many teachers enjoy creating their own activities, which can be tailored specifically to their classes needs. Activities used in the classroom must be selected carefully as if they are above the level of the students they can destroy self-confidence and if below they can bore the students. Activities usually involve the students working together either in pairs or in small groups. Activities are often used to practise real-life situations involving social interaction and so a high level of social and functional language should be expected.

Materials fall into three broad categories: text-based, task-based and realia. They can be used as the basis for classroom activities. Once again not only must the activity be appropriate to the level of the students but the materials used must be appropriate too.

Text-based materials such as practice exercises, reading passages, gap fills, recordings, etc. can be
found in almost any course book as well as in books containing supplementary materials. They form an essential part of most lessons.

Task-based materials include game boards, roleplay cards, materials for drilling, pairwork tasks, etc.
They might be used to support 'real life' tasks such as role playing booking into a hotel, or a job interview.


includes such things as magazines, newspapers, fruit and vegetables, axes, maps things from the real world outside the classroom. They can be used in many activities. For example fruit and vegetables could be used in a shopping activity, an axe could be used to show the effect of using the present perfect continuous on a short action verb. To return to the question of 'What does the communicative approach mean in practical terms?' We should now understand that the teacher's job is to get their students to communicate using real language by providing them with instruction, practice, and above all opportunities to produce English in activities that encourage language acquisition and fluency. In conclusion, Communicative Language Teaching should be fun for both teacher and students. Enabling students to communicate successfully is also very rewarding.

Teacher Training Programme

One of the most frequently asked questions in the field of EFL or at least the one that I am most frequently asked is, 'What constitutes a good teacher training programme'? Admittedly, teachers or potential teachers do not phrase the question as such. Instead the question is most frequently asked in one or the other forms that follow: Does Language Link accept teachers who have






Does Language Link recognize

such and such qualifications?

Regardless of the form that this question takes, the essential underlying assumptions around which either question is asked are,


Language Link, being a professional school of foreign language study, would only give employment to teachers with acceptable qualifications.

This being the case, Language Link is well placed to give advice on what is an 'acceptable qualification'.

To begin with, I do not dispute the verity of these two statements. That said, answering the question, 'What constitutes a good teacher-training programme?' is not an easy undertaking. There are a number of reasons for this of which slander is not one. I do not mind calling a spade a spade, however writing an honest evaluation often depends upon one's point of view. Therefore, rather than point out a particular programme by name, I would prefer to discuss the merits i.e., advantages of different types of programmes as well as their disadvantages. Before doing so, however, I wish to point out that most teachers (I've heard as many as 70%) are without a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification. If this is true, then it stands to reason that ANY teacher training programme has got to be better than the alternative i.e., not having any training at all. By the way, should it not be obvious, being a native English speaker is NOT a qualification. Likewise, the fact that one has been speaking English all his/ her life CANNOT be construed as an acceptable alternative to training or experience. Finally, as long as I have alluded to 'training', then believe me when I say holding a degree in English, literature, journalism, linguistics, and so on, is NOT a suitable substitute. To believe otherwise, is to believe that you are also qualified to teach English to a class of native English speakers. And whereas most accept that they would not be qualified to do so (and would never attempt this without having the proper teaching

credentials), many of this same number somehow believe that going into a classroom of non-native English speakers is somehow different and that they would be successful in such an endeavour. Before continuing, let's recap the three essential points that I have just made:

Most English Foreign Language (EFL) teachers do not hold an EFL qualification. Being a native English speaker is not a suitable substitution for training. Holding an English/ English related degree is not equivalent to holding a TEFL qualification.

If you accept this as true, then the implication is stunning. Does this mean that 70% of those who teach English as a foreign language are BAD teachers? In order to answer this question and to give the answer a non-offensive tone, consider the following. Having worked in the field for over fifteen years as both a teacher and school director, I thoroughly believe that most foreign students of English fall into one of three categories. They are:

Happy students who like their teachers and are learning English Happy students who like their teachers but are not learning English Unhappy students who neither like their teachers nor are learning English

In order to proceed, it is preferable to relate these students to their teachers. That is, teachers fall into one of three categories. They are:

Teachers who have happy students who are learning English Teachers who have happy students who are not learning English Teachers who have unhappy students who are not learning English

Unfortunately, though this is true, it is not true that one can easily place teachers into one of these three categories based solely on their having attended or taken an organized teacher-training programme. Of course this does not answer the question, and I do intend to answer the question. I only wish it to be

being a good EFL teacher involves more than just having a 'certificate'. That's the good news. The bad news is that there is no such thing as a born EFL teacher,
understood from the start that and despite what your loved ones (especially mothers) have told you, the 'animal' simply does not exist. Of course, and to give nature its due, I readily admit that certain people are 'cut out' to be EFL teachers (possessing the right type of personality and temperament), while others are not. Therefore, an EFL teacher, and by this I mean one who is fully prepared to accept the roles and responsibilities demanded of an EFL teacher, cannot be created through the simple act of taking an organized teacher training programme. You're either the right type, or you're not. Likewise, an organized teacher-training programme can do little to change this situation. Unfortunately, as long as the demand for English foreign language teachers remains high, wrong teacher types will continue to enter the field and many of these will have qualifications. One last point, which I believe needs stating, is that good EFL teachers evolve. With or without a teachertraining programme, the right teacher type will eventually evolve into a good EFL teacher. What a teacher training programme does, however, is speed up this process. That said, employers still prefer EFL teachers to have qualifications. Otherwise, the right teacher type will be learning from his or her mistakes 'on the job', and should it not be obvious, employers do not like and should not have to pay for this trial and error learning. Anyway, with the foregoing information as a backdrop, let's again recap. In addition to the first three points which I shall again state in the hope that they will sink in,

Most English Foreign Language (EFL) teachers do not hold an EFL qualification. Being a native English speaker is not a suitable substitution for training or experience. Holding an English/ English related degree is not equivalent to holding a TEFL qualification.

add the following:

There's no such 'thing' as a born EFL teacher, Certain people are 'cut out' to be EFL teachers while others are not. The right type of person can evolve naturally into being a good EFL teacher The process of becoming a good EFL teacher can be speeded up by taking/ attending a teacher train programme.

Given this, what then constitutes a good EFL teacher-training programme? Stated differently, 'What knowledge, skills and abilities are EFL employers looking for in their newly hired EFL teachers?' By identifying and listing the knowledge, skills and abilities found in the competent EFL teacher, it should thereafter be an easy task to describe and discern what constitutes a good EFL teacher-training programme. A. Knowledge: Knowledge falls into three broad categories. Grammar and Phonetics: The first category, and unfortunately that which is most lacking in EFL teachers today, is a thorough knowledge of the terminology and grammar of the English language. Without this, it is impossible to succeed in the TEFL field. For any who consider learning grammar to be a waste of time for native speakers let me assure you that it is not. Without this knowledge you will never become a real EFL teacher. Though Teaching English as a Foreign Language is not an easy endeavour, it is made unnecessarily difficult by failing, or worse refusing, to learn the grammar of the English language. Likewise, teachers should have knowledge not just of English but also about English. Phonetics, though considered less important than grammar, plays a critical role in assisting the student to understand proper pronunciation. This is especially true when it is necessary for students to visualize the difference between what they think they are saying and what they are saying in reality. Taken one step further, teachers who take the time to compare the students' native language with their own particular dialect of English will have a greater understanding of the potential problems that students are likely to have pronouncing various sounds (phonemes) or sound combinations i.e., words and phrasal units . Methodology: Knowing what to teach is only one side of the coin. Knowing how to teach is the other. This brings us to the second broad area of knowledge needed by the successful EFL teacher- knowledge of TEFL methodology. There are many approaches to language learning and teaching. Probably the most widely used one today is called The Communicative Approach based on the theory that language is communication. In order to create an environment conducive to the learning of English, the EFL teacher must be able to facilitate the communication process in the classroom. A thorough knowledge of the Communicative Approach is therefore essential. Trade tools: Finally, TEFL, like many fields of endeavour, has a set of tools which helps and supports the EFL teacher to convey the ideas necessary to the students' learning of English. These, for the most part, come in the form of books, cassettes (or CDs), videocassettes, computer programmes, flashcards and so forth. In order to assist the student to learn grammar and to enhance the classroom environment, the EFL teacher must know what literature and materials are available, how to evaluate their worth as teaching aids and how to exploit those that are deemed worthy. B. Skills: To be effective, an EFL teacher must possess the skills needed to present, practice and produce language in the classroom. S/he must also be able to check that the language taught has been correctly incorporated. All this must occur within a stable classroom environment conducive to learning. Given this, all of the following skills are, without exception, deemed de rigueur to the competent and capable EFL teacher:

how to teach the language skills- speaking, reading, writing and listening how to teach grammar and vocabulary how to elicit, drill and correct errors how to check for understanding how to plan lessons how to conduct classroom activities (games, role plays, simulations, information gaps etc) how to organise pair and group work how to develop student rapport

how to manage classrooms

C. Abilities: With regard to the skills listed above, EFL teachers must be able to adapt these skills to the various learner settings in which they will, at one time or another, be found. Learner settings may be divided by the students' age, type of English being taught and/or language ability. As such, they include:

the teaching of young learners and/or adults the teaching of General English, Conversational English, Business English and/or Examination Preparation the teaching of same or mixed ability classes.

Though the preceding lists are by no means definitive, they do serve to highlight two points. First, Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a professional field of endeavour and second, one should not seek to enter this field without some type of formal training. As previously mentioned, there is no such thing as a 'born teacher'. To believe otherwise is ludicrous. Having identified the knowledge, skills and abilities that professional EFL teachers should have, what then can be said of the various teacher-training programmes found on the market today? Currently, TEFL training programmes come in all shapes and sizes. For ease of writing and understanding, I shall divide TEFL courses into three categories: online courses, short taster courses and full-length (note, I didn't say long) practical courses. In assigning these designations, I have used arbitrary criteria which I shall explain. Likewise, it should be noted that some courses have characteristics that overlap others. Where possible, I will mention these. Online courses: As an employer of EFL teachers, I am somewhat suspicious of the effectiveness online courses. Though I would not put them into the same category as schools that offer medical degrees by correspondence course, they have a number of similar limitations. Prior to discussing these, I do wish to point out their pluses. First, online courses are available everywhere regardless of location, provided you have a computer and access to the Internet. Second, the subscriber can work on his/her course at times convenient to him/her. Third, depending upon the particular course in question, most are 'affordable'. Lastly, although I have never subscribed to any of the commercially available online TEFL courses, let's assume, for the sake of argument, that they are well written and academically sound. Given that an online TEFL course possesses all these characteristics, it would appear, at first sight, to be a solid investment. Unfortunately, for all the 'good points' that an online TEFL course may have, there is one factor which undermines them all (at least all to my knowledge), they do not, more precisely cannot, incorporate a practical teaching component. It is here that online TEFL courses start to remind us of the aforementioned 'schools that offer medical degrees by correspondence course'. Without real live patients, or in our case students, how is it possible to evaluate the extent to which the TEFL theory taught and the practical advice given has been both understood and incorporated? Sitting for interactive tests and/or writing papers is not sufficient. Only by approaching the operating table can the physician truly test his or her abilities. The same holds true in TEFL. Only by entering the classroom and confronting live students can a new teacher trainee discover his/her limitations. Before continuing, I would do well to define the term 'practical teaching component'. The practical teaching component of a TEFL course is the course time allotted to allowing the teacher trainee to put into practice the teaching skills that s/he has been taught (notice I didn't say learnt) during classroom input sessions. So as to maximize the benefit of observed teaching practice, most 'full standard courses' allow trainees to practice their skills (or lack of them) on guinea pig students at two distinct levels of English language proficiency. Usually elementary and intermediate learners of English are recruited for this 'privilege'. In either case, the trainee is observed by an experienced teacher trainer who, following lesson's end, asks for and gives feedback concerning the teacher's classroom performance. One last point deemed worth mentioning is that teacher trainees are marked as pass or fail with regard to their classroom performance. Should the trainee be unable to pass the majority of his/her practical teaching assignments, s/he fails the course and does not receive a TEFL certificate. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for classroom failure is the trainee's inability not just to demonstrate the various skills required of competent teachers but also to integrate them into a solid classroom performance.

