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Striking a balance
Michael Swan
Reported speech -
rules, what rules?
Dave Willis
More than please
and thank you
Mark Hancock
The tourist trap!
Rebecca Norman
Issue 70
Celebrating 30 years
of the world's most trusted
language reference book
www.oup.com/elt UNIVERSITY PRESS
Michael Swan puts the language back into
language leaching
Dave Willis explodes the myth of tense backshift
James Venema makes the most of vocabulary notebooks
Britt Jepsen applauds authentic materials
Chris Payne celebrates the corpus
Rose Hickman advocates an all-inclusive classroom
Louis Rogers improves his students' seminar skills
Rebecca Nonnan captures some keen
Alan Maley recommends books dealing with disability
Lesley Lanir describes reading difficulties
Andrew O' Dwyer takes his students out fOf
some playful practice
Mark Hancock looks at how we teach students
to be polite
Laura Loder Buchel addresses the needs of the
already fluent
Bahar Gun investigates the impossibility of pleasing
all the teachers all of the time
Sue Leather and Andy Hockley consider how
teachers can become managers
Blanka Klimova outlines the benefits and demands
of online courses
Nicky Hockly looks at a trend that's getting bigger
all the time
Russell Stannard describes some quick and useful
online tools
John Potts
Rose Senior
Betka PiAlar sees her students' reading blossom
Includes materialS designed to pOOlOCOPY [)
__ etprof lonal.eom ENGLISH TEACHING profen-iol1tt/ . Issue 70 September 2010 1

n our main feat ure, Michael Swan describes trends
in English language teaching in terms of a pendulum
swinging between two extremes: form and meaning,
and he would like to see more emphasis on the actual
teaching of language. Nevertheless, he comes 10 the
comforting conclusion that most good teachers pick
and choose between the methodologies and materials
on offer to create a mix that works for them.
The other articles in this issue represent some of the
many different viewpoints on the way in which language
should be taught. Dave Willis wants to make things
easier for students by abandoning the teaching of rules
which he believes don't actually work.
Britt Jepsen's school students read authentic materials
from the word go, and Chris Payne also advocates
looking at real-life language. He favours the use of
concordances to reveal not just the frequency of words
and collocations but how they are actually used. James
Venema then explains how students can record and
remember new language efficiently.
Also concerned with real language usage is Mark Hancock,
who describes ways in which we can teach our students
about politeness conventions in different situations.
Taking a more humanistic approach to language teaching,
Rose Hickman appeals to us to make our classrooms
places of inclusion and safety for all students, whatever
their gender or sexual orientation.
Andrew O'Dwyer, for his part, sees opportunities outside
the classroom to get his students to practise the language
they are learning and to see real language in use, while
Rebecca Norman brings the language of the outside world
inside by luring tourists into her conversation classes.
Helena Gomm
I heleoa.gomm@keywayspubl ishing.com I
PO Box 100, Chichester, West Sussex, P018 8HO, UK

