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Rose Hickman examines the question of gender ARE OVER
Monica Hoogstad puts the power into PowerPoint


Elizabeth Watkin suggests studying how to study
THE COURSEBOOK CHALLENGE 12 Amy Lightfoot recommends making your own materials
Darren Elliott makes the most of his materials
Sandra Vida views visuals as vital Tim Thompson dons his hard hat to build his
students confidence and capability
Suzanne Brems unites curriculum and community TEACHER PLUS 53
to help her students assimilate into society Sue Leather points the way to publishing

Aliwyn Cole, Sheila Parrott and Steven Smith TECHNOLOGY
deliberately mix their students up
ANSWER THE QUESTION! 25 Russell Stannard extols the virtues of electronic posters
Paul Bress worries that students are led astray by
Hall Houston lets his students speak their mind Nicky Hockly looks at online personal and
professional development
Lesley Lanir sums up the problems and suggests
some strategies REGULAR FEATURES


Alan Maley wants to be alone Wh word compounds
John Potts
Isobel Fletcher de Tllez dissects texts EXAM-DRIVEN TEACHING 63
Rose Senior
Louis Rogers investigates English for Academic Purposes SCRAPBOOK 42

Peter Wells explains why the old methods arent
necessarily the best methods



Brett Davies gives his students a say
Includes materials designed to photocopy ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 1

Editorial emocracy looms large in this issue, with classroom, Pauls angle is that teachers too often arm

D Brett Davies advocating letting young

learners have more power of decision in
the activities they do in class and how they do them.
their students with lists of signposting expressions,
which are then used inappropriately and as a substitute
for real ideas and arguments. He uses as an example
Hall Houston also recommends giving the students the discursive essay question found in many
a voice, encouraging them to give feedback on a international exams.
course, thereby allowing the teacher to make
Peter Wells also concerns himself with questions, but
changes and adjustments to accommodate their
he worries that teachers engage too readily in the
needs. In our main feature, Rose Hickman wants her
question-and-answer sessions that they remember from
classes to be completely democratic and to offer
their own schooldays. He calls for a re-examination of
fairness for all, regardless of gender and, if elections
this technique and maintains that it really does nobody
are your thing, the Scrapbook pages have some
any good.
electoral stories, jokes, quotes and quizzes.

Of course, democracy allows for different viewpoints

to be expressed. Both Paul Bress and Isobel Fletcher
de Tllez focus their articles on the devices we use to
construct coherent and cohesive texts. However, while Helena Gomm
Isobel argues that connectors are the connective Editor
tissue of discourse and demand more attention in the

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2 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


Sex in the
Rose Hickman gets o one has to be convinced Stereotypes and ability
to grips with gender.
N these days that taking
learner needs into account is
vital for a positive learner
experience and outcome. Teachers are
already including different activity types
The American psychologist Howard
Gardner once said that he believed it to
be a huge assumption to say that certain
human abilities can be arbitrarily singled
to suit differing learner styles. However, out as intelligence while others cannot. I
there are many who believe that the idea am reminded of this when I think about
of learner needs is too limited and that how the girls and boys in my classroom
gender also has a role to play. behave and learn. In my class of pre-
The materials we use in class are teens, three boys and one girl, I have had
designed to cover very broad norms of the challenge of encouraging and
any given society, but they by no means supporting the girl in the face of the
include everyone within it. They tend to boys constant assumptions of her
assume that our learners only want to inability. Their attitude has meant that
learn about the language, and certain she has really had to struggle with
restricted social contexts of use, or that feelings of inadequacy and frustration.
our learners own identities are included
within those norms. However, in my
experience, heads pop up in interest at
The materials we use
the mention of interesting snippets in class are designed
about the different cultures of the
English language. The norms to cover very broad
represented in books reduce language
learning to a technical activity divorced
norms of any given
not only from politics but also from society, but they by
social relationships. Two of those social
and political aspects of culture are no means include
gender and sexuality. everyone within it
Nevertheless, although a debate on
gender and sexuality and its
implications for the classroom has been However, in the end of term exam she
developing through articles, books, has far outperformed the boys. While
academia and chat for some years, it is exams are not the definitive measure of
hard to find easily accessible, quick what they know, she is delighted and the
sources to help teachers deal with these boys are in shock and have since
issues. In this article, and a follow-up in quietened down! What might have
Issue 70 of ETp, I will attempt to happened if she had not encountered a
address this lack of accessible material, supportive teacher?
and will include some information Studies show that it is not only girls
which I hope will act as a springboard who are adversely affected by gender
for thought when we teach. stereotyping: both girls and boys are