Again, I am suspicious of TEFL courses, online or otherwise, which cannot or do not include a practical teaching component. Online courses do not give teachers the opportunity to try out the techniques that they have read about in front of classes of live students nor do they put the teacher under the pressure of 'live fire'. Teaching English as a foreign language neither takes place in a vacuum nor is it a single task activity, it is a multitask event. Instead of reading about how to present language and responding to test questions, and then reading about drilling techniques and then responding to test questions, and then reading about eliciting techniques and then responding to test questions and so on and so forth, teaching is about being able to put it all together into a solid classroom performance. Nowhere on an online TEFL course will you be interrupted by students who say, 'I don't understand'. Nowhere will you be confronted by students who refuse to speak English and continue to talk in their native tongue (referred to as the L1). No where will your classroom management skills be put to the test. Nowhere will you be tested on your ability to properly grade language or provide enough material to cover a ninety minute lesson. Nowhere will you be confronted by students who say that the activity you are doing is boring or not interesting and ask to do something else. I could continue, but I think the point has been made. As for me, I like my teachers to have had butterflies in their stomach prior to teaching for me. Lastly, though some online courses may also allow trainees to submit a videotape of them teaching a sample lesson for evaluation (of course, for an additional fee), this is not sufficient. Feedback is only useful if it can be followed-up on by subsequent observations. So as not to end on a sour note, I ask you to remember that up to 70% of EFL teachers are without EFL qualifications. Given that, online courses, if academically sound, do at least give you a foot up on the ladder. That said, most reputable schools are going to tell holders of such qualifications that these qualifications are not sufficient for entry into the field. Some schools such as Language Link will tell holders of online TEFL certificates that, should they wish to seek employment, they will need to apply as intern teachers which will necessitate that they attend a three week Initial Training Programme (skills training + practical teaching component) and thereafter weekly seminars and insets devoted to developing their abilities. Short Taster Courses: Short taster courses refer to short-term, on-site TEFL courses of durations from two days to two weeks. Some go by the name 'TEFL seminars'. Though I have chosen to use the word 'taster', it should be noted that I have not coined the term. In reality, the term refers to short-term TEFL courses (many of which are run by reputable schools) which allow individuals 'thinking about' teaching English as a foreign language the opportunity to sample or get a 'taste' of what a 'real' TEFL course would be like; this of course, for a small fee. Again, though it is hard to be all-inclusive, I shall try to summarise their characteristics. For the most part, such courses do not include a practical teaching component, or if they do, it is either a trial (more precisely 'try') lesson or it incorporates time during which the trainees observe teacher trainers conducting lessons. Regardless, the problems inherent in such 'do once' or 'observe once' courses have already been alluded to. If the taster course includes a 'do once' teaching component, how is the teacher trainer able to judge whether the feedback that s/he has given will lead to the trainee's further development as a teacher unless s/he has the opportunity to observe him/her again (and again). As for 'observe once' courses, that's a lot like watching a doctor operate and then saying that you're able to imitate his/her performance. Enough said. Secondly, the shorter the course, the less the input and scope of training the trainee will receive. Conversely, the longer the course, the more likely it is to incorporate more of the skills training that all teachers need. Given the short durations of some of these taster courses, an online course might, with respect to input, offer the trainee more by way of input and quality. Finally, regardless of the taster course's length, the trainee is at least freer to ask 'real time' questions than would otherwise be possible online. Unfortunately, the shorter the course, the less time the trainee has to realize what exactly his/ her questions are. Again, real taster courses were never meant to be an end in themselves (the goal was not to make you a EFL teacher) but rather a means to an end (to discover whether EFL was for you). Full-length Practical Courses: What is a full-length practical course? Essentially, a full-length practical course is one that provides the trainee with enough time to receive adequate input concerning the skills

training, as well as some of the knowledge and abilities demanded of qualified EFL teachers. Likewise, such courses include a practical teaching component. Usually such courses include 100 - 120 contact hours and are run either intensively over four weeks (full-time) or semi-intensive over a few months (part-time). Class size is usually limited to 12 - 18 trainees. Finally, like the other categories of TEFL courses, prices vary greatly. In order to more fully understand 'full-length practical courses', I shall try to break them down by course content. Before doing so, however, it absolutely essential from the start that you understand, full practical courses have not been set up to teach the trainee grammar. Most often such courses accept applications from potential trainees who must complete some form of 'pre-interview task' to quote someone else's term. The pre-interview task is not a grammar test but rather a language awareness test. It is designed to assess the applicant's level of knowledge 'about the English language'. By way of example, an applicant might be asked the difference between the following sentences:

or the following words:

He's been to London. He's gone to London.

high tall

Of course, these are the easy parts. Another section might ask you, 'How would you teach an EFL class the difference between these two sentences (or these two words)?' The goal is to determine whether the applicant is an educated speaker of English. By the way, admission on a full-length practical course can be denied for failing in this endeavour. Another point worth mentioning again, the applicant, should he be accepted as a trainee, will not learn grammar on the course (OK, some courses touch on grammar and even have a short grammar test but usually as an 'add on' or a 'feel good' component). Because such courses are too short to adequately teach grammar, many assign applicants a 'pre-course task', better known as a 'Self-access Grammar Module', which the trainee should complete prior to attending the course. Once the trainee starts his/her course, s/he can expect morning input sessions during which the following are usually covered:

English grammatical structures and their functions The teaching of lexis, pronunciation & discourse Error analysis and correction Current teaching methods The learner, the teacher & the teaching/ learning context Effective lesson planning & preparation Classroom management Classroom resources and textbooks A brief study of a foreign language

A review of the above will show that classroom sessions are dedicated to some teaching of knowledge (e.g., current teaching methods) and to skills training (e.g., error analysis and correction). Most courses also include a brief study of an unknown language such as Swahili. The reason for this is two-fold. First, as many native speakers have never before undergone a real language learning experience, this is a good opportunity to help the trainee develop a little empathy for the 'pain or pleasure' that s/he is about to cause students in their guinea pig classes (and beyond). Secondly, the trainees will have the opportunity to observe an experienced teacher trainer teaching a foreign language using one or other of the methods associated with the Communicative Approach. Hopefully, trainees will witness first-hand its effectiveness. Afternoons are usually devoted to supervised lesson preparation. The day before each teaching practice session, trainees have the opportunity to discuss their proposed lesson plans and materials with a course

tutor. This enables the trainee to receive support, guidance and feedback before the supervised/assessed teaching practice sessions and make any suggested adjustments. Starting late afternoon and running into the evening is teaching practice. All trainees undergo a minimum of six hours of assessed teaching practice. As previously mentioned, trainees teach students at two distinct levels: Elementary and Upper-intermediate. Trainees are required to submit a lesson plan and a copy of all materials to be used to the course tutor before the lesson. Following the teaching practice, trainees usually write a self-evaluation of their lesson, which is used as a basis for feedback given by the course tutor. Lastly, throughout a full-length practical course, the trainee will be assigned a series of papers to write that focus on different aspects of teaching and learning a language such as language analysis, materials evaluation, reflections on classroom practice and a case study of a learner. As is obvious, full-length practical courses are usually designed to be intensive in nature and as comprehensive as possible. Oftentimes, such courses are accused of being too intensive and too comprehensive. Regardless, many employers see such courses as providing the minimum preparation needed for teaching English as a foreign language. Before ending this tome, I believe there is one last area which should be addressed and that is accreditation. Are such courses accredited and by whom? For convenience only, I will divide full-length practical courses into two groups. Into the first group I shall place the University of Cambridge CELTA and the Trinity College London TESOL. Into the second group, I shall place all others. With respect to the first group, both certificates are validated by their respective academic institutions and both are recognized by the British Council as minimum qualifications needed in order to teach English as a Foreign Language. Should you not be familiar with the British Council, the BC was established by the government of the UK to promote British language and culture. That said the BC is represented in the United States and the CELTA and TESOL are offered at a number of locations throughout the US. With respect to EFL employers, these certificates are, for the most part, recognized globally by almost all schools where English is taught as a foreign language. I say ' for the most part ' as certain schools prefer a university diploma (of any kind) thinking that this is the hallmark of a teacher. Unfortunately such schools usually engage teachers to run conversational courses. This is not the same as teaching language. In any event, the Cambridge CELTA and its Trinity TESOL equivalent are viewed as standards by 'reputable schools'. However, that said, this should not be understood as inferring that other TEFL Certificate programmes are not 'reputable'. Around the world, there are a number of organisations which offer teacher training courses other than the CELTA or TESOL. These certificates are recognised in-house. Thus, trainees are evaluated by the same teacher trainers who teach them (one might infer that this is kind of like the fox looking after the chickens). The CELTA/ Trinity TESOL, on the other hand, must hire independent assessors who, at the expense of the training school, are flown in to moderate and assess trainee performance. Thus schools are 'kept honest' by this process. So as to give you an indication of how much this costs, the Language Link CELTA costs US$ 1250. Of this amount, approximately US$ 250 must be paid out for assessment. It's costly, but then again the trainee earns a CELTA and employers know that the trainee was honestly and independently assessed by a third party. Again, I caution the reader, I am not suggesting that schools which offer other certificates such as ITC, Vialingua, etc are not reputable companies. Language Link has hired numerous teachers from these companies and we have been satisfied with their performance as teachers. However that said, you cannot compare the prestige of a CELTA or TESOL Certificate with other certificate courses. Again, I am not saying that other courses are not as good, I am simply stating a fact- employers hold the CELTA/ TESOL in the highest regard. That said, many large companies which hire lots of teachers also offer their own in-house variety of the CELTA. This includes Language Link which, in addition offering the CELTA, also offers its own in-house TEFL qualification. Normally such schools employ large numbers of teachers, thus they cannot always depend upon having enough CELTA/ TESOL qualified teachers applying for positions. This year, Language Link Russia employed 189 English foreign language teachers. Having previously alluded to 'the fox looking after the chickens', Language Link's Internship Programme is a reputable and 'honest' programme. Yes, trainees are assessed by the same people who train them. However, that said, their are two differences First, Interns do not have to pay for their training

programme, so if they are not to standard, The School is free to say, 'I'm sorry, but I cannot put you in front of a class of students as your classroom performance is substandard.' Second, The School will say this, if need be, as Language Link students are paying clients. Thus, The School will not risk its reputation. In conclusion, as the foregoing sections attest, Teaching English as a Foreign language is a professional field of endeavour with its own body of knowledge. Anyone considering undergoing a TEFL training programme should give serious thought as to what they are about to pay their money for. Cutting corners may be cost effective at the outset, but sooner or later you will pay the price. So shop around and shop smart.

Comparative Teaching Methodologies

Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a science, and like all sciences, it has a set of underlying principles upon which it is based. However, unlike the better-known sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics, TEFL is not quantifiable to the point of being either objective or equation based in its approach. Therefore, TEFL, like psychology and sociology, must rely on subjectivity in order to formulate its principles. These principles, in turn, define the relationships that exist between either the teacher and the student or the student and other students. In order to teach English effectively, an EFL teacher must subscribe to one (or more) of the current approaches to teaching English as a foreign language and incorporate its language-learning strategies and techniques into each of his or her lessons. What follows are descriptions of nine of the principle approaches to teaching English as a foreign (second) language. Without doubt, the reader will have experienced one or more of these approaches in his or her own classroom learning history. Though there is no one correct approach, most teachers usually find themselves more comfortable using one or the other of the approaches listed and described. Though there is nothing overtly wrong with this, it must be remembered that students differ greatly, not just in age but also in mentality, thus they may respond differently to any given approach to language teaching. Because of different learning styles, the effective teacher must be prepared to adapt his or her teaching to the needs and preferences of each class. Our advice is to 'find yourself' with respect to the approaches listed below. That said, don't be afraid to experiment with and/or adapt your style of teaching. In the end, you may discover that the best approach is eclectic in nature and includes bits of this and bits of that. So as to give some depth of understanding as to the evolution of ideas that has marked the emergence of newer and different approaches to language teaching, we have tried to place the following list of methodological approaches in chronological order.