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2 Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _ . tprof lonal.com
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a aance
Michael Swan talks to ETp about the
pendulum swings of language teaching.
You have said t hat language
teaching should be about teaching
language, and t hat this idea can
sometimes get lost. Can you
Teachillg things is difficult: it's much
easicr to do things. Because of this..
thcrc's a perennial danger that the
activities language teachers use for
consolidation and nuency practice can
become an end in themselves, so we can
lose sight of what. if anything. our
activities are aelUally supposed to be
teaching. As we movc up the levels, this
Cim huppcn more and more eilsily. With
intermediate and advanced students.. it
cun really be quite hard to make clear
decisions about lr/UI/ to teach - which
clements of grammar, vocabulary,
phraseology, and so on the students
most need. or precisely which skills and
sub-skills really need improvcment. So
ilt this stilge. the temptation is to take
refuge more and more in activity-based
teaching. and doing things can take over
completely by default. If the students
are using English, and having fun, they
mllSI be learning, mustnt they?
This tendency has becn powerfully
fuelled by the communicative movement
that has dominated I;\llguage teaching
for the last 30 ye<lrs or so. with its
emphasis on 'language in use', It's donc
an awful lot of good. but it has also
reinforced and legitimised our liking for
doing things in the clussroom, il11d
taken the focus even further ilway from
looking systematically at the language
itself. We need to remind ourselves that
lunguage teuching docs meun teuching
Iilnguuge: making sure that students arc
exposed to the highest-priority language
forms (words.. fixed phrases, structures,
aspects of pronunciat ion), that they
leim1 illld practise these forms.. and thut
they become skilled at using them
nucntly and appropriately. There's a
question of balance here. h s no good if
students learn il lot of forms il1ld can't
usc them (which often happened wi th
older approilches. and still does in some
teaching contexts today). But it"s
equally unconstruetive if studcnts are
made to eonccntrate on using language
without being given a systematic
knowledge of the language they are
supposed to be using.
I remember you once suggested
that teaching reading skills is
mostly a waste of time.
Yes. this was the topic of a talk that
Cutherine Willter und I gilve ilt IATEFL
two or three years ago. [n fact. I think
all so-callcd 'skills teaching necds 10 be
looked at vcry carcfully. Of course, we do
have to ensure th;lt our students practise
using the language they learn. so that
they can deploy it easily and nuently in
realtime for their communicativc
purposes.. Work on the so-cillied four
skills' is vital. BIlt in the 1970s and 80s,
the four skills suffered a conccplUal
explosion. Reading, for instance, was
typically analysed into up to 20 subskills..
all of which soon arrived in textbooks.
along with exercises carefully designed
to tcaeh these sub-skills to learners who
were assumcd to lack them. And this
'bilttcry-of-skills' approllch still goes on
4 Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _ . tprof lonat.com
today: any number of current tcaehing
material s purport to train students in
skimming, scanning, understllnding text
structure, predicting their way through
text. and so on and so on.
[ think a reasonable position (and
one that is increilsingly supported by
research) is thilt students already have
domain-general comprehension skills:
that those who are literate in their own
language (that is to say, a large
proportion of students) are already able
to apply these skills to written text; and
that what they need is language to apply
these skills to, and facility in handling
that language. If students sccm to have
trouble 'comprehending' an English text
that is apparently at their level - they
can understand all the words but don't
get the whole picture, so to speak - this
is likely to be it question of processing
capacity: so much of their working
memory is being used for low[evel
decoding thut they can't build a higher-
level menIal representation of the text
as a whole, As decoding becomcs more
automatic, capacity will be freed up, and
they will increasingly be able to llccess
their existing comprehension skills. But
this takes the time it takes. ' Training
studcnts to 'tmnsfcr' skills like
skimming, sCHnning, identifying main
points and so forth - which thcy mostly
al reildy possess in their mother tongues
- is unlikely to speed things up very
milch. Unfortunately, many teachers
and course writers lovc work of this
kind: it keeps everybody busy ilnd gives
people something structured to do with
texts.. (Texts. spoken and writtcn, can of
course be enormously useful for
lill1guilge-teaching purposes if they are
used properly - but that's another story.)
So, as far as reading skills (and others)
arc concerned. lelS not waste time
teaching people to do things they can do
already. (And dont get me started on
the notion that you can teach students
to 'guess vocabulary from context'.)
How about task- based learning?
Communicative tasks are - and have
becn for a long time - an important
languilge-teilching tool. What is speciill
<Ibollt task-based teaching is the view
that sllch tasks.. where the focus is on
meaning rather than language. can do
nearly cvcrything - that a task syllabus
will enable students to ucquirc most or
all of the linguistic elements that they
need. It's recognised that such
'naturalistic'languagc use may nced 10
be supplemetlled by some extra 'focus
on form', bUl 'traditional' systematic
syllabus-based grammar teaching is
strongly discouraged in the task-based
model. The academic literature in this
area is full of very tendentious
term inology. ' Language-based',
'teacher -domi nated', 'sentence-level',
'transmission model'. 'product',
'memorisation' , 'repetition' and 'drill'
arc dismissivc exprcssions - thcy rcfcr to
supposedly bad and discredited
pedagogic allitlldes. 'Good' concepts -
thc applied linguistic cquivalcnts of
democr,tey and motherhood - include
'mean i ng-based', 'lea rner -centred' ,
'holist ic', 'discourse' , 'discovery',
'process'. 'intcraction' , 'negotiation' and
'strategy', I think we need to \<Ike issue
with this terminological polarisation,
and with the associated mindsct. What
exactly is wrong about a 'language-based'
approach to language learning and
teaching? We wouldn't criticise a music
teacher for making her lessons music-
based. would we? And why is 'process'
good and 'product' bad? If [ sign up for
lessons in. say, Turkish, product is exactly
what I want: a knowledge of Turkish,
The process involved is valueless unless it
gets me wherc I want to go - in !;tngu<tge
learning, to travel hopefully is 1/01 beller
than to arrive, And is 'learner-centred'
automatic,llly good and 'teacher-
dominated' <tutom,lIically bad? Of
course not. [t depends on what you arc
teaching, who 10, when and where,
Task-based learning. and thc thcorics
on which it is based, may certainly be
valid for a certain kind of situation - one
where your students have plenty of time
to work at their English. they're in an
input-rich environment, or they've learnt
the language for years and know far
more than they can usc. But one needs to
question its value for the more typical
teacher, working. let's say, in 1I s(:conrlllTY
school in a non-English-speaking
country, teaching poorly-motivated
students in classes that arc probably too
big, with perhaps three hours' cont;let
time a week for maybe 35 weeks a year,
maximum. For such teachers. cost-
effectiveness is crucial. A syllabus of
tllsks alone. unsupported by structum]
and lexical syllabuses. simply can't be
relied on to throw up 1I1i of the top,
priority language that students at a
pilrticulilr level need to learn. They won't
even be exposed to half the language
they need, let alone have a chance to use
it enough to fix it in their minds,
So should the academic focus be
on identifying what it is that
students need to know? Of course,
this will be different in different
contexts. Is it possible to say 'this
is what you need to know'?
Yes., selection and prioritisation are vitaL
And these need to be approached from
two directions. Coming at it from the
'form' end, one asks which arc the most
widely-used structures in the language:
which are the thousand commonest
words, which arc the next thousand
commonest words. and so on; which
aspects of pronunciation are going 10 be
crucial, if any, for the tllrget group of
learners, That's something we've becn
doing prclly well for centuries. We know
perfectly well that we have to teach the
present tenses before the subjunctive, or
the names of the colours before words
like pUll), or c{I/(/lOl/ic. Then, coming at
A syllabus of tasks
alone, unsupported by
structural and lexical
syllabuses, simply can't
be relied on to throw up
all of the top-priority
language that students
need to learn
it from the 'use' end, we can very
reasonably say thaI's it's all very well
teaching them all these words and
structures.. but docs it cnllble them to
<l sk for a cup of coffee or to deal with
an enquiry from a customer? C:m they
actually put these things together to
handle whatever everyday language
functions and rCill-lifc tilsks ;ITC relevant
to their purposes? This perspective got a
lot of allention in the 1970s when
people invented needs analysis.. and it
gets a lot of attention now through the
Common European Framework and its
'can do' statements. The danger, with
our current focus on language in use, is
thlll (as happens in some foreign-
language teaching in Britain) one half of
the dyad - the formal element - may be
downgraded in favour of the other, So
leilfllcrs may practise can-do scripts, SO
that they can write a letter to an
imaginary penfriend or show someone
round their home town. or whatever,
BIlt they may learn to operate each
script without being able to generalise
thei r knowledge to other different ,Illd
unpredicted situations. because of gaps
in basic grammar or vocabul ary -
missing items that fcll through the
language-in-use net.
In the typical ' three-hours-a-week'
situation, there's very lillie room for the
more peripheral issues that currently
occupy some sociologically-oriented
language-teaching theorists, Certainly,
we shouldn't dismiss a concern wi th
what onc might call the 'human' side of
language teaching: our recognition th,1I
students are individuals (with all that
tflat implies for their learning), and also
social beings (with all that tfl(lf implies
for their learning). This was a v;!luable
dynamic in the early days of the
eommuniclltive approach, It encouraged
teachers to get their students practising
language by talking ubout thi ngs that
mallered to them, rather than simply
parroting meaningless sentences aboUl
10hn, Mary and the gardcn, (Though it
could sometimes go too far: if you gel
the students to 'let it all hang out' and
talk about, for example.. their deepest
fea rs, you can move dangerously close
to casting the teacher in the role of the
incompetent amateur therapist.) What
worries me now is the extent to which the
'human being' focus may ;tetua1ly take
over from language teaching, Under the
influence of current theory. we may risk
spending so much time training our
students to become better learncrs and
better-rounded human beings - teaching
them social and negotiating skills.
training them in learning strategies,
nwking them increasingly autonomous
and so forth - that we m"y find ourselvcs
short of time for actually teaching them
what they want to learn, Some of the
more extreme pronouncements that
come from the sociolinguistic cnd of the
profession actually make me wonder if
the scholars in question are really
thinking about language teaching at all.
Allwright, in his 2003 book on
' Exploratory Practice', m(lkes the
remarkable statemelll that we should
'abol'e ollr cOl/cern for illstructiol/al
efficiellc)', prioriti;., Ihe qllalil), of life il/
the lal/guage classroom', Kumaravadivelu,
in a book published in 2006, lists what
he calls ten 'macrostrategics' for
language teaching, These includc things
like 'facilitating negotiated interaction',
'ensuring social relevance'. 'raising
cultural consciousness' and 'activating ........
_.etprQf ional.com ENGUSH TEACHtNG professiollal. i ssue 70 September 2010 . 5
a balance
............ intuitive heuristics', No doubt these arc
exciting areas to explore, but none of
Kumaravadivc1u's macrostratcgics seem
to me to h,wc much to do with language
itself lind how to leach it. I' m afraid I
feel strongly that the basic principles of
language leaching should have something
to do with leaching language: wilh. for
example, selecting high priority input.
designing syllabuses and structuring
them into courses. making appropriate
methodological decisions. ensuring that
tcachers have an adequate command of
the language they arc teaching ..... I
don', wanllO deny the value of some of
those peripheral concerns. but our
central task. as [ keep saying, is to
identify the highest priority language
items and skills that our !earners need,
to select from these the clements that we
actually have time for. and to teach
them in the best. most effective WilY
possible. All other considerations -
Macrostratcgies. Multiplc Intclligences.
Rcnective Practice. Cultural Awareness.
Second-Ianguilge Identity or whiltever -
are only useful if they actually contribute
in a cost -effective way 10 the central
process of teachi ng our students
language and enilbling them 10 use it.
You describe language teaching as
being on a pendulum between form
and meaning. Where is t he
pendulum now?
Language is two-faced - it's a formal
code. and it's uscd to express meanings.
Naturally. therefore. language teaching
swings backwards and forwards bemeen
the two poles. There arc periods whcn
form is paramount: knowledge and
learning arc good things. imitation is
important, control mailers. classrooms
tend to be disciplined. Then YOll get a
swing in the other direction. and thc
focus is on meowing. freedolll,
expression, experiential learning and
ski lls. The pendulum is not often in a
middle position where these clements
become well balanced. When I was at
schooL we were down at the form end.
Everybody knew that language teaching
was a mailer of doing grammar,
vocabulilry and pronunciation. learning
rules. and practising by translation and
reading, with a bit of speaking on the
side. And when I started teaching. things
were pretty much the same (except that
we didn't use translation). We were good
at teaching language; not so good at
teilching !eilrners to use it. Nowadays
things arc very different. There has been
the communicative revolution, the move
towards making second-language
leilrning more like 'n<llUral' acquisition.
the attempt to make classrooms morc
like the 'real' world. and the rest of it.
So everybody today knows that it's all a
maller of teaching language in use,
focusing on making meaning, using a
lot of skills work and communicative
t,lsks, 1llld shoe-horning in a bit of
grammar on the side.
In language teaching as elsewhere. I
think we need to be very cautious about
accepting what 'everybody knows'. It
takes a mental effort to back lIway and
see that one might be positioned
IOwards one particular end of a
~ w i n g i n g pendulum. We are. I have
suggested, still a long WilY 1lway frOIll iI
position where form and meaning are
valucd equally. We're moving back,
certainly. There is more understanding
of the need for proper grillllmar-
teaching now than there was 30 years
ago. when Krashen told us it was
unnecessary and that it achieved
nothing. Nevcrtheless. lllany te'lchers
still feel everything has to be
communicative or task-based, and that
they'fC doing something wrong if. Sily.
they do sentence-level non-
comlllunicative grammar exercises. I
don' t think there's anything wrong with
that at al1 (provided it's not al1 one
docs). But that's another story.
Part of the reason for the pendulum
swings. I believc. is a perennial feeling
that we're not doing very well. and that
we nced to do beller - we somehow
ought to be ashamed of ourselves
becausc we're not gelling our students
close enough to the native-speaker
st1llldilTd that we use as a model. If you
ask teachers about this. they'll probably
deny it. but teachers round the world do
mostly act as if deviations from the
perceived norm arc a mailer for concern.
Some teachers don't like mist akes. so
they correct, correct and correct. Some
worry beC1IUSC their learners don't ever
seem to become really nuent. Others
worry about breadth: they feel they must
teach more and more grammar and
vocilbulary. or skil1s. or whatever, to
& Issue 70 September 2010. ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal . _ . tprot lonal.com'
bring their students closer to native-
speaker knowlcdge. Becausc of that
implicit assumption that we're iliming
for the S\ilrs. we feel all too easily that
we've failed. So every ten or 20 years we
dccide that we're doing it al1 wrong and
go for new methods. new fashions. new
focuses and new gurus: let's stop doing
that and do this instead, and perhaps
we'll get it right this time, Actually, we're
not going to get it right - but wc h,wen't
failed either. Languages arc hard to
learn. many teaching contexts are oftcn
seriously unfavourable to good language
teaching. and we can only ever expect
limited results - a small fraction of
what native speakers know and can do.
Teachers. however wise lllld
experienced. <Ire innueneed by the
prevailing orthodoxies. I have suggested
that the current language-teaching
mindset is a long way from occupying a
balanced position, and this is bound to
have an effect. Howcver. I don't want to
over-state the case. I' m afraid I may
have sounded in this intervicw as if I' m
denigmting everybody in our
profession, theorists and practitioners
alike. That's certainly not my intention.
I believc we have today al1 the clements
we need for successfullangullge
teaching if they are properly combined.
We have a weal th of excellent materials
and methodologies. 11 long-stllllding
trildition of good and wel1-informed
teaching, a rich and productive teacher
education sct-up. and first-class
teachers' journals (such as this one).
And not leilst importilnt. we are rCilping
the benefits of half a century of
investment in applied linguistics
resellrch. Because of 1I11 this. 11 great
deal of excellent teaching is going on.
Languages may. as I have suggested, be
hard 10 learn and tcach. but many
teachers, even those working under
difficult circumst,mees. manage to get
strikingly good results. They have my
admiration. Gll>
Michael Swan writes
English language
teaching and reference
materials. His Interest s
Include descriptive and
pedagogic grammar,
second language
aCQuisitiOfl, cross
language Influence, and
the theory-practice
Intertace. He has had
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and methodology, incl. ICT and TEYL)
The Stirling Institute of Education
r>", u-,.-to'> I. ,.' .. " .. ' .. t..of sc ;" '59
eec ru es,
at ru es? w
Dave Willis doesn't
see the problem.
lilly of you wi ll hllvc seen
exercises and tests where
learners are required to
change direct speech into
reported speech. I clin remember asking
students \0 do <lctivitics like this:
Rewrite the following in reported
speech. Remember to change the
1 We will be leaving home at six
tonight so we will arrive at about
half past seven.
Joan and Peler told us
2 I will see you tonight after I have
finished worll".
Mary said
This is a fa irl y mechanical cxcrcisc.
Students chllnge thc tenses accord ing to
the rules they have been taught. They
also change timc references aecording to
II given SCI of for mulae 10 produce the
1 Joan and Peter told us they would
be leaving home at six that night so
they would arrive at about half past
2 Mary said she would see me that
night after she had finished work.
Studell\s who have been wen drilled
should havc litt le problcm applying the
rules they hllve been taught, but whitt
a . Issue 70 September 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professiollal . _.etpn:ofe lon81. eam
they are doing has nothing in common
with the Wll y we report things in rC<l11ifc.
What the grammars
tell us
The rules for reported speech,
sometimes call ed illdirl.'CI.I'Pl.'cch. have
been sct out \'cry clearly by respected
grammarians. Mi chael Swan and
Catherine Walter, for example, in their
useful students' grammar tell us that:
'Tenses and pronouns (I, you, etc.)
change in indirect speech if the time
and speaker are different. For example,
present tenses become past; , may
become he or she; my may become
his or her. '
The prestigious Cambridge Gmmll1ar oj
English by Ron Carler and Michael
McCarthy is one of the besl referencc
grammars currently on the markel. It
informs us that:
'When the indirect speech is perceived
as referring to the past, the tense in the
reported clause usually changes to a
past form of the tense of the original
speech. This process is known as tense
backshift. '
Coursebooks lind student grammars
regularly produce guid,tnce of this kind.
explaining that yes/erda)' may become
the prel'iolls day, next Wet/nest/a)'
becomes IheJoflowillg Wedllesda)" and
so on.
However. there are three problems
wilh these formulations:
They are based on the mistaken
assumption that we recall and report
exactly whal we havc heard. If we
cannot recall the tense used in the
origina l. how can we possibly shift it
back into the past?
They imply thilt there is something
unusual about the way in which we
usc tcnses in reported speech. Some
coursebooks try to list all the changes
we need to milke, explaining how
present simple must be changed to
past simple.. present conti nuous to
past continuous, and so on. Lellfners
come 10 believe that there must be
something mysterious and
challcnging about reportcd speech 10
justify this level of dctailed treatment.
They can become extremely complex.
For examplc. if someone mentions /II'XI
Wednesda), and the original speech
takes place on Thursday 1st April and
is reported on Saturday 3rd April. then
lIeXI Wel/nesda)' is stilillexl Wedlleslftl),.
I f it is reported on Wednesday 7th
April. then it would probably be
reported as /oda)': if reported on
Thursday 81h April. it could be
reported either as Ihe lol/owing
Wedllesday or as yes/err/ay. So giving
rules aboul how to report lIeXI
Wel/llest/a), is really quitc complicated.
Fortunately, ;IS we shall sec later. there
is really no need for alilhis.
A false assumption
The rules given for repor ted speech arc
bilsed on the assumption that we rec;lll
exact ly what was said on a given
occasion and then go through a process
of ' Iense backshift'. But of course. we
very rarely recall exactly what was said,
so there is no way we ciln apply tense
baekshift. There are occasions when we
Ir)' 10 recall exactly what was said - in a
court of law. for example. or when we
il re accused of having broken ,I promise
- but fortunately. these occasions arc
very few and far between.
Most of us arc familiar with
meetings in which the minutes of the
last meeting are circulated. These
minutes contain summaries of what was
s,lid at the previous meeting, things like:
'The chair reminded everyone that the
next meeting would be postponed until
Monday, 31s t May.'
We can't tell from this exactly what the
chair said. It might have becn:
'OK, folks, don't forget that the next
meeting will be on the last Monday in
May, not the usual second Monday in
the month, So that 's the 31st, not the
10th. Can you all take a note of that?'
Or it could ha\'e been:
'I regret to inform you that due to
unforeseen circumstances we will be
unable to meet as usual on the second
Monday of the month, that is Monday
10th May. I have arranged instead that
we meet on the last Monday, that is the
31st of May. / hope this doesn' t
inconveni ence anyone unduly.'
Nobody, including Ihe secretary who
wrote the minutes. would be able to
recall the precise words. Even if they
could, just try applying the rules to
change one of the above into reported
specch and see how ridiculous they
sound. And there is ,Inother problem: if
we did recall and report exactly what
was said. then the minules would be
slightly longer than the original meeting.
The rules given
for reported speech
are based on the
assumption that we
recall exactly what
was said on a
given occasion
Report or summary?
If we don't recall wh,lI was s,lid, then
how do we report speech? [ think its
clear that we don't even try to repor t
eXilctly what was said - we summarise
it. We very rilrely remember preeisely
what was said. but we do reca ll what
was 1II(,1I111. Think of a conversation you
had recenlly and think how you might
tell someone about it. Almost cert ainly
you will be unable to remember the
exacl words. bUI you will probably be
able to remcmber the contcnt lllld. thus.
be able to ofTer a brief summary.
Summarising is something we do all
the time. We say Ihings like:
'I saw an interesting programme on the
TV last night. It was about .. ,'
'I read an article about that in The
Guardian. It said .. ,'
and ofT you go. You would not even try
to remember the article word for word.
You would summarise what it meant.
So let's get away from the idea that
reported speech involves some sorl of
mechanical processing of someone's
original words. Let us recognise it for
what it is - a summarising rathcr than a
reporting process.
What about all those
Here's an excerpt from a letter from a
young woman 10 a language school:
'/ am a 21-year-old student at
Birmingham University. I'm in the final
year of my English course. I am taking
my fi nal exams ned month and will
graduate in July.
I plan to take a year off and I'd like
to travel round the world. Unfortunately,
I can' t afford to travel unless I earn
some money on the way, so I want to
learn to teach English as a second
language so I can make some money
while I am abroad ... '
Let's imagine that the wri ter took a
course and 1101 only learnlto teach
English. but took it up ilS a C'lreer.
Fifteen years later. she was asked how
she became an English teacher. She
might say something like:
'Well, / suppose it all started when I
was about 20. I was in my final year at
university and I wanted to travel after
graduation. But I couldn' t afford to
travel unless I earned some money ... '
All the verbs hcre arc past tense forms.
Bulth,l\'s not bee;lUse it's reported
speeeh. It's because she is talking about
something that happened 15 years ago.
Of course she uses past tense for ms.
And if she were reporting or
summarising the contents of her letter,
the tenses would be past tcnse forms for
the same reason: beclluse she is talking
about the past.
The fact is that the tense system
works in exactly the same way when we
arc rcporting or summarising as it docs
in the rest of the langu'lge. There is
absolutely no need for a specia l set of
rules about reported speech. And there
is no such thing as 'tense backshift'.
_.etprQf ionat,com ENGUSH TEACHtNG professiol/al tssue 70 September 2010. 9
sp'eech - rules,
what rules?
Choosing the right form
Sometimes. however. we have to choose
between a past form and a present form
becausc either one is possible. So if last
week Mary sa id to you:
' / am going to stay at the Ritz because
it's the most comfortable hotel in
you could report it as a narrative:
'Mary said she planned to stay at the
Ritz because it was the most
comfortable hotel in London. '
On the olher hand, you could lake it liS
telling us something <tbout Ihe Ritz
Hotel and say:
'Mary said she planned to stay at the
Ritz because it is the most comfortable
hotel in London.'
We normally usc the present tense for
something thaI everyone agrees is sti ll
true. We might. for example.. say:
'They wanted to climb Scafell Pike
because it is the highest peak in
England. '
BUI if we think the statement is
mi staken, we would use a past tense
'They said they wanted to climb
Helvel/yn because it was the highest
peak in England, but actually the
highest is Scafel/ Pike, '
So the choice of tense here is affected
by what we want to emphasise and what
we believe to be true. It has nothing to
do with reported speech. But the
important thing is that the choice of
tense forms foll ows the same logic as in
the rest of the language.
So what about next
Just as there is no problem with tenses
in reported speech, so there is no
problem wi th other deictic systems of
the language - the systems that show
how things and events are situated in
time ,Uld space rcl:ltive to the spe'l ker.
There's no need to tell learners that I
may become he or she, lI1y may become
his or her. If they know the way
personal pronouns work in English,
they just plll that knowledge to work.
They don't have to stop llnd think about
how to change the pronoun I. and what
to change it to. They don't think 'Now
when Mary was speaking, she said I,
but I am not Ma ry, so I ean't say I. And
you ,lfe not Mary, so I can't say ),011, so
I must say he or she, and since Mary is
female, I must say sill'.' They simply
know that Ihey arc talking about Mary
,Uld they know thaI they should rcfer to
her in the third person as .)he.
The important
thing is that the
choice of tense forms
follows the same logic
as in the rest of
the language
And if we arc talki ng about
somet hi ng that was happening ne.\"(
Wednesda)'. we don't need to take out
the calendar to tell us when the origil1<11
words were uttered and how to refer to
the day in question. If the day in
question was yesterday, we Sll)'
yesler(/a)" if it is tomorrow, we say
101l/0noll' and if it was 11 coupl e of
weeks ago, we say a couple of weeks (Igo.
One of the few sources to r<:cognise
the true nature of reported st atements is
the Collills COBUILD English
Gmll1l1/ar, which tells us that:
' You are more likely to report what
(someone) meant than what (they) said.
There are many reasons why you do not
quote a person's exact words. Often
you cannot remember exactly what was
said, At other times the exact words are
not important or not appropriate to the
situation in which you are reporting.'
' Whatever the tense of your reporting
verb, you put the verb in the reported
clause into a tense that is appropriate at
the time you are speaking. '
This makes it clear that there is nothing
problematic about the dcietics of
reported speech in Engli sh, including
the tense system. Everything works in
10 Issue 70 September 2010' ENGLISH TEACHING pro/essiol/ol . _ ,.tpl"(lf ional.com
exactly the same way as it does in the
rest of the language. There is no need to
make life diflicult and confusing for
learners by telling them that there is
something different and compli cated
about reported speech. We have quite
enough to do in the classroom without
making life any more diflicult for our
So what do we do about it? Stop
spending inordinate amounts of time on
un!l(..'Cess'l ry and misle,lding rules. There
are plenty of opportunities in cl ass for
learners to summarise. They can do
resellrch on thc internet or in thc libnlfY
and report it in class. They C,Ul
interview people inside and Olllside cl ass
and report what they have 10 say.
Basically, they will get the right tenses
and the right deietic forms in pilice. If
they don'Lthen it's an indiC,l\ion that
there is something wrong with their
understanding of these systems
themselves. not a problem with reported
Perhaps you beli eve it is useful for
learners. as a mechanical revision
exercise, 10 transpose a text from
present to past time, or perhaps they
need to do something like this for
examinat ion practice. If this is the case.
then you might spend time in class
doing the ki nd of exercise I exemplified
at the beginning of this ar ticle. But you
should sec it for what it is - a useful but
artificial ped,lgogic device, not an
exercise with communicat ive relevance
outside the classroom. Clll>
Carter, R and McCarthy, M Cambridge
Grammar of English CUP 2006
Sinclair, J Collins COBu/LD English
Grammar HarperCollins 1990
Swan, M and Walter C The Good
Grammar Book OUP 2001
Dave Willis has
published widety on
language description
for ELT, including
Rules, Patterns and
Words: Grammar and
LeJl./s In English
Language Teaching
(CUP), He is also the
author of the grammar
on the British CounCi l's
LeamEnglish website:
dave@willlsell. co.uk
If you are passIonate about language, there Is no bener
place to study Applied linguistics t han Macquarle
University in Sydney, Australia.
We offer Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma, Masters and
Ooctorallevels in Applied Linguistics wi th specialisatiom
in TESOL, Li teracy, Language Program Management, and
Teachi ng English for Specific Purposes.
For more Information contact the Linguistics Postgraduate
Office, Macquarle University:
Tel: 1+612) 98509243
Email : Iingdl @l ing.mq.edu.iillu
Web: www.ling.mq.Hlu.au ===_
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James Venema explains how to use
vocabulary notebooks efficiently.
eilflling vocilbulary is
sometimes seen as progression
from passive to active. When a
learner first 'mcets' a word.
they might check its meaning. perhaps
in a bilingual dictionary. Further
exposure will result in a deeper
rellitionship liS the learner encounters
conjugations. tenses and forms as well
as different meanings, common
collocations ilnd members of the silme
word family. From this perspective. cvcn
a single word can present a rather
daunting source of study.
Active vocabulary
Students will. however. need to move
beyond passive knowledge to actively
using 1I word well before they have
Icarnt all its possible varilltions, usages
and meanings. A vocabulary notebook.
lVith example sentences combined with
student-wrilten original sentenccs. can
provide a structured first stcp in
developing their active vocabulary.
However. a poorly-produced vocabulary
notebook is. lit best. not vcry hclpful
and C;Ill. at worst. leild to error
fossilisation. For this reason. it is best to
provide some guidance on vocllbulary
notebooks that can set the students on
the WilY towards vocilbul ary learning
Choosing words
The first step is the selection of words
for active use. 11 is important to note
here the diITerence between activc and
passive use. sincc writing their OlVn
original sentences is the silldents' first
move towards being able to use 11 word
effectively. Exposure to a wide selection
of words is criticaL Reading materials.
vocabulary lists and regulllr clllssroom
teaching all provide rich sources of
vocabulary. It is importilnt that the
students choose the words themselves
since they are best able to mllke a
decision on what words would be useful
to them. 'Usefulness' in this context
implies that a student believes they will
encounter opportuni ties to use the word.
In some cases.. a st udent may already be
filmiliar with the word chosen. but
would like to move beyond passive
knowledge to being able to usc the word
aClively. While [ will conti nue to usc the
singular form of 1I'0rd in this article, the
selected items may often include two-
part \'erbs as well as longer phrases.
Noting information
Once a word has been selected, the
studenls will need some basic
information ;Ibout it. This should include.
at the very least, meaning. pronunciation
and form. While translations arc a
useful start for meaning. they may not
encompass the precise meaning of a
givcn word very accurately. Where the
English definition is too daunting.
students should be prepared to look
closely at the examples of text in which
thcy encounter thc word (more on
examples later). Ideally. information
about pronunciation would involve
writing the word in phonemic symbols.
At the very least. the student s will need
to note the number of syllables as well as
the stressed syllable. While SYLL-a-ble is
recognisable in quite a number of accents
and less than perfect pronunciation.
will be less so. Finally. noting
down the form of a word will be crit ical
in helping students to use it accurately.
After all. if a student is not aWilre that
sylfabh' is;1 noun. they ;Ire likely to
producc some rather peculiar sentences
using it. Some students may also want
to pursue word families and write some
variittions of'l word, such itS phrtlse and
flhra,ml. Others might like to write down
some common collocations straight away,
However, it is important not to send the
Writing their own
original sentences is
the students' first
move towards being
able to use a word
students down the slippery slope of
knowing everything about a word before
attempting to use it. Aftcr alL the goal
is simply to help them begin expanding
their ilctive word voc;lbulary, not to
enable them to become linguistic experts
on the word selected.
Writing example sentences
The next step is to imhcd the selected
word in some kind of structured context
with example sentences or phrases.
Reading 111;lterials provide the 1110st
obvious contexL Vocabulary textbooks
typically provide example sentences
and/or phr;lses. Where the original
context might be morc ephemeral. say iI
conversation class, or where the
students need additional information.
thcy ciln also look up the word in
le;lrners' dictionaries. all of which will
provide good examples of the word in
use. Advanced Icarners can even make
usc of an online corpus. such itS the
12 Issue 70 September 2010' ENGLISH TEACHING pro/essiol/ol . _.etprofe lanal.eam
British National Corpus. What is
critical here is that the context provides
importllnt lexical informlltion while not
overwhelming the students with data. r
always encourage my students to copy
the example sentences they encounter
into their notebooks before beginning
to write their own original sentences.
This is the best way to ensure that they
attend to important information on
usage, including griullmil!ieal pilt!erns
and collocations. when they move on to
write their own sentences.
Writing original sentences
The obvious next step is for the students
to begin writing their own sentences.
While the question of what a good
original sentence might be involves. 10 it
degree. some subjective opinions. there
are useful guidelines that can help
students improve the ovcrall quality of
their vocabulilry notebook. 1 illways
have my studcnts ask themselves the
following three questions:
Am I really trying to communicate
something with this sentence?
Meaning is a kcy part of retention. and
the attempt to express real meanings in
originill sentences will help students
retain the word and sentence for future
use. As a guide. r tell them that they
should be able to use their original
sentcnce 10 launch a sm;lll conversation.
Aft er alL if they are writing the original
sentences with some image of who.
where. when. why and how. there will
usually be more meaning behind them
than what they actually encapsulate in a
single sentence. Using real meaning as a
stilrting point is also one way of guiding
students in the selection of useful words.
If they are unable to think of something
to communicate with the word chosen.
the chances arc that they have not
sc!ected a p;trticularly useful word.
Are there clues to the meaning
of the word given in the original
White it may not always be possible 10
write sentences that would make good
doze questions in a test . it is possible to
note unhelpful sentences sueh as:
My father was angry yesterday.
Encouragc the silldents to write instead:
My father was angry with me for coming
home late yesterday.
Not only is the mcaning of allgry clearer
in the second example. which should
help facilitate retention. it is also more
The attempt to
express real meanings
in original sentences
will help students
retain the word
and sentence for
future use
lexically complex. including the
prepositionjor followed by iI verb in the
il1g form. This rel at ive complexity
probably better replicates the demands
of real-world usage. [t is importll11t to
note that the students' ilbility to produce
accuratc original sentences such as these
without direct teacher help will be, to a
considerable degree. dependent on the
examples in which they have previously
encountered lhc word. This brings us to
the final. critical. question.
Does the original sentence use
grammatical patterns and
collocations from the copied
example sentence(s)?
If one of the goals of having students
wri te original sentences in a vocabulary
notcbook is vocabulary learning
independence. then the efTective analysis
and usc of copied example sentences
will be critical. Looking up the word
jurious in the Longll/all AClire Sllldy
Dieliollar)" one finds the following
sentcnces (among others):
She was furious with me.
I'm absolutely furious that nothing has
been done.
When students read these sentences.
they should note:
Furious collocates with absollllefy.
You can be furious willi sOll/eone.
The reilson for being furious Cim be
givcn with 111m followed by a
grammatically complete clause. with
both a subject and a verb.
They now have enough information to
write a wide variety of aceurate
sentences. It is important to note that
thc eXilmple sentences they find and
copy will, to iI large degree. form thc
parameters of the ones they can attempt
to writc for themselves, at least with
some confidence in ilccuracy. For
examplc. if students wanted to write that
somebody was furious about something
using only an object. they would need
the following example sentence:
He was furious at the court's decision.
(Longman Active Study Dictionary)
In the absence of such an example
sentence, the students may ;I!tempt to
write the following:
My teacher was furious that the
cheating in the test.
In fac\. I have found that the expression
of mcanings not encapsulatcd in copied
example sentences is the most frequent
source of errors. In order to maintain a
modicum of student independence. a
teacher can encourage thc students to
limit their origin'll sentences to the
panerns and meaning provided in the
example scntence(s) they have found.
This has the downside of limiting them
in what they arc able to say. In efTcct.
the students will need to choose useful
example sentences rather than useful
words. The alternative is to train the
students in the efTective use of language
rcsources. primarily diction'lries. While a
more time-consuming endeavour. this has
the advantage of encouraging long-term
learner independence. A complete
overview of whilt dictionaries hilvc to
ofTer is beyond the scope of this article.
but a good place to start is the
dictionary guide typically found at the
beginning of most learners' dictionaries.
The cfTcctive and accurate use of
vocabulary is a central component of
languilge competence. While a student's
active vocabulary typically only
constilUtes a fraction of their total
knowlcdge of vocabula ry. it is
important to encourage them to
continue to cxpand on the words they
arc 'Ible to usc efTective1y. A vocabuhny
notebook. with both copied example
sentences and Sllldcnt-written original
sentences. can be a structured means to
help students towards vocilbuhlry
learning independence. <D>
James Venema is
currenlly an ASSOCiate
Professor and teacher
coordinator at Nagoya
Women's University in
Japan. He is interested
in curriculum
development as well
as the development
of professional
communities of
_.etprof.sstonal.eom ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010' 13
rea I n ~ !
Britt ..Jepsen sees
the benefits for increased
confidence and competence
of giving students authentic
eachcrs often avoid thc use of
authentic reading materiaL
Somc of thc rC<lsons thcy givc
for ncglccting or avoiding it
are as follows:
'There is silllply //01 enough lillie illihe
week. / hare Ihe exam syllabus to gel
Ihrollgh. .
'The ,j'II/(/ellls prefer /() keep 10 Ihe
coursebook: Ifle)' like 10 kllow howfllr
Ihey //(/re progrt'ssed.
'/1 is (/ijJiCIIII alld I(lkes lime lojilld
.l"lIi/(/bl1' lexts lIlId matl'rials.
In this articlc I intcnd to prcscnt somc
of thc benefits of reading authentic
materi al. wi th the focus particularly on
cxtcnsive reading l i S an idelll resource
for English teaching.
I tCilCh in Denm<lrk. whcrc the overall
aim whcn it comes to gClling students
to read in English is to give thcm Ihe
opportunity to produce language (oral
<lnd wrillcn). b<lscd on what thcy have
rC<ld. The Communicativc Appro<lch to
languagc teaching has had a major
impact on teaching in Danish schools.
Its fivc major c1cmcnts are each
represented in the curriculum:
linguistic competcnce;
pragmatic competence:
discourse competence:
strategic competcnce:
Reading is involved in working towards
<Ill these clements and emphasis is
placed from the early st ages of English
instruction on the abili ty 10 understand
short. simple texts on relevant and
meaningful topics. with the support of
audio and visu<ll media.
In the light of the demands of the
curriculum and insights into how
successful rcaders intcntct with tcxts. a
set of gencntllearning goals for thc
rcading component of ;1Il English
language course could include:
the ability to read a rangc of texts in
the ability to adapt a reading style
according to purposc and apply
different strategies (eg skimming.
scanning) as appropriate:
the acquisi tion of knowledge about
languagc (cg vocabulary. structurc)
which will faeilit<lte dcvelopment of
greater reading ability:
thc building of schematic knowledgc in
order to intcrpret texts meaningfully:
the development of awareness of the
structure of written texts in English,
,l11d the "bility to make usc of such
things as discourse features and
cohesive devices in comprehcnding
the ability to take a critical stance
with regard to thc contcnt of texts.
(Adapted from Hedge, T Teaching al/d
Learnillg ill Ihe Lallgllilge CI(I.srOOIll
our 20(3)
Naturally. for students at lower lcvcls it
is morc difficult to find suitable
authentic texts. though I do believe that
it is possible. Recipes from cookbooks
for chi ldren. poems. letters. invitations.
postcards. cartoons. simple short
storics, etc, will all yicld useful reading
pfllctice - and. more import,Hltly, the
students find original materials much
more interesting! Young lcarncrs arc
usually easy to motivate and they enjoy
most of the materials ;\lld tasks
presented in class. since the English
language is still new to them.
With higher-level studcnts who have
better l;tnguagc competence. it is
important to focus on motivation.
rcading purposes and thc valuc of
extcnsive reading. To find or create valid
reading purposes for texts presented in
class might be the key to motivating the
14 Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING pro/essiol/ol . _.etprofe lanal.eam
students to read texts which would not
normally interest them. These purposes
can be contrived to create interest. And
where there is some freedom of choice.
interest will be a key criterion in
sclecting texts for learncrs.
The list compiled by Wilga Rivers and
Mary Temperlcy of purposes for reading
is 11 uscful tool for tCllchers to use as 1I
framework for text selection. They
should be able to find authentic material
to match each of these purposes:
to get information:
to respond to curiosi ty about a topic:
to follow instructions:
for pleasure and cnjoymcnt;
to keep in touch:
to know what is happening in thc
to find out whcn and where.
If reasons for readi ng are missing from
textbook tasks, one of the most useful
things teachers can do for thei r learners
is to create purposes which will motivate
thcm to rcad.
Extensive reading
il1/f'I1Sil'(' reading activities in the
classroom arc intcnded to train studcnt s
in the strategies nccded for successful
reading. The pedagogic;!l value
attributed to es/el1sire reading. howe\"er.
is based on the assumption that
exposing learners to large quantities of
material will. in the long rUIl. produce a
bencficial effect. Furthermore. extensi \'e
reading can be a highly productive step
towards autonomous learning and
gre1llly increases a student's exposure to
English - which is relevant where class
contact time is limited.
If we are persuaded by Stephen
Kr1lshen's view that learners need to be
exposed to large amounts of
comprehcnsible input which is
meaningful. relevant lind interesting, in
a stress-free environment. then clearly
individual extensive reading outside
class timc has value.
The opportunities that extensive
reading affords learners of all ages ,l11d
levels of language proficiency makes it a
useful resourec:
Leilfners can build their liUlguage
They can progress in their reading
They can become more independent
in their studies.
They can acquire cultural knowledge.
They can develop confidence and
motivation to carryon learning.
Reading syndicates
An example of a useful procedure to
support extensivc reading is the reading
syndicate_ in which members of a group
read different books lllld then share
their experiences. The outcome is often
a peer conference in which studcnts can
take on the roles of lIsking questions as
well as answering them. and this tallies
with the aim of giving students an
opportunity to produce language based
on what they have read. Reading
syndicates combine the 1l10tiv1llion
engendered by the fact that the students
may hm'e chosen the books themselves.
genuinc classroom interaction among
chiwging groups of learners, lind
potential student recommendation of
books to their classmates.
In summary_ the reading of authcntic
English texts with students of English
as a foreign language has several
benefits. Indeed. it is possible to
construct a tcaching programmc bascd
mllinly on 1luthentic texts which offers
purposeful engagement with reading
and is likely to prove motivating. In
addition. it will build the learners'
competence and confidence to carryon
reading in English outside the
classroom - not as part of the course.
but for fun! G2i>
Rivers, W and Temperley, M A Practical
Guide to the Teaching of English as a
Second or Foreign Language OUP 1976
Krashen. S D Principles and Practice in
Second Language Acquisition Pergamon
Britt Jepsen has been
involved in teaching
English for eight years.
She also teaches PE
and Spanish at
secondary teveL She is
currenUy working at a
primary schoot in
Skuldelev, Denmark.
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__ etprof.ss ional.eom ENGLISH TEACHING professional. Issue 70 September 2010 15
Chris Payne confesses
the error of his ways.
orpl/.). delicti is defined by the
Oxford English Die/ionar)' as
the facts and circumstances
constituting a crime'. The
crime commilled in this case was my
own - of not incorporating corpus-
informed language into my cl asses.
What is a corpus?
A corpus is a carefull y laid out collection
of real examples of spokcn and wrillcn
languagc stored on a computcr. Because
the language found in a corpus has
actually been used, it consists of
dcscriptivc rather than prcscriptivc
language. Thc information that corpora
cont ain is typically prcsentcd in the
form of word frt:qucney lists and
concordilllCCS. Concordances displilY thc
key word in context in example sentences.
Corpora arc used to crcate and
inform multifarious teaching resources.
Thcse includc: dictionaries. rcferencc
grammars. grammar practicc ltctivities.
exam practice tests and an array of
matcrials for tcaching vocabulary and
lcxiclll scts. collocations. phmsal vcrbs
and idioms. Some courscbook writcrs
also usc corpora by consulting word
frequency lists.
Why should we use
CorpoTll arc II vlllullblc rcsourec of
iluthcntic I,Ul guage for allteltchers.
Although we tend to trust our intuitions
about gTllmmar and vocabulary. corpus
cvidcncc shows that thcse intuitions arc
somet imes flawed , and that words we
think of as common are aClllally
infrequent. Teachers can consult a
corpus or a corpus-informed dictionary
in order to asccrtilin which words are
used most frequent ly and 10 keep
abrcast of languagc change.
Wc hllve been laking lluthentic
material int o our classrooms for many
years. in the form of books. newspapers.
magazines. leaflcts. ctc. Today, many of
us use whll! is argullbly the worlds
biggest corpus. the internet and its
search engines. to find topical or
engaging tcxts for our learncrs.
Thanks to corpora, we now have more
information than ever before about the
difTerences between spoken and written
English. A corpus allows us to observe
important variat ions in the frequency of
many words and structufCs betwccn
thcse two wlIys of communicliting.
As wcll as informing us about the
frequency with which grammar and
lexis occur. corpora c,m give us an
insight into thc preferred context in
which words occur - somc words, such
as ("(II/S(' , might be used mainly in a
negative context. This is sometimes
referred to as sell/tlll/ic prosot/)'.
Corpora also show us the most common
collocatcs and colli gations of words.
The box on page 17 shows the first fcw
concordance lines for the word crime
from a spoken corpus of British
English. It is immediatcly clear that the
collocation crime prel"l:ntioll is a
frequent one.
Corpus cvidence is extrcmely useful for
teaching vocabulary. Vocllbulary
learning crCiltes an enormous memory
load for our students, and it becomes an
Augean task unlcss we havc a sound
organising principlc. The Collills Cobllild
Corpus shows that a core vocabulary of
2.500 words accounts for about 80
perccnt of the words in spokcn and
written texts. With the help of a corpus.
we can identify these words and teach
them as a priority to elementary levcls.
Words need 10 be revisited sevcmltimes
and in difTercnt contexts to increase the
chllnce of them being truly acquired.
1& Issue 70 September 2010' ENGLISH TEACHING pro/essiol/ol . _.etprofe lanal.eam
To your discussion on erm possible Nazi war crime trials coming up. Yes. My
Coming up fairly soon of course is the National crime preyentjon Week and I think we ought as
Sentences. Let's have sentences which fit the crime. Because there are murders and murders aren't
But the theft element you know this rising in crime in breaking into shops Yeah. Erm
er for example has been working to prevent crime or if your group leader at school in the
Bangkok. The crackdown on switchblade crime in Glasgow. Who' ll win and who' lilose
Just want stay in t he game? When petty crime I just want to come back I want to come
Mm If they'd promised to reduce crime Mm and they don't deli ver
Which are a large reason for the rise in crime in the first place Okay. So you have
and hospitable and generous. Is crime quite serious there and what about the drugs
private sector people er either crime prevention which there are quite a few
I mean how much do they know about the kind of crime prevent jon work
Only a significant role and I think sort of crime prevent jon as a
Of agencies which can have an influence on crime prevention as possible erm largely
Re likely to have any impact on the instance of crime the fear of crime that you can to then
Of were having to go back what is crime prevention. It is particularl y
Stephen Krashen recommends extensive
reading as an aid to vocabulary
acquisition <lnd retention. This is
undoubtedly good advice. but the use of
<I concord<lnce C<lll be even more effective
because learners are prescnted with a
word in multiple contexts which can be
read in very lillie time. It would take
even the most omnivorous reader far
longer to encoulller as many examples
<lnd contexts with extensive re<lding.
[f we aim and claim to teach
communicatively, as most of us do these
d<lYs. then our Ie<l rners ought to be
exposed to I<lngu<lge that i s used in real
communication outside the cl assroom.
We can liken Icarning a language to
lellrning 10 drive_ Sooner or bier. a
le<lTller driver will need to leave the
relative safety of the local industrial
estate and drive in real traffic. Likewi se.
our learners will be in a beller position
to cope, when the need for
communication arises outside the
classroom. i f we can offer them a diet of
actually-used l anguage in our !essons.
We cannot always rely on <I coursebook
to give them the naillral-sounding
English they need. When the onus is on
the teacher to supply more authentic
languagc, a corpus can be a useful tool .
It is naillralto simpli fy l anguage. After
all, we simplify our English when we arc
speaking to children and non-native
speakers of English outside the
cI<lssroom. It should be axiom<ltic that
some language needs to be adapted and
redesi gned for the specific purpose of
learning EngliSh. Clearly, learncrs can
benefit considerably from hHlgu<lge
content concocted specifically for
tCilching. Also, in the unpredictable
environment of Ihe classroom, we often
have to think on our feet and usc our
own bespoke' examples of langullge.
Our learners will be
in a better position to
cope outside the
classroom, if we can
offer them a diet of
actually-used language
in our lessons
Howevcr, dcspitc there being
justification for a certain amount of
simplified content, we should rencct on
how much of i t we use. [t i s not
desimble to expose learners to lin exccss
of contrived contcnt. Studcnts who
encounter simplified language too often
could end up learni ng English that is
not just simplified. but simply restricted
or, cven worse, distorted.
I f our teaching situation permits us
10 usc some corpus-informed content,
this will cnsure that what our studcnts
l earn is truly represenlilt ive of the target
What can we learn from
a corpus?
Corpus cvidence can further our own
and our students' language llWareness.
Of course, some data will confirm what
we already know, such as the fact that
question tags (islI't il? arell'tthey? etc)
are almost exclusively found in spoken
English. But most corpus fi ndings will
enable us 10 make more informed
choiccs about what grammar and Icxis
to prioritisc and teach. lind when to
teach it.
Let us look at some examples of
frequcncy and semantic information we
can obtain about a word. Space allows
me to cite just a few examples. but some
of the following findings may be of
Frequency information
The fUlUre continuous is]oo times
more frequcnt thanthc futurc perfect.
The zcro conditional is the most
frequcntly occurring pattern out of
the diffcrent types of conditionals.
Scvcn prepositions arc in the top 20
most frequent words. Here they arc in
order of frequency: 10. of. ill,jor, Oil ,
Wilh lind (If. .. ....
__ .tprof lonal.com ENGLISH TEACHING professiol/al . Issue 70 September 2010 17
delicti D
............ Of the top 50 words. 49 arc grammar
words, ic prepositions.
pronouns, conjunctions. modal and
auxiliary verbs.
Chunks containing a word may
account for many of ils occurrences.
Thi s is tfue of halld, where over half
of all its occurrences are with chunks.
011 'he 0I111'( hand being by far the
most common.
Semanti c information
Sixty percent of the usc of like is
prepositional and mealls '\0 resemble
something' , cg &111"1'1'111944 (II/d 1946.
Ila!J' was like 1I Third Wor"/ cOlllllry.
Less than half Ihe uses of ill refer to
place or lime. but are found in
advcrhiuls and fixed phrases like li/fiICl.
The word see is much morc common
in spoken corpora with Ihe meaning
'understand' (cg I see or I see what
)"011111/:(111) than it is with Ihc me,ming
'pcrceive with the eyes'.
MIiSf is first taught for referring to
obligation. Corpora confirm for us
th,1I its function for expressing
speculation or deduction. as in YOII
11111.1'1 be flllilgry. is al so a very frequent
grammar pattcrn. Thc perfect form
mllS( h(lre bel'li is extremely common
in spoken English. Perhaps its place
in syllabuses should be reassessed.
In >l mixed eorpliS of American
Engli sh. wo1i1d is the 46th most
frcquent word. Dave Willis claims
that. in spite of conventional EFL
wisdom. wOllld denoting 'used to' is
rcmarkably common.
How should we use a
There are different kinds of corpora.
both largc and small, available for us to
consult. Among them are general
corpora of spokcn and written
American, British or other vitrieties of
English. T here are also specialised
corpora. including acadcmic and
business Engli sh. and teachcr. learner
and non-native-speaker corpora. As
teachers.. we should rcmcmber that
native-speaker corpora tell us a lot about
the way native speakers use language,
but nothing about the way languages
are le(lrlll. Thus, it's a good idca to look
at a learner corpus.. which lets us sec the
problems might experience. Then
we can compare learner and nalive-
speaker corpora to see why errors occur.
We need to make judicious use of
corpora, which entails criticall y
interpreting corpus findings Hnd
selecting language wisely for teaching.
This is important because wc want 10
avoid having to modify or alter corpus
information, for this would defeat the
object of choosing it as aUlhenlic
material in the first place.
corpora tell us a lot
about the way native
speakers use language,
but nothing about
the way languages
are learnt
elUtion is al so required when
consulting frequency information. T he
fact that a particular example of
language use is attested as frequent does
not automatically mean it is sui table for
teaching purposes. Some language
contained in corpora is inappropriate for
the classroom. irrespective of whcther
the classroom is LI or L2. Other
language is best taught for reception
only, a point raiscd by Pctcr Well s in
Issue 115 of ETp. when referring to sl ang.
Nor should we use frequency
evidence alone without considering
other criteria. such as the learnabilit y of
the languagc lind whcthcr it is relevant
to our le,lrners' needs and interests. The
words TIIl'sf/ay and Wednesday are
relatively low in frequency compared
with the other days of thc weck, but
they form part of the same lexical set
and we would not contemplate leaving
them off a beginners' syllubus. 1 pointed
out earlicr that see mcaning 'understand'
and 1I'0llld me,llling 'used to' are
common occurrences. Yet this does not
mean that these senses of the words
should be taught before or 10 the
exclusion of their othcr meanings.
18 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGUSH TEACHI NG professiollal _.8tprofe&&lonal.com
As a linguistic resource, corpora arc
especially useful for promoting noticing,
and thcre is a strong casc for using them
for language learning.
My crime was that I hud fuiled 10
muke use of the invaluable work carried
out by corpus linguists like John
Sinclair, Michael McCarthy and others.
We are doing our learners it disservice if
we do not exploit the significance of the
pattcrns of grammar and lexis revealcd
by modern corporu. Teaching of the
four skills can also benefit by looking at
how communication works in speech
and writing. A corpus ncedn't be
considered as an esoteric research tool
or ,IS the preserve of applied linguists.
By using one we can add another string
to our pedagogic bow.
Having first confessed. in the next
issue of ETp I would like to address the
use of corpora and will suggest some
practical activi tics.
There are many corpus-based resources
online. and some olthern are Iree.
You can download examples of non-native-
speaker talk for free from the Michigan
Corpus of Academic Spoken English. Other
useful corpora are The British National Corpus
and the Collins Cobuild Corpus.
Q'Keeffe, A, McCarthy, M and Carter, R
From Corpus to Classroom CUP 2007
Tomlinson, B MaterialS Development in
Language Teaching CUP 1998
Tribble, C and Jones, G Concordances in
the Classroom Athelstan Publications
Willis, D The Lexical Syllabus Collins
Chris Payne Is the
owner of Paddington
School of Engl'ch 3nd
has been teaching in
Spain since 1993. He
has published several
articles on ELT and Is
particularly interested in
a greater focus on lexis
in language learning.
Writing for ETp
Would you like to write for ETp? We are
always interested in new writers and
fresh ideas. For guidelines and advice,
write to us or email:
editor@etprofessional .com
Rose Hickman looks
beyond the limitations of
the assumptions.
n my articie in Issue 69, we saw
how being one gendcr or another
has an cffcct on our experience of
a class and how a tcachcr may
counteract gcndcr incqu'llity. I'd now
like to look at thc Engli sh language,
gender and sexuality in class in more
Whose English?
We don't all use English in the same
way, nor do we all find that it mects our
necds whcn it comes to expressing our
experience of life, gcnder and sexu<llity,
This is one of the reasons why the
contcnt words of the languagc are
adaptcd lind lIddcd to so frcqucntly.
But intercstingly. although
sexualities that differ from the socially.
applied hctcro 'norm', and behaviours
that break the supposed gcnder rules.
arc becoming more acccptcd. thc