4 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

being limited by assumptions about Deborah Cameron claims, It is the
their strengths and weaknesses. This socialization of girls and boys during Boys as well as girls
being so, it seems logical that teachers childhood that moves us into different
should apply tactics in class to deal with ways of using language. are learning to see
all the different learning needs, whether Similarly, Deborah Tannen identifies themselves outside the
these are due to gender or other factors. the differing uses to which the genders
put language, claiming that whereas for traditional stereotypes,
women, talk creates intimacy, for men
Stereotypes and society talk maintains independence and status.
even though they are
Once girls leave school, the glass I personally cant count the times Ive still limited by the
ceiling (an invisible barrier to heard boys say things like most chefs
advancement in a culture where lip- are men because men cook better! language and society
service is paid to equality) is often cited A vicious circle of behaving and
as a limiting factor in their chances in speaking the way youre expected to?
they come from
the workplace. Jobs may be allocated by Choosing (I use the term loosely) ways
panels who, consciously or otherwise, to get the message across according to How do our students see
judge according to traditional ideas as who you are? Its a never-ending circle: themselves?
to what intelligence is and what abilities language affects society affects Carol Gilligan has studied adolescent
should be valued. But while this is being language, and so on. We seem to have girls and describes how assertive,
slowly challenged, at least in more an enormous responsibility, then, if we confident and proud young girls seem to
progressive minds, stereotypes still have choose to take on a role that limits lose their voices when they hit
great power in the day-to-day lives of neither who our learners are, nor what adolescence. At that same moment,
both men and women. they learn. William Pollack notes, boys become even
What if the way we think as part of more confident than is justified by their
our socially-produced gender role also actual abilities: The boy code teaches
affects the way we learn? Am I, as a Gender is now them that they are supposed to be in power,
teacher, colluding in this just by doing and so they begin to act as if they are.
nothing to change it? Am I even aware generally accepted as
of the issue in class? Are teachers really running things?
a social construct:
Philippa Law claims that even when the
Stereotypes and that to be female or teacher is chairing the conversation, boys
are still in charge, and, according to
language male in any given Julia Stanley, society rewards behaviour
In his controversial book Men are from society is something assigned to the male sex. I would add
Mars, Women are from Venus, John heterosexual male.
Gray claims that there is a biologically- that is taught to us So we should be asking ourselves
based difference in how the genders whether we are rewarding learners by
function. However, this has been widely giving more talking time to those who
challenged, and rather than being act in visibly gender-appropriate ways,
purely biological, gender is now
Challenging stereotypes or who use certain intonation, turn
generally accepted as a social construct: The world is changing, and boys as well taking and vocabulary, or who know
that to be female or male in any given as girls are learning to see themselves how to keep our attention. Dale
society is something that is taught to us. outside the traditional stereotypes, even Spender reported that teachers found it
As Deborah Cameron asserts, gender is though they are still limited by the very difficult to ensure a balance
based on nurture, not nature, and is a language and society they come from. between the contributions of boys and
cultural rather than chromosomal Unfortunately, even though I see more those of girls but, when specifically
difference. She believes that we are all and more children resisting societal trying to achieve equal participation,
born more alike than different. pressure to adhere to limiting female teachers were more successful at
Moreover, feminist research has stereotypical gender roles in class it than male teachers. Do you agree?
linked gender stereotypes to the English through both speech and behaviour, I Next time you are in class, actively
language itself, seeing it as a mirror of still frequently see girls (and some boys) assess yourself on this.
our world: the language of a society back down rather than argue their point
based on unequal power relations during debates when boys get vocal What exactly are we teaching?
between two genders. In the 1980s, Dale and most boys seem to know they can Dale Spender once said that
Spender pointed out that we use a make this happen! educational institutions embody a
language that women had little to do So the question I ask is this: How particular way of viewing the world and
with creating or adapting. much do stereotypical ideas that boys require their students to adopt this view.
Much research has looked at how and girls have about their own and each Could we substitute teachers for
we use language to show who we are, others gender or sexuality actually educational institutions?
and it is widely accepted that men and affect what they say, how they think The way we act, speak and teach in
women use language differently. about themselves and, therefore, how or class could be giving signals that
Highlighting the reasons for this, what they learn? perpetuate the idea that certain modes ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 5

Sex in the
Rebecca Bigler reminds us of the effect information on how different
teachers can have on students: new nationalities deal with the issue of
research in the field of child psychology gender, how different gender bias in

classroom suggests that teacher behaviors can play

an important role in shaping their pupils
gender attitudes. She adds that gender
languages across the world affects
learning other languages, how gender
bias is shown in pronoun use or
 of learning, or certain behaviour, for a labelling works to increase childrens structure, etc, should be included in
particular gender or the existence of a gender stereotyping bias! teacher training courses.
specific sexuality is the only available What you can do for yourself is to
option. We may be silencing some establish your own criteria at the
because we are not aware of this or The message that girls beginning of the year: decide what
because it is just easier for us this way. behaviour you believe should be
Where does that leave us on the
receive is that its fine for challenged and ways to do so, taking
into account the culture in which you
catering for learner needs front? them to be interrupted, work. Give signals to your students that
Spender goes on to say that in class
a girl is often informed of her they have less right to you promote equality in class from the
inferiority, quoting John Eliot who beginning, be consistent and decide in
speak, get less attention advance what you will do if you see
found that boys interrupted, ridiculed
and silenced girls opinions on topics and even have to wait unacceptable behaviour.
which were supposed to be the preserve
of boys. I have definitely seen this longer for it! 
happen in ELT classes.
Girls and boys learn what is expected In the next article I will look at how
The changes she suggests in our some teachers attempt to include all
early on, from observing those around
behaviour and routines are not difficult their learners, and who those learners
us. Research shows that fathers try to
to adopt. might be. ETp
control conversation more than mothers
and that both parents try to control Say Hello, everyone instead of Hello,
conversation more with daughters than boys and girls. Bigler, R Good Morning Boys and Girls
with sons. Boys get upset when girl
Dont allow the students to get into Cameron, D The Myth of Mars and Venus
subjects are approached, so teachers gear
boy versus girl groups during games. OUP 2007
subjects to them as a control tactic.
Instead, create groups using what they Gilligan, C and Pollack, W cited by
The message that girls receive is that
are wearing, their age, birthdays, etc. Kimmel, M in Dissent Magazine Autumn
its fine for them to be interrupted, they
have less right to speak, get less Encourage the students to sit with
attention and even have to wait longer different people regularly, not based Gray, J Men are from Mars, Women are
from Venus Harper Element 2002
for it! It is clear that what is learnt in on gender division.
class is not just language! Law, P Classroom talk
Avoid gender-focused expressions like
the girls are doing a good job or the classroom_talk.shtml
Addressing the problem boys need to be a bit quieter. This will Norton, B and Pavlenko, A Addressing
Bonny Norton and Aneta Pavlenko help all the learners concentrate on gender in the ESL/EFL classroom TESOL
their identity as students rather than Quarterly 1996
suggest four areas in which to address
gender in the classroom, and my as members of a gender group. Spender, D Invisible Women: The
Schooling Scandal Chameleon Books
additions (in brackets) show that we
In addition, I think teachers need to 1982
English language teachers are already
tackle the frequent use of he as a Stanley, J In Cameron, D and Kulick, D
halfway there.
neutral form in English. Even though (Eds) The Language and Sexuality Reader
1 Creating programmes that address grammar books say that the gender- Routledge 2006
needs (We already adapt books and neutral they is only an informal Tannen, D Sex, lies and conversation
courses.) version, I teach it to get around the The Washington Post 24/6/90
2 Feminist teaching practices, materials
and topics (We already look for extra Rose Hickman is a
materials.) Finding a solution DELTA qualified teacher
who has taught English
When one student bullies another in to children, teenagers
3 Topic management: engaging learners and adults for 15 years
class, do you ignore it? If you deal with in Barcelona, Spain. She
about gender issues (We already ask coordinates external
it, then the role you are taking on is not
them about themselves, dont we?) exams and provides
only that of language teacher. You are guidance for new
4 Class management and decision engaging in class management for the teachers. Her personal
research interests
making (We already manage, but we purpose of promoting equality and include gender in
could be more self-critical about how doing it because you care about it. I education and the built
much attention we give to whom and believe that promoting gender equality
when.) is just as important and that