Grammar Translation Method Direct Method Audio-Lingual Method Silent Way Total Physical Response (TPR) Community Language Learning (CLL) Suggestopedia (Suggestology) Communicative Approach Natural Approach

Grammar Translation Method:

Latin and Ancient Greek are known as "dead languages", based on the fact that people no longer speak them for the purpose of interactive communication. Yet they are still acknowledged as important languages to learn (especially Latin) for the purpose of gaining access to classical literature, and up until fairly recently, for the kinds of grammar training that led to the "mental dexterity" considered so important in any higher education study stream. Latin has been studied for centuries, with the prime objectives of learning how to read classical Latin texts, understanding the fundamentals of grammar and translation, and gaining insights into some important foreign influences Latin has had on the development of other European languages. The method used to teach it overwhelmingly bore those objectives in mind, and came to be known (appropriately!) as

the Classical Method. It is now more commonly known in Foreign Language Teaching circles as the Grammar Translation Method. It is hard to decide which is more surprising - the fact that this method has survived right up until today (alongside a host of more modern and more "enlightened" methods), or the fact that what was essentially a method developed for the study of "dead" languages involving little or no spoken communication or listening comprehension is still used for the study of languages that are very much "alive" and require competence not only in terms of reading, writing and structure, but also speaking, listening and interactive communication. How has such an archaic method, "remembered with distaste by thousands of school learners" (Richards and Rodgers, 1986:4) persevered? It is worth looking at the objectives, features and typical techniques commonly associated with the Grammar Translation Method, in order to both understand how it works and why it has shown such tenacity as an "acceptable" language teaching philosophy in many countries and institutions around the world. Back to Top

Direct Method: Towards the end of the late 1800s, a revolution in language teaching philosophy took
place that is seen by many as the "dawn" of modern foreign language teaching. Teachers, frustrated by the limits of the Grammar Translation Method in terms of its inability to create "communicative" competence in students, began to experiment with new ways of teaching language. Basically, teachers began attempting to teach foreign languages in a way that was more similar to first language acquisition. It incorporated techniques designed to address all the areas that the Grammar Translation did not namely oral communication, more spontaneous use of the language, and developing the ability to "think" in the target language. Perhaps in an almost reflexive action, the method also moved as far away as possible from various techniques typical of the Grammar Translation Method - for instance using L1 as the language of instruction, memorizing grammatical rules and lots of translation between L1 and the target language. The appearance of the "Direct Method" thus coincided with a new school of thinking that dictated that all foreign language teaching should occur in the target language only, with no translation and an emphasis on linking meaning to the language being learned. The method became very popular during the first quarter of the 20th century, especially in private language schools in Europe where highly motivated students could study new languages and not need to travel far in order to try them out and apply them communicatively. One of the most famous advocates of the Direct Method was the American Charles Berlitz, whose schools and "Berlitz Method" are now world-renowned. Still, the Direct Method was not without its problems. As Brown (1994:56) points out, "(it) did not take well in public education where the constraints of budget, classroom size, time, and teacher background made such a method difficult to use." By the late 1920s, the method was starting to go into decline and there was even a return to the Grammar Translation Method, which guaranteed more in the way of "scholastic" language learning orientated around reading and grammar skills. But the Direct Method continues to enjoy a popular following in private language school circles, and it was one of the foundations upon which the well-known "Audio-lingual Method" expanded from starting half way through the 20th century. Back to Top

Audio-Lingual Method: The next "revolution" in terms of language teaching methodology coincided
with World War II, when America became aware that it needed people to learn foreign languages very quickly as part of its overall military operations. The "Army Method" was suddenly developed to build communicative competence in translators through very intensive language courses focusing on aural/oral skills. This in combination with some new ideas about language learning coming from the disciplines of descriptive linguistics and behavioral psychology went on to become what is known as the Audio-lingual Method (ALM). This new method incorporated many of the features typical of the earlier Direct Method, but the disciplines mentioned above added the concepts of teaching "linguistic patterns" in combination with "habit-forming". This method was one of the first to have its roots "firmly grounded in linguistic and psychological theory" (Brown 1994:57), which apparently added to its credibility and probably had some influence in the

popularity it enjoyed over a long period of time. It also had a major influence on the language teaching methods that were to follow, and can still be seen in major or minor manifestations of language teaching methodology even to this day. Another factor that accounted for the method's popularity was the "quick success" it achieved in leading learners towards communicative competence. Through extensive mimicry, memorization and "overlearning" of language patterns and forms, students and teachers were often able to see immediate results. This was both its strength and its failure in the long run, as critics began to point out that the method did not deliver in terms of producing long-term communicative ability. The study of linguistics itself was to change, and the area of second language learning became a discipline in its own right. Cognitive psychologists developed new views on learning in general, arguing that mimicry and rote learning could not account for the fact that language learning involved affective and interpersonal factors, that learners were able to produce language forms and patterns that they had never heard before. The idea that thinking processes themselves led to the discovery of independent language "rule formation" (rather than "habit formation") and that affective factors influenced their application paved the way toward the new methods that were to follow the Audiolingual Method. Back to Top

Silent Way:

In addition to "affective" theories relative to language learning, another challenge to the Audio-lingual Method was under way already in the sixties in the form of the "Cognitive Code" and an educational trend known as "Discovery Learning." These concepts most directly challenged the idea that language learning was all about mimicry and good "habit-formation." An emphasis on human cognition in language learning addressed issues such as learners being more responsible for their own learning formulating independent hypotheses about the "rules" of the target language and testing those hypotheses by applying them and realizing errors. When students create their own sets of meaningful language rules and concepts and then test them out, they are clearly learning through a discovery/exploratory method that is very different from rote-learning. This appears to have much more in common with the way people learn their native language from a very early age, and can account for the way children come out with new language forms and combinations that they have never heard before. The underlying principles here are that learners become increasingly autonomous in, active with and responsible for the learning process in which they are engaged. Caleb Gattegno founded "The Silent Way" as a method for language learning in the early 70s, sharing many of the same essential principles as the cognitive code and making good use of the theories underlying Discovery Learning. Some of his basic theories were that "teaching should be subordinated to learning" and "the teacher works with the student; the student works on the language". The most prominent characteristic of the method was that the teacher typically stayed "silent" most of the time, as part of his/her role as facilitator and stimulator, and thus the method's popular name. Language learning is usually seen as a problem solving activity to be engaged in by the students both independently and as a group, and the teacher needs to stay "out of the way" in the process as much as possible. The Silent Way is also well-known for its common use of small colored rods of varying length (Cuisinere rods) and color-coded word charts depicting pronunciation values, vocabulary and grammatical paradigms. It is a unique method and the first of its kind to really concentrate on cognitive principles in language learning. Back to Top

Total Physical Response (TPR): Already in the late 1800s, a French teacher of Latin by the name
of Francois Gouin was hard at work devising a method of language teaching that capitalized on the way children naturally learn their first language, through the transformation of perceptions into conceptions and then the expression of those conceptions using language. His approach became known as the Series Method, involving direct conceptual teaching of language using "series" of inter-connected sentences that are simple and easy to perceive, because the language being used can be directly related to whatever the speaker is doing at the immediate time of utterance (i.e., one's actions and language match each other). His thinking was well ahead of his time, and the Series Method became swamped in the enthusiasm surrounding the other new approach at the time in the form of the Direct Method.

Some 80 years later, in the 1960s, James Asher began experimenting with a method he called Total Physical Response, and its basic premise had a lot in common with Gouin's. The method was to become well known in the 70s, and it drew on several other insights in addition to the "trace theory" that memory is stimulated and increased when it is closely associated with motor activity. The method owes a lot to some basic principles of language acquisition in young learners, most notably that the process involves a substantial amount of listening and comprehension in combination with various "physical responses" (smiling, reaching, grabbing, looking, etc) - well before learners begin to use the language orally. It also focused on the ideas that learning should be as fun and stress-free as possible, and that it should be dynamic through the use of accompanying physical activity. Asher (1977) also had a lot to say about right-brained learning (the part of the brain that deals with motor activity), believing it should precede the "language processing" element covered by the left-brain. TPR is now a household name among teachers of foreign languages. It is widely acclaimed as a highly effective method at beginning levels, and a standard requirement in the instruction of young learners. It is also admired as a method due to its inherent simplicity, making it accessible to a wide range of teachers and learning environments. Back to Top

Community Language Learning (CLL): In the early seventies, Charles Curran developed a new
education model he called "Counseling-Learning". This was essentially an example of an innovative model that primarily considered "affective" factors as paramount in the learning process. Drawing on Carl Rogers' view that learners were to be considered not as a "class", but as a "group", Curran's philosophy dictated that students were to be thought of as "clients" - their needs being addressed by a "counselor" in the form of the teacher. Brown (1994:59), in commenting on this approach also notes that "In order for any learning to take place ... what is first needed is for the members to interact in an interpersonal relationship in which students and teacher join together to facilitate learning in a context of valuing and prizing each individual in the group." Curran was best known for his extensive studies on adult learning, and some of the issues he tried to address were the "threatening" nature of a new learning situation to many adult learners and the anxiety created when students feared making "fools" of themselves. Curran believed that the counseling-learning model would help lower the instinctive defenses adult learners throw up, that the anxiety caused by the educational context could be decreased through the support of an interactive "community" of fellow learners. Another important goal was for the teacher to be perceived as an empathetic helping agent in the learning process, not a threat. The Counseling-Learning educational model was also applied to language learning, and in this form it became known as Community Language Learning. Based on most of the principles above, Community Language Learning seeks to encourage teachers to see their students as "whole persons", where their feelings, intellect, interpersonal relationships, protective reactions, and desire to learn are addressed and balanced. Students typically sit in a circle, with the teacher (as counselor) outside the ring. They use their first language to develop an interpersonal relationship based on trust with the other students. When a student wants to say something, they first say it in their native language, which the teacher then translates back to them using the target language. The student then attempts to repeat the English used by the teacher, and then a student can respond using the same process. This technique is used over a considerable period of time, until students are able to apply words in the new language without translation, gradually moving from a situation of "dependence" on the teacher-counselor to a state of independence. Back to Top

Suggestopedia (Suggestology):

In the late 70s, a Bulgarian psychologist by the name of Georgi Lozanov introduced the contention that students naturally set up psychological barriers to learning - based on fears that they will be unable to perform and are limited in terms of their ability to learn. Lozanov believed that learners may have been using only 5 to 10 percent of their mental capacity, and that the brain could process and retain much more material if given "optimal" conditions for learning. Based on psychological research on extrasensory perception, Lozanov began to develop a language learning method that focused on "desuggestion" of the limitations learners think they have, and providing the sort of relaxed state of mind that would facilitate the retention of material to its maximum potential. This method became known as "Suggestopedia" - the name reflecting the application of the power of "suggestion" to the field of pedagogy.

One of the most unique characteristics of the method was the use of soft Baroque music during the learning process. Baroque music has a specific rhythm and a pattern of 60 beats per minute, and Lozanov believed it created a level of relaxed concentration that facilitated the intake and retention of huge quantities of material. This increase in learning potential was put down to the increase in alpha brain waves and decrease in blood pressure and heart rate that resulted from listening to Baroque music. Another aspect that differed from other methods to date was the use of soft comfortable chairs and dim lighting in the classroom (other factors believed to create a more relaxed state of mind). Other characteristics of Suggestopedia were the giving over of complete control and authority to the teacher (who at times can appear to be some kind of "instructional hypnotist" using this method!) and the encouragement of learners to act as "childishly" as possible, often even assuming names and characters "in" the target language. All of these principles in combination were seen to make the students "suggestible", and therefore able to utilize their maximum mental potential to take in and retain new material. Back to Top

Communicative Approach: All the "methods" described so far are symbolic of the progress foreign
language teaching ideology underwent in the last century. These were methods that came and went, influenced or gave birth to new methods - in a cycle that could only be described as "competition between rival methods" or "passing fads" in the methodological theory underlying foreign language teaching. Finally, by the mid-eighties or so, the industry was maturing in its growth and moving towards the concept of a broad "approach" to language teaching that encompassed various methods, motivations for learning English, types of teachers and the needs of individual classrooms and students themselves. It would be fair to say that if there is any one "umbrella" approach to language teaching that has become the accepted "norm" in this field, it would have to be the Communicative Language Teaching Approach. This is also known as CLT. The Communicative approach does a lot to expand on the goal of creating "communicative competence" compared to earlier methods that professed the same objective. Teaching students how to use the language is considered to be at least as important as learning the language itself. Brown (1994) aptly describes the "march" towards CLT: "Beyond grammatical discourse elements in communication, we are probing the nature of social, cultural, and pragmatic features of language. We are exploring pedagogical means for 'real-life' communication in the classroom. We are trying to get our learners to develop linguistic fluency, not just the accuracy that has so consumed our historical journey. We are equipping our students with tools for generating unrehearsed language performance 'out there' when they leave the womb of our classrooms. We are concerned with how to facilitate lifelong language learning among our students, not just with the immediate classroom task. We are looking at learners as partners in a cooperative venture. And our classroom practices seek to draw on whatever intrinsically sparks learners to reach their fullest potential." CLT is a generic approach, and can seem non-specific at times in terms of how to actually go about using practices in the classroom in any sort of systematic way. There are many interpretations of what CLT actually means and involves. See Types of Learning and The PPP Approach to see how CLT can be applied in a variety of 'more specific' methods. Back to Top

Natural Approach: Stephen Krashen and Tracy Terrell developed the "Natural Approach" in the early
eighties (Krashen and Terrell, 1983), based on Krashen's theories about second language acquisition. The approach shared a lot in common with Asher's Total Physical Response method in terms of advocating the need for a "silent phase", waiting for spoken production to "emerge" of its own accord, and emphasizing the need to make learners as relaxed as possible during the learning process. Some important underlying principles are that there should be a lot of language "acquisition" as opposed to language "processing", and there needs to be a considerable amount of "comprehensible input" from the teacher. Meaning is considered as the essence of language and vocabulary (not grammar) is the heart of language. As part of the Natural Approach, students listen to the teacher using the target language communicatively from the very beginning. It has certain similarities with the much earlier Direct Method, with the important exception that students are allowed to use their native language alongside the target language as part of

the language learning process. In early stages, students are not corrected during oral production, as the teacher is focusing on meaning rather than form (unless the error is so drastic that it actually hinders meaning). Communicative activities prevail throughout a language course employing the Natural Approach, focusing on a wide range of activities including games, role-plays, dialogs, group work and discussions. There are three generic stages identified in the approach: (1) Preproduction - developing listening skills; (2) Early Production - students struggle with the language and make many errors which are corrected based on content and not structure; (3) Extending Production - promoting fluency through a variety of more challenging activities. Krashen's theories and the Natural approach have received plenty of criticism, particularly orientated around the recommendation of a "silent period" that is terminated when students feel ready to "emerge" into oral production, and the idea of "comprehensible input". Critics point out that students will "emerge" at different times (or perhaps not at all!) and it is hard to determine which forms of language input will be "comprehensible" to the students. These factors can create a classroom that is essentially very difficult to manage unless the teacher is highly skilled. Still, this was the first attempt at creating an expansive and overall "approach" rather than a specific "method", and the Natural Approach led naturally into the generally accepted norm for effective language teaching: Communicative Language Teaching.