language to describe thcm respectfully is
slower to appear. Evcn something as
basic as Ms is still ridiculed in some
quartcrs .md hasn't managcd to rcplacc
Miss or Mrs. Steven Pinker maintains
that '(lflI'IliPIS 10 il1lmduce gellder
/wulrat words tikI' "hl'sll" [a pronoun
encompassing he and she] ... 1/(/1"1' jailed'
beclluse function words resist change. I
belicvc it is important 10 undcrstand
that it is not the words themselves that
resist change. but thc society they
function in .
And in the middle of this mincficld
of dcbatc about our hlllgmige and
cultures are our students. who come
from cultures and languages that have
their own debates. Teachers. thcrefore.
need to know'l little about the issues in
the language they teach and those in the
Ll and culture of their students. Their
students will. after:1ll. be trying to
ncgoti,lIe between what thcy know and
what they learn. in two languages/worlds.
Who are our students?
I work in Spain. where I often see girls
get irritated or give up whcn thcy are
pressured to be quiet by boys. lind boys
who don't like the i11l1lge thcy know
they're supposed to fit. I see those who
have samesex parcnts and don't want
to talk about their families, just in case.
And those who identify as gay, lesbian or
transsexual. who stay suspiciously quict
at ccr\iLin moments in com'ers'lt ions.
We should not assume that everyone
in our class is heterosexual or wants 10
be identified as eithcr male or fenmlc .
recenlly saw a Tshirt produced by 11
group of studcnts at Barcelona
Univcrsity. [t said: 2 lesbians + 3 gays +
I /l"{lI/sse,\"IIat + 4 bisexuals + f 5 heleros
= III)' doss. Our slUdents certainly secm
to be well aware of who is in our classes!
What are we teaching?
Teachers ,Ire autom,lIic,l1Jy part of a
society that produces and reproduces
eulluml beliefs: we are pmt of the process
of transmillillg a message of equality or
stcrcotyping, We need to be aware of
our role in this. If we acccpt equality as
our preference, we need 10 realise that
doing nothing to combat inequality is
equiv'llent to being part of the causc.
One effect of not taking into
consideration who is actually in thc
classroom. and not rcgarding thcm as
individuals but as one homogeneous.
nondifferentiated blob. is to 'Q1weducme
al/d orer promole' specific groups. ......
. _.etprof.sstonat.c:om ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 19
Sex education
according to Alistair Man!, and research
suggests this will mostly benefit mules -
I'd .. dd hcteroscxualm<l1cs ill that.
AlIlcarncrs would surely benefit
from learning respect for everyone and
acquiring the social skills necessary to
work with others. I believe these skills
arc already being int roduced inlo the
curriculum in some schools in some
countries. We could also integrate this
imo our language classes in our given
contexts and cultures.

;z;>1l1'1.liill:ll!) -
What can we do?
Managing our classes

Being in tunc with our students' needs
doesn't only consist of being able to
identify such things as ' Paul is weak on
prepositions', but also -Paul doesn't
seem to work well in groups. [ wonder
why. and what I can do 10 make him
feel more comfortable'. Clt/ss
lIuII/agel/1I.'11i is an umbrella term for
many aspects of our job: we can include
within it organising our classes so that
no one feels left out or uncomfortable.
Doing it differently
We know that our learners are never
oilly learning a language, and some
teachers arc exploiting this in course
content. Feminist English courses have
existed in Japan since the 1980s.
including learners in the content while
addressing gender, as well as linking the
content to the use of English and
Japanese. This is a challenging idea,
bringing up problems we encounter
every day. Jacqueline Beebe asks,
'Should 11';' Il'aeh }ap(IIl('se sludnlls \1"ho
illiheir firSl klllguagl' II"0uld 1/.)'1' "SOI/" or
slImll. courll'sy litles which do 1101
distinguish bJI St'X or mar;{(I1 S{(lWs. 10
/(Ike lip a 111'11' sexisl praelicl' ill English
wllieh could dall/age Ihe imagl' of
Ihemsel\"es or Iheir compallY? Stlldems
nl'l't/lhe knoll'ledge fO tIl'oid il/od1"ertem
SI':";sl praelices SI/ch (IS (I(/ding (I IIfr 10
alllhl' names UII (/ COlllplIll'rised mailillg
lisl or addressing af! adlill 11'01111'11 as Jlfrs
Fml/ify N(//I/e.'
Including everybody
The problem of inequality in language is
even more subtle than usc of greetings
or personal pronouns. When speaking of
how we need background informution to
make sentences understandable. Steven
Pinker gives the following example:
WOIII(m. rm karillg )'011.
Mall: Who is he?
The way the missing background
information h"s been understood is that
it is a heterosexual situation. but by no
means everybody would assume this.
Shouldn't we also teach the neutral if to
cover all possibilities? Where I work.
Spanish speakers do not tend to know
that it can sometimes refer to a person.
It is not just gender roles thilt ,lTe
supportcd and promoted by popular
belief and the language we teach.
Deborah Cameron ilnd Don Kulick
cl;lim there is a 'port pltlyed by {ul/gllflge
(lm/Mngl/og!' Wie in sust(lining
heterOllOrmati1"e sociaf (Irf(lIIgellleIllS'.
Every day we use our L I to perform
and perpetuate stilndilrdised 'norms' in
society tlmt have no basis in reillity for
m,my people. and we teach thilt WlIY. too.
Some EL T books havc gone some
way to addressing gendcr role issues.
but they have yet to even begin to tackle
the sexuality issues. I would suggest that
just as girls are negatively affected by
stereotyping, so too are people of
certain sexual orientations, and they arc
losing out by being ignored in CI;IS!>. I
really think it's time to address both
gender and sexual it y issues in education.
ReconSidering learner needs
Thcre is always a need to be aware of
the culture in which we teach. and even
more so when approaching possibly
'taboo' issues, However. I belicve we
should not hide behind these difficulties
ilS an excuse for ignoring ilspeets of life
which rencct reality for some students.
Kinship patterns clln be different,
depending on where you teilch. but the
assumed two-parent. married.
heterosexual binllry system is not the
great majority that many would have us
believe. There are many different types
of family, so how will that affect how
we teach certain items of vocabulary.
likefillllify itself?
The way we teach languilge is oftcn
through majority kinship pallerns (my
cul t ure's case having one male and one
female parent). and we tend to ask
questions likc . Wltm are )"O/lr mother
olldftllher's Howevcr. not all
childrcn fit into this kinship pattern.
And what about children who are living
in state care? We could be perpetuilting
an unequal ilnd possibly uncomfortable
situation for more students than we
realise. Because of this.. I teach the
words lIIolher andfillher. but use
gllordiml in my questions. I also do not
aut omatically assume a child means
when they say 'my fill/It'rs' . and
tend to bring it up at the end of an
activity to cleilr up misunderstandings
without pUlling a specific student on
the spo!. It is not my wish to cause
difficult moments for individuals, but it
is important to include illl and promote
equal ity. We arc educators in general as
well as English teachers, after all
Learner needs include the necd to
know about the rules for social
discourse. appropriacy. etc. which is a
strong argument for including issues
around gender. sexuality lind kinship
when we te'leh. Ultimately. the learncrs
will be using the language in a society
wi th many different types of people.
Le,lrners need to know how to address
people in English correctly in modern
times.. and they need to feel included.
even when they recl difTerenl.
Knowing our stuff
Do we actually know if 1I word has
difTerent connotations in the students'
LI ? 1 once had a conversation with a
teacher lIbout homophobill lind hc said
he had not hcard any eXilmples in his
classes. He'd been working in the
country for seven years, but it turned
20 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _ tprof lonal.com

oulthal he didn"t know Ihe offending
words in LI to look oul for. so how
could he possibly spot any problem?
We enter into dangerous territory.
Teachers arc also part of society and
have their own vielVs - but are we not at
least supposed \0 be irnp<lrtial? Th<ll
would mean making an effort to inform
ourselves. When we do nothing, a
message is still being given. As Adrienne
Rich expresses it. .... ill I('(/ching lI"e 111:(,(/
/0 be (ICuleI), COl1sl"iolls ... fO Ihal
language will 1101 be IIsed to ... keep
otliers silelll (/lid pQwerless',
A word can mean different things in
different cultures. so its connotations
and the actions wc take upon hearing it
used wiU be difTerClll. So if a child has
same-sex parents and wi thin their world
hears words like gay as posi tive. when
they hear the same words used
pejoratively in class without this being
challenged, it will be no surprise to see
that child stay si lent at times. as well as
other lamentllble reactions. Also, for
those students who have no (known)
contact with gayllesbi an people,
allowing the pejorative usc of the word

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in class could confirm their idea that
'gay = bad' is some kind of 'univcrsal
truth', Shouldn't teachers make an
effort to be aware of the possible
A little help from your
If you decide to tackle these iSSlles. here
arc some ideas to gct you startcd,
The most obvious place to begin is
with your teacher colleagues: don't
assume they have no views on the
subject. Keep each other informed of
what is going on in your classes,
discuss problems and share ideas.
To ntise the issues in class.. you may
find the book Taboos (llId hSllc,\' by
Richard MacAndrew and Ron
Martinez a good source of lessons on
these themes.
You can also find information on the
internet to provide topics (or lessons
or class discussions,
If you think it will be too difficult to
address these issues wi th the whole
cl ass, start by putting thc studcnts
into small , citrefully-chosen groups
and give them some questions to
discuss. Hold an open.class feedback
session afterwards.. but sct a written
homework assignment for individuals.
Learners often say things in private
that they wouldn't say in public: let
them know their work will only be
read by you,
Do you have ideas you'd like to share
with colleagues around the world?
Tips, techniques and activities; simple or
sophisticated; well tried or innovative;
something that has worked well for you?
All published contributions receive
a prize! Write to us or email:
Writing for ET p
Would you like 10 write for ETp?
We are always interested in new writers
and fresh ideas, For guidelines and
advice, write to us or email:
editor@etprofessional .com
It just takes the desire to promote
equality and a little extnt effort, not
even a great (ield of pl anning, to milke a
ch,mge, Even simply adding the odd
question here and there that doesn't
assume everyone is the same, and
making it clear your C];ISS is il safe zone
where students know they can speak
openly and safely will help, Above all.
we should insist that everyonc is
represented in our institution's equal it y
and anti bullying policies. <ill>
Beebe, J 'Sexist language and English as
a foreign language: A problem of
knowledge and choice' The Language
Teacher 22{5) JALT 1998
Cameron, 0 and Kulick, 0 The Language
and Sexuality Reader Rout ledge 2006
MacAndrew, R and Martinez, R Taboos
and Issues Thomson Heinle 2001
Mant, A Intelligent Leadership Allen &
Unwin 1997
Norton, Band Pavelenko, A 'Addressing
gender in the ESUEFL classroom' TESOL
Ouarterly 1996
Pinker, S The Language Instinct Penguin
Rich, A On Ues, Secrets and Silence W
W Norton & Company 1995
Rose Hickman is a
DELTA qualified teacher
who has taught English
to children, teenagers
and aduhs for 15 years
in Barcelona, Spain, She
and provides
guidance for new
leachers, Her personal
research interests
include gender in
education and the buill
00 you have something to say about
an article in the current issue of ETp?
This is your magazine and we would
really like to hear from you,
Write to us or email:
Visit the ETp website!
The ET p website is packed with practical
lips, advice, resources, information and
selected articles, You can submit tips
or articles, renew your subscription
or simply browse the features,
_.etprof.sstonal.eom ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 ' 21
Now available
in digital format
Over 40 years since it was first published, Modem English Teacher is still the magazine
leading the way In the development of English Language Teaching around the world.
Every issue is packed with teaching ideas, insights into language, news of
developments In new technology, views and opinions of methodology and theory, and
reviews of the latest published materials. You'll find MET stimulating, challenging, and
essential in your daytoday teaching and professional development.
Practical teaching ideas
Explorations of language
Developments in new technology
Teacher development
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Practical solutions to real problems
Mining lex1s To infinity and btyond .
ISSN 0308 0587 Four Issues per year www. onlineMET.com
( TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS ;) *************
A primary reading project
Betka Pislar encourages good reading habits from the start.
s a primary school teacher
of English in Slovenia, and a
passionate reader myself. I
have always tried to pass on
my love of reading to my students and
motivate them to stan reading in English.
I find that the children I teach are
naturally interested in what is going on in
the school. They are open to new ideas
and willing to take part in any activities
offered to them. So I developed a
project to get them involved i n reading.
The plan
I set the following objectives:
* to encourage the students to
develop and expand their
* to motivate them to read books in
* to improve their reading skills;
* to help them to associate learning
and readi ng in English with having
* to increase t hei r creativity;
* to incorporate new activities in my
To meet these objectives I decided to
encourage my pupils to read at least
three books in English.
The project
My project was targeted on three
classes of 20 nine year olds who were
in their first year of lear ning English. I
began with these questions:
* Who reod bedtime stories to you when
you were a little child?
* Do you remember me title of me first
book you read in Siovenian?
* What book are you reading now?
* Whot is your fovourite book?
I then showed them my favourite
nursery book when I was a child. These
questions proved to be a good start as
they aroused the students' interest and
made them discuss their reading habits
(this was done in their mother tongue).
The next step was to show t hem the
books I had chosen for them to read in
English. To avoid expense, I deliberately
chose books that were avai lable in the
school library. These were simplified
texts adapted from traditional
fairytales, such as Goldilocks and The
Three Bears, The Sleeping Beauty, The
Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Town Mouse
and me Country Mouse, etc. I brought
the books to class, put the students into
groups of four and gave each child in a
group a copy of the same book. First, I
asked them to look at the covers and
to read the titles. The students found
the books extremely attractive as they
were all fully illustrated, and they felt
reassured as they had very little text.
I then asked them to throw a dice
and to open their books on the
corresponding page. For example. in
one group a child threw the dice and
the number was five, so t hey all opened
the book Goldilocks and The Three Bears
on page five. After reading this page
they were asked to say what they had
read. I helped them by asking them
questions like:
* Who are the people in me story?
* What animals are mere?
* What does Goldilocks do?
* Where do bears go?
* What do bears eat?
The students answered the questions
and pointed to the people and things in
the book. I explained some new words
to them. However, some of the students
tri ed to guess the meaning of new
words with the help of the pictures.
When all four children in the group
had had a go at throwing the dice, the
groups swapped books and repeated
the activity with a new book.
Working in groups meant there was
plenty of discussion and exchanging of
ideas, which was fun for the children.
The activity also aroused their curiosity
- they were eager to read the entire
book and to learn what happened next.
I explained to them that they would
read the books at home.
At the end of the lesson I invi ted
t hem to visit the school library in the
next lesson.
I planned the visit to the school library
beforehand with the librarian, asking her
to show the students the shelves with
books in English and to explain the
rules of the library. She did that at the
beginning of the lesson. The students
were allowed to borrow each of their
three books for one week. After the
presentation, the students were allowed
to browse the books for a few minutes,
which they enjoyed immensely. Then they
sat at the desks in the 'reading corner' of
the library. I had prepared a few amusing
vocabulary exercises for them to do
and they read their books and did
some of the exercises in pairs. These
exercises encouraged them to use and
recycle words they met in the books.
Afterwards they did some more
vocabulary exercises which involved
looking up new words in a simplified
Engiish- Siovenian dictionary. Then we
looked at the other dictionaries in the
library, giving the students an idea of
t he dictionaries that were available in
Back in the classroom, I explained
what I would like them to do after they
had borrowed and read each of the
three books. ... .....
_.etprofe lonal.(:om . ENGUSH TEACHI NG professiol/al issue 70 September 2010' 23
( TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS )) *************
A primary reading project
0 ..
My after-reading activities were given to
the students on a worksheet which had
an obligatory part and an optional part.
They were asked to do these activities
at home or after lessons in the school
library. The instructions for the
obligatory activities were as follows:
Write the title of the book in English.
2 Find any new words in the
English-Slovenian dictionary.
3 Write what the story was about in (lve
to seven sentences.
The optional activities were meant to
encourage the students to be creative
and to give them the opportunity to do
things that they liked doing. I asked them
to do at least twO of the following:
I Write what you liked or didn't like
about the book.
2 Do on illustration with coloured pencils
or water colours.
J Write a new ending (or the book in
three to sentences.
4 Make 0 new cardboard cover (or the
5 Rewrite one page a( the book in the
form of a cartoon story.
I brought a large cardboard poster to
the next lesson and put it on the wall
next to the board. I then gave each
student a small, round piece of paper,
and asked them to write their name on
it, colour it and stick it on the poster. I
explained that it represented the centre
of a flower and that they would get a
petal for each worksheet they finished to
add to their flower on the poster. After
bringing me all three worksheets, their
flower would be complete. That would
mean all their tasks had been done.
At the beginning of the following lesson,
those students who had read one of the
books at home and done a worksheet,
brought their worksheets to school. I
checked them and gave them each a
paper petal. which they stuck on their
flower on the poster. They could write
the title of the book they had finished on
the petal if they wished. Then I asked
them a few comprehension questions
about what they had read. The students
were very keen to complete their flowers
as quickly as possible. They became quite
competitive at the same time as they
read. Each lesson, we read together the
names of those who had already
completed their flowers on the poster.
Reading the books, doing the worksheets
and completing the flowers gave them a
strong sense of achievement. They went
to t he librar y very often, and when all
the books in the library were out, some
of thei r parents even went to libraries
in neighbouring towns to get the books
for their chi ldren.