6 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


Study skills
Elizabeth Watkin hen I trained to be a day I came up with an idea on how to

has some strategies for

matching her students
W teacher, I was taught the
communicative approach.
Learners were encouraged
to do groupwork, to discuss things in
pairs and, when grammar was
use these resources, which I thought
would be very constructive. I decided to
give my students a kind of free-form
workshop lesson. I gave out the
textbooks randomly and asked the
expectations with her own. addressed, it was recommended that students to look through them, choose
you present it in such a way that the something they would like to do and
learners were guided to understand the then work on their own. I wandered
use and form rather than lectured on around the class as they browsed
the rules. Although I saw the logic in through the books. After about ten
this system, I found that in practice it
was not always successful.
The use of study skills is now being The use of study skills is
encouraged in classrooms, and some
coursebooks have activities to help
now being encouraged
promote them. I would like to stress the in classrooms, and
way in which my experiences of
teaching in many cultures and also with some coursebooks
different groups of adults have have activities to help
highlighted how crucial encouraging
good study practice has become for me promote them
and many of my colleagues within the
realms of ESL and EFL.
While the communicative approach minutes, I started to see quizzical looks
worked with many learners from on a number of faces; people were
European countries, when I ventured to staring at each other or listlessly turning
countries such as China and Zambia to the pages without really looking at the
teach English, I found myself struggling content. No one was working. I asked
to get my classes to progress. In China, what was wrong and eventually
group discussions fell flat; in Zambia, someone said, Madam, we dont know
asking concept questions was met with what to choose. I was taken aback.
blank stares. Would it help if I told you what to do?
The students collectively sighed with
relief and agreed gratefully.
Experience I now realise through my
One occasion in particular springs to experiences that in some cultures,
mind. I was teaching teenagers in independent thinking and discovery are
Zambia, and the school I taught at was not seen as desirable ways to learn.
extremely limited in resources: there was Instead, the Confucian idea of filling
no photocopier, certainly no computers the empty vessel is preferred.
and there was a limited number of Consequently, when I went to teach
textbooks to work from. What we did English in Zambia, I realised after
have was a number of different arduous attempts at eliciting and poor
textbooks that had been donated, but test results, that my usual methods
unfortunately it was not possible to use werent working. After years of chalk
them in class as there were not enough and talk style teaching, the students
of any one textbook for the students to found my way of teaching confusing.
use even if three students shared. One Though things are definitely changing,

8 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

some cultures still find it difficult to give Learning styles
an opinion, hence the comedy of all of Doing a little research Encouraging students to do
my students agreeing with everything I questionnaires examining how they learn
said when I worked in China even into your students most effectively can also be very useful.
when I disagreed with myself! countries can make a VAK (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic) tests
Moreover, in my work in the wider are easily found on the internet, and
community I have come across many significant difference to has an excellent
adults who are out of touch with what lesson based on learning styles.
it means to be an effective student and your understanding of
who dont appreciate that their own their behaviour Behaviour
input is just as valuable as the teachers. I start every new class with a ground
This could also be due to age or rules activity. I have done this with
background. In some of my classes I From my experiences of EFL and elementary level as well as the more
have adults who have not been in a ESL over the years, I now feel that some advanced.
learning environment for 20 or 30 years. sort of study skills work should be The learners have to work in groups
Some learners I have taught finished incorporated into the way I teach in to decide on a set of rules for both the
their education at about the age of ten every lesson. class and the teacher. This is a very safe,
as they were forced to join armies or Here I would like to share some of structured way of encouraging learners
work for their family. the techniques I have developed or to think for themselves and give an
In these cases, the teacher seems to stolen (!) to try to make learning an opinion on a fairly uncontroversial
be seen as a kind of instructor who will opportunity for my students to develop subject. After discussing suggestions in
tell the learners everything they should their confidence, independent thinking groups, we decide as a class on the final
know and how they should learn it. The and autonomy. rules and draw up a contract which the
classroom may be the only environment learners and the teacher sign. The
where the learners really think about Action and activities discussion here is a very important
learning (though they are actually opportunity for you to make clear that
learning all the time) and they dont refer Background the class they are in is one of equality
much to it when out of the classroom, As mentioned before, doing a little and respect, where the teacher is not the
except perhaps when doing homework. research into the countries your students boss but a guide. Making this clear from
are from can make a significant difference the beginning in some way is crucial.
Compromise to your understanding of their behaviour These ground rules will become
and reactions in class. However, with useful later on as the class becomes
As a result, compromise is required learners from pre-intermediate level more assertive. Having lively debate and
from both teachers and learners. upwards, devising a questionnaire where enthused learners is wonderful but can
Teachers must reflect and examine how the students relate their past learning also be a challenge: the ground rules are
they conduct their classes, and monitor experiences can enlighten the teacher there to refer to should things get out of
the reactions of their students to but also prompt the students themselves hand or a bit rowdy! In order to ensure
activities. I am not suggesting that to think about the learning process. a respectful way of calming things
teachers must tailor their lessons to suit Questions on such a questionnaire down, agree on an action that will bring
every individual learner certainly in a could include: the focus back. For example, when I
multilingual, multicultural class this is
neither possible nor desirable. However, How old were you when you started want the focus back on me, I raise my
school? hand. As each learner sees my hand,
delving into the backgrounds of
How old were you when you finished they must stop what they are doing and
learners can provide valuable insights
school? also raise their hand. Eventually, all the
into their expectations of the learning
learners should have their hands raised
process. Just knowing what country a Did you like school? and their attention turned towards me
learner is from and how the education
What was your favourite subject and or, possibly, another learner.
system and culture of that country work
can equip teachers with valuable tools
when teaching. Who was your favourite teacher and Decisions
why? I have been quite surreptitious with
classes in the past so that they are
For more advanced learners: making important decisions on how the
Teachers must reflect Describe a negative experience of class is run without them realising. I do
and examine how they school. What happened and how did this by asking questions and hanging
you feel? back on giving answers.
conduct their classes, Describe a positive experience of school. My most common expressions in
and monitor the class are these:
Describe the education system in your
country. What do you think?
reactions of their
What are the advantages and Why? (For example, Why are we doing
students to activities disadvantages of the way education is this activity? Why are we using this
provided in your country? tense? Why do you think that ...?) ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 9

I know how to contact my teacher if I

Study skills am sick.