Welcome to the Grammar Module.

This module is intended to help prospective EFL teachers to acquire the necessary terminology and knowledge of grammar in order to better succeed in the field of EFL. For any of you who consider this to be a waste of time for native speakers let me assure you that it is not. Without this knowledge you will never become a real EFL teacher. Teaching English as a Foreign Language is not easy. It requires a detailed knowledge not just of English but also about English. If it is not already, the difference will become clear to you as you progress through the module. What exactly is grammar? Grammar is a description of the underlying structure of a language, and of the way in which words and phrases can be combined in order to produce acceptable sentences in that language. It also includes the sounds of that language. If you have studied grammar elsewhere, you will notice some differences in the terminology used for EFL. Additionally, the definitions of some of the terms should be considered as 'working definitions' as they are not intended to be a basis for the study of linguistics, but for EFL and are 'simplified' to some extent. It should be understood that this module does not set out to cover all aspects of English grammar, but only the basics plus some points which are of particular concern to the EFL teacher. For those who might wish to look beyond what is contained herein a far more comprehensive treatment of English grammar can be found in Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan, published by Oxford University Press. This module is divided into three sections. Each section is followed by a short test. You should not progress onto the next section until you have passed this test. Finally, there is a larger test at the end of the module. In order to progress beyond this module you must pass this test. You may find some of the terminology difficult to remember and even a little confusing. Many people experience such difficulties at first so do not be put off. Good luck!

Section 1: Parts of Speech

The basic building blocks of any language are the words and sounds of that language. English is no exception. We will start with the categories into which we classify the words of English. It is quite likely that you will already know the names of some or all of the parts of speech. Nevertheless, this is where we must begin. The parts of speech are as follows:

Nouns Pronouns Adjectives Verbs Adverbs Articles Determiners Conjunctions Interjections Prepositions

These are also known as word classes. The terms are familiar to most people, and are in everyday use. However, many people would probably admit that their understanding of some of them is a little sketchy. We will now take each in turn and have a closer look.

What are nouns? Very few people with a good knowledge of English would expect to experience any difficulty in picking the nouns out of the following list:

briefcase, open, disc, plate, London, knife, write, usually, and, however, football, sing
My guess is that you probably decided that the following were nouns:

briefcase disc plate London knife football

Who knows? Perhaps you are right. Briefcase is certainly a noun and London as a place name must be, but what about knife? This is a more difficult decision. We have no context. What if we found this word in a sentence such as 'He knifed me!' - surely here it is a verb? And what about 'plate' - is this a noun? Suppose the context were 'The window was plate glass.' Or perhaps, 'The frame had been plated with silver.' So is 'disc' a noun? Not always, it depends on how it is used in a particular sentence. The lesson here is 'Be careful!' When a student asks you the meaning of a word, always check the context in which it appears before answering. Remember in the world of TEFL, as in the world in general, it is not what you don't know that gives you the biggest problems, but what you think you know! So how can we define the word class 'noun' then? One apparently acceptable definition might be that a noun is a word that represents one of the following:
a person a place a thing an activity a quality a state an idea David Paris stapler hockey responsibility poverty communism

Does a noun have to be a single word? What about 'disc jockey,' or 'post office'? Are these nouns? The answer is 'Yes they are'. These are called compound nouns and are quite common in English. So the word

class 'noun' is not restricted to single words. Can a noun consist of more than two words then? Once again the answer is 'yes'. An example might be 'football team coach'. These are often found in newspaper headlines, where space is at a premium, since they usually express quite complex ideas in very few words. In a sentence nouns can be used as either the subject or the object of the main verb. John (subject) kissed (verb) Maria (object).

Types of Nouns
The word class 'Nouns' can be sub-divided into the following four types:
The name of an action, an idea, a physical condition, quality or state of mind A name for a collection or group of animals, people or things that are thought of as being one thing A name that can be applied to all members of a large class of animals, people or things The name by which a particular animal, organisation, person, place or thing is known


an attack, Communism, liveliness, modesty, insanity


flock, gang, fleet


puppy, woman, banana


Fido, Microsoft, Julia, Liverpool, the Tower of London. Capital letters are used in order to distinguish between common nouns and proper nouns e.g., broom and Broom, where the former is an implement used for sweeping floors while the latter is a surname.

There are some nouns that can be placed in more than one of these groups depending on how we are thinking at the time of usage. An example would be the noun 'family', which could be a collective if we are thinking of the family as a unit e.g. 'My family is quite large.' Or a common noun if we are thinking in terms of a collection of individuals e.g. Helen's family are coming up next week.' Many Americans may find this particular example unacceptable since in most parts of the US 'family' can never agree with the plural verb form 'is'. In British English, however, this usage is perfectly correct. Nouns can also be divided into two other groups: countable and uncountable. Water, flour and sand are examples of uncountable nouns. It would be very strange to use them with a number as in six flours or three sands. Countable nouns, on the other hand, can be used with numbers: seven men, two houses, etc. Countable nouns have a plural form. This is usually made by the addition of an 's' or 'es' to the end of the singular form: guitars, books, ships, glasses etc. Some countable nouns, however, have an irregular plural form: men, children, wives, geese, etc. Plural countable nouns are always used with plural verb forms. So 'Coconuts are nice.' and not *'Coconuts is nice.'* Uncountable nouns have only one form and therefore can only be used with singular verbs. So 'Water is used as a coolant.' but never *'Water are used as a coolant.'* Back to Top

In English, sentences such as 'John ran up to the house, checked to see John wasn't being watched and then John knocked on the door twice.' would cause confusion. How many Johns are involved? Which of them knocked on the door? Probably the solution least likely to occur to a native speaker of English would be that there was only one John and that he carried out all three actions. Why is that? Well, it's because English just doesn't work like that! The sentence should be rendered thus 'John ran up to the house, checked to see he wasn't being watched and then knocked on the door twice.' So what makes the difference? Obviously it must be the use of the word 'he' in place of John in the second instance. What is

'he' then? 'He' is a member of the word class Pronouns. These are words that stand in the place of nouns in order to avoid unnecessary repetition.

Kinds of pronoun:
Demonstrative this, that, these, those, the former, the latter ( 'Have you seen this?') Distributive Emphatic Indefinite Interrogative Personal Possessive Reflexive Relative each, either, neither ( 'Give me either.') myself, yourself, his/herself, ourselves, etc. ( 'Do it yourself.') one, some, any, some-body/one, any-body/one, every-body/one what, which, who ( 'Who was that?') I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they mine, yours hers, his, ours, theirs myself, yourself, her/himself, ourselves, etc. ( 'She cut herself, while slicing bread.') that, what, which, who (as in, 'The car that hit him went that way.')

It should be noted that some of these words may also at times be deemed adjectives. It is a feature of the English language that many words have multiple uses and hence can be different parts of speech according to the context in which they are found. Back to Top

Adjectives are words that describe/qualify nouns or pronouns:

'She was a quiet woman.' 'That's an unusual one.'

Types of adjective
Demonstrative Distributive Interrogative Numeral Indefinite Possessive Qualitative this, that, these, those ('I like this picture.') either, neither, each, every ('Either wine is fine by me.') what? which? ('Which wine would you like?') one, two, three, etc. all, many, several my, your, his, her, our, their French, wooden, nice

Not surprisingly, most adjectives fit into the 'Qualitative' category, as their basic function is to describe. Some adjectives are made from nouns or verbs by the addition of a suffix:

comfort - comfortable health - healthy success - successful consume - consumable consider - considerate

Many positive adjectives can be made negative by the addition of a prefix:

comfortable - uncomfortable responsible - irresponsible respectful - disrespectful patient - impatient considerate - inconsiderate

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Some adjectives are used to compare and contrast things:

big - bigger - biggest happy - happier - happiest

There is more information about this important use later. Back to Top

Verbs are words that indicate actions or physical and/or mental states.
Action Mental state Physical state Susan slapped Michael. Paul was exhausted. Stephen felt sad.

It is a popular misconception that verbs are 'doing-words'. Unfortunately, this is too simple an explanation as only some verbs fit this description. An example of one that doesn't might be ' seem' as in, ' Sarah seemed puzzled'. What is 'done' in this case? Absolutely nothing! In fact, only verbs indicating actions can be called 'doing-words'. Most verbs have three forms. The first form (present) also uses an inflection to indicate third person singular:
First form (present) do(es) give(s) like(s) hit(s) Second form (past) did gave liked hit Third form (past participle) done given liked hit

As you can see sometimes the second and third forms coincide, and occasionally all three forms coincide as in 'hit'. This is because verbs such as hit, give, take, do, have, etc. are irregular. That is to say that, unlike the vast majority of English verbs, they don't use '-ed' to make their second and third forms. There are only about two hundred irregular verbs in total, but since they tend to be the most common verbs it seems more. These can be quite a problem for EFL students as they simply have to be learnt and remembered. Auxiliary and Modal Auxiliary Verbs There is a category of verb known as 'auxiliary verbs' or sometimes 'helping verbs'. This category includes to be, to do and to have. These three verbs are very important. 'Be' is used in forming the 'continuous

aspect' - I am flying to France tomorrow.' It is also used to form the 'passive' - 'I was arrested.' 'Do' is used in forming questions and for emphasis. 'Have' is used to form the 'perfect aspect' - 'I have been here before.' More about these later, when we look at the English tense system. Also included in the category auxiliary verbs are nine very special verbs, which form a sub-category of their own called 'modal auxiliary verbs' or 'modal verbs' for short. This sub-category comprises the verbs can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would and must. These nine verbs share some important characteristics:

They can never be followed by 'to': 'I must to go.' is a badly formed sentence in English. They cannot co-occur in the same verb phrase: 'You must can go' is also unacceptable. They have no 'third person' inflection: 'She likes reading.' is fine, but ' She cans swim.' is not.

In a verb phrase they always occupy the first position - 'It must have been my aunt.' Likewise, they do not have three forms. So what exactly do these 'modal verbs' do? An interesting question! The following table should give you some idea. Modal verbs are used to express:
We shall/shan't come. I will/won't be late. That must/can't be her. She should arrive at about midday. It shouldn't be a problem. We may (not) go to France after all. She might call - you never know! Don't worry! It might never happen. I suppose you could be right. You may have a problem understanding this. Moscow can be very hot in the summer. How quickly do you think it could be done? If you had asked me, I would have told you. I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you called him. I couldn't possibly go without you. All employees must clock in and out. Must I go? Passes will be issued to authorised personnel. Staff must not make personal calls. You may not smoke in this building. You can't bring that dog in here. When shall we leave? You should drink less. It might be a good idea to phone her first. Can I help you? Would you like a lift to work? I could collect it for you.

Certainty (positive/negative)


Weak probability Degrees of certainty Theoretical/habitual possibility

Conditional certainty/possibility

Strong obligation

Prohibition Obligation Weak obligation/recommendation



Might I ask a favour? May I use your telephone Could I bring a friend? Can you swim? How many languages could he speak? He can type quite quickly. When I was a boy, I would often go skiing. Most days he'll just sit quietly in the garden. Before we argued he'd call me every day. Must you do that? He will keep making stupid jokes all the time! Will you please shut up? Would you open the window please? Could you tell him I'll be late. Will you get me one too please?


Habitual behaviour

Other uses Irritation


Some linguists include verbs such as dare, need and ought in the modal verb sub-category. There is some justification for this, as they display the relevant characteristics some of the time. However, since they do not do so all the time it is better to leave them out of this group. Back to Top

Adverbs describe or add to the meaning of verbs, prepositions, adjectives, other adverbs and even sentences. They answer questions such as 'How', 'Where' or 'When'. Many, but by no means all, adverbs are made from adjectives by simply adding the suffix 'ly'.