In fewer than twO months. S3
children out of 60 had read all three
books. done the worksheets and
consequently completed their flowers
on the class poster. After talking to the
remaining seven chi ldren, I realised they
either had less support from their
families or they were not interested in
reading at all. I tried to persuade them
to start reading and I also prepared
some additional fun activities to
encourage them. In class we watched
some extracts from films which had
been made of the chosen stories. and
we dramatised some of them. We even
made cardboard puppets, and students
who had al ready read the books acted
out some scenes from them. I al so
introduced some new songs and
rhymes, which proved motivational.
The final part of my project consisted
of a survey, which I carried out with the
students in all three classes. I wanted
to discover more about how they read
and learn. They were asked the
following questions:
* How often do you go to the library?
* Who usuolly helps you to read?
* Do you discuss the books you read
with your parents or schoolfriends?
The students involved in this reading
project nearly all discovered that
reading in English can be a lot of fun.
They started by reading simple English
texts, which as their Engl ish improves
will gradually become more advanced.
Peer competition was an important
factor: more active children encouraged
those with less mot ivation. They were
so busy competing that they didn't
realise how much they were reading! It
was noticeable that thei r vocabularies
expanded and that they went to the
library more often. Gradually. they
started borrowing books which were
not even on my list. They realised that
by reading more books they also learnt
more English.
Completing a flower on a class
poster and doing worksheets was also
an incentive, especially to those with
more creative skills. Some of them
produced really nice work, with
magnificent illustrations and beautiful
handwriting. All these activities gave
them a strong sense of achievement,
which resulted in increased self-
confidence and personal satisfaction. 4D>
Betka has taught
English to young
lear ne", secondary
school studento and
adults for 20
At present she t eaches
Engli sh and F""Ilch at
the :t:iri Primary School,
:t:iri, Slovenia. Her milin
eduutionill interest is
motivati ng pnfTl ary
school children to learn.
24 Issue 70 September 2010' ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal. __ etprofe lonal.com'
Laura Loder Buchel integrates ' native-speaker' students
into the foreign language cl assroom.
s English becomes a
compulsory part of primary
education across central
Europe. the question is often
raised of what to do in English lessons
with children who speak the language
at home. At the moment, Engl ish is in
the process of bei ng introduced as a
compulsory subject in elementary
schools in eastern Switzerland. starting
in the second or third grades (children
of eight and nine). As this is a new
subject, some teachers have little or no
experience of teaching English or any
other foreign language. They often
wonder what to do with the stronger
learners in their English classroom.
These 'native' speakers may leave them
feeling a little uncertain as they find
their footing in t his new subiect.
The purpose of this article is to
provide concrete practical ideas for
allowing native-English-speaking children
to benefit and develop their own
language skills while working with the
whole class as well as while working
As with every subject taught in schools,
children come to cl ass with varying
levels of prior knowledge. Moreover,
there are often children who know
more than their teacher about a specific
topic. According to the census of 2000,
approximately I % of the Swiss
population is 'native' English speaking,
and English is defi ned as the most
important non-official language of the
countr y. There are no official statistics
about the number of 'native' EngliSh
speakers in Swiss schools but, from my
experience in in-service and pre-service
teacher trai ning courses, there may be
anywhere from one to three ' native'
English-speaking children per group of
20 children. In addition, for various
reasons, many children starting t hird
grade come to school with a higher
level of English t han might be expected.
' Native' here refers to learners who
are more advanced because they have
received and conti nue to receive more
extensive exposure to the language.
These may be children who speak
English to one or both of their parents,
who are themselves nat ive English
speakers; those whose parents
communicate in English although
neither parent is a native speaker; and
those who have spent time in an
English-speaking country and may have
gone to school there. That said, the
following suggestions about integrating
native speakers can be used to cater to
the needs of any more advanced
learners. Moreover, this article does
not seek to imply that native-speaking
children are always st ronger in all their
language skills than their peers in
English lessons - it is assumed that the
teacher has already diagnosed the class
and identified that a certain child,
whether a native speaker or not, needs
more encouragement.
Class benefits
When I ask them about their
experiences, teachers on training
courses invariably say, 'I often use the
native speoker os my helper though I know
that this isn't always good.' Teachers
should keep in mind that whi le being a
helper is a good lesson in diplomacy,
learners should nor be helping others
to the detriment of their own progress
in English. This is not fair. Therefore,
this use of the native speaker should be
limited to cases where it is clear that
the child can profit at least on a social
level, if not perhaps at a linguistic level.
However, there are ways to integrate
native speakers into the class so that
they make progress in the language as
well as benefiti ng the class as a whole.
Firstly, there are activities that these
children can work on independently
during a lesson but which, at the same
time. are for the benefit the class. For
example. they can be asked to select a
story or an article that is relevant to
the topiC being taught and to record
themselves retelling it or reading it
aloud. This recording can then be
transcribed and edited by the learner
or the teacher. The final version can be
used as a listening exercise for the rest
of the class or as a comparison
exercise for the other learners to
evaluate thei r own production.
Secondly, writing activi t ies can be used
for the benefit of the whole class, but
at the same time, the process provides
native-speaking children with valuable
writing experience. Teachers can have
these children write sentences using
t he target vocabulary that can then be
used with the rest of the class. They
can prepare memory cards wi th full
sentences for the others to use. They can
also be asked to write stories and poems
that can be shared with the whole class.
Thi rdly, the native learners' experience
of other count ries or with other
cultures can be integrated into the ........
_.etprofe lonal.eom ENGUSH TEACHI NG prOfessiol/al issue 70 September 2010' 25
A fair deal for all
~ II- III- lessons. language awareness and
cultural activities can be used which give
the students the opportunity to share
songs, games, stories and traditions from
their own culture or those t hey have
experienced. It would be good to let
every child lead a game in the language
they speak at home. The role the
community can play in schools should
also not be forgonen. In SWitzertand,
parental involvement is being highly
encouraged at the moment. In some
communities. one might see, for
example. a South African father coming
once a week to the English class and
taking his child and a few more to
another room to read them stories.
Finally. native speakers can be used in
many ways in cooperative learning
contexts to their own benefit and to
the benefit of the class. When assigning
roles in groups, they can be the 'writer',
as they should be expected and
encouraged to write more, They can
also be the 'mediator', as this requi res
more for mal English and use of language
such as Yes, that's right However .... They
can be put in charge of materials so
that the other students have to come
up and ask for things, in a shop-like
sett ing. They can be made responsible
for ensuring the whole group speaks in
the target language, and they can be the
resource person with the dictionary.
Individual benefits
The above ideas fully integrate the
native speakers into the class for the
benefit of all. The following ideas are
more for the benefit of the individual,
though t he child still belongs to and can
wor k alongSide the class.
The first suggestion involves the
preparation of handouts. It is useful and
relatively simple to prepare at least two
versions of a handout. with less
language suppOrt (model sentences,
word banks, etc) on the ones for the
native speakers. In addition, handouts
can be created for the native speakers
which have more of a focus on spelling
and writing. With gapped texts. the
same text can be given to all the other
learners, but with more gaps for the
native speakers to complete, or with an
addi t ional section where they have to
do some extra writing or take the
activity or activity reflection one step
further. Extra worksheets from
language classrooms in English-speaking
countries (from www.obaeoch.com. for
example) can be kept in a special
binder and used as supplementary
materials for the 'native' students.
Organisationally, it is a good idea to have
the native speakers sit where they are
not facing any language support on the
board or on the wall. This ensures they
don't have the information right at their
fingertips. Furthermore, the teacher
could have monolingual dictionaries for
the native students and bilingual ones
for the others.
Schools aim not only to teach content.
but also social ski ll s and skills for life.
The ideas listed above help to suppor t
language development as well as social
development. However. some children
may need more social development
than content development. others not.
Depending on the situation, it might be
useful for the native-speaking child to
develop their local language skills. so
teachers should be prepared to give
suPPOrt in the main language of the
The following ideas might be used
for one Jesson a week for those learners
who can work more independently.
Working on a computer can help
native speakers set their own pace in
language learning activities. In addition,
computer work allows these chi ldren
to keep up with the typical language
development of thei r peers in English-
speaking countries. There are numerous
sites, such as www.discoverykids.com.
www.funbroin.com and www.pbskids.com.
which offer educationally relevant and
challenging materials for independent
work. Furthermore, letting children read
books of interest in English and getting
them to write reports can support their
skills in thei r mother tongue and in
their second language, too. Allowing
them to choose an independent project.
such as making a poster about a
country they have lived in, can hel p
promote cultural and linguistiC
knowledge and can lead to a product
that can be shared with the class.
While the normal textbook used with
the rest of the class can be followed.
choosing another textbook for
independent work can be a good idea.
Publishers. such as Teacher Created
Materials and Scholastic, offer a wide
range of textbooks for children in
English-speaking countries. If the parents
have enough money. they can be asked
to purchase an e-book of interest to
their child that can be printed out and
used in class. Teachers with native
speakers in their class should perhaps
take the time to find the language
curricul um from the country their child
is from. Helpful websites include:
060 I.Pd( and www.ncpublicschools.org/
Teachers in many countries need to
have a repertoire of ideas for working
with native speakers in the foreign
language classroom. I hope this article
has sparked some creative ideas for
integration and differentiation, which
can benefit all the children. Every
language in the classroom should be
recognised and shared, and chi ldren of
all language backgrounds should be
provided with opportunities to improve
their mother-tongue competence
within and outside the classroom. <Ill>
Laura Lode. Buche'
studied Bilingual and
Multicultural Education
at Northecn Arhona
University in the USA
and has been an
instn"tor at the Zurich
and Schaffhausen
Universities ofTuche r
Education in Swiner'and
for t he past s ...... n years.
26 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING prof essional . __ .tprof lonal.com
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An all-round challenge 2
Louis Rogers teaches his students seminar skills.
n an academic setting it is often
important to consider several different
perspectives on a topic. These
perspectives will often come out of the
background reading thai the students are
expect ed to undertake before a seminar.
However, I find initially that many of the
students find it difficult to move beyond
their own perspective on a situation, even
if they have been presented with different
viewpoints in a reading text.
The first task presented here provides
students with language which they can
practise using in their seminar discussion.
Whilst it is arguable how authentic some
of Ihese expressions may be, I feellhey
do give student s a framework of language
to use. The second task encourages the
students to consider a wide range of
perspectives on a topic. It also
encourages them perhaps 10 modify their
opinions after hearing different arguments.
The third activity provides them with the
opportunity to reflect on their own
part icipation, in order to set personal
learning objectives for future seminars.
Task 1
D Give pairs or groups of students the
first set of expressions cards from
Worksheet 1 on page 29. Ask them to
divide the cards into the f ollowing
Partly agree
EI Give the pairs or groups of students
the second set of expressions cards from
Worksheet 1 and ask them to divide them
into these categories:
Beginning a discussion
Clarifying points
Managing the discussion
Closing the discussion
II Ask the students to work in small
groups. Get them to decide who in their
group is going to chair the discussion,
and give this person a set of the cards
used in Stage 2. Give each other person
in the group a set of the cards used in
Stage 1. Then ask them to discuss one of
the topics below (or any other topic you
feel would be of interest) using as many
of the phrases as possible. Award one
point per phrase used by each student.
Possible topics
The only reason to learn a language is
if the language will help you gain a
good job.
Parents, not teachers, are primarily
responsible for their child's education.
The most effective way to support a
homeless person is to provide them
with money.
Task 2
D Give half the class (Group A) Seminar
topic A from Worksheet 2 on page 29
and the other half (Group B) Seminar
topic B. Ask the students to work in pairs
and to think of arguments for or against
their topics and to decide what sort of
people might hold these opinions (more
than one person may hold each opinion).
EI Put the Group A students into smaller
groups of four to six and ask them 10 take
part in a seminar on the topic they have
been preparing. Whilst the seminar is
happening, one student from Group B
should focus on one from Group A and
complete the table in Worksheet 3 below.
Then repeat the process with Ihe students
from Group A observing those from
Group B.
After your students have complet ed the
seminar activities above, or any other
seminar activity, encourage them to
reflect on their experience using
questions such as these:
1 Are you satisfied with how you
participated in the discussion?
2 How do you think you could improve?
3 Did any person dominate or not take
4 How could you help to include others
and stop some people dominating a
The chair
How well do you think the discussion
How do you think you could improve
as chair? Gil>
Louis Rogers Is a
course tutor on the
International Foundation
Programme at the
University of Reading,
UK. He has previously
worked in It aly, Germany
and Portugal , where he
taught General English,
Business English and
Academic English.
Worksheet 3 - Seminar observation
Main arguments presented
Did they list en t o others' opinions? Yes D No 0 Did they modify their viewpoint? Yes D No D
Did they focus on winning the argument? Yes 0 No 0
28 . Issue 70 September 2010' ENGLI SH TEACHING professi onal . _ tprof lonal.com
Set of cards 1
Worksheet 1 - Language focus
. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - .
, ,
, I'm sorry but I don't You have a point there '
: Yes, you have a point there. , But surely... , agree that. , but.
L _______________________ J ________________________ , ________________________ L _______________________ J
, , , , ,
I'm afraid that 's not how
I see it.
I'm not sure I entirely
agree .
Maybe. but.
I can see what you mean
, , , , ,
r - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - r - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ,
I completely agree that. As X said.
X put it well when
he/she said ...
That may be true,
but ...
. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - " - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - _ .
Set of cards 2
. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - .
, ,
I'm not quite sure I
OK, so let's begin. So 10 kick off .
: understand what you mean.
Let's start by ...
, , L _______________________ J _______________________ ~ ________________________ L _______________________ J
, , , , ,
, So what you are saying Could I just check what '
I didn't quite catch that. I don't quite follow you.
X, do you have anything
to add to Y's point?
you mean by ... ?
Moving on ...
OK, X, would anyone else
li ke to comment?
, , ,
So, let's move on to the
next t opic.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - , - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - r - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
To sum up ... Shall we st op there? In conclusion ...
Is Ihere anything else
to cover?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - " - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Worksheet 2 - Different r oles and perspectives
Seminar Work with a partner and think about the following topic:
topic A Tobacco should be made ill egal .
Who might have an opinion on this topic? What are arguments for and against?
Who might present this argument? Use your ideas to complete the table below.
What might be lin argument for this? What might be an argument against this? Who might have this opinion?
A lot of people would lose their jobs. Governments. employees of tobacco companies
Seminar Work with a partner and think about the following topic :
topic B Developing countries should not have to restrict C02 emi ssions in the same way as developed countries.
Who might have an opinion on this topic? What are arguments for and against?
Who might present this argument? Use your ideas to complete the table below.
What might be lin argument for this? What might be lin argument against this? Who might have Ihis opinion?
Restricting emissions for developing leaders of developing countries
countries may limit their development and
ultimately limit their standard of living.
_ tprof lonal.com ENGLISH TEACHING professiol/al Issue 70 September 2010 29
he most nalUml way to learn a
language is to be plunged into
a situation where it is needed
for communication, but this
situation is difficult for students to find
in their horne country. We can't send all
our students abroad for experience.. but
wc ClIII try to bring thc world to thcm.
Tourists as resources
For years I havc run a conversation
class here in Ladllkh during the tourist
season. inviting visitors to the country
to join in. These cl asses are separllte
from my regul ar English lessons. giving
my students il chllnce ill conversation in
sma[[ groups. This is hugely popular
with thc students. and thc improvcment
to thcir spoken English is remllrkable.
If you teilch in an area with a lot of
backpackers. you may be able to recruit
them to help with such classes. By
backpackers. I mean trave[[ers with
ncxible schedulcs. J havc also made
fruitful connections with sevcntl foreign
st udent triwel groups. Triwe[[ers usua[[ y
appreciate the chance to interact with
locals outside thc tourism industry. and
many arc eager to volunteer.
Try putting up A4 posters in populilf
backpacker restaurants. J found that
whcn I askcd our local stalT to put these
up. I got fewer responses than when I
did it myself: they didn't have it sense 01
where the backpackers gravitate. We
want to trap as many of them as wc can.
in the nicest possible wa)'. of course!
Give a fixed time, rather than just 'Colf
Jor de/ails'. to get impulse visitors saying
. Hey. look. II'I's go Ihere this lIJlemoollf'
Havc them come a fcw minutes before
class so you Ciln greet and orient them.
For low- and intermediate lcvcl
studcnts. mix thc groups up evcry fcw
minutes. It keeps the talk going, since
some students arc unable to maintain a
conversation for much longer. and a[[
the students then gct a chancc to repeat
the samc information while thcir recent
allernpt and any new words that have
come up are fresh in their minds.
To reducc confusion when rotating,
it helps to il rrange the smilll groups
around a large cirele.
Roam around the room, eoltecting
vocabulary for thc bOllrd and clarifying
where necessary. You Ciln announce iln
additional question once in a while. I
often diseover additional questions
when J overhe,tr groups straying into
interesting ilreils.
After five to 15 minutes (shorter for
int roductions. longcr for a juicier topic
Of when the noise Icvcl indicutcs that
something interesting is taking place),
ask the tourists to rotate clockwise. If
thc students need to be mixcd up too.
usk one from each group to stand up
ilnd rotilte anti-clockwise.
Tcn minutes before the cnd of the
class, calt everyone into a big circle ilnd
ask if anyone heard anything interesting,
Of anything that they didn't undcrstand.
I ilhernate between culling on st udcnt s
iUld tourists 10 ensure that my student s
speak. 100. and sometimes I write main
points or words on the board.
Some tourist voluntecrs talk too
much and over the students' heads.
Advise thcm ahead of time to tolerate
long pauses and to remember how hard
it is to formulate a sentence in a foreign
language that one doesn't know very
well. Another tactic with the intractably
loquacious is to iUlllounce that at the
end the visitors willtelt the whole class
what they learnt from thc students.
J find it is hclpful to sct a clear and limited
topic. More advanced students will digress
into more interesting topics. while the
lower-level students will be glad of the
structure. As I ha\"C enough tourists to run
a conversation class evcry day. narrow
topics altow us to recycle with variations
without getting bored: if your first topic
is somcthing large like Culture. you've
pretty wclt made any future cultural
topic into a boring repeat. Instead,
break it down into small SUbtopics.
Low-level students appreciate having
ncw conversation partners so they can
repeat old topics for further practice.
Rotate quickly. every five minutes.
Introductions. Add specific questions
or leave it open. You might remind
everyone to make sure they can
pronounce their partncrs' namcs
before they rotate :tway.
30 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . __ etprofe tonal.com
Photos. If the students and/or
tourists have photos from home. I ask
them to bring them in. If the tourists
don't have photos. sometimes we find
a photo book about their country in
our library. Props give low-level
students;1ll encountging experience of
communicating. even if they can't
make full sentences.
Maps. I give a map to each group and
then redistribute the maps aftcr ten
minutes. These might inelude local
maps that students have to explain. or
world maps for the tourists to show
where they arc from or wherc they arc
Exchanging factual information works
best. I have found these topics among
the most successful early ones:
Family. Topics might include: Who
lil"es ill YOllr hOIlSI'? Is 111(11 COlllmOIl ill
your cOIIII /ry? Were YOlir p(lrC/IIS (md
gralldpllrel1ls bom ill Ihe sallll' 101m?
IVh(/{ age do childrell 1I0rmally mOl"e
011/ of Iheir p(lrel1ls' hOllse? Is il
cOllsidered good if a SOli /ires wilh M)'
p(lrel1ls whell he is 10 year.\" old! My
region still has a fairly traditional
family structure. and my students arc
amazed by the mobility and creative
family structures of the West.
Plants and animals. What 1'1(1111.1' (//ul
lIlIilllals does YOllr j(llllily I1m'e? My
students come from farmi ng fllmilies
and are surprised at what the foreigners
say to this. while the tourists appreciate
learning about local farming. This
topic uses the simple present tense.
Education. Young people always
enjoy comparing education systems. I
do thi s topic early in the year. and
again later after teaching the past
tense. <Is king the students to m<lke
general statements in the present
tense, and describe their own personal
experience in the past tense. Start
with vocabul ary for the tourists as
well as your students. as terminology
varies widely between countries.
Generations. Whal (Ire Ihe major
differellcl's be/lrel'lI YOllr grmu/pllfel1l.I
Nres alld )"ollr OWI1? This topic also
focuses attention on past and present
Chores. I use this topic when the
tourists are al so students. What chores
'/0 )"011 do in YOllr hOllse? Do boys alld
girls do '/iffi'r('1/l IhillgS? Who
c/e(/ns/cookshrasiJe.\" Ihe clolhe.). elc? I
like 10 add questions that I know
might surprise one side or the other,
such ;\s Who brings lIaler /0 ),Ollr
hOllse? Who sho\'els Ihe .I"IIOII"?
Clothing. I usc this topic with visi ting
foreign student groups to sensitise
them to how they should dress so as
not 10 offend the locals.
Poverty. Arl' Iherl' poor people ill )"ollr
CO/llllrr? Who? Why? After five
minutes for factual exchange. I
announce two addition,. I questions:
Doe.\" allyolle help poor people? Ha re
YOII I'rer dOlle all)'/hillg 10 hl'lp someolle
poorer Ihall YOllrsdf!
Gender. This topic always generates a
lively (and generally noisy) discussion.
Are Ihae cerwill jobs Illtl/ I.-ameli
sholildl/'l or ("(1/1'1 do? This topic
emphasises modal auxiliaries.
When students are able to communicate
more. you can use more abstract topics
and opinion questions. Let your
imilgination Oy!
Topics to avoid
Food tends to flop. with each side
reciting a litany of food names to
blank-faced partners.
Avoid lilly thing that might be
embarrilssing or offensive to your
local students. My female students
;lTe shy about dating and sex. and in
some countries. political topics are
better avoided.
Avoid religion for intermedi;lIe students
- they have trouble expressing abstract
concepts and answering the IVhy
questions, and it's frustrating to garble
one's dceply-held personal beliefs.
Contrived topics and games are less
intrinsically motivating than discussing
one's own life. world and opinions.
Tourists as tutors
Tourists with good-cnough English can
be used ;IS small-group tutors. For
example. you can have them work on a
partieu[;1T pronunci;lIion point for the
first five or ten minutes. but be sensitive
10 your particular tourists and don't
make non-native speakers teach points
that they themselves have difficulty with.
Words or tongue twisters on the board
give everyone a clcar task to work on.
To turn the tables and raise my students'
confidence. sometimes I have them teach
the touristS;\ tricky pronunciation point
from the local langllage.
For the learners. this conversation class
is like going ilbroad for an hour a dilY.
hilving to use Engli sh for reat
communication. It is a great favourite
with my studcnts. and wi th the tourists,
too. cD
Rebecca Norman has
been teaching English
to rural students in an
alternative education
programme in Ladakh
in the Indian Himalayas
lor 18 years.
_.etprof.ssionat.c:om ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 ' 31
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Alan Maley considers
ability and disability.
n this article I shall be looking at two
novels, t wo aut obiographies and one
non fiction manual, all dealing with
disabling conditions. II may seem
unusual to introduce this set 01 books on
various forms of disability. Perhaps that is
symptomatic of an era when we are al l so
much more aware of disability and more
positively engaged with it. However, I hope
it may also prompt us to become more
aware of our own and ot hers' disabling
conditions, with beneficial effects on the
way we deal with them, and make us
more conscious of the way disabilit y in
one area may be compensated by
exceptional gifts in others.
The Story of My Life
The case of Helen Keller is perhaps the
best-document ed of all accounts of
disability. The edition I am reading of The
Story of My Life includes a section of
letters and a supplementary account of
her life and achievements, so it goes well
beyond the relatively short basic t ext (only
about 110 pages long). As is well-known,
at 19 months, Helen Keller lost both her
sight and her hearing in a childhood
illness. At the outset, 'Gradually I got
used to the silence and darkness that
surrounded me and forgot that it had ever
been different, until she came - my
teacher - who was to set my spirit free.'
Essentially, the book is an account of the
remarkable education she received at the
hands of her tutor and companion, Anne
Sullivan. Apart from the inspiring story of
how she overcame her disabi lities,
acqui ring not just one but several
languages and becoming a leading public
f igure in the life of her age, there are
strikingly radical observations about the
condition of being disabled: ' ... the way
to help the blind or any other defective
class is to understand, correct, remove
the incapacities and inequalities of our
entire civilisation ... Technically we know
how to prevent blindness ... but socially
we do not know how. Socially we are still
ignorant. 'The book is also notable lor its
lyrical passages, which celebrate her
appreciation of the natural world largely
through her other senses of touch and
smell, which were clearly hyper-sensitive,
This is an era when
we are all so much
more aware of disability
and more positively
engaged with it
probably to compensate for her loss of
sight and hearing. The book remains a
remarkable account of one person's
triumph over physical adversity.
Deaf Sentence
In Deaf Sentence, David Lodge dissects
with his customary humour and intelligent
observation t he life and woes of retired
Professor of Linguist ics, Desmond Bates.
As he observes, 'Deafness is comic, as
blindness is tragic'. The early part of the
book, especially, contains some highly
comic observat ions on the fate of
becoming deaf and its consequences for
social int ercourse: 'What would be the
equivalent of a guide dog for the deaf? A
parrot on your shoulder squawking into
your ear?' And there is a good deal of
witty wordplay with well-known literary
quotations. However, as the novel moves
on, the emphasis shifts away from the
predicament of deafness to a more
general concern with how to cope wit h
an ageing father, and with the plight of
being reti red. The disabling effects of
advancing deafness are what gets the
novel off t he ground and are thought-
provoking for anyone who suspects their
auditory acuit y may be duller than it once
was, but t he issue of how we cope wi th
life when we are effect ively useless is
more sobering still.
34 Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _ . tprof lonal.com
The Diving Bell and the
Imagine that you are unable t o move
your limbs, or to talk, or, indeed, to
communicate at all with those around you,
while maintaining full consciousness. This
is 'locked-in syndrome' and is the fate that
befell Jean-Dominique Bauby following a
massive stroke at the age of 44. The
former editor-In-chief of Ella was confined
to his bed and wheelchair at the Naval
Hospital in Berck-sur-Mer, totally cut off
from communication with those around
him but with his mind racing - re-living his
past, outraged by his present conditi on,
humorously philosophical, aware of how
pathetic and repellent he has become:
'What kind of person will those who only
know me now think J was?'
So how do we know this? He was
able to open and close one eyelid and,
with the patient help of his specialised
nurse, managed painstakingly to send
messages t o her by indicating which
letter of the alphabet he needed to make
up the words of the book he wrote. The
result is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,
translated from French by Jeremy
Leggatt, a terrifying account of his
condition and a testament to his courage.
It also raises the uncomfortable question
of how many patients who appear t o be
in a deep coma are, in f act, conscious of
what is going on around them, but
powerless to communicate. There is a
film of the same title which is, if anything,
even more t errifying than the book.
The Curious Incident
of the Dog in the
Christopher, the protagonist and first-
person narrator of Mark Haddon's novel
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the
Night-time, suffers from a form of autism.
He has problems with social interaction
and becomes uncontrollable when he
panics, often acting violently, as when he is
touched by a policeman early in the st ory,
or groaning in an alarming way. He cannot
bear to be touched, hates crowds and
does not look at people when he speaks
to them. He has total recall of whatever
he sees and has a head full of detailed
information, most of which he cannot use
to make sense of new situati ons: '/ know
all the countries of the world and their
capital cities and every prime number up
to 7,507.' In fact, if he encounters a new
situation, like buying a train ticket or
finding his way to the station, he has to
work everything out from first principles. In
order to exert some control over his life, he
has developed routines and rituals, which
he cannot bear to have disturbed. He is
obsessed by numbers and by total
accuracy: '/ am 15 years, three months and
two days,' he replies when asked his age.
But he has brilliant visualisation skills and
can solve quadratic equations and other
mathematical problems in his head-
something he often does to calm himself
down. The story of the difficult relations
with his estranged parents and the effects
of his unusual behaviour on those he
These books remind
us of how diffi cult it
is to empathise,
rather than merely
to sympathise ..... - . . . ~
meets is told by him in a manner both
h i g h ~ comic and with a bitter edge. Finally,
he succeeds in getting an 'A' in A-level
maths ... but what sort of future awaits
him in a wood he st ill does not understand
and which offers him little tolerance?
Thinking in Pictures
Thinking in Pictures. which is Temple
Grandin's insider's view of autism, largely
COlTOborates the symptoms of the ffctional
Christopher. Hers is part autobiography
and part detailed information about
autism. She became, in spite of her
condition, or perhaps because of it, a
highly-successful animal scient ist. The
book is both an inspiration and a valuable
source of information on the condition.
The Gift of Dyslexia
Autism is widely regarded as sharing many
of the symptoms of dyslexia, Ronald
Davis' book The Gift of Dyslexia is of
interest partly because it also gives an
insider's view of dyslexia and partly for the
diagnostic and treatment tools it offers.
The description offered of dyslexia makes
the powerful point that, besides its
negative consequences, it is a positive gift,
and Davis cites the cases of many highly
gifted people who were also dyslexic.
Interestingly, some of these, such as
Einstein, are the same as those claimed
by Grandin to have been autistic. The
fundamental cause of dyslexia in relation
to reading and writing is disorientation,
leading to panic and to the building of
compulsive solutions such as mnemonics
(like the Alphabet Song) or heavy
concentration, which do nothing to resolve
the essent ial problem. Davis describes
dyslexia and it s results, then moves to
the unusual but, according to his claims,
effective ways of diagnosing and treating
it by teaching the dyslexic to turn the
disorientation on and off at will. These
practical procedures are described in great
detail, and would only be comprehensible
in the context of a real dyslexic undergoing
treatment. The main messages for me
from this unusual book were that dyslexia
is not all negative and that it is treatable
given the right conditions,
If nothing else, these books remind us of
how difficult it is to empathise, rather than
merely to sympathise, wi th conditions we
do not fully understand. ~
Bauby, J-D The Diving Bell and the
Butterfly Harper Perennial 2008
Davis A 0 The Gift of Dyslexia Souvenir
Press 2010
Grandin, T Thinking in Pictures - And
Other Reports from my Life with Autism
Bloomsbury 2006
Haddon, M The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Night-time Jonathan Cape
Keller. H The Story of My Life (Ed Berger,
J) The Modern Library 2004
Lodge, D Deaf Sentence Penguin 2008
Alan Maley has worked in
the area 01 ELT for over
40 years In Yugoslavia,
Ghana, Italy, France,
China, India, the UK,
Singapore and Thailand.
Since 2003 he has been
a lreelance writer and
consultant. He has
published over 30 books
and numerous artictes,
and was, until recently,
Series Editor of the
Oxford ReS<lurce Books
for Teachers.
Visit the
ETp website!
The ET p websit e is packed with practical
tips, advice, resources, informatIon and
selected articles. You can submit tips
or articles, renew your subscription
or simply browse the features.
_.etprofe lanal.eam ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010' 35
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Lesley Lanir considers disabilities in reading.
ammy, II yellTs old, reads
slowly and awkwardly. She's
been leMning English for three
years.. yet every word sti ll
remains an effort and her reading is full
of errors. Somctimes she confuses the
order of the lellers or misses words or
jumps lines on the page. Trapped at the
levcl of decoding, she can't seem to
make headway.
In the same class.. Guy enjoyed
rhyming games, learnt the alphabet
fairly easily and seems to have reached
the stllge of reading without any
decoding errors, yet he just doesn't
understand short passages even though
he g e t ~ full marks in vocabul ary quizzes.
Quite the reverse, Ann<l <lnd Tony
are reading quietly. simultaneously
decoding thc text and comprehending
thc writcr's messllge. Their classmates
Tammy and Guy. however, demonstrate
difficulties at each of these stages and
are examples of studcnts whose primary
learning disability is reading.
What are reading
Reading difficulties arc commonly
referred to as dyslexia - dys means
'difficulty with' <lnd I('.\"ia , 'words' or
'language'. Ori ginally. dyslexia was
known as 'word blindness' because it
seemed that only a problem with sight
and visu<ll memory could explain why
some people confused letters. swapped
them around. turned them upside down
or reversed them.
Interestingly. sight problems <Ire not
at the root of this reading disorder.
which affects nearly 20 percent of the
population; ncither are sp<.'t'Ch or hearing
impairments, lack of intelligencc or
poverty. Decades of research h:we
cstllblishcd th;lt dyslexill is caused by
specific ncurobiological dysfunctions in
the language areas of the brain, causing
phonological limitations. These
malfunctions prevent dyslexics from
perceiving and remembering speech-
based information accurately and
manifest themselves in poor sensitivity to:
syllable divisions:
distinct language sounds.
Reduced awareness of spoken.word
sound structure also means that dyslexics
cannot identify. segment. locate or
manipulllte;1 word's individual speech
sounds. known as phonemes, since for
thcm the distinct bordcrs betwccn each
phoneme seems blurry.
For inst:Ulce, the word ilia/! is made
up of three distinct phonemes Im/. I<el
and In/.
A person who has dyslexia would
find it diflicult to say:
another word that rhymes with mall:
how many syllables 11/(111 has:
how many sounds it is made up of:
its individual sounds.
In addition to weak phonological
awarencss. a dyslexic would have
taki ng the first sound away. eg Iml
from 11/(11/, and replacing it with
;mother sound to create <I different
word. eg Iplto make pall. or removing
the last sound./n/, and replacing it
with Itl to form II/m:
manipulating the three sounds /;el.
Iml and Inlto form a new word. such
as l1alll:
locating and idcntifying the middle
sound of the word: Ire!.
Although thcse are simplc examples.
these essential phonemic ski ll s arc
needed in order 10 appreciate how the
individual sounds of words are
reprcsentcd by letters th,l\ arc scqucnced
in a specific order. This is known as
understanding 'the alphabetic principle'
or 'cr,lcking thc codc' and is ncedcd in
order to take the first step in the
reading process.
Duc to their phonological dcficits,
learning the alphabetic principle and
thus remembering which specific speech
sounds correspond to which letters and
letter combinations is more than a
ch:lllcngc for dyslexics. As Sally
Shaywitz points out. after proficient
readcrs have seen a letter and
articulated the sound it represents a few
times, an exact neural representation of
its form and sound becomes imprintcd
in the occipito temporal automatic
reading system. situated at the back of
thc brain. Subscqucntly,just seeing the
lettcr in print Hctivates immediatc
retrieval of all its relevant information.
Dyslexics. however. are unable to
supply perfect imprints 10 this automatic
stomge place because the language
inform,l\ion they receive through their
dysfunctional phonological system
becomes distorted or dcgraded and lost
in the ncural system. Instead. brain
imaging studies conclusivcly point to
the fact that dyslcxics overuse the slower
decoding systems at the left frontal arca
of the bfllin - Il roca's arC:1 - :Uld
compenS<1tory systems on the right side
of the brain. but ullderuse their
automatic reading system sited in thc
left hemisphere at the back of thc brain.
As Shaywitz puts it, it is almost as
though there arc no connections
between these systems. 11>- .....
_ tprof ional.com ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal . l S$ue 70 September 2010 . 37
disability !I
prallontal cortex
(word analysis!
Broca's alea
si de
area (word
occipito temporal
reading system
(word lorm)
occipital lobes
These neurological dysfunctions
result in:
difficulty learning and remembering
lel\crs and their corresponding sounds:
decoding errors:
slow ,lI1d p;linful reading;
poor spelling;
slow or erroneous word retrieval.
Also known to accompany poor reading
skill s are:
memory problems:
slow information processing;
handwriting difficulties;
trouble with coordination (confusion
betwccn directions.. misunderstanding
temporal adverbs);
poor org;Ulis<llioll and sequencing
skills (messy bag. untidy desk.
difficul ty learning 1he order of the
alphabet, days of the week, etc).
How can we help?
In order to learn to read. students with
dyslexia need to do the following:
1 Underst;\1ld that words arc made up
of different sounds/phonemes.
2 Master decoding by:
!earning the alphabetic principle -
associating sounds with written
blending thc sounds into syllables
and words;
becoming ski lled at decoding words
and reading groups of words.
3 Re(."(:ive word structure instruction.
4 Improve their fluency and read with
speed, accuracy and expression.
5 Develop reading comprehension skills
building up vocabulary;
recognising language structure and
internalising eomprehcnsion
(Adapted from Suzanne Carreker)
This fifth point wil! be discussed in
depth in my next article.
D Understanding that words
are made up of different
Developing phonological and phoneme
awareness is paramount. Decades of
studies conclude that phonological
proccssing deficits are the primary cause
of reilding disabilities and also
emphasise that phoneme awareness is
an essential factor in the process of
learning 10 read. Teachers necd to draw
attention to language sounds by
inserting ten minutes of phonologic,. I
practice at the beginning of lessons.
Fi rstly. dcvcloping sensitivity to rhyme,
then moving on to teaching syllables.
Once students have mastered these
exercises. working on distinguishing
individual language sounds has to be
tackled. This is the hardest phonological
task but it is crucial in order to move to
the next stage of learning 10 read.
Working on rhymes:
Have the students practise identifying
if words or names follow a rhyming
pattern or not.
Make picture cards. for example bal.
lUll. ClIl.lIIlI/I, bl'{l. and ask the
students to group those cards that
rhyme <lnd those that don'\.
Ask the st udents 10 produce their own
words that rhyme and don't rhyme.
Working on syll abl es:
Clap or tap out the number of
syllables in words.
Say one syl];lble of a word ilnd ilsk
the students to finish it. eg /a - ble,
jill - ger. etc.
Get the students to identify how
many syllables there arc in the words
you say.
Working on phonemes:
For phoneme identification. say a
sound. for example lsi. and display
sevcnl l pictures. asking the studcnts
to point to the pictures which begin
with this sound. or h,we three sounds.
or end with this sound. etc.
For phoneme location. say Imlthen
mall. Have the students say where the
sound Iml appears: at the beginning.
end or not at all.
Te<lch phoneme deletion by showing ..
picture (eg !/Ilw) and asking the
studcnts to say /I1all without thc Iml
Pract ise phonemc substitution by
saying 111(111 and asking the students to
repeat the word. Then ask them to
rcplace the sound Iml with It! and say
the new word ({(III). After substituting
beginning sounds. move on to end
sounds: for example. replace the Inl
with 111 (/11m).
D Mastering decoding
In order for dyslcxics to master the
alphabetic principle and begin the
reading proccss. the remcdial
progTilmme hilS to be:
Multisensory. using a mixture of
seeing, hcaring. speaking. writing,
moving ;tnd touching.
Based on phonics. teaching letterl
sound (grapheme to phoneme) and
also soundl1ettcr (phoncme to
grapheme) 'ISSoci;lIions. using Ihe
most common soundl1etter
correspondcnces first.
Structured; it h'ls to be 10gic;11.
systematic and progressive.
Incremcntal and cumulative; learning
has to be gradual and must build
upon preceding knowledge. For
example. first introduce high-
frequency consonants with one
predictable sound (such as b. 1/1, I and
ti). one ,It a time. After a few
consonants have been acquired. the
short vowel sounds of the leiters i
and a can be addcd. Words and non-
words can be created by showing the
students how to blend sounds
together and create one-syllable
words. for example, III-ad. ba-d,
d-ad. Then progress to small
sentences: Mad b(ld b(ll bi/ dad.
Repetitivc: thcrc has to be plcnty of
over learning to create and strengthen
strong neural pathways.
The remedial method developed by
Kathlecn Hickey or the Orton
Gillinghillll programme developed by
Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman
both use these systems and can be
adapted to teach foreign languagc
38 Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGUSH TEACHING professional . _.etprofe lonal .com
EI Giving inst ruction on word
Once a fcw sounds and symbols llfC
<lcquired and C'1ll be blended togethcr,
morphological instruction should be
gradually introduccd. Word structure
knowledgc boosts feuding nucncy,
increascs the studcnts' knowlcdge of
word meanings and aids spelling and
vocubulary acquisition. Both Shaywitz
and Currekcr <lssert that dcveloping the
students' word analysis ,md syllabication
skills and encouraging thcm to focus
upon roOls and affixes so as to perceive
langu<lgc as chunks rathcr than
individual sounds and letters prevents
memory overload.
thc six kinds of syll<lbles
the five syll<lbication rUles
word roots:
common prcfixes and suffixes:
innections which create nouns, verbs,
adjectives, etc.
Kinds of syllabtes
1 Closed - consonant(s) follow(s) a
short vowel (eg man, and)
2 Open - one long vowel is at the end
(eg she. he)
3 VoweVconsonanVsilent 'e' -
consonant is between a long vowel
and a silent e (eg make, fIVe)
4 Double vowel- two vowels combine
to make one sound (ag meal, lam
5 Consonant + Ie (eg lable, puzzle)
6 R combination - vowel combined
with r (eg art. lenn)
2 Syllabication !"\Jles
1 Two consonants between two vowels:
divkle the syllables between the
consonants. eg probllem. finlgar
2 More than two consonants together:
divide keeping the blends together,
eg hun/drerJ, mon/ster
3 One consonant between two vowels:
divide after the fi rst vowel, eg pillot,
4 If previOUS !"\Jle doesn't create a word,
divide after the consonant , eg doz/en,
5 Divide vowels, eg po/em, dUet
[n addition. start working on automatic
recognition and reading of the most
common irregul ar and regular words. eg
Ihl.', 01/1.', of 100, hm'l', dol'S, was, Il,erI',
and so on.
II Improving fluency
Our overall goal in reading is to
understand thc writcr's intended
message. Fluency turns decoding into
comprchcnsion. For the normal reader,
at least four correct readings are
necessary for automatic word recognition
to takc placc. Foreign languagc learners
with reading disabilities not only have to
rely on distorted neurological pereeption
and slower ncural pathways but also on
arc<ls of the bTllin (hitt <I re not designcd
for word storage or retrieval. Therefore,
in order to create any kind of accurate
mental impression, these Icarners need
massive e,xposure to thc printed word
both orally and visually.
To facilitate reading nuency.
teachers and students have to go
th rough many scssions of modelling
and repeating word lists, sentences and
then short passages to improve accuracy
and increuse word speed retrieval.
Modelling illld fcedb<lck are essential
in helping students pronounce words
properly and build more accurate neural
modcls: troublc articulating words
indicatcs that exact ncum! represcntations
have not been formed ilnd that further
repetitions have to take place.
As rcading accuracy and rate
improvcs through rcpe.llcd rC<lding to
over 100 words a minute, comprehcnsion
will improve because fewer mental
rcsourees arc invested in decoding.
Remedial teaching
A SO-minute beginners' remedial reading
lesson plan may consist of the following:
1 phonemic exereises:
2 sequencing tasks - naming and
ordering thc alphubet using woodcn
or plastic lellers;
3 phonics instruction:
reviewing lettcrs/sounds already
introducing a new letter/sound or
reviewing sounds still not being
ret rievcd automatically;
4 devcloping fluency:
repeated reading of lists of words
formcd from all thc leiters already
repeated reading of short scntences
constructed from the above words;
repeated reading of frequcnt
vocllbulary (words that Clln be
decoded but havc to be learnt before
their letters/letter combinations arc
introduced, eg Itl' and sight words
that cannot be decoded);
5 spelling practice:
sound dictation (the teacher
produces a sound, the student has
to writc the ICllcr);
word dictation;
sentcnce dictation;
6 introducing morphologic<l! instruction.
This artiele has explained why reading
disabilities exist and given essential
guidclines as to what to include in a
remedial reading progmnlme. Space does
not allow for more delililed instructions,
but a plcthora of reading materials and
intcrnet sitcs arc available for further
guidancc. Somc of my favourites arc
listed below. The next article in this series
moves on from decoding and nucncy to
the next stage of reading instruction:
dcveloping reading comprehension. (l1;>
Augur, J and Briggs. S (Eds) The Hickey
Multisensory Language Course Whurr
Publishers 1992
Birsh. J A (Ed) Multisensory Teaching of
Basic Language Skills Brookes Publishing
Company 1999
Carreker, S 'Teaching reading' In Birsh, J
R (Ed) Multisensory Teaching of Basic
Language Skills Brookes Publishing
Company 1999
Gillingham, A and Stillman, B W The
Gillingham Manual: Remedial training for
students with specific disability in
reading, spelling, and penmanship
Educators Publishing SelVice 1997
Hornsby, B and Shear, F Alpha to
Omega: The A-Z of Teaching Reading,
Writing and Spelling Heinemann 1989
Levine, M A Mind at a Time Simon &
Schuster 2002
Shaywilz, S Overcoming Dyslexia Knopf
Lesley Lanlr is a
freelance writer, lecturer
and teacher trainer who
has been involved in
teaching English for over
15 years. She specialises
in learning disabilities
and foreign language
learning. She has a SA in
English and Education,
_.etprofe lonat.(:om ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal Issue 70 September 2010 ' 39