I know what exam I am doing in
recognise every single one of the


And on a more basic level:
I have read a magazine or website in line managers Mario Rinvolucri
Can anyone else spell ...? Tell us ... refers to in How do you rate your
English this week.
In addition, I often ask students how boss? (ETp Issue 68) both in my
long they need to do an activity. I It is often useful to display this current teaching and in all the various
suggest a time then ask, Do you agree? prominently on the classroom wall if teaching situations I have found
Is that OK? Sometimes I give them a you can. myself in over the last 25 years. What
very poorly thought-through time frame Marios article also does, in my case,
to check whether they notice maybe
Scavenger hunts
is to reveal discreetly to me what kind
three minutes for a long reading activity. I give my learners a list of things they
of DOS I perceive myself as having
You would be surprised how soon they must find in the school building, such as
been. I was joint DOS of a language
protest! I sometimes ask them to decide fire exits, information desk, staffroom,
school in the UK from 1996 to 2003,
when they want to break: Shall we go on computer room.
and now I am able to look back at my
to the next activity, or break now and If there is a library or learning
management days with a sense of
come back to it? All of this is a means centre, I give them a map which they
must fill in and even go with them to relief that I no longer carry those
of putting the responsibility for learning responsibilities. A three-ways-facing
back in the students hands. make sure they all register.
Janus who was so anxious to please
Using ICTs people, thats who I feel I was, but
Many schools and colleges have an perhaps my teaching colleagues had
Do you remember the TV series
education management system such as other impressions of me.
Columbo? One of the detectives best
tricks was to pretend he didnt know Moodle or Blackboard. I use this I returned to the classroom and no
what he was doing. In class, I make resource to encourage my students to
longer manage teachers, so my heart
deliberate mistakes on the board download lesson material or additional
goes out to those many overstretched
(actually I do this accidentally anyway!) handouts. These systems also allow you
line managers who are stuck between
or pretend I have forgotten a certain to put homework up so you can tell the
that proverbial rock and hard place.
point. My learners soon realise I am students that they must download it for
joking, but they also understand that themselves. What I now want from line managers
its up to them to do some of the work. If your school does not use these is to be regarded and supported and
systems, you could create one yourself challenged as an experienced
with, where you can upload classroom practitioner in my own
Independence files for public use, start a wiki site or right with particular needs,
Learners from certain backgrounds have start a Ning social networking site (for experiences and insights. In the real
little experience in taking the initiative which there is a small fee). world of the big institution, academic
when it comes to learning, and so it is a managers are not given time to do
skill that they must acquire. This skill  much other than pass down out-of-
doesnt come overnight and constantly touch edicts from above about what
needs to be reaffirmed. I hope these ideas will help fellow
to teach and when to test, regardless
teachers encourage the use of study
of the needs of the students. I find I
Checklists skills and reflection in their own classes.
often get more genuine support from
What might be obvious to many of us To see a class transform from shy,
empathetic teaching and teacher-
when taking a class may not be to a confused individuals into a vibrant
training colleagues, many of whom
learner who has not been in education group full of ideas and a thirst to learn
have worked in other fields as well as
for decades or who has attended school is quite amazing. In these circumstances,
in a less-developed country. Checklists it hardly feels like youre working! ETp teaching, and whose perspectives
are a way of ensuring learners have all and insights offer mind-opening
they need when they come to class, opportunities for me to develop
without embarrassing them with myself.
questions such as Dont you have a pen? David Heathfield
Elizabeth Watkin has
A checklist for my class might look been a teacher for nine Exeter, UK
this: years, working in Italy,
China, the UK and
I have a pen. Zambia. She is currently Do you have something to
working for the British say about an article in the current
I have a book for writing vocabulary. Council in Zambia as a
resource developer and issue of ETp? This is your magazine
I have a course folder. working on her first and we would really like to hear
textbook for English
students. from you. Write to us or email:
I have a diary.
I know where the library is and I have
a library card.

10 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


The coursebook
Darren Elliott asks his article starts from the For those of us in a position to

some questions and offers

some answers about
T premise that there is no such
thing as a bad textbook. Most
of the time the books we use
are well-designed and written in careful
consideration of sound pedagogical
choose our own textbooks, the options
can be bewildering. The textbook
market is extremely competitive these
days, which means that publishers
representatives will be happy to send you
textbooks. research. However, the difficulties arise samples for review, offer suggestions and
when we try to use textbooks exactly as advice, and may even come to visit your
they are, without thinking about the institution to talk through your options.
needs, skills and circumstances of the Most conferences, even the smaller ones,
particular set of students sitting in front will have publishers stands and there
of us. We should remember that the will often be sponsored presentations
teachers guide is just that: a guide, and from authors or representatives to
that a major part of our job as teachers introduce new products.
is making the most out of our textbooks.
Some, like the dogme-ists, might dispense
with the textbook altogether. Ive taught In many situations (for
such courses myself, and count them teachers and students
amongst the most rewarding Ive been
involved in. Nevertheless, in many alike) a textbook offers
situations (for teachers and students
alike) a textbook offers security, clear
security, clear goals and
goals and a framework for study. It may, a framework for study
too, be handed down to us from above
in which case we need to learn to make
the best of the materials we are given. Gathering information, then, is not
difficult. Sifting through it all is the
challenge! Your actual starting position
Choosing your book should be the students, but textbook
decisions often have to be taken before
Questions to
! ask yourself
you have even met your students. In
such a case, you will have to draw on
Choose a textbook you are the information you have (test scores,
currently using. student profiles) and your experience
Were you involved in its selection? (or the experience of those around you)
to find a book which is generally
What is it that you like and dislike
appropriate for a class of its type.
about it?
Jeremy Harmer has an excellent
Do you think the students would checklist for textbook selection. He
say the same things? encourages us to focus on both the
What does the author believe is practical (price, availability) and the
the best way to teach and learn a methodological (cultural appropriacy,
language? Do you share those language skills). Sometimes it is
beliefs? Do your students? surprising to hear students feedback on
the textbooks they use. For example, the