Types of adverb:
Adverbs of manner Adverbs of place Adverbs of time Adverbs of degree Adverbs of numberonce, twice, firstly, carefully, gently, quickly, willingly (She kissed him gently on the forehead.) here, there, between, externally (He lived between a pub and a noisy factory.) now, annually, tomorrow, recently (I only returned recently.) very, almost, nearly, too (She is very rich.)

again (I had to warn her again!)

Adverbs of certainty Interrogative

not, surely, maybe, certainly (Surely he's not drunk again!) How? What? When? Why? (What does it matter?)

An adverbial is a general term for any word, phrase or clause that functions as an adverb. The definition is necessary because sometimes whole phrases and clauses act as adverbs:

When I arrived she was watching TV. (adverbial time clause) We went to France to visit my brother. (adverbial clause of purpose) After breakfast, I went to work. (adverbial phrase)

An ordinary adverb is a single word adverbial. The adverb/adverbial is quite a difficult area of the English language to get to grips with. It has been said that, when all the other words of English had been classified as nouns, verbs, prepositions, etc., those remaining were dumped into the adverb class because nobody knew what else to do with them. Even if this is not entirely historically accurate, it certainly describes the confused state of this word class. Back to Top

The articles in English are the words 'a', 'an' and 'the'. They are used with nouns to distinguish between the definite and the indefinite. They are not really a word class in themselves but are actually a sub-group of the word class Determiners. However, EFL usually treats them as a class and so they are dealt with separately here. The definite article is 'the'. Its most common uses are to show that the nouns it is used with refer to:
something known to both speaker and listener something that has already been mentioned something that is defined afterwards something as a specific group or class

He is in the garage.

That woman keeps looking at you. Which one? The blonde woman? The house where my mother was born is somewhere near here. Can you play the piano? (But not 'Can you play the instrument?' - Unless which instrument is being referred to is understood by both speaker and listener.)

The indefinite article is 'a(n)''. I write 'is' because 'a' and 'an' are really the same word: the 'n' is added to the article 'a' for ease of pronunciation when the following word begins with a vowel sound - an egg, an ostrich, an upwards motion but a unicorn, a united front (because unicorn and united begin with consonant sounds). The most common uses of the indefinite article are to show that the nouns it is used with refer to:
one example of a group or class I'll buy her a book for her birthday. a typical example of a group or class I'll buy her an ornament for her birthday. A reliable worker deserves a good boss.

It should be noted that the indefinite implies 'oneness' and so cannot be used with plural or uncountable nouns. Finally, there are some nouns (apart from plural and uncountable) with which articles are not usually used. Examples of these are the names of countries, towns and cities and of people, months, mealtimes (breakfast, lunch, etc.). Where no article is used this is often referred to as the ' Zero article'. For the EFL student articles either present no difficulty at all, or are a major obstacle in their acquisition of English. The determining factor seems to be whether or not there are articles in the student's first (native) language (L1). If it doesn't have them, then the student will have additional problems to face when

studying a second language (L2) that does. Even quite advanced students make frequent slips with articles. Compounding the problem is the fact that there are no good rules as far as articles are concerned. Many course books offer 'rules' but there are so many exceptions that they are difficult to apply and students have to fall back on learning them by heart. Fortunately, In order to gain some understanding of the difficulty from a teaching perspective, how would you set about explaining to a student with absolutely no understanding of articles why the fourth of the following sentences is unacceptable in English? Then, having done that, how would you explain why the second is fine? 1. 2. 3. 4. 'I stopped the car and got in.' 'I stopped a car and got in.' 'I stopped the car and got out.' *'I stopped a car and got out.'*

Or perhaps it is easier to explain why 'the Moscow' might be the river Moscow, the hotel Moscow or the restaurant Moscow but couldn't possibly be the city of that name. Or why, in British English at least, if you are 'going to the prison', you are probably visiting someone or maybe you work there, whereas if you are just 'going to prison', you are going because you have been convicted of a crime. By far the biggest problem with articles is not so much when to use 'a', 'an' or 'the' but when not to use an article at all! Back to Top

As has already been mentioned, the determiners are a word class that would normally include the articles, however, as is usual in TEFL, they have been listed above separately. Even so, it is important for the new teacher to understand that this distinction is false. Determiners are words that restrict the meaning of the nouns they are used with. For example, 'But I'm certain I put it in this cupboard. Where can it have got to?' Even if we cannot see what is happening, we understand, from the speaker's use of 'this', that there must be more than one cupboard. Despite the obvious similarities, it should be clearly understood that determiners are not adjectives.

Types of determiner:
Articles Demonstratives Possessives Quantifiers Numerals a pen, the house this hat, these hats, that book, those books my dog, your sunglasses, her car, etc. many choices, some people, several hooligans, etc. the second option, seven possibilities, etc.

Determiners can be grouped according to how they are used: Group A includes the articles, demonstratives and possessives. The use of a Group A determiner allows us to understand whether or not the speaker believes the listener knows which one(s) is being referred to (e.g. a car, the car), or whether the speaker is talking about a specific example(s) or in general. It is not possible to put two group A determiners together in a sentence: so 'the car' is fine but *'the her car'* is not. If for some reason we want to do so, we have to use a structure using 'of' (e.g. 'this husband of yours'). Group B is composed mainly of quantifiers. It is possible to put two Group B determiners together where their individual meanings allow it. For example, 'As a punishment for the city's stubborn resistance, the invaders executed every third person.'

Most Group B determiners do not use 'of' when placed before nouns ('Do you have any cream?' not *'Do you have any of cream?'*). However, when used in combination with a Group A determiner, 'of' must be used ('Several books were badly damaged in the fire.', but 'Several of the books were badly damaged in the fire.'). There are a few cases where a Group B determiner is used in combination with ' of' when placed directly before a noun. These are mostly either place names ('Most of London was destroyed in the great fire.') or uncountable nouns that refer to entire subjects or activities ('It is difficult to determine, with any great certainty, exactly what really happened in the past because much of recorded history was set down by interested parties.'). Another important thing to be aware of, since many EFL students make this mistake, is that the ' of' structure is not used after the Group B determiners 'no' and 'every'. Instead 'none' and 'every one' are used ('Every student was happy.', but 'Every one of her students were happy.'). The correct use of 'of' with determiners is a complex area and warrants more space than is available here. Those wishing to delve into this more deeply are again advised to refer to Michael Swan's Practical English Usage. Back to Top

Conjunctions are words that join words, phrases or clauses together and show the relationships that exist between them. Examples of these are: but, and, or (these are known as co-ordinating conjunctions).

'but'' is most often used to join and emphasise contrasting ideas: 'They were exhausted, but very happy.' 'and' is simply used to join things without unduly emphasising any differences that may exist (which is not to say that 'and'' cannot be emphatic - with the right intonation obviously it can be.): 'He put on his hat, coat and an air of indifference.'

Other conjunctions like 'when', 'because', 'that' are known as subordinating conjunctions and unlike the co-ordinating conjunctions are a part of the clause they join.

'when' is used to join a time clause to the rest of a sentence: 'I was shocked when they announced they were giving the prize to me'. 'because' joins a fact with its cause: 'He lied because he thought the truth would hurt her.' 'that' is used to join clauses that are acting as the object of a verb: He promised her that he would come if he could. (Compare the above with He(subject) promised(verb) her(indirect object) a new dress(object))

Conjunctions can consist of more than one word. Examples of these are: ' such as', 'in order to', etc. Back to Top

Interjections are words such as 'Yuck!', 'Ugh!', and 'Ouch!' which indicate the emotions, like disgust, fear, shock, delight, etc., of the person who utters them. Back to Top

Prepositions are words which are used to link nouns, pronouns and gerunds ( the '-ing' form of a verb which is being used as a noun e.g. 'At high level Swimming is a very demanding sport.') to other words.

They are often short words like 'on', 'in', 'up', 'down', 'about', etc. They can consist of more than one word: in front of, next to, etc. In TEFL we talk a lot about prepositions of time, place and movement:
I'll see you at six o'clock. Time I'll be home by five. We're having a party on Christmas eve. Let's have a party at Christmas. I'm in London at the moment. Place He's at work, I'm afraid. The bookshop is on the second floor. She always leaves a key under the doormat. She went to post office. Movement He flew here from Guyana. He leapt over the gate. An elderly man was slowly climbing up the hill.

These of course are not the only prepositions. The biggest problem for EFL students and therefore for their teachers is that it is almost impossible to predict which preposition combines with which verb, noun or adjective in any particular case, or even whether one is necessary at all. Here are some examples to demonstrate this point:

agree with somebody about a subject but on a decision and to a suggestion, angry with somebody about something (at could also be used in both cases), or angry with/at somebody for doing something get/be married to somebody but marry somebody (no preposition) 'pay for the tickets', but 'pay a bill'.

To a native speaker of English these may at first sight seem obvious, but to an EFL student they are impossible to guess. After all what is really wrong with *'get married on somebody'*? This would be perfectly correct in a number of languages. Even native speakers fail to agree on the use of some prepositions: Americans can say 'Congratulations for your exam results!', or 'In America football is different than soccer.' but these feel very wrong to the British, who would prefer to say 'Congratulations on your exam results .', and 'In America football is different from soccer.' Interestingly, British English does allow 'different than' if it is followed by a clause e.g. The situation is different than I expected.' It should be said, however, that the impact of Hollywood on British English seems to be gradually causing these differences to disappear. Another complication is that it is often very difficult to know whether a word is, in fact, an adverb particle or a preposition as many can be either depending on the particular context in which they are found. This creates a problem in distinguishing between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs. In the sentence 'She fell off her chair.' Off is a preposition while in the sentence 'She turned off the radio.' it is an adverb particle. Why is this so important? Well, lets take a moment to consider these two examples. 1. She turned off the radio. What happens to the word order in the above sentence if we replace 'the radio' with the pronoun 'it'? We have to place 'it' between the verb and its adverb particle - 'She turned it off.' We cannot say *'She turned off it.'* We can, however, say 'She turned the radio off.' 2. She fell off her chair. What if we do the same to this sentence? We get 'She fell off it (because she was laughing so much).' In this case, we cannot insert 'it' into the middle of the prepositional verb. Nor can we say *'She fell the chair off.'*

No problem for a native speaker, of course, they 'know' what is right, but what about the poor EFL student, who doesn't have this 'knowledge'? And what about the poor EFL teacher, who has to find some way to help their students with this? No matter what language is being studied prepositions are always a problem.

End of Section 1

Go to Section 1 TestSection 2: The English Tense System

Firstly a brief explanation aimed at those who may have studied this area of the grammar of English before. EFL tends to simplify and to teach things piecemeal so you may well find yourself teaching things you know to be not quite correct. This is particularly true of the tense system. While most linguists would agree that English does not actually have a future tense and that our 'tenses' are very badly named we do not usually point either of these things out to the students, especially at lower levels. Please be tolerant.

The Tense Chart Aspects The Active and Passive Voices The 'Present' Tenses

Tense Chart: The English tenses:

Past simple (or indefinite) Past continuous (or progressive) Past perfect simple Past perfect continuous Present simple Present Continuous Present perfect simple Present perfect continuous Future simple Future continuous Future perfect simple Future perfect continuous She took him home. He was driving dangerously. I had known him for many years. Then one day He had been watching her for several months. Her husband does everything for her. He is watching the match at the moment. I have seen this movie before. They have been seeing each other for some time now. I will give her another chance. They will be moving quite soon. I will have completed the report by Monday. He will have been working here for thirty years come the end of next month.


Quiz 1: Using the examples in the table of tenses above answer the following questions:
What form of the verb is used for the What form of the verb is What two things do all of the What two things do all of the What do all of the future tenses have in common? present simple - first, second used for the past perfect tenses have in continuous tenses have in or third? simple? common? common?

Check Answers Back to Top

An aspect is a grammatical category that helps us to understand the way the event described by a verb should be viewed. Amongst other things it can indicate that the event is fleeting, habitual, repeated or if it is in progress at the time of speaking. There are two aspects in English: progressive and perfect. The progressive aspect is indicated by the presence of a form of the auxiliary verb be used in conjunction with the '-ing' form of the following verb:

'I am coming with you!' 'He was strolling slowly down the lane.' 'You will be working with me.'

The perfect aspect is indicated by the presence of a form of the auxiliary verb have in conjunction with the past participle (third form) of the following verb:

'She has bought a new car.' 'She had once lived with a member of the government.' 'They will have eaten all the food before we get there.'

The two aspects can also be combined:

'We have been visiting my grandmother, who is in hospital at the moment.' 'He had been drinking heavily before the accident.' 'They will have been expecting for us for hours!'

Quiz 2: What are the tenses in 1 - 9 above?