"ohn Potts reviews some of the components of teaching a new grammar item.
Language analysis:
four things to consider
This refers to how a tense (or other grammar structure) is
constructed: eg present continuous = present simple of be
+ present participle. It also refers to irregular forms (eg past
simple, past participle), and the formation of questions and
negati ves.
This is concerned with deeper concepts of aspect, etc,
rather than simply surface messages. For example, I think
he's being silly == this is temporary behaviour, specific to a
particular occasion, and may not be typical of him.
The basics are sounds, stress and intonation. A more
complex analysis of pronunciation includes features such
as elision, weak forms, assimilation, et c.
This looks at a tense or other grammar structure as part of
a longer utterance (eg a clause or sentence). Things to
consider include the position of adverbs, dependent
prepositions and complement patterns (eg whether it is
followed by an infinitive or a gerund).
Language awareness:
four things to consider
This relates to what the speaker/ writer seeks to do with
the language, what message they want to send; for
example: apologising, narrating. making a suggestion,
Situations and contexts
Grammar structures need a context for them to make
communicative sense; otherwise they remain just that -
grammar structures. Here are some approaches:
1 Reading texts can provide the context - and you may not
need more than one example in the text, provided that its
meaning and function are very clear from the context.
2 Listening - especially anecdotes told by the teacher: these
can be amusing or dramatic, and allow the learners to stop
and question the teacher as the anecdote unfolds. Songs can
also be a good vehicle, and may appeal to younger learners.
3 Situation and/or dialogue building: a classic approach but still
very useful. The teacher builds the situation/dialogue with the
learners (perhaps using visuals and/or realia, too) and then
elicits/provides the target language as the ' punch line'.
4 Advertising slogans and other short authentic texts (eg
instructions on packaging, etc) - you can teach the imperative
using the instructions on a box of pasta!
Telling, illustrating, guiding or discovering?
The approaches outlined above all involve elements of
illustrating the language. The teacher tries to guide the learners
towards the meaning and function of the new language, so that
they can discover these for themselves rather than simply being
told what it means. These approaches may take more classroom
time, and certainly require the learners to focus and work harder
at construct ing the meaning (with the teacher's help).
Telling is quicker - but the learners need to do very little
mental work and, as a result , little may finally stick.
L1 and L2
givi ng advice. etc. 1 Mistakes (of form, meaning, pronunciation or syntax) may
EJ WRITTEN, SPOKEN OR BOTH often be due to L 1 interference. For example, a typical
Many grammar structures are equall y at home in both mistake made by speakers of many European languages is to
spoken and written language, but some are usually spoken use the present pertect where the past simple is needed -
(eg How about going for a pizza?) , whereas others are and this can be traced back to their mother tongue.
usually written (eg Should you need further information . . ). 2 Conversely, learners may overuse a form such as the present
D APPROPRIACY continuous, simply because they don't have that form in their
In addition, some structures may be inappropriate in some
own language.
contexts (eg you WOUldn't (normally) tell your boss that she 3 And learners may confuse t wo similar-looking structures in
had better be careful about what she says). English; for example: I used to get up early and I'm used to
II USEFULNESS getting up early.
Some structures may simply not be very useful in most 4 On the other hand, sometimes a form and its meaning may be
everyday contexts. For example, how important is it to very close or even identical to the learners' L 1, and so they
I'-_____ d_' _' _o_t, __ ' _" _' _' _t_im_' __ to __ t' _'_'_h_i_" __ "_'_'_' _'_'_O_d_O __ 'h_'_' _._ .. _' ______________ ' _' _' _b_' __ ' _o_m_
_'_'_' _d_ ________ c:::::::::::::::::::::::::::C!1
40 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal . _.etprofe lonal.com'
The old and the new
When your learners are no longer beginners, they have a basic
repertoire of grammar structures and thei r concept s. You can
build on what they already know, using it as a platform for new
grammar structures. For example, you can establish a
situation/context in the present, and review and consolidate the
present continuous. Then you simply switch the time zone from
now 10 yesterday/last week and el icit the past continuous to
replace the present continuous.
This approach works very well with many other forms - past
perfect, future continuous and future continuous, was going to,
wish constructions, perfect modals, passive lense forms, etc.
Clarifying and checking
II's important to clarify and check the meaning and funct ion of the
new language, for example by asking a set of concept questions.
These should be prepared in advance - they're very hard to think up
on the spot! They should be kept few, short and simple - with equalty
brief answers. For example: Our teacher used to have long hair.
1 Did he have long hair in the past? /yes.)
2 And does he have long hair now? (No.)
3 So something has changed? /yes.)
4 Do we know when? (No.)
There are other ways of clarifying and checking - using Total Physical
Response, visuals or Cuisenaire rods, for example. Combined with a
clear context , and in tandem wit h a guided-discovery approach,
concept clarification and checking help the learners to feel
confident about their grasp of the meaning of new language.
Drilling and practising
Learners also need 10 feel conf ident about the form and
pronunciation of the new language. Dril ls and controlled-practice
activities (both oral and written) help to achieve this, especially
at lower levels. They needn' t be boring - both can be lively, fun
and communicative.
Using and personal ising
In the end, learners have 10 produce language from their own
resources and not only in control led-practice exercises. A step
towards this production is the persona/ising of language so that
it takes on individual meaning for each learner. The example with
used to above illustrates this for me - when I was 17, I had
extremely long hair (almost 10 my waistl). But my learners
probably didn't, so they need their own personal example(s):
I used to have dyed hair/be very shy/like Walt Disney (etc).
Finally, they'll need opportunities to use the language in fluency
activities, such as problem-solving tasks, discussions, roleplays,
John Potts is a teacher and teacher trainer based in
Zurich, Switzerland. He has written and co-written
several adult coursebooks, and is a CELTA assessor.
He is also a presenter lor Cambridge ESOL
Examinati ons.
Congratulations to all those
readers who successfully
completed our P r i ~ e
Crossword 40. The winner;,
who will each r e c e i ~ e a copy
of the Macmillan English
Dictionary for Advanced
Learners, are:
Wolfgang Alkewitz,
iserlohn, Germany
Georgeta Bradatan,
Bridgend, UK
Alison Hyde,
Wolverhampton, UK
Elisabeth Jendraszczak.
Vend6me, France
,23456189,0",2,3 Laura Neuhoff, iserlohn,
J U N K S A a TI C 0 W H
,. ,$ ,6 ,1 ,8 ~ ro 2, ~ ~ M n ~
George Orwell
Emeline Parizez, Paris,
Patricia Rufenacht.
Bottenwi l, Switzerland
Stella Tatchum, Paris, France
Veronique Valieres,
51 Sauveur, France
Roy Wilson. London, UK
_.etprof.SSional.eom ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 ' 41
r ) r 1 r ) 1/
/f ----.SJ J /
,--------------.. WHATVOU WILL
Legal eagle
D In 2009, Daniel Noble was arrested for two separate hit
and run incidents. He was extremely aggressive when he
was arrested. In court, his lawyer claimed it was a psychotic
episode caused by an overconsumption - of what?
a) Herbal tea and milk cJ Orange and guava juice
b) Milk shakes and smoolhies dJ Coffee and energy drinks
II A massacre at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro,
California, in 1984 resulted in the deaths of 22 people,
including the gunman. His widow sued McDonald's lor
contributing to his actions. Which food additive did she
claim was partially responsible?
a) Sodium chloride
b) Red food colouring
cJ Monosodium glutamate
d) Antioxidants
II Which peoples used to resolve legal disputes with a
head-butting contest?
aJ Zulus
b) Inuits
cJ Blackfoot Indians
d) MongolS
a 't is commonly believed that representations of Justice
(a robed woman with a blindfold over her eyes, holding a
set of scales in one hand and a sword in the other) are
based on a number of classical deities, although not on
anyone in particular, Which of the following is not one of
those on which she is believed to be based?
a) Fides
b) Astraea
c) Themis
dj Justitia
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Courtroom quotes
'Are yOl! married?'
' No, I'm divorced,'
' And what did your husband
do before you divorced him?'
' A lot of things I didn't know
about. '
'Mrs Jones, is your appearance
this morning pursuant to a
deposition notice which I sent
to your attorney?'
' No, This is how I dress when I
go to wor1<.'
' Now, you have investigated
other murders, have you not,
where there was a victim?'
'Doctor, did you say he was
shot in the wOOds?'
'No, I said he was shot in the
lumbar region, '
' Could you see him from
where you were standing?'
' / could see his head.'
'And where was his head?'
'Just above his shoulders.'
'What happened then?'
'He said, "I have to kill you
because you can identify me."'
'Did he kill you?'
' No.'
'Are you Sexually active?'
' No, I just lie there, '
'Are you qualified to give a
urine sample?'
'Yes, I have been since early
childhood. '
' Doctor, how many autopsies
have you performed on dead
'All my autopsies are
performed on dead people,'
' Do you recall the time that
you examined Ihe body?'
'The autopsy started around
8.30 pm.'
'And Mr Dennington was dead
at the time?'
'No, he was sitting on the
lable wondering why I was
dOing an autopsy on him.'
'Do you have any suggestions
as to what prevented this from
being a murder trial instead of
an attempted murder trial?'
' The victim lived. '
' You were there until the time
yOl! left, is that true?'
'Can you describe the
individual ?'
' He was about medium
height and had a beard, '
' Was this a male or a female?'
' How many times have you
committed suicide?'
' Were you present when your
picture was taken?'
42 . Is_ 70 September 2010 ENG .
USHTEACHINGprojios.fIOl/af . _ .... _,.... ,
. .- Dna ,com .
Silence in court!
It is often said that if banisters allowed the jury to draw their own
conclusions instead of trying to discredit witnesses through close
quest ioning, they might win more of their cases. Here are two examples.
A witness was testifying in
court in a case that involved
one man biting off the ear of
another man during a fight.
Atter giving testimony which
was very bad for the
defendant, the witness was
cross-examined by the
defence barrister:
Barrister. You said thai you saw
the defendant and the plaintiff in
a fight?
Witness: Yes.
Barrister: You then said that
you were concerned for your
salety and that , because of this
concern, you sought shelter
Wit ness: Yes.
Barrister: You further staled
that during this time of seeking
shelter, you turned your back on
the fight ?
Witness: Yes.
Banister. And then you testified
that that was when the
defendant bit off the plaintiff 's
Witness: Yes.
Barrister. Well, that makes for
an interesting question. then! If
your back was turned to the
fight, then you obviously must
have had the plaintiff and the
defendant out of your field of
vision. Is that correct?
Witness: Yes.
Barrister. Well then. did you see
tile defendant bile off the
plaintiff's ear?
Witness: No.
Barrister. (smugly) Then how do
you 'know' that tile defendant
bit off the ear of the plaintiff if
you did not see him do it?
Witness: I saw him spit il out.
(Dead silence)
Banister. Ah ... no more
A man who had crashed his car at a
roundabout was accused of reckless
driving. The driver maintained that he
had been driving within the 30-miles-per-
hour speed limit and that faulty brakes
had caused the accident. The only
witness was a woman who had been
walki ng along t he road at the time. When
questioned by the prosecution, she
testified that the driver had approached
the roundabout at about 60 miles an hour
and had then lost control and crashed.
The defence barrister, seei ng that the
woman was over 80 years old and wore
t hick-lensed glasses, moved in for the
kill, smirking all the time at the jury:
Barrister: May I ask how old you are?
Witness: I am 85.
Barrister: Eighty-five, I see ... Now you
testified that tile defendant approached
the roundabout at ' about 60 miles per
hour'. Is that correct?
Witness: That is correct.
Barrister. I see. And I notice that you wear
Witness: That is correct.
Banister. Were you wearing your glasses
at the time of the accident.
Witness: No, I wasn't.
Barrister: I see. Well, then how could you
possibly tell what speed the driver was
doing? Could you, in fact, even see the car?
Witness: Well, young man. I certainly
could see the car as these are reading
glasses and there is nothing wrong with
my distance vision. As to how I could tell
what speed the driver was doing, befOfll I
retired I worked as an airline test pilot. One
of the skills I learnt in that job was the
ability to judge speed and distance.
Barrister. (weakly) Yes, but that was
planes ...
Witness: Precisely. That is why I testified
that he was doing ' about 60 miles per
hour' . I actually judged it to be 63 miles
per hour, but I made an allowance for tile
fact that it was a car ralher than a plane.
The driver lost his case.
How good are you at Latin legal
language? What does each of
these t erms mean?
a A aver et tenar
a) to make or break
b) to have and to hold
c) to own or convey
d) to relinquish or abandon
IJ Ab BCtis
a) in conteJct
b) in relation to the prOCeedings
c) in action
d) in title
II Ab agendo
a) unable to act
b) unable to inspect
c) unable to listen
d) unable to convict
D Abamlta
a) defendant
b) victim
c) great-great-great-aunt
d) imposter
II Abamare
a) to take away by force
bJ to escape detection
c) to uncover and disclose a
secret crime
d) to declare an interest in
IJ Accedas ad curiam
a) You are to go to the clerk.
b) You are to go to the jail.
c) You are to go to the church.
d) You are to go to the court.
_.etprof lonal.com ENGLISH TEACHING P/'O!I'S.\;OI/{// ' ssUfl 10 September 2010' 43
The English360
platform plays
an integral role
in the activities