12 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

size and weight of a book can be very Using your book discussion questions in the textbook, ask
important to them I suppose if the them to make two more of their own. If
book is one of many that you have to some students read quicker than others,
Questions to
heave around all day, you will ! ask yourself
ask them to go back through the text and
appreciate a more compact edition! find their favourite word, or an example
Evaluation before, during and after Choose a unit from a textbook you of the present perfect continuous.
the course is also very important. are currently using. Look at each
activity and the unit as a whole. 3 Its too fiddly!
Inevitably, what looks like the perfect
textbook before the course starts will How would you arrange the Some textbook activities involve a lot of
throw up some unexpected obstacles activities, and how many classes flicking backwards and forwards
when classes are underway. How we react would they take to teach? between pages, or complicated rules, or
to them, and what we learn from them, is elaborate scenarios. It is worth thinking
Would you drop any activities?
key. Of course, once teaching begins we about streamlining your activities to get
can begin to gauge the students reactions, the most language out of the least
both formally (through questionnaires Are there any activities which need instruction. Efficiency is an important
or class activities) and informally no alteration? element of classroom management. If
(classroom atmosphere or energy). Which activities would you an information-gap activity requires one
Finding out what the rationale change? How and why? student to look at page 39 and the other
behind the book actually is can be harder to look at page 40, you know that they
Do you know/use all the
than it sounds, although it is a very will both end up flicking between the
supplements that come with your
necessary enterprise. The explanatory two. Remove the temptation and the
notes in the introduction to the book, confusion by making handouts and
the teachers guide or in the publishers having the students close their books.
catalogue may give us an idea, but from If you dont get to pick your own
4 Its boring!
a marketing perspective the publishers books, or even if you do, then you will
have to make every new textbook sound probably want to put your own spin on For some students, perhaps. Can you
innovative and fresh, yet similar to things. At the macro level, you have to fit keep the activity but change the context
another successful series you are already the book into your syllabus. How much to make it more relevant or interesting?
comfortable with. By going through a time do you want to spend on each unit, You know about your students interests
unit carefully, one can make assumptions and in what order do you want to teach (both professional and personal), so
about the pedagogical beliefs of its them? Then at the micro level, each utilise that knowledge. Addition (in the
authors. For example, if the grammar lesson will be comprised of one or more form of supplements) or adaptation can
point is carefully laid out at the opening textbook activities. Neville Grant gives make the class much more interesting.
of the unit we can probably assume that us five options for each one: adapt, Dont forget, too, that the students have
the author thinks form should be taught replace, omit, add or use. I would add paid for their book. If they dont use it,
explicitly before practice. On the other one more option (move), but other than some of them might get disgruntled.
hand, if grammar is tucked away in the that, I think this summarises the choices Omission is acceptable within reason,
back of the book or in a supplementary available to the teacher very succinctly. but the students will wonder why they
handbook, the author probably prefers So when do you do what? Here are bought the book at all if they use less
learners to discover patterns through some of the most common reasons for than half. If you do change activities,
using the language. Aspects which will doing things differently: you should let them know which part of
influence the way a textbook is put the textbook they can refer to later.
together include attitudes towards L1, 1 Its too difficult!
5 Its irrelevant/
fluency/accuracy balance, learner It may help to add a couple of extra
autonomy, error correction, integration stages of pre-task set-up. Maybe you need inappropriate!
of skills, ways of learning vocabulary to pre-teach some of the vocabulary; It is not difficult these days to find
and many others. If you find that your perhaps you need to make a skeleton locally-produced textbooks or local
fundamental beliefs as a teacher are conversation into which lower-level editions of international books, but there
incongruent with those of the author of students can plug their own language. You may still be readings about outdated
your textbook, you may need to change may need to set a reading as homework, celebrities, pictures considered racy in
the book (or at least change the way rewrite it in simpler language or exchange your milieu, or activities pitched too
you teach it). it for another reading. It might be a good young or old for your learners. You may
idea to use the tapescript in a listening need to substitute more interesting or
activity before playing the audio. appropriate material. Who is in the news
Finding out what in your area? Keep up with current
2 Its too easy! trends and issues which are relevant for
the rationale behind
You probably encounter both 1 and 2 in your students by reading the business
the book actually is the same class sometimes. Is there any section of the paper or trade magazines,
way you can build some flexibility into by watching popular TV shows or by
can be harder than an activity to enable the more able asking your students who or what they
it sounds students to expand? Once the more care about. (Bear in mind, though, there
capable students have finished the is nothing worse than a trendy uncle!) ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 13

The coursebook materials, and dont let the book dictate
the pace of your class. If you have to rush
to get through it all, you have a problem. ENGLISH
challenge I find it better to choose a book with
less material and to personalise it. Tprofessional