Check Answers

The Meaning of the Progressive Aspect

In order to understand what meaning the

progressive (sometimes called the continuous) aspect adds

to a tense, we need to contrast it with the simple (sometimes called the indefinite). No doubt, you have already noticed that either the word 'continuous' or the word 'simple' is present in all of the tense names. We will start by studying two sentences with similar meaning. 1. 2. I live in Moscow. I am living in Moscow.

Which of the above sentences gives the impression of a temporary situation, and which seems to have no time limitation either in the past or the future? The above question should present no difficulty but if you are uncertain try asking yourself to which sentence do you feel most comfortable in adding the words 'at the moment'? The answer is, of course, the second. Why? Well, because the progressive aspect adds the idea of

limited duration.

Sentence 1 could be referring to the exact same speaker and circumstances as sentence 2. The choice made by the speaker will depend on the context and how the speaker feels about the situation. If the speaker has a definite idea of when he or she will move from Moscow, the 2nd sentence is more likely. If there is no particular need to stress the temporary nature of the situation, then

the 1st is likely. Perhaps, for example, in response to questioning by police where their interest is clearly in the speaker's current place of residence and not in the fact that this residence is expected to last for only one year. Police officer: Where do you live? Responder: I live in Moscow. (Far more likely than 'I am living') Although the question 'Where are you living?' is possible, it presupposes some prior knowledge on the part of the questioner as to the temporary nature of the responder's residential situation. So is


duration the only thing that the progressive aspect adds? No, but it is probably the most important.
Some verbs are rarely used in continuous tenses and some others are used in continuous tenses only when the verb in question has certain meanings. Many of these are 'state' verbs such as believe, doubt or know. Verbs used for the senses are also rare e.g. smell.

Quiz 3: Compare the following pairs of sentences and decide which are acceptable:
1 2 3 4 a) I am believing you. b) I believe you. a) He knows quite a lot about our operation. b) He is knowing quite a lot about our operation. a) I've accidentally been cutting myself with the bread knife. b) I've accidentally cut myself with the bread knife. a) I see what you mean. b) I am seeing what you mean.

Check Answers The sentences in 3 above illustrate an interesting effect that the progressive aspect has on short action verbs. Grammatically sentence 3a is correct. In terms of grammar there is little difference between these two sentences: 1. 2. I've been cutting myself. I've been cutting wood.

Native speakers readily accept the second, but in accepting the first have to come up with a context involving some form of masochism or deliberate harm to oneself. Why? After all, the grammar is essentially the same. The answer lies in the fact that, 'cut' is a short action verb. We have already understood that the progressive causes the action to be extended over a limited period, but what if the verb can't be extended in time. 'Cut' for example takes a very short time in most contexts. In these cases the progressive still causes the action to be extended but does so by making the action repeat! So, when we are talking about an action that is repeated like 'cutting wood', the continuous seems natural. However, 'cutting myself' , is not something we would normally want to do and is therefore difficult for us to accept without some mental gymnastics to come up with a context in which repeatedly cutting oneself makes some sense.

The Meaning of the Perfect Aspect

Those of you who are from the USA will need to spend a little more time on this section than those from Britain since you use this aspect less frequently. The Perfect aspect relates an event, state or time to a later event state or time. Confused? You don't need to be. It's really quite simple. As before let's start with a couple of examples.

1. 2.

I've seen that film already. I felt I knew him: I had heard so much about him.

Sentence (1) is an example of the present perfect tense. Do we know exactly when the speaker saw the film? What do we know about when he saw the film. The answer to the first question is - 'No, we do not'. The answer to the second is not very helpful if we really want to know when he saw it - At some point between his birth and the moment he made the above statement. The information contained in sentence (1) focuses on the fact that he did see the film and not on when he saw it. After all, when he saw it is unlikely to be of great interest to the listener. Sentence (2) is an example of the past perfect tense. Did the event 'heard' happen before or after the event 'felt'? How do you know? The answers are: (a) Before; (b) Because the use of the past perfect means that 'heard' preceded 'felt'. When exactly did the speaker 'hear about him'? The answer is that we don't know. We only know that it was at some point (or points) in the speaker's life before she 'felt she knew him'. Once again, 'when' is not important here. In the unlikely event that the listeners, for some reason, wish to know 'When?', they will ask. Even then, it is uncertain they will get a satisfactory answer: the speaker probably 'heard about him' on many different occasions. So, the perfect aspect is about 'beforeness': the present perfect is about before now; the past perfect before a point in the past; the future perfect before a point in the future. It has been said that the perfect tenses are the 'up to' tenses: Past perfect - up to a point in the past; Present perfect - up to now; Future perfect - up to a point in the future. The perfect aspect can also help us to understand the order in which events occurred, and allow us to talk more easily about things that happened at an unknown or indefinite time. When used with a 'state' verb such as 'live' we understand that the 'state' exist(s)(ed) up to a point in time as the following examples demonstrate: 1. 2. 3. I was sent to school in Wales even though we'd long as I could remember. He I will


living in France for as

has been going out with Emily since last August. have worked for this company for ten years by next month.

Quiz 4: What are the two points in time related by the perfect verb forms in each of the above sentences?
Check Answers Back to Top

The Active and Passive Voices

Firstly, it is necessary to understand what is meant by the word 'voice' when we use it as a grammar term. The linguistic term 'voice' describes how a language expresses the relationships between verbs and the nouns or noun phrases which are associated with them. Again we will contrast two sentences of similar meaning in order to help us to understand this. 1. 2. The police arrested David for being drunk and disorderly. David was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

Quiz 5: a) How do the sentences differ in meaning? b) How does the second sentence differ from the first in structure? c) Which sentence would it be more usual to hear?
Check Answers

Sentence (1) above is an example of the active voice while sentence (2) is in the passive voice. When we use the passive we do not usually state the agent. This is because it is obvious, unknown or unnecessary.

This tower was built in 1415. (unnecessary) I was arrested last night. (obvious) My car was stolen last night. (unknown)

If we really wish to mention the agent in a passive sentence, we can do so by adding a phrase beginning with 'by'. 'This tower was built in 1415, by Sir Henry Rumboldt.' So why might we choose to use the passive in sentences like this? The fact that Sir Henry built the tower is not obvious, unnecessary and it is certainly not unknown! Also computer grammar checkers are always highlighting them as something undesirable. Well, let's look more closely at the active and passive versions of the sentence. 1. 2. Sir Henry Rumboldt built this tower in 1415. This tower was built in 1415, by Sir Henry Rumboldt.

Which sentence is more likely to be found in a book about Sir Henry? Which is more likely in a book about the tower? Answers: (1) and (2) respectively. When the focus is on Sir Henry the active voice is more usual, and when it is on the tower the passive is more natural. One more point, according to most EFL course books the passive is made with the auxiliary verb 'be' and the past participle (third form of the verb). This is not always the case. What is the difference in meaning between these sentences? 1. 2. I was arrested last night. I got arrested last night.

Answer: there isn't any difference. Hence the second sentence must be passive too as it has the same form as the first. This is sometimes called the 'get' passive. Back to Top

The 'Present' Tenses

This has been added with the sole purpose of clearing up any lingering doubts about the relationship between time and tense. Consider the following three whether or not each is about the they about? 1. 2. 3.

present simple

sentences, and then decide

present time and finally, if any are not about present time, when are

leaves at 6pm. boils at 100oC. She loves him.

My train Water

No doubt, you have realised that sentence (1) is about the future. In relation to sentence (2), however, things aren't quite so clear cut. This is because the question 'When?' doesn't make much sense here. Sentence (2) certainly includes now but it is not only about now. It is about all time - past, present and future. Sentence (3) is much simpler it is talking about something that the speaker believes is true at this moment in time. So why is it called the present simple? The answer is largely historical and not relevant here. The fact of the matter is that it is called the present simple, and there is nothing we can do about it even if we wanted to. If it helps, there is an element of present time even about sentence (1). It is a present fact that the train

is scheduled to leave at 6pm.

The important thing to remember about the present simple is that the use of this tense to indicate future time as in sentence (1) often confuses students. As an EFL teacher your job is to explain, and to get them to accept the use. We do this by telling them that we use the present simple in this case because it is part of a timetable. This is not the whole truth, but we need to give them something solid to hold onto. Now let us turn to the

present continuous.

Quiz 6: Consider the following sentences and then decide if they refer to present time. If not, what time do they refer to?
1. 2. 3. I'm flying to Paris on Monday. I'm watching the cup final on TV. At this time on Monday mornings, I'm usually rushing to catch the train to work.

Check Answers As you can see, like the present simple the use of the present continuous isn't only about now. Interestingly, even when it is being used to talk about what is happening now it doesn't necessarily follow that the action it describes is going on at this exact second. For example: (Extract from a telephone conversation) A: So, what are you doing now? B: Oh, I'm fixing the roof. That storm we had the other day loosened some tiles. What about you? A: Not much, I'm reading War and Peace for my English exam, but it's heavy going. Fancy going out for a quick drink at The King's Head? In neither case is it likely that the speakers are actually actively involved in their tasks while they are on the phone. So the present continuous can also be used to talk about a limited duration activity that has begun but is not yet complete. Given her level of interest, it might take weeks for speaker B to finish War and Peace but during that time it is perfectly acceptable for her to say that she is reading it, even though much of the time, in reality, she is not. Moving on to the Present present or future?

Perfect Simple.

In the following sentence, what is the time frame; past,

I've only

been to Germany once.

Answer: The past but we don't know from this sentence exactly when. Even though this is one of the 'Present tenses', it is actually about the past. Although the meaning of the tense is 'up to be closed by the action itself.

to now' (see Aspects above), the link to 'now' does not have

Quiz 7: Look at the present perfect and past simple sentences below:
1. 2. I've I

written seven letters this morning. wrote seven letters this morning.

In the first (present perfect) sentence, what time of day is it?

And in the second (past simple) sentence? How do we know? In the present perfect sentence, do we know whether the writer has finished for the morning? What is finished in the first sentence? In the first sentence, when did the writer finish writing the seventh letter? Check Answers

Quiz 8: If the speaker is speaking now, what is the difference in meaning between these sentences?
Charlie Chaplin wrote an autobiography about Laurel and Hardy. Charlie Chaplin has written an autobiography about Laurel and Hardy. Check Answers

Present Perfect Continuous operates in exactly the same way as the Present Perfect Simple but with the added meaning of the continuous aspect (see Aspects above).
And finally, the There is no need to discuss in depth the 'future' and 'past' tenses at this stage as we have in effect dealt with them when considering aspects. Additionally, we will be looking at them again in the module on

Presenting Grammar.
End of Section 2 Go to Section 2 Test

Answer to Quiz Questions

Answers to Quiz 1: Tenses

The The All of have.

present simple past simple the perfect tenses use the

uses uses the auxiliary verb


first form second form have and the third form

of of

the the

verb. verb.

of the verb that follows

All of the All of the

continuous tenses use the verb be and the -ing form future tenses use will in the first position of the verb phrase.

of the verb following it.

Back to Text

Answers to Quiz 2: Aspects

Present Past Future Present Past Future Present continuous continuous continuous perfect perfect perfect continuous


Past Future perfect continuous Back to Text



Answers to Quiz 3: The Perfect Aspect

The speaker's earliest memory and the moment of being sent Last August and the moment of When the speaker began working for the company and next month. Back to Text to school speaking in Wales. (now).

Answers to Quiz 4: Active/Passive

They mean the same. Three things have changed in the second sentence: The agents (the police) do not appear in this version of the sentence; The noun 'David' which was the object of the first sentence has moved and is now in the role of the subject of the sentence; The auxiliary verb 'be' has been inserted before the main verb. The second: it is not necessary to state that the police did the arresting that is understood since it is comparitively rare that someone is arrested by anyone other than a police officer. Back to Text

Answers to Quiz 5: Simple Vs Continuous

b a b a Back to Text

Answers to Quiz 6 Present Continuous

The future although, a strong arrangement already exists in the present - the speaker probably has a ticket. We don't know for sure. If the speaker is on the telephone and responding to a question such as 'What are you doing?' then it is about present time. On the other hand, the speaker could be responding to a question like 'What are you doing on Saturday?' In which case, it would seem to be about the future. The word 'usually' gives us the clue. This sentence is about a habitual action so 'When?' is not a useful question. It certainly refers to the past. It certainly does not refer to the speaker's present since we understand that for some reason it is not true about this Monday. The future? Probably not. The habitual action may be in temporary abeyance if the speaker is, for example, on holiday. It could equally well be finished forever if the speaker has just retired for instance. The sentence doesn't help us with this so it's easier to think of it as about the past. Back to Text

Answers to Quiz 7: Present Perfect

It's still morning. Either the afternoon or the evening of the same day. Because the use of the past simple shows that morning is 'finished' but the use of 'this' tells us that the day isn't finished.