of my company, City Professional English.
It is the means by which we deliver our
linguistic and non-linguistic didactic
material , and also our central
administrat ion point. It has allowed us to
offer innovative pedagogical material in a
timely and efficient manner, saving costs
and hence improving our financial returns
in an industry not known for its ADA
(return on assets)!
As City Professional English is a
bespoke company, all our materials are
written by our language coaches
exercise formats to allow for more
intricate activities. There is also not
enough flexibility given to the school in
deciding what a student will see on their
homepage. But probably the most
significant problem is the limited range of
coursebook material on the system that
can be used instead of creating onginal
exercises and courses. Most schools use
coursebooks and although Cambridge
University Press, which is represented on
the English360 platform with over 9,000
activi ties from 35 titles, is an excellent
source of high-quality course material ,
there are several other excellent
publishers not present on the system.
However, in my opi nion, English360
overcomes all these problems in a
convincing manner by offering the most
important element for a school owner
in this regard. This gives me great
confidence that they will continue to
strive to overcome difficulties and
improve the system.
To evaluate the English360 platform,
go to www.english360.comandsign up
for a free Educator account where you
can try your hand at creating
personalised courses for your learners.
Mark Olding
Verona, Italy
Check Your Aviation English
by Henry Emery and Andy Roberts
Macmillan Education 2010
Apart from its use in training students
who work in the aviation industry. this
for each client project. It is
essential , therefore, that we
have the means to develop
and thereafter present these

k provides fascinat ing insights for the

!!!,. 1Wt -4 .... ,...... lay person into the behind-the-scenes
---- _ --. . .... _ workings of airtines and airports.
- _ _ __ --.- Many of the units are necessarily
3 .. ao.,. 3 - - - based on the more dramatic materials in a professional
manner to our clients. After
founding the company we
looked into developing a
system ourselves but the
inherent time lag in
development, as well as
the high costs involved,
encouraged us into the
market place to search for
a readily available system.
English360 immediately
caught our attenti on.
Literally within minutes,
one can begin to create
activities on the system
.... , .....
11 _. -..::

.-. '-
..... -
--' --
. .......
. -.-

..... -.,.

.. ==--
.-.... _-.....
, .
-----... _-
- ---.. -... -
-- '::"-...
using traditional formats, ___ ... __ ..... __
such as gap-fill , H"""'-.... ... ... -
matching and multiple- :::.. ... ... _
choice, to name but a few. The platform is simple and ----_
easy to interact with, which is testament
to the ability of the software designers.
For instance, one can have hundreds of
students all diligently doing their
homework, but who will mark all their
work? English360 does the marking
instantaneously and provides reports at
the click of a button. It therefore saves a
great deal of time.
Of course, the system is not perfect;
there are areas that need improvement.
There could be a greater range of
who is contemplating making an
investment in infrastructure: high-quality
service. I have spoken to people at all
levels in the English360 organisation,
from the owner to the developers to the
cfient service department to the accounts
department, and every single person has
been at all times professional, highly
competent and polite. All business is
about people and communication, and
the people at English360 are exceptional
incidents and special situations that
occur in the aviation world, as these
are the ones where communication
between those involved needs to be
spot on, with no room for any kind of
misunderstanding. As a result. the
recording scripts at the back of the
book alone make gripping reading.
Designed for classroom use as a
supplementary text or for self-study,
Check Your Aviation English provides
30 units of listening and speaking
exercises to help aviation professionals,
particularly pilots and air-traffic
controllers. achieve and maintain Level 4
of the International Civil Aviation
Organisation's language proficiency
The units all follow the same
structure, beginning with a photo of an
aviation-related incident, which the
students are required to describe and
interpret. Helpfully, the accompanying
CDs (attached to the inside back cover)
contain sample answers to these opening
activities as well as recordings for the
subsequent listening comprehension
exercises; these give practice in the twin
language focus of 'plain English' and
'ICAO phraseology' . The second exercise
in each unit is based on a recording
related to flight operations and is aimed
44 Issue 70 September 2010' ENGLI SH TEACHING professional . _.etprofe lonal.com
at improving plain English profICiency.
First , the students are asked to identify
the main theme of the recording and then
a second part focuses on the details. The
third activity involves listening to a
radiotelephony exchange containing a
mbcture of plain English and phraseology.
Students have to answer a number of
questions about what they hear. The
fourth exercise practises clarification
techniques. Students In a class will work
in pairs to roleplay a dialogue. Those
working independently are advised to
think about what they would say in the
given situation and can then check their
answers at the back of the book. The fifth
exercise checks the main vocabulary the
students will need to talk about the
subject of the unit. First they have to
match items to definitions, and then
they use the target words to complete a
text. The unit ends with a discussion
activity. There are progress tests after
every five units and the full recording
scripts and answers to all the exercises
are available at the back of the book.
Presumably this book has been
produced as a supplementary text to
Macmillan's own coursebook Aviation
English, also written by Henry Emery and
Andy Roberts, but it could be used in
conjunction with any other course aimed
at aviation professionals.
Anyone who flies would be
comforted to know that those in
charge of the plane had the language
ski Its taught and practised in this
book in order to deal with any
emergency or non-routine situations
that might arise!
Loma Ampthill
Vend6me, France
A History of Ireland for
Learners of Engli sh
by Tony Penston
TP Publications 2010
Most major publishers of ELT
materials produce series of
graded readers to promote
extensive reading and
engage learners in entoyable ways of
practising their English and increasing
their vocabulary. The main attraction
of such readers is that they are
generalty short and largely fictionat ,
either simplifications of works of
literature or original stones written
specifically for learners. Students
can read them fairty quickly, thus
gaining the satisfaction of reaching
the end without too much effort,
and can easily tell if something is
going to interest them or not - and
if the reader they have chosen, Of
which has been chosen for them,
doesn't appeal, they can move
swiftly on to another one.
So it is that, when faced with a
120-page. self-published book on
the history of lrelaoo, presented as
a reader for learners of English,
and with a very dour, almost
mooochrome cover, my heart sank a little.
My first reaction was that a student would
have to be very interested indeed In Irish
history to want to plough through this. The
catch-all phrnse on the back cover 'would
also be enjoyed by native speakers who
prefer a less formal styfe of English' rang
alarm belts, too: writing graded readers is
a skilled business, and although the aim is
to produce a text which sounds natural as
well as being simple enough for learners
to understand, I have come across lew
that would be genuinely satisfying for any
native speaker of the language .
Nevertheless, having undertaken to
write a review, I began reading and was
pleasantly surprised. This would not be
an easy read for students, even those at
intermediate level (fOf whom it is
intended), but it would be a rewarding
one. The language is not all that simple,
but the book is divided into small
manageable sections with useful
vocabulary exercises, quizzes, etc to
break up the texl. It is also extremely well
illustrated with historical and
contemporary photographs and maps. I
still think students would have to have
quite a strong interest in the history of
Ireland to want to read it to the end, but
there is a pleasant mix of straightforward
historical narrative and more personal
stories about the characters involved,
and the text is interspersed with some
fascinating and quirky facts. I personally
learnt a lot from it.
Language students actually studying
in Ireland and keen to find out the
historical background of their place of
study, and those with an interest in
politics, would probably get the most out
of reading the book, and its structure
would allow for dipping in and out and
focusing on the parts of main interest if
reading from cover to cover was not an
Helena Gomm
West Meon, UK
_ tpl"Of lonel.c:om ENGLISH TEACHING pro/essiol/o/ ' Issue 70 September 2010 ' 45

ac( In
Andrew O'Dwyer champions the teaching
of language in context.
t was football-speak for look u/ll, a
phrase I'd used a litany of times on
the pitch. It could have been said
in so many other ways - hI' cafe/I.II.
/te(ull.lp, lIIal/ 011. Even \I'(I/("h 011/ would
have sufficed. But. thc look of confusion
on Jose's face was enough to confirm
that thc mcaning of II"{/Icll Yol.lr hOl.lse
had been wcllllnd truly lost on him, 1l11d
a warning I had shouted on innumenlble
occasions led 10 an irreparable mistake:
wc gifted possession to thc opposition
lind ... well. I'd rather not reve,ll what
happened next! It wasn't Jose's f<lull, of
course. It was his first exposure 10
footb<l ll in <lnolher counlry, <lfler <Ill.
The classrooms we enter every day arc
hivcs of activity. It would not be amiss
to say that, as teachers. we have the
chance 10 mould our sllldents,
particularly our lessfiucnt ones. in
whichever wlly we see fit. Thi s is not an
cxaggeration. The te,lcher can debunk
any language-learning myths Ihcir
students will no doubt h,tve acquired
during Iheir pursuit of illlprol"l'tI
English. That glorious phrase 'BIII Illy
leacher ill school wid lI1e. . still gets a
regular airing in my cl<lsses. The power
(for want of 11 beller word) that leachcrs
have in a classroom is extensive.
Learners possess almost blind faith in
teachers who teach with confidence. We
can convince even Ihe most sceptica l
students with our absolute conviction.
How can we achicvc this most satisfying
result? The lInswer is cOli/ex/. Our
sllldents work in pairs and groups on 11
daily basis. We ask Ihem 10 act oUI
roleplays 10 employ new structures. I
hllve always operated, though. under the
mantra that the classroom is nOlthe r(,lIl
world. How can it be? Sludents don't
mcclthcir fricnds in thc classroom. I
have yet to witness 11 student buying a
colTee or ordering a pi zza from the
relative comfort of their chairs. J cannot
imagine the classroom being an ideal
selling for u romantic date - although
many a student has had Iheir heart
stolen by a dashing teacher, which
renders my previous assertion a little
dubious at best! As teachers, we tend to
conlextualise within the confines of <In
almost pumlld world. The cl;lssroom
functions as a portal into the real world,
the world which our students actually
inhabit. Without doubt, thc ability of
te,\chers to contextualise is scvercly
limited by the very nature of our
workplace. However, contextua l ising
docsn'l need to be shoe-horned to the
extent that the students' sole exposure to
English ,IS u language of communicati on
occurs in a four-walled room. The
classroom is adcquat e, but it is not
enough. Students who have fun act ing
out some of the aforementioned
scenarios often lament their inability to
make them II"Qrk in the real world.
So, how do we best contextual ise what we
teach our students? I believe we achieve
this by stcpping ollHide the classroom.
There, the most common intcraction
that occurs between adult students and
teachers. almost inevitably, involves
alcohol! Wc join our students for a drink
and converse with them in ,I relaxed
atmosphere. This works to a degree. But.
why is alcohollhe constant pre-requisite
to confident communication? It is the
laziest approach to languagc immersion
that we humans employ. Surely, we can
do better. OK, I accept that our
students wouldn't appreciate us tagging
along 011 a dale, prodding them a littlc
in moments of uncertainty! I'm sure
they would rather take their chances in
th is particular social exchange!
However, Ihere must be something morc
we cun do to lIssist thcm better.
Socialising wit h students is the key. My
golden rule is: anYlI"here bill u bar.! A
'kick-around' on a Friday e\'ening is a
great personal pleasure: Ihere is always
a smattering of nati vc speukcrs. so it is
an environment which encourages the
use of English. It doesn't always work,
but it does ensure th'lt there ,ITe some
language barriers in place. Those with
litt le knowledge of football may not
appreciate that a five-a-sidc pitch is a
melting pot of emotion - it thriving
babble of communication! Men with
46 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _ . tprof slonal.com
egos find it very difficult to remain quict
in this tcstostcrone-fuclled cnvironment
so it is ideal for htnguagc practice!
So, what ,Ictivities can you do with
)'01/1' students? The best ones usually
require the least imagination:
Organise a game of footbal1. tennis or
Take your student s to the cinema or
Sample the delights at your local food
cmporium (a guaranteed stimulant of
Go to a lecture.
Attend a cultural event.
Go shopping.
Don't fall into the trap of assuming that
language <lnd socialising don't mix.
These experiences are invaluable for
students. even those with only a limitcd
grasp of English. I believe we
accomplish two crucial breakthroughs
wit h these activities:
We provide our students with a
genuine opportunity to use their
English outside the cl<lssroom.
The students g<lin a COlllext within
which they can explore and utilise
their communication skill s..
Teachers need to step out of the comfort
zone. Roleplay is thc thespian's biggcst
deccption. It works on a certain levcl.
However, we can do more for our
st udent s. Few, if any, of them would
objcct to being invited for 11 cup of coffee,
or to play fivc-a-sidc in thc cvcning.
Students weleome these opportunities.
This type of immersion is like tcaching
a child to ride a bicycle, We teach them
the basks. We never leave their sight in
the beginning. We push them along. We
offer them support when they need it.
We ,\ll\icipate their problems. The child
demands of us: /JOII','el 1111' go.! We
assure them we would never consider
doing such a thing. We do it, though,
eventually, We've given the child what
we can and it's up to them to try to
conjure up a formula that enables them
to function alone. It's not magic. It's
prelly easy. but they don't realise that.
The student is no different. By
contexlUalising, we instil confidence in
them, and mould them a little., so Ihat
they can now function in day-to-day
tasks. Think about it: How many of us
learnt to ride a bicycle indoors?
Making the transition from teaching
to contextualising is not difficul t.
Incorporate techniques that you use 10
develop other topics:
Brainstorm vocllbul;lry in the lexical
Focus in particular on itiiollllltic
language - phTllsal verbs. collocations.
colloquialisms - that the student s
may encounter.
Employ rolepllly liS a 1111'(11/$ to an
end, rather than as an end in itself.
Step out and be creative! Let the
slUdcnts use what they've pract ised -
in the r('(ll world.
It is naIve of a teacher to think of their
role as being limited to a pre-approved
timet<lble and venue. Teaching is still
considered a vocation. The best teacher
I had at school was my history
professor. He also coachcd thc rugby
team on which I played. That didn't
make him a better teacher, but it gave
me the opportunity to witness him in a
differcnt contcxt. I appreciated that he
was passionate about his work and that
he could instil some of thilt passion in
me. In fact. I respected him more as
well. because 1 saw him as somebody
who cared. 11 person whosc cxpertise
and skills extcnded beyond the
elassroom wc shared. And th;1\ is
impor\;\nt. It doesn't matter what
anybody says. Teachers who care, who
are willing to do that bit extra, have a
far greater impact on their students.



Context only cxists in the real world.
Jose has finally unlocked our coded
parlance! I W<lS playing football last
Friday when he screamed at me to
lI'(1/ch III)' hOlm'. (Incidentally, II'(I/ch
your house means you <Ire about to be
tackled.) I did a double-take. I was
astounded! A photograph of that
moment would havc becn priceless.
just to witness the alTI,lZement etched
into my brow! [ did look up alright, but
that was the limit of my reactions. My
umazement turned to despair us I gifted
possession to the opposition lind .. well
... you can guess the rest! (I1%>
Andrew O' Dwyer taught
lor si. years tn Dublin,
Ireland, but has recently
retocated to Budapest,
Hungary, where he worits
as a primary school
English teacher IClr
Janikovszky Eva A t t a t ~ n o s
Iskola, and with
tnternatlonat House and
Dover Nyelviskola. He
believes that the key to
competent, conlident and
conte)(!ual communication
can be lound within the
motto There's the official
way ... then there's the
real way,
_,.tprof ional,com ENGUSH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 ' 47
Titles for
English Language Teachers
Teaching English
One to One
by Priscill a Osborne
This new book provides an analysis of the problems of Icaching students
on a one- to-one basis. The book C()\'crs a wide range of topics in Ihis
field and cJllplajns leamer needs analysis and learner profiles. especially
the studcnl's current use of English and Ihe reason for IRking a oneto-
one course:; course planning: Itthniqucs which are specific 10 ooct().(}f1C
tcaching: techniques which don't work with one-to-one Icaching: and
using the lcamer as the resoul' for tcaching.
Teaching English with
Information Technology
by David Smith and Eri c Baber
This new pmc1ical guide for teachers provides an introduction to. find
nnionnle for. USing infonnation technology when Icaching English. The book
explains how teachers can U ~ e-leaming in English lunguage te'.tChing. The
IOpks covered i nclude using email ; the importance of the web i n ELT
(coI'er.> \\.cbsiles: using audio wid video clips from the web. web activities.
wcbquests and treasure hunts): using CD-ROMs: professional tmining on the
web for online teacher tmining and online leaching communities; audi o- and
video-conferencing and text chat: learning man.'1gement systems: and rin.'1l1y.
using standalone software on desktop computers.
Teaching English with
by Mark Almond
This new book covers the excil1lg seC10r of teaching English language
smdents using drama. plays and with theatre techniques,
The book covers a wide range of subjects for teachers including how to
plan class work. choosing appropriate texts. working with students with
thcatricaltechniques. modifying dialogue and lines for different le\'els of
student. stage management. and how these all work together to improve
language appreciation and learning: using classic plays. suggested
chamctm: resources beyond the textbook; using stories. songs. games. ctc.
email . admin@pavpub.com lei : +44 (0) 1243576444
ore t an pease
Mark Hancock recommends ways to increase
students' awareness of politeness conventions.
,say "please"J" children arc often
told. after saying something
like 'Girl' 1111' (/ bisClIit', If they
ask why, they may receive the
explal1<ltion 'Bertillse i(s polile', We
English teachers sometimes do the same,
A student asks. 'Why do El1glish
say" JVoll1d ),olllllilld ",?" when they're
not really asking a question?' and we
say. 'Becall.\'(' it's polite!' I think we
could do a lot more than this to
increase our students' awarencss of how
politeness works in English, The more
they arc awarc of it, the more they arc
empowered to use it in a way thut works
best for them, In this article. we'll look
at what politeness is. when it is used and
why. Then wc'lllook at how to make
these insights more apparcnt to students.
Positive and negative
We often think of politencss as being
long-winded ways of saying simple
things. like' Would YOIf lIIilld keepillg
)'011/' roice dOH'I1?' instead of 'SII111 liP!',
The long vcrsion is politc. thc short
version is rude. we say, This is not quite
true. however, According to social
anthropologists Brown and Levinson.
The more students
are aware of politeness,
the more they are
empowered to use it
in a way that works
best for them
politeness includes the cntire spectrum.
from convoluted indirectness through to
brief and direct. They call the former
'ncgative politeness' and the lall er
'positive politeness', Speakers choose
which degrec of politeness to usc from
along thi s spectrum, according to what
relationship they arc trying to achieve
with the listener.
Friends and strangers
In politeness terms. the significance of a
person's choice of words is determined
by when thcy use them: thc contcxt.
This includes who they <Ire t<llking to
and what they are talking about.
Typicall y. if you approach a stranger
with a request. you usc negativc
politencss. For cxample. you might say.
'Could yOIl dose tfte door, please?' The
question form gives the listener a get-
out: it implies th<lt you accept thcir
right to refuse. However, if you are
speaking to a very close friend. you can
be much more direct. such as 'Sltlll Ilwl
door - it'sfrce;il1g ill here!' This is
known as positive politeness: it implies
that you are too intimate to require
careful indirectness,
Interestingly. a speaker's degree of
intimacy with a li stener is not an
object ive fae\. It is something they
erell/e through the politeness strategies
they usc, For examplc, if you usc
positive politeness with someone you do
not know very wcll. you may be able to
create an atmosphere of intimacy
between you, It's a risky strategy. though.
because your listener may intcrpret your
directness liS rude lmd pushy. and your
relationship will be on the rocks.
The learner may be a
competent user of
politeness strategies in
their L 1 but fail to
recognise and transfer
the same strategies
to the L2
Power and authority
Choice of politeness strategies also
depends on whcther the person you are
speaking to is in a position of authority,
Typicall y. people talking to a superior
arc careful and indirect. If. on the othcr
hand. they lire talking to <I subordinate.
they may be very direct indeed, An
cmployee might say to a boss, ' Would;1
bl! possible for lI1e /0 hal'l! Ihis by
IOlIIorrow?', while the boss might say to
the employee. '} III/ell Ihis by lomorrow',
Strategies and
From the point of view of language
learning. there arc two important
factors here, First of aIL the learner
may be a competent user of politeness
strategies in their L1 but fail to
recognise lind tmnsfer the same
strategies to the L2, Secondly, the
poli teness conventions in the two
cultures may difTer. For example. in
Madrid it is commonplace for a
customer to walk into a bar and say in ......
_ . tprof lonat.com ENGLISH TEACHING professiol/al Issue 70 September 2010 ' 49
More than please
and thank you
Spanish, 'Gi\'(' 11/(' (/ roffee', In Britain. a
customer using such :I direct impcr:nivc
might give the impression Ihm Ihey
think they arc superior 10 the person
behind the bar. The server would be
entitled to think. or even say .. Who do
),011 thillk )"QII art'?' In Spain. the direct
imperative in this context may be
positive politeness. implying something
like' W/:',e (11/ ill Ihis /Oge/her as "'/I/afs.
so It'e ('(1/1 dispel/se .,.;Ih lIirs (1//(1 graces',
II's good to be lIwarc of these potential
In any interaction, a
speaker must judge
what kind and degree
of politeness to
use, and modify the
wording of what they
want to say accordingly
So how can we go about increasing
students' awareness of politeness? One
very effective strategy in language
teaching gcncnlily is \0 show what you
arc focusing on by showing whal it is
not. For example. you can focus on the
vowel sound in bel by showing it is I/O/
the Slime as the vowel sounds in bit or
&(1/. You can focus on the meaning of
the tense choice in She's (lrr;l"ed by
contrasti ng it with She (1";1"('(1. I believe
you can use the Slime strategy to focus
on poli teness.
Saying and thinking
In lilly interaction. a speaker must judge
whll! kind and degree of politeness to
usc. and modify the wording of what
they want to say accordingly.
Consequently. there may be a difference
between what the person says and what
they really think. This contnlsl lies
behind my suggestion of showi ng wh,lI
politeness is by showing what it is not.
Let's have a look at how this could work
in two samples of classroom material.
the first activit y from a spoken
intemction lesson and the second from
a lesson focusing on writing.
Activity 1
Look at the photocopiabl e llctivity on
p.lge 51. In Ihe cartoon. we see the
beginning of a converSlllion in which a
boy tries to convince a girl to go out with
him. We can sec Ihe boy's qucstion and the
girrs response but. in addition. we can sec
what the girl is thinking. The difference
between what she thinks and what she
says is intcresting becuusc it reveals the
politeness st rategies she is using. For
her openly 10 display her horror ut the
prospect of going out with Josh would be
very offensive. Insteud, she finds un e)(cuse
why she can't go out and then pretcnds to
be interested in Josh's reason for asking.
This rencet s the general politeness rule
that if you arc giving thc answer that your
interlocutor wants to hear. you can be
direct and sincere. but if you're giving
thc answer they don't want to hcar. you
may need to be tactful and indirect.
In the table. wc can scc how thc
COlwersati on in the cartoon continues.
including Ihc contmst between what
Emma SlIYS and what she really thinks.
You could ask the students to idcntify
the politencss strategies in Emma's
replics. They could al so havc some fun
deeiding what Emma's real thoughts
were in the last two boxcs of the central
column, Some classes may cnjoy
dmmatising the dialogue. wilh the person
in the Emmll role giving hcr 'thoughts' liS
a whispered aside. before switching to a
polite smile lind giving her rcsponse.
Activity 2
Look lit thc photocopiable acti\'ity on
page 52. Te)(t I is" polite email from a
woman who has had an overseas studcnt
staying in her home. The woman.
Margaret. is writing to thc student ,
Sonia. with a couplc of queria The
writer and lIddresscc are people of morc
or less thc same status. and they know
each other a little. but they are ccrtllinly
not close friends. For thi s rellson.
Mlirgaret uses lItone which is politc-
friendly. Text 2 is a 'thought bubble'
containing the same content liS the cmai l.
but showing what Margaret really thinks.
In the classroom. you could use this
materi al to rai se awareness of somc of
the issues involved in politcness choices.
First of all. ask your studcnts to read
the cmail and imagine the context. Who
are the writer and addressee? What is
their situati on? How wel1 do they know
elleh other? Then ask them to read Ihc
thought bubble vcrsion of thc mcsSllge
and say how it is dilTcrent from the
email and why. Here are somc insights
thcy might come up with. or you might
elicit or explain:
Margaret is writing 10 accuse Sonia
of somet hing. In her thought bubble. she
docs this directly. In hcr email. shc uses
face-saving strategics - that is. she makes
hcr accus.1lions very indirectly SO Ihlll
Sonia is not upset by the suggestion she
has donc something wrong. Margaret
begins by showing an interest in Sonia's
e."<pcricnccs since thcy Ilist mct. Shc finds
somcthi ng pleasant to say about Sonia
by thanking hcr for a bunch of nowers.
Whcn the lIttuSlltion begins in the second
pamgmph. Mlirgaret tries to make it
seem trivial - somcthing small and
unimportant. She ulso a\'oids directly
at"eusing Sonia, by suggcst ing that she
herself. or her dog. mllY be responsible
for the problems. Finally. she ends on a
positi vc nole by expressi ng 1I desire to
maintain their relationShip, In the
thought bubble. al1 of thcse stmtcgies
are conspicuous by their absence,
It's imporllll1tlo notc thaI the
thought bubble version of the IllcsSllge is
not wrong. It would probably be impolitc
in this particulllr contcxt. but in may be
polite in anothcr. For example. close
friends may address cllch ot her very
directly in this way. and this directness
is 1I positivc politcness stf<ltegy. If you
wrotc lin emaillikc Margaret's to a very
close friend. it might seem cold lind
distant - negativc politcness can have that
eflcct when used inappropriately. I t is
inteTCSting to discuss with students whcn
and with whom thcy would usc these
politeness stmtegies. as thcre arc likely to
be si milarities and dilTcrences between
cultures and e\'en between indi vidual s.
As a follow-up 10 the discussion of
poli lencss stntteg.ies. students could use
the same stmtegies to make the contents
of Soni,l's thought bubble (Text 3) into
1I poli tc cmail. Gi'P
Brown, P and Levinson. 5 Politeness
CUP 1978
II from
50 Issue 70 ~ p t e m b e r 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING projes,\;ol1l1l . _ tprof 'onal.com.
More than please and thank you
Activity 1 Responding to invitations