6 The book doesnt meet 9 I only have one student!
my goals! I have 30 students! This is your magazine.
The goals here could be the students How will your student introduce a We want to hear from you!
goals, the course goals or the teachers partner to another student when he is
goals. Imagine a class of young the only learner in the room? Wont it
businesspeople who are required to take take forever to listen to 30 two-minute
the TOEIC test at the end of the course. presentations, one by one and what
Most of them are just interested in do the other 29 students do while they IT WORKS IN PRACTICE
chatting about this and that and learning are waiting for their turn? Using pair Do you have ideas youd like to share
English that way. The textbook the and group formations can solve the with colleagues around the world?
teacher has been given has no listening second problem, and creative alterations Tips, techniques and activities;
activities. The teacher is interested in such as board games or card games can simple or sophisticated; well-tried
teaching through drama. This is a keep one-to-one classes fresh. or innovative; something that has
mismatch in every way. Yet some of the worked well for you? All published
10 It doesnt fit!
elements are fixed, others can be
contributions receive a prize!
accommodated. The course goals, in this Many textbooks these days are multi-
Write to us or email:
case, are immovable failure to perform syllabus. That is, they are designed to
in the test equals failure in the course. teach everything, from grammar to
But the teacher can sell their ideas to vocabulary, across the four skills and
the students and work with what the including a variety of functions. If you
textbook has to meet everyones goals. want to focus on speaking, a reading or
writing activity dropped into the middle
Remember the interplay between these
Do you have something to say about
four elements (book, course, learner, of your textbook can interrupt the flow.
In addition, you may find two or three an article in the current issue of ETp?
teacher) and remember that the easiest
to change is probably the book. distinct teaching points in one unit. This is your magazine and we would
Moving activities around, using the really like to hear from you.
7 Its too thin! natural breaks in the class and managing Write to us or email:
If your textbook doesnt offer enough your whole syllabus holistically (not just
to fill a class, it may be that you are not lesson by lesson) can all help. There is
exploiting the language to its fullest. no harm in leaving an activity for later
Reading exercises can yield vocabulary if it doesnt fit today. Writing for ETp
and grammar work. Dialogues can be
practised as dramas, drilled, adapted to  Would you like to write for ETp? We are
always interested in new writers and
gap fills, rewritten, dictated ... sometimes Despite innovations in technology and fresh ideas. For guidelines and advice,
we move on too quickly without methodology, the textbook still has life in write to us or email:
allowing the students time to get to it yet. Using a textbook neednt be a safe
grips with the language, especially if we or lazy option, but should be one of a
teach the textbook as it is all the time. number of tools which we use to help our
8 Its only a book!
learners learn. I hope this article has given
you a few ideas to help you do that. ETp
Visit the
If you only use the textbook, you may ETp website!
be missing out on the supplements that Harmer, J How to Teach English The ETp website is packed with practical
come with it. These days, it seems that no Longman 2007 tips, advice, resources, information and
series is complete without a CD-ROM, Grant, N Making the Most of your selected articles. You can submit tips
DVD, workbook, interactive website, Textbook Longman 1987
or articles, renew your subscription
test-making kit and complementary
or simply browse the features.
kitchen sink! It is quite easy to ignore Darren Elliott has taught
at universities in the UK
these elements, but they can be excellent and Japan, and has also
not only for classroom supplementation worked as a teacher
trainer. He is especially
but for additional work outside class. interested in teacher ENGLISH TEACHING professional
Make sure you are familiar with the development, learner
Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Ltd,
extras and advise students as necessary to autonomy and
technology in education, PO Box 100, Chichester, West Sussex,
help them work on their problem areas. and keeps a blog at PO18 8HD, UK
Beware, though sometimes it is just
Fax: +44 (0)1243 576456
not realistic to expect students to do Email:
everything offered with a set of course

14 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

R E S O U R C E S with the flow. Pictures will not, of
course, provide the actual words, but
they will equip the learners with a

Fun with
framework they can build upon.

A language lifebelt
Visuals are widely used for teaching
children, yet still fairly neglected when it
comes to teaching adults. The

techniques used with both groups differ
considerably. With children, pictures are
mostly used for describing what can be
seen in them. With adults, they can be
used for describing things that cannot
be seen directly. Instead, the picture is
used as a prompt to guide the general
direction of speech and offer a
challenge to each learner to be creative.
In a way, pictures offer a lifebelt in
Sandra Vida verifies t has often been said that a picture the sea of language and teachers who

the advantages of visuals.

I is worth a thousand words and,
since foreign language teaching is
about words, using visuals during
teaching would seem logical. With
images all around us it would seem odd
fail to use them will inevitably lose some
students. In a private language school,
they will lose them literally, as they will
stop coming to class. In a state school,
they will become bored and
to try to disregard them in a situation as disrespectful and may cause discipline
powerful as language teaching and problems. To avoid this, teachers should
learning. This is probably the reason use pictures as often as possible and in a
why modern coursebooks are full of variety of situations. New and different
colourful pictures. techniques and methods are always
Nevertheless, a picture is not only a emerging, but I will describe some of
selection of colours, forms or objects. the activities that I use with my classes.
Each one has a story behind it and the
good news is that the story is different 1 Borrowed identity
with every viewing. There are no
For this first activity I prepare a set of
photos of people the more varied in
In a way, pictures race and background they are, the
better. Personally, I find the photos of
offer a lifebelt in people in National Geographic Magazine
are good, but of course there are no
the sea of language limitations on where you get them from.
and teachers who I spread the photos over the floor in
the classroom or on the tables and ask
fail to use them will the students to look at them and choose
one. There is no initial instruction
inevitably lose some needed as the students can easily grasp
students the idea from the example I give and, at
this stage, it is better if they dont know
what the task will be as this could
limitations, and in an educational influence their choice. I myself choose a
setting a picture offers the possibility photo of a person as different from me
that all answers are correct. This takes as possible (opposite sex, different race,
away the burden of trying to get the etc). When everyone has chosen their
correct answer, wanting to copy what photo, we sit in a circle so that everyone
has been said before or focusing on can see the other people and their
repeating one single structure, which is photos. I start by showing my photo
often the case in foreign language and introducing myself with what is
learning. To elicit stories, dialogues and obviously the name of the person on the
personal information from the learners, photo and thus take on the identity of
a teacher only needs to prepare a series the photo in my hands. Then I ask one
of pictures, photos or drawings and go of the students about their name, where ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 15

Fun with
members of one big family. At first 5
sight, this seems like an impossible task,
Fortune telling
especially if the people in the photos If you have enough pictures for each
come from different races, backgrounds, student to take several, they can use

photos etc, but when the students get immersed

in the task, they come up with fantastic
stories that would beat any soap opera.
Lost sons go to faraway places just to
them as fortune telling cards in pairs
they tell each others fortunes according
to the pictures they chose.