No we don't. Seven letters are finished, the writer might intend to write another this morning. We don't know. It might have been an hour ago or just now. The only thing we do know is that it was earlier this morning. Back to Text

Answers to Quiz 8: Laurel and Hardy

They cannot be about the same Laurel and Hardy. The first is probably about the Laurel and Hardy who were famous film stars in the nineteen thirties and forties and who are now both dead, whereas the second must be about some other Laurel and Hardy who are alive and working now. Back to Text

Section 3: Miscellaneous

In the English language adverbial clauses beginning with 'if', 'provided that', 'unless', or with other conjunctions of similar meaning, when used together with another clause which tells what will or might happen in the event that the condition contained in the 'if clause' is fulfilled, are called 'conditionals'. For example:

If you smoke inside the building, you will set the fire alarm off. If the fire alarm goes off, the computer automatically calls the fire brigade.

In EFL we give some conditionals the designations shown in the table below

Conditional Clauses
Condition clause Zero Conditional First Conditional Second Conditional Third Conditional Mixed Conditional
If + present simple If + present simple If + past simple If + past perfect If + past perfect

Result clause
present simple will + bare infinitive would + bare infinitive would + have + past participle would + bare infinitive

It is very important that you know these and understand the differences between them as students and course books refer to them in this way. Let us look at these a little more closely.

The Zero Conditional

Form: Example: Use:
If + present simple + present simple If water is cooled to below 0oC, it freezes. To express scientific facts and things that the speaker considers to be true in all situations when the condition is fulfilled.

The First Conditional

If + present simple + will + bare infinitive

Example: Use:

If it rains, we'll go to the cinema instead. To express what will happen on the fulfilment of a condition that the speaker considers real and possible.

The Second Conditional

Form: Example: Use:
If + past simple + would + bare infinitive If I had a car, I'd go out more. To express the result of an imaginary present or future situation. In the example as the speaker does not have a car, the condition is not fulfilled and therefore he/she does not go out more.

The Third Conditional

Form: Example: Use:
If + past perfect + would + have + past participle If you had asked me, I would have gone with you. To express the result of an imaginary situation in the past. In the example the reality is that the speaker was not asked and so did not go with the listener.

Mixed Conditional
Form: Example: Use:
If + past perfect + would + bare infinitive If you had studied harder, you would have a better job. To express the imaginary present result of an imaginary situation in the past.

It is also very important to understand that the above are not all the possibilities that exist. They are merely the most common.

Mini Quiz . 1

1. Identify the following conditional sentences:

a) If I get out of work early enough, I'll buy the tickets on the way home. b) If you had called, I wouldn't have been so worried. c) If I drink beer, I put on weight very quickly. d) If I won the lottery, I'd buy a Ferrari. e) If I win the lottery, I'll buy a Ferrari. f) If I had married Linda, I'd be happy now. g) I'd come with you if I didn't have so much work to do. h) We'll be in real trouble if we're caught. i) She won't speak to me. If I call her, she puts the phone down. j) I wouldn't come now even if you begged me! k) What would you do if you saw a ghost? l) What would you have said if he had proposed?

2. What does the choice of conditionals in sentences (d) and (e) above tell us about the speakers? 3. In the sentences a-l above what time(s) do(es) each clause refer to? 4. Which sentences have conditions that the speaker considers imaginary? 5. Which conditional(s) is/are used to refer to:
a. unreal past events b. unlikely/improbable future or imaginary/untrue present or future situations c. general or universal truths d. unreal past events with unreal present consequences e. possible future situations / conditions which must happen so that something else can [Check answers]

Relative Clauses
Even relatively experienced teachers often find relative clauses confusing. Perhaps because of this, students also have difficulty with them so it is essential for you to have a good grasp of the basics. Essentially, a relative clause gives information about the subject of the sentence in which it is contained. There are two types of relative clause: Defining and Non-defining. Defining relative clauses contain information that in some way limit the subject. Non-defining clauses, on the other hand, merely add information about the subject. The following sentences contain relative clauses:

My daughter, who is now twenty, has moved to Birmingham. The tree that is marked with a white cross is going to be cut down.

Sentence 1 above contains a non-defining relative clause while sentence 2 contains a defining relative clause. You should notice that the non-defining relative clause is separated from the rest of the sentence by commas. If you take away the non-defining clause the basic meaning of the sentence remains intact. To understand the use of the defining relative clause in the second sentence we have to set a context. Imagine that the tree in question is in an orchard. If we removed the defining relative clause from the sentence leaving 'The tree is going to be cut down', would we know which tree? Of course not, because the information contained in the defining relative clause is absolutely essential in order for us to be able to identify the tree. So what is all the fuss about then? This seems a relatively simple concept. Well, have a look at the following two sentences and then ask yourself which of them could mean that the unusual thing was the fact that I had a meal at a local restaurant and how you would explain this to an EFL student.

Today, I had a meal at a local restaurant that was very unusual. Today, I had a meal at a local restaurant which was very unusual.

The answer is that the relative pronoun 'which' can be used to refer to the whole of the previous clause. The relative pronoun 'that' in the first sentence can only refer to the local restaurant being unusual.

Mini Quiz . 2

Assuming correct usage of the relative clauses in the following sentences decide which are defining and on how they limit the meaning of the subject. My husband who is a musician has left me. My brother, who lives in France, is coming to visit me. That's the man whose house burnt down the other night. She is the woman who I was telling you about. Is there a shop where I can get some plasters near here? Do you know the reason why I can't come with you? Who was that handsome man you were with when I saw you with yesterday? My car, which is ten years old now, has broken down again. [Check answers] Prospective teachers and students should understand that defining relative clause are very rarely uttered in real life: they are mostly found in written form. This is intended only as an introduction to relative clauses those wishing to know more should refer to Michael Swan's Practical English Usage or to another EFL grammar reference.

Question Tags
Question tags are the small questions that often come at the end of sentences, they are usually found in spoken English. Look at the examples below: 1. That was great wasn't 2. That wasn't a particularly good film, was 3. He's that actor from 'Neighbours', isn't 4. You've been here before, haven't 5. This tastes good, doesn't 6. He wrote plays for the BBC, didn't 7. You can't drive, can 8. Peter could always go with him, couldn't he? it? it? he? you? it? he? you?

Mini Quiz . 3
Read these 'rules' for forming question tags and then relate them to the above examples. a) b) c) d) e) f) g) If the sentence is affirmative, the tag is the sentence is negative, the tag is If the subject is an impersonal pronoun, 'it' is used in If the subject is a noun, the appropriate pronoun is used in The tense remains the same in both the sentence and If there is an auxiliary in the sentence, use it in there is no auxiliary, then use 'do', 'does' or 'did' as appropriate. If If negative. positive. the tag. the tag. the tag. the tag.

[Check answers] These are not really rules as there are many 'exceptions'. 1. Let's eat 2. I'm naughty, 3. No one 4. Pass me that spanner, would you? out, aren't phoned, shall I did we? Mummy? they?


Intonation is very important in tag questions. a rising intonation on the question tag means you are asking a real question and are not sure of the answer. A falling intonation means you are not asking a question, just seeking confirmation or agreement. Try saying these:

Whew, it's hot, isn't it? I think the train is due at two thirty, isn't it?

You will have noticed that your intonation went down on the question tag in the first sentence but up on the question tag in the second sentence. This is because in the first sentence both speaker and listener are experiencing the heat and so it is not really a question. In the second, however, the speaker is uncertain ('I think') and so it is a genuine question. Listen to other peoples use of question tags. Do you agree with what has been said here about intonation?

Answers to Quiz . 1 Conditionals:

a b c d e f g h i j k l

1st 3rd Zero 2nd 1st Mixed 2nd 1st Zero 2nd 2nd (Question) 3rd (Question)

Condition Clause
Future Past (Imaginary) Always Future (Imaginary) Future Past (Imaginary) Present (Imaginary) Future Always Future or Present (Imaginary) Future (Imaginary) Past (Imaginary)

Result Clause
Future Past Always Future Future Past Future Future Always Future Future Past

The speaker in (d) uses the 2nd conditional and so doesn't believe he will ever win the lottery, whereas the speaker in (e) is more optimistic and believes there is a chance he will win. See table of answers for question 1. See table of answers for question 1. a) b) c) d) e) 1st 3rd and Mixed 2nd Zero Mixed

Back to Top

Answers to Quiz . 2 Relative Clauses

Relative Clauses


Clause Type

Limits the group of 'my husbands' to one. This implies that the subject has more than one husband!

Nondefining Defining Defining Defining Defining Defining Nondefining

Only a comment. The only inference that can be drawn is that as it was not necessary to use a defining clause the subject has only one brother. Limits the group of 'all men' to the man we both know whose house burnt down the other night. Limits group of 'all women' to the woman that I was telling you about. Limits group of 'shops' to those that sell plasters. Limits group of all reasons to the one that explains 'why I can't come with you.' Limits group of 'all men' to the one 'I saw you with yesterday.' Only a comment. Implies that age is the reason it broke down.

3 4 5 6 7 8

Back to Top

Answers to Quiz . 3 Question Tags

1, 3, 4, 8 2, 7 1, 2, 5 8 all (In sentence 4 the tense is understood) 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 5, 6

English Pronunciation

Every student dreams of having native speaker pronunciation. Unfortunately for most, this will never be a reality as a result of mother tongue influences. That, however, should never be used as an excuse for not trying to assist your students to improve their pronunciation. As will become evident, many of their errors are correctable, and only require the teacher to either visually portray mistakes using a phonetic chart or to engage the students in pronunciation games and activities. Like grammar, a thorough knowledge of the sound system of the English language is fundamental. So as to acquaint the teacher with this sound system and to maximize the teacher's classroom performance in this area, the following sections have been written.

Pronunciation Phonemic Symbols Accent Stress Intonation Pronunciation Errors What is Pronunciation?

Pronunciation is comprised of 3 components.

The first being the physical ability to articulate sounds, where to place your tongue and lips!

The second is stress, both in individual words and in sentences. Thirdly, intonation, the pitch and 'music' used to change this (falling or rising). Back to Top

Why use phonemic symbols?

The alphabet we use to write English has 26 letters but English has 44 sounds. Inevitably, English spelling is not a reliable guide to pronunciation because: 1. 2. 3. 4. Some letters have more than one sound. "O in Nose, Hot, Ton and For" Sometimes letters are not pronounced at all. "Knife" The same sound may be represented by different letters. "Eye, Tie, and Pine" Sometimes syllables indicated by the spelling are not pronounced at all. "Vegetable, chocolate and clothes"

The letters of the alphabet can be a poor guide to pronunciation. Phonemic symbols, in contrast, are a totally reliable guide. Each symbol represents one sound consistently. Back to Top

Is it important for teachers to know phonemic symbols?

To be frank, yes. Every profession has specialist knowledge that is not widely known outside the profession. If you are a doctor, you will be able to name every bone in the human body, which most people can't do. If you are a language teacher, then you know phonemic symbols, which most people don't. Students can learn these symbols by themselves and one day you might meet a student who asks you to write a word on the board using phonemic symbols. It is best to be prepared. Back to Top

Is it difficult to learn?
Absolutely not! 19 of the 44 symbols have the same sound and shape as letters of the alphabet. Back to Top

The Known IPA Symbols

These can be seen below. You already know them! Note that most of these are consonants.

*Note that with the last symbol / j / you need to be careful. It is pronounced as in "Yes" and not as in "Jack". Back to Top

The Unknown IPA Symbols

That leaves just 17 to learn. Compare that with the hundreds of different pieces of information in a grammar book or the thousands of words in a small dictionary. Moreover, it is visual and shapes are easy to remember. Anyone who can drive is able to recognize more than 17 symbols giving information about road conditions. Even if we go beyond separate, individual sounds and include linking, elision and assimilation, there is still a limited and clearly defined set of things to learn. The 17 phonemes that we need to learn can be seen below. Note that most of these are vowels.

Back to Top

IPA Diphthongs and Tripthongs

In addition to the 19 consonants which you already know, and the 17 new symbols for the IPA, there are also 8 diphthong combinations of vowel sounds (and even a number of triphthongs). These are straightforward to learn once you have mastered the single vowel sounds. An example can be seen below:

Back to Top

Do I need to have a perfect English accent?