-----------j ' .
Hi , E. 'M'Mll... Ar e ':)ou \ r .. #,
dOl'h'5 0,""
Sa. -t:.-urda..:; ?
Inv itat ion m oves
Hi, Emma. Are you doing
anything on Saturday?
Well. I'm t hinking of going to the
ice rink. Would you like to come?
Oh come on! I'll buy you lunch as
Well, OK, how about one day
next week, after the exam's over?
We could go to the cinema,
OK, never mind. We can do
somet hing t he week after next
instead. I'll give you a ring ...
Real tho ug hts
Oh no. He's going to invite me
I can't think of anything worse
than going to the ice rink with
YukI I'd rather starve than have
lunch with you!
(you decide)
(you decide)
oh hi, :rosh,
WeLL, l''M
r ll.. -ehe r
ll..c tUll..LL,:) .
Tactful r efusals
Oh hi, Josh. Well , I'm rather busy,
actually. Why?
Oh. that sounds great, but I'm
afraid I've got to study for an
exam on Monday.
That 's very kind of you, Josh, but
I really can't.
I'm sorry. I've got a very busy
week with one thing and
another ...
OK, that'll be nice. Bye!
_.8tprof.ssional . c:om ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 ' 51
Text 1
Dear Sonia
More than please and thank you
Activity 2 Polite emails
I hope you had a good journey home. Did you have a chance to look around london when you
were passing through? I'm sorry I was out when you left so I wasn't able to say goodbye properly.
It was a nice surprise to come home and find that lovely bunch of flowers in a vase on the coffee
table. Thank you for that.
I'm just writing to ask you about a small thing really. I was wondering if you used the computer at
all before you left? It's not a problem if you did, but I've had trouble getti ng onto the internet
since you left. A box appears on the screen asking for a password. Do you know anything about
that? I'm sure it was my own fault - I probably pressed the wrong button or something. Not to
worry, I can ask my son; he's good with computers.
Oh, and one other small thing while I'm writing. I don't know if you remember the Sopranos DVD
we watched the night before you left? I was wondering if you have put it somewhere because the
disc isn't in its box. Perhaps the dog's taken it outside!
Well, that's all for now. It was really great having you to stay and I hope you' ll come again some
time - or, who knows, maybe we'll come to visit you!
All the best
Margaret 0
Text 2
Text 3
Hey, Sonia, what the hell have you been doing to my computer?
I can't get my internet connection to work properly. What is this
password you've put on it? And another thing - you haven't
walked away with my Sopranos DVD, have you? I can't find it
anywhere, and I know you rather liked it .
Hi , Marge. I haven't touched your computer! I bet it's
something your son did to it. He was always playing around
with it. That boy should get out more! As for the DVD, J bet
it'll be in the OVD player if you look there.
52 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _.etprofe lonal.com
From TDU to CPD
Bahar Gun suggests that winning teachers' approval is fundamental
to a successful development programme.
y 20 years'experienceasa
teacher educator. most of
which has been INSET
(inservice education of
teachers). has taught me one thing: you
can never win with teachers! I am aware
this is a strong comment to make. but
maybe after reading the following true
story of a Teacher Development Unit
(TDU) in a university selling in Turkey.
you can sec why I make it. and maybe. if
you <lfe a teacher educator yourself. you
will even agree with me. simply because
you have had similar experiences in your
own work contex\.
All teacher development programmes in
English language teaching sellings are
aimed atllchieving the same goal: to
contribute to the tcachers' professional
development. Institutions try different
routes to achieve thi s common aim.
Somc try informal methods. such as
allowing the teachers to discuss their
common concerns and brainstorm
possible solutions to commonlyshared
teaching Othcrs do it more
formally. with a structured teilcher
development programme in place. As
Richard Wails has pointed out. such
programmes arc oftcn geared towards
the interests of the course organisers
and/or the authorities rather than those
of the teachers According
to Richard Rossner. in most teachers'
opinions. . leacller derelopll/em lias 10 be
bOI/OI/Hlp. 1/01 dished 01/1 by mal/agers
accordil/g 10 their 011'1/ riel!' of what
del'I'Iopml!1I1 I('({elias IIced ... '.
The TDU in our institution was
established to provide in-service support
and development to enable English
teachers to achieve their full potentiaL
operating on the premise that teachers
who eontinuc to learn lIre more effectivc.
Since the school was establ ished six
years ago, the T DU has been organising
structured development,,1 activities for
the teaching staff. The activities
conducted in the last five years inelude
classroom obscrvilt ions. workshops
(trainer-led as well as teacher-led or led
jointly by trainers/teachers). swapshops..
short courses and in-service certificate
programllles.. The types of the activi ties
offered were determined by the trdiners
of the unit as well as the school
administrators. and the teachers'
opinions were ilsked (workshop topics.
for example) through questionnaires.
Teacher development
programmes are often
geared towards the
interests of the course
organisers rather
than those of the
teachers themselves
Teachers' attendance at workshops was
mandatory. This was the situation when
a decision was made to carry out a
fecdback study on the effectiveness of
the TDU activities three years llgO. What
follows is the story of that study and
what happened in the next two
Feeding back
Feedback obtained from the teachers
through questioll1ll1ires.. st ructured
interviews and focus groups showed
that , despite some o\'emll positive
comments.. they were not entirely happy
with the development activities for the
following reasons:
Although many teachers found
classroom observations useful, some
bel ieved that obscrvat ion was only
suitable for less experienced teachers.
When being observed by a more
senior colleague. teachers argued that
the classroom situation was unnaturaL
Teachers thought thill the workshops
were too frequent. unsuitably
scheduled. insufficiently practical and
tended to be repetitive. They wll11ted
the workshops 10 be optional. but
expressed interest in being involved in
They indiCilted that the swapshop
meetings. group discussions of the
following week's teaching materiaL "''eTC
too frequent and not very effective.
Re-thinking the
Taking all the feedback obtained into
consideration, the TDU Activity
Programme was redesigned for the
following year. Observill ions for
developmental purposes did continue:
workshops became optional and were
fewer in number. The workshop
programme WilS advertised. and those
who were interested signed up for the
workshops they wanted 10 attend.
Teacher involvement in the preparation
and presentation stages of workshops
continued. and swapshop meetings were
abandoned for that academic year.
Towards the end of the year.
another feedback questionnaire on the
TDU activities conducted that year was
given out. but yet again. the teachers
indicllted that theydidn't think the
TDU programme had becn very usefuL
Their reasons this time were:
Observations themselves.. as well as the
post-observation feedback sessions..
could cause stress on the purt of the
teachers when trainers were critical
and feedback was non-constructive.
Teachers thought workshops should
be more practice-based ntlher than
theoretical: also the pace of the ......
_ . tprof tonat.com ENGLISH TEACHING projbisiol/ol Issue 70 September 2010 ' 53
From TDU to CPD
programme did not allow them to
implement the practical ideas that
were provided in some of the
workshop presentations.
Somc teachers stated that the number
of workshops had dropped
dramatically that year. and that they
would prefer more frequently
conducted workshops, like the wcekly
ones in the previous year.
As for the teacher involvement in
workshop preparation and
presentation. a few noted that it was
sometimes diflicult to refuse when
asked by a trainer 10 prepare and
present a joint workshop. and that
they had to do it unwillingly.
Another re-think
After going through a state of confusion
as a result of the connicting feedback.
the TDU members and the management
decided to adopt an approach
combining the principles of both top-
down and bollom-up processes in
designing the in-service programme.
(Perhaps wc wcrc hoping wc could catch
the teilehers somewhere in the middle!)
The following year, as \\'ell as
regular mandalOry observations, extra
observations took place on the basis of
requests from teachers. In planning the
\\'orkshop programme. trainers prepared
two tracks: one group of practical,
optional workshops.. where tcachcrs
signed up. and another group of
compulsory ones for all teachers.
determined according 10 the trainer
observation resul ts and the perceived
nceds of the teachers.
Teacher involvement in workshops
continued almost in the same manncr:
cxcept it was the willing tcachers this
time who approached the triliners and
indicated an interest in gelling involved
in workshops.
Feeding forward
This three-year renection on a teacher
development unit in a university setting
brought out some points which any
institution with a TOU of a similar nature
might find it interesting to consider.
It was interesting to note the change
that the TOU had to undergo over the
period of three years. moving from
tilking a top-down approilch to a
bottom-up approach. suggesting that
effective professional development is
teacher-oriented ilnd thilt (as Nilashia
Mohamed expresses it) iIlI"O/rillg le(Jchers
ill Ihe plallllillg alld 1/11' ddil"el)" of 1/11'
programme isfim(/(llIIelllallO its sucress.
Unfortunately, however. the
feedback obtained in the second year
showed naws in this kind of bOllom-up
approach as well and. as iI result. in the
third year both top-down and bOllom-
up approaches were adopted.
The aim in any
teacher education
programme should
be to engender
favourable attitudes to
growth and change
among teachers
In the light of this experience. it
might be claimed that iI successful teacher
education programme should be both
top-down and bOllom-up. ilnd that
taking teilchers' views into account can
have a positive impact on both the
teachcrs' professional development and
the institution. and is, therefore.
important. The aim in any teacher
education programme. maybe combining
thc principlcs of the two opposing
approiKhes.. should be to engender
favourable attitudes to growth and change
among teachers. However. an even more
important implication for alltcachcr
education programmes, as with the one
in our institution. would be to propose
adopting a new Continuous Professional
Development programmc (CPO) based
on individuill teachers needs. Past
experience in our TOU showed that we
should abandon the 'one-size-fits-all'
kind of programmc, composed of
snapshot observations. presenting 'one
for all' workshops, circulating
conferencel seminar announcements.
sending teachers to odd conferences. etc
- simply because thcy do 1101 fit!
As Keith Hilrding points out. each
teacher is at iI different stilge of
professional development: therefore
their nceds differ. This suggests Ihat
teacher educators. by tuning into the
teachers' needs. should be aware of
individual expectations and approach
each tellcher with 1I different menu' for
professional development. The tritiners'
mllin responsibility should be to hc!p
the teitchers to incre,tse their awareness
of weaknesses and strengths. ie 10
become effective. rencctive practitioners,
ilnd they should be ilble to identify
individual CPO needs and provide
relevant activities to mcet them. This
would avoid the misilikes of the past -
one big Illenu for the entire stiln' - and
having a teacher devc!opment unit in an
institution would be worthwhile not only
for the teachers but also for trainers and
administrators: eventu;tlly leading to
development of the whole school.
I am happy that in our institution we
are now gelling closer to establishing a
new CPO programme. after the period
of painful confusion over Whill it is
teachers really want for their
development. [ find myself looking
forward to feedback from teachers 011
the CPO system in the next two or threc
years. Maybe one day we will wi n their
approv;ll. Hopefully, then. we will all be
winners! G2l>
Harding, K 'CPO' Modern English
Teacher 18(3) 2009
Mohamed, N 'Meaningful professional
development' English Teaching
Professional 42 2006
Rossner. R 'When there is a will -
facilitating teacher development' IATEFL
Teacher Development SIG Newsletter 18
Watts, A J 'Planning in-service training
courses: institutional constraints and
non-native EFL teachers' perceptions'
International Journal of Applied
Linguistics 4(1) 1994
Bahar Gun currently
works at Izmir Uni versity
Of EconomiCS, Turkey,
as the Assistant Director
of the SChoot of Foreign
Languages, where she is
primarily in charge 01
teaCher education
54 Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . __ .tprof slonal.com
1 pus
+ Looking for new experiences within the profession?
+ Interested in different ways of developing beyond
the classroom?
+ Hoping fOf' tips on how to extend and enrich your
professional life?
Teacher Plus is a series which focuses on specific areas in which you can
step outside the strictly teaching sphere.
Getting into ELT management
Sue Leather discusses becoming an ELT manager with Andy Hockley.
n Issue 69 01 ETp, I wrote about
writing materials for publication,
which, I argued, often grows naturally
Oul of teaching. This time, I turn to
management, another area which. for
many of you as teachers, seems like a
natural career progression. After all, when
you look at what you do as a leacher, it is
evident thaI your work iocorpomtes some
key management skills. As well as
spending a lot of time managing people-
your students - your woril: includes the
need for effective communication, time
management, organisation 01 human and
physical space and resources, and
In short, managing the diverse and
ever-changing nature 01 the classroom is
essential in lacilitatlng students' learning,
and it is vital that all teachers develop
management strategies in the classroom.
So teachers are managers, then, aren't
Well, maybe. Needless to say, though,
becoming a Course Direct or, Director 01
Studies or Principal 01 a school will requi re
the further development 01 some of the
skills you already have, a.nd the addition of
some new ones. So how can you decide il
management is really for you? What kind
of training can you get? How can you go
about getting into management?
To help me answer these questions, I
discussed with my associate Andy
Hockley, an ELl management consultant
and trainer, some of the issues around
getting into management.
Why go into ELT
Andy: I Ihink for many people, as you
say, it does seem like a nalural career
progression, but beyond this I'd say Ihere
are some very good reasons for getting
involved in management. The first one Is
that developing yourself and learning new
skills is always a good thing to do-
whatever direction that professional
development takes you in. In addition,
most teachers have, I hope, experienced
good management and leadership as
well as, I fear, bad management. Going
into management can allow you to t ake
some of those lessons learnt lrom being
a 'beneficiary' - or 'victim' - of
management, and apply them yourself.
It's also a path to take that has an
obvious structure in place - in many
language schools you can cut your teeth
on coordinating a level, move on 10 being
a senior teacher and then perhaps to an
ADOS position. This gives you a clear
path to lollow, but also means yoo can
decide at various stages whether
management is for you.
Managing the diverse and
ever-changing nature of the
classroom is essential in
faci litating students' learning
Sue: Yes, I agree with that. In addition, I
think that going into management is ooe
means of having an effect on teaching at
a different level from just being in the
classroom. In that way, it's a bit like going
into teacher training. II's about changing
perspective. I think that can be very
enriching, and certainly you can gain a 101.
I think most people are aware that
going from teacher to manager has some
downsides, too. Ooe of the things I
noticed when I first became a manager,
for example, was that I missed the
classroom, missed that daily contact with
my own students. You probably did, too .
What do you give up by
going into management?
Andy: Well, obviously one thing you give
up is the classroom experience, which
can be difficult 10 cope with. Many
recently-appointed managers struggle
between wanting to do as much teaching
as possible and realising that they just
don't have the time.
Another thing that new managers
often tell me is how difficult they found
the transition was from colleague/peer to
boss. However much people assume their
relationships with their colleagues will not
change, in subtle - or perhaps not so
subtle - ways they will. This will be the
case regardless of whether you enter a
management position in the school at
which yoo were previously a teacher or if
you take up a post elsewhere.
Sue: Yes, I agree that coping with your
different role can be hard. I suppose
that's one aspect that trai ning could help
with. You mentioned one pat h into
management being to take on different
responsibilities at school level. But what
about training and formal qualifications
for ELT management?
What kind of management
courses are available?
Andy: Obviously there are lots of general
management courses around, up to and
including an MBA (Masters in Business
Administration), but there are also a few
courses specifically lor the language
teaching field. Perhaps the most well-
known, and certainly most internationally
portable, is the International Diploma in
Language Teaching Management (IDLTM),
which is a qualification joinlly certified by
Cambridge ESOL, the University of ~ ~ ~
_ tprof lonal.com ENGLISH TEACHING professiol/al . Issue 70 September 2010' 55
Teacher plus
Getting into ELT
Queensland, Australia, and SIT (School for
International Training) in the USA. Then
there is the DELTM (Diploma in English
Language Teaching Management), run by
English UK. International House London
also runs a modular online course in ELi
Sue: I think the ELi management field
has definllely developed in the last few
years, and there is certainly more specific
training available. I think it's also worth
mentioning the support organisations
such as the ELi Leadership and
Management Special Interest Group of
IATEFL (see below), which has a
newsletter and an online discussion
group and organises workshops. I think
such groups can be a very useful source
of information about current issues and
training possibilities.
So, after the training, what about the
jobs? You mentioned earlier the different
levels of management. What are your
thoughts on the range of management
jobs within the profession?
How do I get a job in ELT
Most Obviously, there are Directors of
Studies jobs in various schools round the
world - within networks like International
House and Bell , for example. These jobs
can be applied for online through a
central site, Also. of course, the British