 they come from, etc, and also encourage come back again with new wives; 
other students to introduce their new children get adopted; they get married
or divorce each other for reasons you Once you have a set of pictures, the
characters. We start with introductions possibilities are enormous. The visuals
and basic information about their cannot imagine!
I have experienced many great themselves will often suggest a task
families, occupations, lifestyle, etc, and you just need to open up your mind to
go on to more and more detail, which lessons with full student input and a
high level of emotional engagement the ideas and take them to class.
the students provide themselves. It often Even if you have no ideas about how
happens that a student asks What? with this activity.
to exploit a certain picture, it is well
Where do I live/work? but I just say worth bringing it to class anyway and
something like How do I know? It is 3 Out and about just asking the students about how they
your life, not mine! and soon they all Again, this third activity can be used as think it could be of use. You might be
play the game. Often, they dont even a follow-up to Borrowed identity in pleasantly surprised. It often happens
need to be encouraged to ask each other which the students keep their original that I find a good, interesting picture
questions, as the need comes from the photos, or it can be a separate activity but I have no idea what to do with it.
activity itself. After some time, they even with the students choosing new photos. Nevertheless, I laminate it and store it
Some students identify with their new with the rest of my pictures and very
identity so much that they wish to soon somebody finds a way to use it
Students who are explore it further, whereas others may given the opportunity, of course.
naturally shy, silent or wish to choose a new persona. All In my opinion, this fits perfectly
variants are possible and acceptable in with the current recommendation that
lower in the class this activity. teachers should give their students more
The students, each with their control over their learning. It isnt the
hierarchy are able to photos, pair up or make groups of teacher who needs to bring ideas into
open up in their new three. They then work together to make the classroom it is the students. It is
up dialogues involving their characters our mission as teachers to allow them to
identities and find the in different settings. These dialogues can have their own ideas, and help them to
courage to speak be spoken or written, and the settings verbalise them. Visuals are one way of
can be given by the teacher or suggested doing this. ETp
by the students. Examples might include
get so involved in the fictional lives of at a bus station, in a library, in the I based the first idea on a technique I learned
their characters that they start bosss office, at university, etc. The from Sylvia Stephan at a creative methodology
course with Pilgrims in Canterbury, UK. She
matchmaking, finding each other jobs or situations can be easily tailored to the stressed the importance of using photos, but
whatever else the characters might need. students needs. the original idea of identity swap was without
the visuals, only with names. After the first
This activity can be easily adapted Having a second identity provided one, the ideas came more or less by
for any language learning situation as by the visuals is extremely important themselves, although they are probably based
the teacher can set the environment or here as often students who are naturally on techniques I have seen elsewhere.
relationships between the people in any shy, silent or lower in the class hierarchy
way appropriate, eg a business meeting, are able to open up in their new Sandra Vida has been
teaching for 12 years at
job interview, etc. Some of the characters identities and find the courage to say the Bilingual Secondary
are chosen to be the interview panel, or what they would normally not dare to School in Lendava,
Slovenia. She is also the
whatever else is suitable, and the rest do. The visual and the new identity it vice-president of IATEFL
could be looking for a new job, trying provides are a safety net that offers the Slovenia. Her main
interest is finding ways
to persuade potential customers, etc. confidence that is so vital when learning to get students to enjoy
and using a foreign language. school.
2 Big family
4 Story writing
This second activity can be used as a
follow-up to Borrowed identity or can If your set of visuals includes other
be done separately. The students, each things, such as landscapes, objects,
with a different photo of a person in animals, etc, it can easily be used for a Writing for ETp
their hands, form groups of six to eight group story-writing activity where each Would you like to write for ETp?
(even ten is still possible). Their task is person participates in the story with For guidelines and advice, write to us or
to come up with a plausible story that their picture, combining them all into email:
explains how all these people are one unit.

16 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

IN THE CLASSROOM themes are: Banking; Car Care;
Celebrations other than Christmas;
Eating Out; Entertainment; Grocery

Shopping; Health; Home Care and
Repairs; Job Hunting; Municipal
Services; Mall Shopping; and Travel and
Transportation. These themes were
chosen because I, as an expatriate in
several different countries, encountered

Suzanne Brems constructs a curriculum
difficulties when I tried to handle each
of these situations. However, flexibility
is the key; if another problem arises
from class input, an additional unit can
be created easily, using the guidelines of
those already developed.

The format
for bringing people together. The general unit format loosely follows
the presentation, practice, production
(PPP) method of teaching. The topic
n my experience, no ESL curriculum members of the community in the

and functional vocabulary are presented
has adequately addressed the teaching of the class, feeling that
at the beginning of the first class.
problems of a community language resentment of foreigners grows from
Group- and pairwork, roleplays and
programme. A traditional, fear, and that fear can be overcome by
class discussions using relevant realia
grammar-based curriculum, using one familiarity. The following is a description
constitute practice. Production comes at
of the many textbooks in print, often of how my plan would work.
the end of the unit. Each thematic unit
does not meet the needs of the students,
concludes with either a speaker from
who require pragmatic communication The plan the community who is an expert on the
skills and an introduction to the culture
My proposed curriculum uses no topic, or a field trip to a community
in which they are now living.
textbook, and the teachers main role is establishment where the language and
Because of this irrelevance, and
that of guide or facilitator. Materials functional conventions can be used in
other factors, absenteeism is high;
used are easily obtainable in most real time. This unique curriculum feature
review then becomes necessary, which
English-speaking countries or from the brings the students and the community
impedes the progress of others and
internet: maps of the area; over-the- together, and serves as an assessment
frequently results in students dropping
counter medicine labels; telephone tool for the topic if one is needed.
out. No one is served this way.
books and Yellow Pages (the phone For example, the unit Eating Out uses
Funding, another major problem, is
directory for businesses and services); both a speaker and a field trip to give
either dependent on private organisations
all types of application forms. students an opportunity to use their new
that have their own agendas, or linked
language skills. A server from a local
to enrolment, which creates an
restaurant is invited to the first class to
unreliable source for budget planning. The students help with roleplays, and during the
Outside of these practical issues, is
second class, as the culmination of the
the problem of community acceptance require pragmatic unit, the whole group visits a restaurant
of an immigrant population. All too
often this is characterised by apathy,
communication skills for a meal. During this meal, the
vocabulary of ordering from a menu and
intolerance or outright hostility. Since a and an introduction the conventions of asking for more water
community language programmes main
to the culture in which and tipping the server are used in an
goal is, or ought to be, student autonomy
authentic setting and may be observed
and at least partial integration into the
new culture, this attitude often works
they are now living by the teacher for assessment purposes.
There is a fuller description of a
against the programmes objectives.
unit, plus a sample activity and
I tried to address these problems in The curriculum consists of 12
worksheet at the end of this article.
a class on curriculum design that I thematic units, somewhat ambitiously
attended at Kent State University in designed to be completed in five class
Kent, Ohio, in the US. In a plan I hours each. Most community The content
produced for one assignment, I used programmes in the United States meet Because of the context, no overt
readily available, authentic materials twice per week for at least two hours grammar lessons are included in the
instead of a textbook, and I devised short each time, so the lesson plans include a lesson plans, but this does not mean
thematic units which can be completed variety of activities to keep interest high. that no grammar is learnt. Prepositions
in a week, to address absenteeism and The unit themes are geared to the of place and direction are taught in
frustration at lack of progress. To deal practical skills needed when one is activities such as giving directions to a
with community attitudes, I involved transplanted into a new culture. These community building (Municipal Services); ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 17