Not at all. It is true that the 44 phonemes in British English are based on Received Pronunciation, an accent which is not frequently heard nowadays (approximately 7% of the current British population speak it and often it is called colloquially 'The Queen's English'). Most native-speaker teachers do not have this accent but still use phonemic symbols. When the symbols are arranged in a chart, each one occupies a box. This indicates that the real sound that you actually hear can vary up to certain limits, depending on the influence of other sounds and on individual ways of speaking. There is not just one perfect way to say each sound - there is an acceptable range of pronunciations. Think of the pieces in a game of chess. They can vary considerably in size, shape and appearance but we can always recognize a knight because it behaves like a knight and not like a king. The point is that such words such as 'ship', 'sheep', 'sip' and 'seep' should sound different from each other, not that each sound is pronounced exactly like the sounds of RP. Learning phonemic symbols will help students to understand the importance of length and voicing. Simply knowing that the symbol : indicates a long sound can be very helpful. There is no end to our study of grammar and vocabulary but phonemic symbols are limited, visual and physical. They may seem challenging at first but it is like learning to swim or ride a bike. Once you do it, it is easy and you never forget.

What students need to learn:

Students need to be understood and to be able to say what they want to say. Their pronunciation should be at least adequate for that purpose. They need to know the various sounds that occur in the language and differentiate between them. They should be able to apply certain rules, eg. past tense endings, t, d or id. Likewise, a knowledge of correct rhythm and stress and appropriate intonation is essential. Back to Top

Phonetic Chart
The standard IPA phonemes can be seen in the chart below:

Back to Top

This is more important than mispronounced sounds! Getting the stress wrong can make the word incomprehensible to native speakers. There are two kinds of stress; word and sentence. Back to Top

Word Stress
For ALL new words show the stress on the board. Sometimes it is easier to grasp stress by seeing, not listening.

Use ' before the stressed syllable, or a box above, even use your hands and clap Highlight changing stress i.e. photograph/photographer

Show the grammatical function ie. 'permit' as a verb and a noun: 'permit' and 'permit'

A suitable technique to highlight these ideas is: a) Write a list of new vocabulary on the board b) Teacher models using correct and incorrect stress and elicits which are correct c) Students listen for stressed syllables (the teacher can even use nonsense syllables i.e. da-da-DA d) Return to the first list, students identify correct stress by clapping (to emphasize louder) e) In pairs, student reads dialogue and partner marks the stress Back to Top

Sentence Stress
There are two aspects to this, 1) important words and 2) meaning Have you ever

PLAYED VOLLEYBALL? I can RUN can be compared to I CAN run

The Schwa, the most common sound in English which sounds like "uh" is used in unstressed syllables of words and weak forms in a sentence. It can replace every vowel in English. Some techniques that are useful are: a) Use list games i.e. I'd like a cup of coffee, please. I'd like a cup of coffee and a sandwich, please etc. b) Students highlight words that they think are the most important in a sentence; this is useful for listening skills as students identify the main message. c) Use songs: the stress and schwa are usually clear and singers exaggerate stressed syllables. d) Newspaper headlines are reduced to keywords, therefore stressed. The contrast highlights stress patterns. Back to Top

This is very important for intelligibility, it says something about the speaker's intentions. Misunderstanding occurs when the speaker, for example, sounds bored as they use different pitch/variation in their language. For example, "What time's the Amsterdam "Eleven" "Sorry, what time?" (with upward intonation). train?" (with downward intonation)

Back to Top

Common Pronunciation Errors by Russian Speakers of English Sounds Confused

is confused with There is no short and long vowel differentiation.

is confused with Use of A instead of E For example in sat/set or bed/bad

is confused with Again there is no short and long vowel differentiation. Note, also, that there are often no differences in these two sounds in various dialects of English (Scottish etc). Back to Top

Sounds Mispronounced

is trilled Use of a trilled R instead of the soft R is the most recognizable aspect of a Russian accent!

is pronounced as in the Scottish word "Loch" This sound needs to simply be made softer and aspirated. Teach the students that it DOES NOT sound like the first phoneme in the Russian word for bread, "Xleb" but is a far softer sound like in the English word for "House".

This sound is often separated in Russian into two distinct sounds. It should be taught that this must be a soft, singular sound.

is said as Often there is the use of G or N instead of NG i.e. Wing-wig or win. This is because the Nasal NG does not exist in Russian. Students will need to be shown the position of the tongue and the airflows diagrammatically on the whiteboard.

is said as

or even

There is the use of S/Z instead of TH i.e. Sin for thin, useful for youthful, Zen for then. To correct this, have the students start with T and then show that the tongue must protrude from the teeth in order to make the TH sound.

is said as We often also see a use of V instead of W. This causes real problems with work, worm, worth and worse etc. The students need to be shown that the teeth rest upon the bottom lip in and English V, and vibrate, while the W is a rounded mouth sound.

is said as

or even Back to Top

Long Vowels that get Shortened

is said as For example, Cart will become Cat.

is said as For example, Bird will become Bed.

is said as For example, Torn will become Ton. Back to Top

Miscellaneous Russian Pronunciation Points:

a) Generally, long vowels sounds like short vowels i.e. field-filled, seat-sit. b) T/D/L/N are aspirated by the tongue touching the top teeth-this sounds "foreign" c) Final voiced consonants (T, D, G) are devoiced in Russian ie. lab-lap, said-set d) P, K, T are not aspirated. Therefore, mispronounced at beginning of words ie. Pit-bit, come-gum. e) Dark L (full, hill) replaces Clear L (light, fly) f) Consonant Clusters are very difficult for Russians! i.e. Months, clothes, sixth. g) Initial Clusters; TW, TR, PR, DR, BR cause problems i.e. twice, tree, price. h) 2nd part of diphthongs and 2nd/3rd part of tripthongs tend to be over pronounced.

Not for Newly Qualified Teachers Only

Perhaps the best way to welcome new teachers to Language Link is by offering them some practical advice concerning the actual teaching of English to Russians. Presented in 'tip' form, it has been divided into two sections. The first section, referred to as 'Tips for New Teachers to Russia' and as its title would imply, is not just for newly qualified teachers to Russia. Anyone thinking about teaching English would do well to read over these words and heed the advice given. If you are seriously thinking about teaching English as a foreign language in Russia (or anywhere for that matter), then it most fitting to offer some practical advice concerning the actual teaching of English to Russians. Presented in 'tip' form, it has been divided into two sections. The first section, referred to as 'Tips for New Teachers to Russia' and as its title would imply, is not just for newly qualified teachers to Russia. Anyone thinking about teaching English would do well to read over these words and heed the advice given. The second section is, however, meant as practical advice for newly qualified teachers. All too often, newly qualified teachers start out their TEFL career on the wrong foot. They believe, and erroneously so, that being 'new' can serve as an excuse for bad teaching. This simply is not true. Being a newly qualified teacher can serve as an excuse for lack of experience, but never for 'bad teaching'. There is an old saying, 'Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment'. I, for one, believe that this is so. Therefore, no one expects TEFL teachers to be perfect, that is, no one except students. So in an effort to help teachers avoid the pitfalls of their profession, the following 'tips' have been amassed. And though many of them may appear self-evident, you'd be surprised how many experienced and first-time teachers fall victim to such 'self-evidency'.

A. Tips for New Teachers to Russia

Tip . 1 Honesty is not always the best policy This tip has been placed first and with good reason. Therefore, its importance should not in any way be underestimated. Believe me when I say, "Honesty is not always the best policy." This should not, however, be interpreted as saying, "Lying is OK." To begin with, there is a certain psychological expression referred to as 'disarming yourself'. The implication of this expression is that you are giving up something that can or may be used against you at some future time. With regard to TEFL, a new teacher should consider two issues that are likely to crop up during their first term of teaching. These are 'training' and 'experience'. It is important you realize that in Russia (as with many places), English teachers have spent 5 years at university in order to become English teachers, whereas the average EFL teacher is just fresh off a 4-week course. Understanding this, there are a number of implications. 1. Foremost amongst them is the almost ubiquitous belief that you have spent a similar amount of time preparing for your EFL qualification. Thus, you represent 'the ideal' English language teacher. Not only are you a specialist with regard to the English language understanding the finer points of phonetics, vocabulary, morphology, grammar and discourse), but also being a native speaker, you are capable of providing an element of cultural appropriacy to a lesson. In other words, you are better able to teach pronunciation (sounds, stress and intonation); register (formal and informal speech); phrasal verbs and idioms; etc. It is likewise believed that you are also an expert on modern TEFL methodology. Thus, you know better how to teach all the above using games, music, role-play, drama, pair and group work, projects or any one of a number of other techniques.


Understanding this, it should be easy for you to imagine how your students will feel when, or should I say if, you reveal the exact nature of your training or lack of it. Your students pay money to attend your lessons. Therefore, they expect perfection. They want to leave your class saying, "Now that's an English teacher!" Likewise, I guarantee that you do not want your students saying that their former Russian English teacher was a better teacher. So how do you avoid all this without lying?

Tip . 2. Be all that you are First of all, you are a specialist with regard to the English language. You just don't know it. Your major advantage is that you are a native English speaker; therefore your ability to correctly pronounce words, phrases and sentences goes without saying. Unfortunately, most new teachers do not spend enough time doing pronunciation work. This point will be made over and over again. Likewise, doing pronunciation work implies error correction, which again most new teachers do not do enough of. Of course, don't get involved in overkill. Though your students will have tons of confidence in your ability to teach English, they will have absolutely none with regard to their own ability to learn it. Therefore a tablespoon of pronunciation work and a teaspoon of error correction will go a long way. Interested in 18 more tips, then apply online and become a Language Link teacher.

Compendium of Warmers and Fillers

Every teacher knows the value and purpose of supplementary material in the classroom. Although, teachers usually prepare supplementary material to reinforce, enliven and develop the previously taught material, these can also be used as "warmers and fillers". So how do we use them and what purpose do they have? If you are a slave to the body beautiful cult, then you probably are aware that you don't go to the gym and jump onto the nearest machine and feel the burn. Imagine what damage this would do to those finely toned muscles! Now think of your students. They come into your English lesson after a hectic day at college or work where they have most likely only been using their first language. The last thing they need is a bashing of grammar and new target language. Therefore, try starting off with a warmer. A warmer, just as the name suggests - a warm up, can take the form of a simple game, which doesn't have to be related to the topic of the day. A warmer will also help you out with students who are unavoidably detained at the office and drift in 7 minutes after the start. At such times, doing a warmer first will prevent you from having to reiterating the target language for the x-amount of time. Fillers are of a similar ilk, but serve rather a different purpose. Think about them like a rest from the intensive process of learning grammar, phrasal verbs and other such things. Fillers allow your students to relax and even be "a bit daft" for while. Try to see it as a breathing space. They also serve another purpose. Every teacher, if they are being honest, will admit to having had at least once that sinking moment in a lesson when they've realized that their materials have dried up. And nothing looks more unprofessional than making uncomfortable small talk (imagine having a beginners class) or dashing out to cob together some copies, bearing in mind that some schools won't have a photocopier. Or, if you prepared a fantastic lesson but feel that the presentation, practice and production of the present perfect is wearing thin, then a few fun activities are probably what your lesson needs, especially if there's a few spare moments left. Or, if you feel that at this point new material will only confuse the students and you've reviewed, reviewed and reviewed until your students are blue in the face . . . . Then read ahead. This compendium is for you. This is a selection of the creme de la creme of warmers and fillers compiled by hard working teachers* who wish to share what they do during those sticky moments of silence and despair in a lesson and the topic of "where to go for a walk in Moscow?" has been somewhat exhausted. These are designed for the situations above, however they are NOT designed for the following: 1. The difference between present perfect and past simple looks a bit too hard for me to explain and my class won't get it anyway, so if I do a long activity and give them the grammar for homework then maybe they won't notice. I can't be bothered thinking of an interesting way to practice




phrasal verbs, so we'll play a game instead. They'll have fun, and it will save me a bit of preparation time. It's Friday afternoon. My mind's really on where I'm going for a beer tonight. The same as my class. I'm not in the mood for preparing, they're not in the mood for learning . . . Oh well, lets fill it up with some "busy work". They're using English, aren't they? Lots more (hopefully you won't be amongst those inventing them)

Think of your warmers and fillers when you are preparing your lesson and how they can be used to the best advantage for your students, you and your lesson. Read through and become familiar with the activities so that if you unexpectedly run out of material, you'll be able to come up with something on the spot and be able to maintain a modicum of professionalism. For your convenience, the activities have been divided into four basic levels of language proficiency: beginner, elementary, pre-intermediate and upper-intermediate. Please note that each activity is time limited i.e., they are not expected to last forever. That said, the timings are approximate. Finally, as you will soon note, the amount of resources needed to perform these activities is minimal as are the instructions so as not to waste your time.

Levels Level 1+

Name of the game

Approximate time 5-7

Complete the Word

Divide the class into two teams. One ST from each team comes forward and is given a piece of chalk. The 2 STs must face the class while you write an incomplete word on the board (twice, one for each team) e.g.

h__ __s __

h__ __s__ (answer - horse)

The 2 STs can then look at the word. The first one to run up and complete the word correctly scores 1 point for his team. Continue with other words. You can of course limit them to certain grammatical or lexical areas. *This compilation is taken from many different sources and authors.

Online since September 19, 1997