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Email: info@etprofessional.com
Council, though probably one would be
unlikely to get a job as a teaching centre
manager with the BC without prior
experience. However, in my experience,
the vast majority of people get involved
in ELT management and take their first
management position within the school
that they've worked for as a teacher-
whether that be al a private language
school, a university language department
or a state school.
One quite common way to get your
first management position is in a summer
school. Many summer schools in the UK,
say, tend to be looking for a 005 or an
academic director, and they will often
draw those managers from a pool of
experienced teachers rather than
qualified or experienced managers.
Another possibility is to ask your
current boss if you can shadow them for
a while, perhaps volunteering to take on
some extra responsibilities; see if they
will act as a mentor to you.
Sue: I got my first management job in the
school I worked for as a teacher. I had
my training ' on the job', and only later
got some formal training. There was
actually a lack of formal training for
managers in ELT at that time, which is
what made me starl a local organisation,
and then a national one, to address the
need for support and training,
As you say, though, that's quite a
common route into management. I agree
with you too that managing a summer
school is a way that teachers frequently
get their first management experience.
It's also a very good one, because you
can 'put your toe in the water' and see if
you really like it.
Do you have ideas you 'd like to share
with colleagues around the world?
Tips, techniques and activities: simple or
sophisticated; well-tried or innovative;
something that has worked well for you?
All published contributions receive
a prize! Write to us or email:
edi tor@etprofessional.com
Writing for ETp
Would you like to write for ETp?
We are always interest ed in new writers
and fresh ideas. For guidelines and
advice, write to us or email:
e ditor@etprofessiona l.com
ELT management is a challenging and
exciting career path, and one that
provides great scope for professional
development. Whichever route you take
into it, we hope this article has given you
some starting points. Gi2>
ELT Leadership and Management
Special Interest Group of IATEFL
ELT Leadership and Management
Special Interest Group Discussion
Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/
Sue Leather is an
educational consultant ,
trainer trainer and writer.
She has delivered talks,
workshops and COurSeS
in over 25 countries for
the British CounCil and
other organisations, She
was the lounder 01 the
El T Management Special
Interest Group of IATEFl
and of lhe Directors of
Si udies Association
movement in the UK,
Andy Hockley is a teacher
trainer and educational
management consultant
and trainer, based in
Romania. He was
involved in the creation
and development 01
Cambridge ESOl 's
International Diploma
in language Teaching
Management, and
regulariy trains on the
L ____ ...... course as well as other
El T management
courses and workshops
round the world.
Do you have something to say about
an art icle in the current issue of ETp?
This is your magazine and we would
reaJly like to hear from you.
Write to us or email:
Visit the ETp website!
The ETp website is packed with practical
tips, advice, resources, information and
selected articles. You can submit tips
or articles, renew your subscription
or simply browse the features.
56 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _.etprofe lonal.com
Blanka KlimovA finds that online tuition
places new demands on online tutors.
-Iearning courses (using
multimedia technology to
deliver tuition) hi\Ve become an
indispensable part of acquiring
new knowledge. particularly at tertiary
level. Almost all the universities in the
Czech Republic now olTer them. both
for their own students. and also for the
general public - such courses arc
attractive to universities as they can be
an additional source of income.
The FlIculty of Informatics and
Management at the University of
Hradee Knilove has been intensely
involvcd in thc lIpplication of c-learning
since 1999, liS the teachers see this liS 11
way of improving the quality of their
teaching. We also find it contributes
enormously towards increasing the
elTecti\'eness and efficiency of the
educlltional process. and it enhances
leimler autonomy. Our e-courses arc
created in a virtual learning
environment called WebCT. At present.
more than 150 e-courses lire olTered.
with more thilll 45 of these being
English language courses. Some of
them, such as Writ/I'll Busil1l'ss English.
o.;an ho.; taugllt o.;Ulllplo.:tdy unliuc.
Each part of an online course starts
with sc1f-study information input lind
concludes with tasks, quizzes or
assignments. Self-study is very important
for our students. As Ian Badgcr has
pointed ouL the time available for
leilfllers to spend on improving their
language skills will always be limited.
For many learners. there will never be
enough time or money available to
allend regular language classes. but all
learners can find the time lind money for
self-study. There are several key factors
which innuence successful self-study:
learner motivation - Motivating
factors can include job satisfaction,
enh1lllced job performllnce, financial
rewards, possible promotion, ilnd
success in tests and examinations.
ti me - It is neeessary to create a level
of interest in self-study that can
compete with the other activities in
the learners' lives.
learner support - A close link
between sc1f-study and classroom-
based tasks, regular contact with a
tutor, contact with fellow students
and access to a language support
website are all important.
affordability - The comp.natively low
cost of self-study is allTactive to
study materials - Materials must be
highly accessible and easy to use.
Usually. there arc only three face-to-
face tutorials: an illfrodIlClOr)' llIIoria/,
whcre the students meet their tutor who
will guide and support them through
the whole course. a mid-iOIIY.\/' II/Iorial.
where the silldents usually diseuss with
thcir tutor any problems they have come
across when doing their assignments.
and thefil1al lulOrial, where the
students' work is evaluated orally by the
tutor. This is particularly suitable for
distance silldents and those doing their
main courses at other universities.
Some students attcnd regular classes
and use the e-courses for revision. going
over the information taught in cl ass again
and doing additional practice exercises.
Finally, there arc 'blended' courses
which combine online and face-to-face
teaching. Conventional face-to-face
teaching is sometimes nccessilry for the
development of speaking communication
skills. Students can. for example, do
reading and writing tasks on their own,
and the teachers can concentrate more
on listening and speaking activities in
class. In our Academic Wriling course,
the students meet a teacher once every
two weeks to discuss and clarify any
mistakes thcy have made in their essays.
The e-Ieilrning courses. however
a!tractive and cheaper they might seem,
require a new approach to teaching.
Consequently, thc traditional role of the
teilcher is chilnging, with the result that
the understanding of the word leaciter
itsc1f has altered. In the e-Iearning
courses difTerent names arc employed.
for example coach, Ica(ier, lIIodl'f(l/or,
j(lcililatur. 1IIl'llia/ur or III/Of. In this
article we will usc the word III/or.
Clltherine Gerrard emphasises
severill fealUres which differentiate
online tuition from traditional tuition.
Online tuition:
places grcilter emphasis on written
produces a more formal tone;
docs not follow a linear conversation,
but instead promotes multiple
docs not confine teaching to specific
places greater emphllsis on
student- studcnt learning;
requires tutors to develop new WilYS
of encouraging participation;
requires tutors to assess the worth of
online contributions.
Tutor tasks
E-Iearning tutors have to perform a
wide variety of tasks:
Organising, delivering and evaluating
Pmvicling stlldenls wi th explicit ll!1d
clear instructions and a study guide:
Helping students to overcome
obstacles so that they achieve their
learning objectives;
Correcting. evaluating and delivering
fecdbilck on the students' individUill
assignments - and returni ng them,
ideally within three days;
Resolving potential study connicts;
Supporting and encouraging the
students in their studies bye-mail and
Reacting to enquiries and giving
Sometimes creating the content of the
e-learning course, which makes them
responsible for its qual ity. .. ....
_ . tprof tonal.com ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 57
Tutor skills
Stcve \Vhcctcr has listed seven skills thai
c-lcarning tulors should possess:
They should be able to support and
encourage learners:
They should not be afraid to take
risks with new technologies:
They should be able to transfer good
tcaching skills into online contexts;
T hey should be good communicators
in any medium:
They should be non-conformists;
They should thrive in a culture of
T hey should h<lvc the ability to see
Ihe big picture.
Tutor roles
Zane Berge has identified four main
etulor roles:
Pedagogical or intellectual roles.
These are Ihe most important in the
e-Icilrning process. The C-lu\Or uses
questions and probes for SWdCllt
responses that focus discussions on
criticlll concepts. principles and skills.
Social roles, These involve the
creation of friendly and comfortable
social cnvironments in which students
feel that learning is possible.
Managerial or organisational roles.
These involve selling learning
objectives: establishing agendas for
the learni ng activities; timetabling
learning ,Ictivities and tasks:
clarifying procedural rules and
decision-making norms.
Technical roles, These urc possibly
the most daunting for academics.
They involve becoming familiar,
eomfortable and competent with the
ICT systems and software that
compose the e-learning environment.
There is no particular pedagogical
appro.tch recommended for e-courses.
However, certain principles are worth
following. The whole course should be
divided into separate lessons. with the
structure of eaeh lesson following these
basic learning steps:
informing of objectives:
presenting content:
assessing performance;
providing feedbac k.
The p,nticular structure of each of our
lessons is:
Ooal - a short statement motivating
the participants to study the
particular lesson:
Prerequisites - previous knowledge
required to master the lesson;
Skills to be learl1\ - a description of
the knowledge to be gained in the
particular lesson;
Body - the cOl1\el1\ in the form of
texts.. exercises and questions;
T'lsks. quizzes or assignments - ways
in which understanding can be
assessed in order to provide feedbac k.
At the introductory tutorial. studel1\S arc
acquainted with thc e-subject. its content
and requirements. Furthermore, they arc
shown how to use lhe WebCT virtual
learning environment. Unfortunately, it
is often the case, in our experience, that
not all the students p.nticipate in the
introductory tutorial. This can cause
Instructions for
working in the e-Iearning
environment should
be written clearly and
concisely, and all the
students should be made
aware that they need to
read them thoroughly
slight problems later on, not only for the
tutor but also for the students themselves.
The principal issue scems not to be
problems with the operation of the
virtual environment. but students being
unsure of where to find all the necessary
infornwtion and which tools of the
virtual environment to usc. Those
students who were not present (and
sometimes even those who were) at the
introductory tutorial often don't read the
syllabus, information about the goals of
the subject or announcements about the
mid-couTSC tutorial. As a result, they miss
the dcadlines of some assignments. This
means that they don't receive any marks
for these assignments. Another problem
seems to be that the students who opt
for e-Iearning language courses tend to
be those with lower levels in the target
language. This makes it impossible for
some students to finish the online COUTSC.
Online teaehing/lcarning is part of a
contemporary trend towards
personalisation and individualisution of
Icarning which has becn made possible by
advancements in informationtcchnology.
Howevcr, it imposes great demands on
its creators and the tutors who deliver
it. They must necessarily comply with
new requiremcllls if they want their
e-Iearning tutoring to be a success.
E-learning can be challenging for
students as wcll as tutors. To avoid
problems like those outlined above,
instructions for working in the e-Icarning
environment should be written clearly
,Uld concisely, and all the students (both
present and absent) should be made
aware that they need to read them
lhoroughly before they start work on
the online coursc. Moreover, students
should be told not to be afraid of
contacting thcir tlltor if they are not
surc how to handle particular tasks or
assignments. If this is done, e-Iearning
can be a successful experience for both
tutors and students. 0
Badger, t 'Self-study and the business
learner' Talk given at the 37th Annual
IATEFL Conference. Brighton 2003
Berge, Z L 'The role of the moderator in
a Scholarly Discussion Group (SOO)'
zlbmod.html Accessed 27/812009
Gerrard, C 'Promoting best practice for
e-tutoring through staff development' In
Proceedings of Networked Learning:
Third International Conference, Lancaster
Unlvarsity and University of Sheffield
26th-28th March 2002
Wheeter, S 'Learning with 'e's'
fufOr.html Accessed 2718/2009
Btanka Klimov8 teaches
at the Faculty 01
tnformatics and
Management of the
University of Hradec
Czech Republic.
Her main fietd of interest
is teaching business
Engtish. In addition, she
runs courses In the
culture and history of
Britain and the USA, and
academic writing.
5 8 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _ . tprof tonat,com
Current Vacancies
To advenise in this section,
please contact Sean Close on
+44 (0)1536 747333 or
Looking to recruil teachers
for your schools
thi s forthcoming academi c year?
Why not advertise in thi s trusted
worldwide publi cation for as little as
140 for two months.
For more infomlati on. please call
Scali Close on + 44 (0) 1536 747333 or
email : sean.close(tl mainlinemedia.co. uk
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For more Information, please call Sean Close on
+ 44 (0)1536747333 or email: sean.close@malnllnemedla.co.uk

Five things you always wanted to know about
(but were afraid to ask)
Blogging yes, but ' micro'? Does
this refer to very small blogs?
In a way. yes. Microblogging consists of
very short messages (or 'updates') you
send Oul via the internel, of no more than
140 characters (not w o r d s ~ . For this reason
it is also known as 'blogging for lazy
people'. The content of your mk:roblogging
messages is necessarily short (some
would say superficial). Probably the best-
known microblogging tool at the moment
is Twitter (www. twitter.com) .
Ah. Twitterll 've heard of that.
What does that do?
It's a bit like SMS or texl messaging. You
send out a short message via your Twitter
account, and all of your contacts (or
'followers' in Twitter parlance) will be able
10 read it if they are logged in as well. Here
are some examples of messages (known
as 'tweets') I have sent in the past week:
@harrisonmike BBC has good
podcasting sites for Eng lang learners
incl lower levels http://bit.lyllZaLQ
Worl<; ing on final proof s of new book w
@Iclandfield Teaching Online (due out
soon). How many more Ts can I cross
before going mad?
Social learning? Yes, it exists
hnp:llbiUy/dCiy1 d - @f oxden#Elearning
four ways with weblnars
http://bit.ly/cI1OJN #elearning #edtech
Back f rom 3 days on beach - heaven!
Andorra tmrw but slow vodaphone
dongle means bad connections & no
Twiner :-(
Tweets are typically a mix of the personal
and professional. Twitter requires you to
have followers, and you also need to
follow people yourself. If you follow
someone on Twitter, you will be able to
read their tweets, but they will only be
able to read your tweets if they follow
you. So you could decide to fol low
someone famous like Barack Obama or
Britney Spears, and you will be able to
read their tweets. But unless Barack or
Britney decide to follow you (which is,
let's face it, unl ikely) they won't be
reading your tweets!
Twitter has spawned (sorry, hatched) a
whole range of related vocabulary, which
you can bandy around if you want to sound
like you need to get out more: tweeple
(people in your Twitter network), dweet (a
tweet sent while under the influence of
alcohoij, mistweet (a tweet you later regret),
twitterati (cool A-list tweeters who have
thousands of followers) ... You can read
more about Twitter in Issue 60 of ETp.
Is Twiner the only
microblogging tool?
Twitter is certainly the most popular (and
therefore best-known) of the microblogging
tools. but there are other odd-sounding
ones, including Tumblr, Plurk and Jsiku.
They all work on the same principle - you
send out a short 'update' of a maximum
of 140 characters, and the people in your
microblogging network can read it.
How does microblogging rel at e
to the classroom teacher? Can
I use it with students?
There is one microblogging tool which is
particularly useful for educators. Edmodo
(www.edmodo.com) is, in fact, known as
'Twitter for teachers'. One of the big
advantages of Edmodo is that you can
very easily set up a closed group for your
students, and all they need to join the
group is an access key (password). There
is none of the hassle involved with
following and being followed by others.
Edmodo allows you to share files,
assignments and videos easily, and to
create polls for your students. If your
students have laptops or internet-enabled
smartphones in the classroom, you can
send them handouts, links, embedded
videos, and so on, via Edmodo at the
precise moment these are needed in class.
No more writing long web addresses on
the board, or handing out worksheets - all
this can be done online in your now-wired
classroom. A tool like Edmodo can also be
In this series, Nicky Hockly
explains aspects of technology
which some people may be
embarrassed to confess that they
don't really underst and. In thi s
arti cle, she explains microblogging.
used by the class out of the classroom to
chat , share links and resources, send in
assignments or do quiues.
What about microblogging and
professi onal development?
If we have Edmodo for students and the
classroom, we have Twitter for teachers
outside of the classroom. As a far more
public forum, Twitter is partk:ularly sulled to
creating professional networks. There is a
large and active Engl ish language teaching
community in Twitter already, and all you
need to do is to join them to be able to tap
into a wide network of expert ise, sharing
and support. Once you are connected to
a critical mass of other teachers from
around the world in Twitter, you start to
see the benefits. Here is how to do it:
Create your own Twitter account at
Find at least 50 people (teachers) to
fol low. Do this by following one person
already in Twitter, then look at who
they are following, and follow the same
people! You can use my network -
fol low me at @theconsultantse.
II will take you a few weeks to get into
the swing of Twitter. Try to allocate, say,
15 minutes twice a day in which to
read tweets from your network and to
contribute your own ideas, comments
and links. For me it has become my
most important and up-to-date source
of ongoing professional development.
Nicky Hockly has been
Involved In EFL teaching and
teacher training since 1987.
She Is Clrector of Pedagogy
of The ConsultantsE, an
online training and
development consultancy.
She Is co-author of Learning
English as a Foreign
Language for Dummies (John
Wiley & Sons) and Teaching

.. ~ ___ Online (Celta Publishing).

She maintains a blag at
and you can follow her on
Twitter at Olheconsultilnlse.
Conl iICl Nk:ky II nk:ky.hockly@1hllCunsuHiWll$e.com
and let hI!!" know or any other leT illea5 you'd like her to
elpklre In this Sl!!"ies.
60 . Issue 70 September 2010 ' ENGLISH TEACHING professional . _.etprofe lonal.com
Russell Stannard celebrates
sites which seem simple but do so much.
he flood of useful technologies and tools on the internet
never ceases to amaze me. II really is hard to keep up
with so many great pieces of software. In this issue I want
to focus on some quick, useful tools thai can help either you or
your students. They are all very simple to use and you can
demonstrate them to your students very easily.
Find words that rhyme:
www.rhymes. net
When you are preparing lessons about pronunciation and you
quickly need to find some words that rhyme, this useful tool will
come to your rescue. You just key in a particular word and it
provides you with a collection of words that rhyme with it. These
are divided into groups according to how many syllables they
have. The site has some other interesting sections, too, and it is
really worth exploring.
Find a verb conjugation:
http://conjugator.reverso.net! conjugation-
engli sh.html
This can be very helpful for students who need to find certain
verb forms or conjugations. Simply key in the word, click on
'Search' and it produces a large table with all the different
conjugations. The site does a lot more and can also be used for
French, German and Spanish.
Print out some flashcards:
www.eslfl ashcards.com/
This site is amazing. It offers numerous sets of illustrated
vocabulary flashcards and they are all free. You can see the list
of sets in the middle of the screen. Hover your cursor over the
name of each set to see what words are covered in it. Click on
the name to see the cards. You can choose from three different
ways to download them: either one card, two cards or nine small
cards per page. The qual ity of the pictures is extremely good
and there are plenty of cards to choose from. Provided you have
a printer, this is a superb 1001.
Look words up quickly in a dictionary:
The more I use this tool , the more I like it. Imagine you are a fairly
high-level student and you are reading a text. Let's say there are
ten words in the text you don' t understand. Just key the words
into 'Easy define' and it will search for all ten words at the same
time and give you a dictionary definition for each one. This can
save you a lot of time as you can do multiple searches and then
print out the resulting definitions. It is not perfect and the
definitions tend to be quite high-level , but it is a very useful tool.
Find the origins of words:
www.etymonline.com/ index. php
This is a great site if you want to know where a word comes
from. I keyed in soccer and it informed me that it is an
abbreviation of Association in the term 'Association Football '
with er added to the end. I also looked up London, Fosbury flop
and hallmark. I received very clear and easy-to-read explanations
of the origins of these words. Just key in the word you are
interest ed in and click on the 'OK' button. I love learning about
the origins of words and it can make teaching vocabulary so
much more interesting. I can see potential for students to use
this tool , too.
Find the most popular words in English:
http://quizicon.com/ 100-Most-Common-
What a fun tool this is! 1\ gives you five minutes to think of the
most common 100 words in English. You simply press the start
button and begin wriling in the words you think will be on the list.
If they actually are in the top 100, they will appear immediately on
the screen. This is great fun to do with students. It is very easy at
the beginning (everyone can predict that words like a, the, and,
that and but will be on the list) but it gets harder and harder, and
you are limited to just five minutes. I have used it several times in
class and it has gone down really well with my students.
Use a talking dictionary:
www.languageguide.org/ engli sh/
This is a superb visual dictionary. Just click on the category you
want and a page will open up with lots of pictures related to that
topic. Roll your cursor over the pictures and you will hear the
words pronounced and see them spelled out on the screen. The
words are very clearly pronounced and the level of detail is
excellent. Encourage the students to print the sheets out and
learn the words. They can listen and repeat them, too. to get
extra pronunciation pract ice. There are also other languages on
this site. My students really like this and find it very useful.
You can find free help videos, which I have created, that
will show you step-by-step how to use these tools, plus a
few more, at:
www. t eachertr aini ngvideos.com/ 10si mple/ index.html
Russell Stannard is a principalle<:;l urer in leT al the
University 01 Westminster, UK. He won the Times
Higher Education Award lor Outstanding Initiatives in
Inlonnation and Communications Technology for his
website www.teacherirainingvideos.com. He was also
one of the winners of the 2OtO British Council ELTons
Keep sending your favourite sites to Russell .
Visit the ETp website!
The ETp website is packed with practical tips, advice, resources,
information and selected articles. You can submit tips or articles,
renew your subscription or simply browse the features.
www.et professi onal .com
_.8tprof.ssional.c:om ENGLISH TEACHING professional . Issue 70 September 2010 ' 61
Don't just take our word for it ...
" Pilgrims advertises in ETP because we know it
is one of the best ways to target like minded professionals for our courses. The magazine
reflects a fresh approach to articles and ideas as does Pilgrims so there is a great synergy.
In this age of technology and on-line media it's easy to forget many people (teachers
especially) still like to read paper magazines too! ETP lucki ly embraces new media whilst
not forgetting traditional journals - which stay on shelves in staff rooms and are passed
from colleague to coll eague. It is therefore an important part of our overall media strategy. ' ,
Jim Wright,
Head of Teacher Training
" we've advertised with ETP for many years and have always been really pleased with the
service we get from the team. It's great for Macmillan to have our products featured in such
a practical and popular magazine for teachers.' ,
Beverley Clarke
Marketing Co-ordinator
Macmillan [ducation
" over the years we have consistently advertised in English Teaching professional and wi ll
continue to do so in the future. We part icularly value the diverse readership, including
committed English t eaching professionals from every part of t he wor ld. We also find there
is a very close match between the topics and concerns covered in the publication and those
covered by our own academic and professional development courses. In all respects,
English Teaching professional is a natural place for us to advertise and a great place for us
to be seen. ' ,
Dr. Juup Stelma
lolA T[SOL Course Director
University of Manchester
In this column Rose Senior explains why certain teaching techniques and
class management strategies are effective, and identifies specific issues that can assist
ali language teachers in improving the quality of their teaching.
Competitive games
ompetition is something we learn
about early on in our lives:
toddlers competing for the same
toy, youngsters seeing who can
run fastest, and so on. Children quickly
learn of the excitement of games, such as
desperately rushing to grab a seat in
'musical chairs' or shouting to teammates
to pass the soccer ball. Children also learn
how exhilarating it is to win a competition -
effort out of their students, worrying that
valuable teaching time will be lost if they
allow anyone to relax for a single moment.
Keeping classes under constant pressure is
often counterproductive since student s
tend to switch off, with the result that little
further learning takes place. Competitive
team games - provided they are
conducted in a spirit of friendliness and fun
parlicularly if the reward
comes in the form of a prize
- and how devastating it is
to be the loser. They also
learn how humiliating it is to
let teammates down or to
- can function as much-needed pressure-
release valves, part icularly at
the end of lessons when
One technique for
come in last in a race. In
enli vening collaborative
tasks is to include a
competitive element
students have worked hard.
Classes can easily be
divided into teams: those
Silting on the left of the room
versus those on the right, for
view of the strong mot ivati onal power of example. Allowing each team to choose a
competition, shouldn't we encourage
competition in our language classes?
recently-studied words for one of their
teammates, who is seated in front of them
with their back to the board (on which the
teacher has written the word to be defined).
'Word-swat ' is another favourite
because of the physical activity involved.
Two students holding plastic fly swats
st and on either side of the board, which is
filled with linguistic items from the lesson.
The l eacher then defines one of the items,
the student being the first to 'swat ' the
correct one winning a point for their team.
II is always tempting for students to
become too serious about winning, so
although we should praise the winning
team, we should also say something such
as 'Well done, everybody! That was a
c/ose/wel/-foughtlexciting contest', We
must remain constantly alert to the fact
that students can blame weaker
teammates for their failure to win - and
that individuals can use class competitions
designed to provide light relief as an
opportunity to settle scores with rivals. We
should therefore ensure that the
Most students are familiar with pair-
and groupwork, but they do not always
collaborate with their peers as
enthusiastically as they might. One
technique for enlivening collaborative tasks
is to include a competitive element.
Brainstorming activi ti es become instantly
more dynamic when conducted in a
competitive spirit. The teacher can say, for
example, 'Right, everyone, you have two
minutes to come up with as many English
words for jobs that you can think of,
starting ... now!' When the time is up, each
group says how many words they have
thought of, the group having thought of the
most words being the winner. A more in-
depth version of this competition (which
encourages creative thinking) is to have the
groups read out their lists of jobs, but only
scoring point s for jobs that no one else has
thought of. Variations on this theme include
having groups of students think of as many
words or concept s as possible associated
with common words, such as mouse, foot
or tree (with or without the aid of
distinctive name for itself puts students in
the mood, as does the behaviour of the
teacher, who can exclaim, 'And now;
everyone, for the greatest word game of aJl
time!' If possible, use props: a vertical
spinning wheel (like a roulette wheel)
containing the leiters of the alphabet; fly
swats; bells and buzzers for panel
members to press; funny hats for
competitors; matchsticks or
composition of learns changes on a regular
basis, and that at all times
an overall spirit of
friendliness and generosity
prevails within the room,
with class members
Keeping classes
The overall atmosphere in language
classes can sometimes become
oppressive, particularly at the end of the
day when everybody is tired. Teachers
often try to squeeze every last ounce of
counters for the scorers, and so on.
under constant
But of course competitive games
can be conducted successfully
without any props at all.
pressure is often
following our example by
applauding the winners. If In the 'Letter of the alphabet'
game, the teacher calls out, 'The name of
an animal (or sport, or item 01 clothing, or
piece 01 furniture or any other category)
beginning with . .. (spinning the wheel) ...
the letter S!' The first person to call out a
word beginning wit h that letter scores a
point for their team. Alternatively. points
can be scored by simple word recall or
mental activity: 'a word that means Ihe
opposite of 'a word that can be
formed by the letters EZIRP' , 'a word
beginning with the prefix etc.
Teams can support their elected panel who
sit al the front with bells and buzzers,
ready to work out the answers to linguistic
puzzles posed by the teacher.
A popular vocabulary revision game
requires each t eam t o provide definitions of
we give a reward, it should be something
such as a packet of sweets that can be
shared as widely as possible.
In sum, competition, with its innate
power to enliven and motivate, can be used
to advantage by any language teacher who
wishes to boost the collective energy levels
01 their classes. Like any technique,
however, it must be appropriat e for the
class and must not be over-used. (iJ2>
]r 1260
Rose Senior is a language teacher educator
who runs workshops and presents at
conferences around the wond.
_.etprofe lonat.(:om ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal Issue 70 September 2010' 63
Prize crossword 43
ETp presents the forty-third in our series of prize
crosswords. Send your entry (completed crossword
grid and quotation), not forgetting to include your
full name, postal address and telephone number, to
Prize crossword 43, ENGU5H TEACHING professional, Pavilion Publishing
(Brighton) Ltd, PO Box 100, Chichester, West Sussex, POt S SHO, UK.
Ten correct entries will be drawn from a hat on 10 November
2010 and the senders will each receive a copy of the second
edition of the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced
Leamers, applauded for its unique red star system showing the
frequency of the 7,500 most common words in English
(www.macmillandictionary.comj .

, . . 10 11 12 13
1. 15 16 '7 16 19 N
To solve the puzzle, find which letter each number represents. You
can keep a record in the boxes above. The definitions of the words
in the puzzle are given, but not in the right order. When you have
finished, you will be able to read the quotation.
.,.., .. ,..1<.;-
Preposition of place, used with home
To push air through something (such
as a whislle) with your mouth
SOmeone whose job is to treat
people who are ill or injured
Used for stating the purpose of an
object or an action
To put something in someone's hand
SOmething that you hope to achieve
To allow some<l!1e to have or do what
they want (lormaQ
A word used for referring to a man or
boy who has already been mentioned
Preposition of place, used with bed
The object lorm 011
A book about imaginary events
Touching a surface or an object
Used lor saying what is the right
thing to do (usual ly followed by to)
An official, elected group of people in
some countries who meet to make laws
To show something by holding out
your fi nger
To take something that belongs to
someOf\e else without permission
A long sticky band for joining things
Used to form the infi nitive of a verb
The day after today
A hard white object inside your
The failure to use something valuable
in an effective and beneficial way
To finish first in a competition (3rd
person singular)
To want something to happen
A personal quality that attracts people
to you and makes them like you
64 . Issue 70 September 2OtO' ENGUSH TEACHING professiollal . _.etprofe lonal.com'
.. Books and stories about imaginary
events and people
When skin or borIe grows back
together and becomes healthy again
A cover for a container
A gas that all animals breathe
To lail to include something, either
deliberately or because you forget
A colour between red and yellow
Rest and enjoyment
To make a legal claim against
A continuous, but not very strong pain
To hit something hard, making a loud
A contai ner for putting rubbish in
An amount of light from the sun
A sail ing boat
- (abbreviation)
- To leave your country in order to live
in another country
- A strong clear alcohOl ic drink made
from grain and juniper berries
- A journey to Mecca that Musl ims
make as a reHgious duty
- The ability to solve problems in new
and clever ways
- Original Equipment Manufacturer
- A piano that plays music by itself
- Post office (abbreviation)
- A Latin word used in e)(presslons such
as sme non
- Teenage (abbreviation)
- To hit, harm or destroy something,
usually using a weapon or equipment
developed by modem technology
1lf!tEE IV tn1 'i'AOVi.
I\IJll fl.dF Q.JZ .
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