Covering an entire unit in one week of the themed activities correspond to
addresses the absentee problem quite the themes in grammar-based textbooks
well because there is no need for lengthy and can also be used for communication

spirit review of material. Also, completing a

unit gives the students a feeling of
accomplishment, ideally motivating
them to complete more. A Completion
practice in traditional classrooms.
I have also had success in adapting
my textbook-based curriculum to what
was available in the community. When a
 modals are used in advice-giving units chart, signed by the teacher after each university class read Fahrenheit 451, I
such as Health; and question words and unit is finished satisfactorily, becomes invited the communitys librarian to
word order are covered in units involving the report card for the programme. speak to the students about censorship.
information gathering (Entertainment, When another class curriculum required
Home Care and Repairs).
The same is true of vocabulary in
The community the students to read a work by an
American playwright, I checked to see
this curriculum. While not specifically Enlisting the cooperation of the what the local theatre was performing;
taught, vocabulary is used and recycled community is a key factor in the success we then read that play and attended a
(numbers in Banking and Shopping of this programme. The coordinator performance, which was more meaningful
units; food words in Eating Out and would have to arrange speakers and than merely reading a play as literature.
Celebrations) until the students have field trips/tours in advance of beginning Using the community as both the
large, active vocabularies a strategy the classes and should emphasise the classroom and the textbook has many
common in most classrooms. advantages of such cooperation. advantages. It is motivating for students,
The skills of reading, speaking and Educated, skilled workers and cheaper for language programme
listening are specifically taught in all additional tax revenue are only two of organisers, and advantageous for the
units. Writing is not a focus in any of the advantages a community will gain community and its members. ETp
them, but it is used as needed to from cooperating with programmes
accomplish tasks within the units. such as this. If approached correctly, Suzanne Brems taught
Included in some units are such writing communities are willing, and often English in Slovenia until
2001 and is currently a
tasks as making lists, filling out eager, to help potential citizens adjust. graduate student at Kent
applications and writing answers to State University, Ohio,
questions on worksheets. Depending on  USA. She teaches
academic and technical
class level, additional practice in writing writing at local colleges.
She is happiest in a
skills might include thank-you notes, I have used many of the activities in this classroom interacting
recipes (giving directions) or short curriculum in my various teaching with students.
descriptive paragraphs about home contexts and have had no trouble
countries. adapting them to different levels. Most

Community spirit Sample unit

Unit: Health First class:
Vocabulary of illnesses and symptoms
Completion time: 1 week (2 lesson periods)
Mime symptoms (cough, sneeze, etc) and match to
Objectives: illness
Know the names of illnesses and how to treat them Pairwork: What do you do if ...?
Match over-the-counter and prescription medicines to List over-the-counter medicines you can buy at a
illnesses pharmacy and categorise, eg for stomach, cold, first
Understand what local health services are available aid
Become familiar with the location of the nearest Look at labels on bottles and interpret dosage,
hospital and its check-in procedure warnings
Match doctors to ailments through a search of Yellow Look at prescription labels and note differences from
Pages over-the-counter medicines

Realia: Toy doctors kit, pharmacy pill bottles with Visiting speaker
prescription label, over-the-counter medicine bottles
Second class:
Other material: Yellow Pages, list of illnesses with pictures, Health services
list of recommended childrens vaccinations
Look in Yellow Pages and match doctors and illnesses
Community contact: Health department representative Locate nearest hospital, pharmacy, clinic or doctors
speaking about local services or blood donation, or Red office on city map
Cross representative speaking on first aid
Tour of hospital departments, admission procedure,
Field trip: Tour of hospital maybe eat in cafeteria

18 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional / kickstand
Community spirit Sample activity
Overview: Students will read the labels on over-the-counter Warm-up: (activating prior knowledge) List symptoms such
medicines and discover what they are used for. Pairs will as fever and headache on the board. With students, mime
discuss and categorise the medicines. Additional discussion the feelings, then ask what they do when these things
will centre on personal remedies for minor ailments. happen to them. After a few replies, introduce a collection of
medicine bottles. Teach vocabulary such as dose,
Goal: To read and understand over-the-counter medicine
prescription, over-the-counter, etc. Model label reading.
labels and dosage and know how to use the medicines for
the appropriate ailments Procedure:
(Monitor the students throughout.)
Main focus: Reading (reading for information from labels)
1 Put the students into pairs.
Secondary focus: Speaking (exchanging information on
habits) 2 Give each pair two or three medicine bottles and a
copy of the worksheet for each person.
3 The students read the labels and complete the
4 The students discuss the question at the bottom of
the worksheet.
5 In groups of four, they categorise the list of products
on the worksheet.
6 Have a final class discussion on the question.
Collect the worksheets for checking and

Community spirit Sample worksheet

Over-the-counter medicine
1 Look at the label on each medicine bottle. 2 Here is a list of what you can buy at a drugstore.
Put the items in the categories below.
a) Complete this sentence:
The medicine can help when someone has antacid body lotion

.............................................................................. . heating pad rubbing alcohol

antihistamine cotton swabs
Now answer these questions: shampoo thermometer
b) Who should take this medicine? aspirin cough syrup
__________________________________________________ bandages toothpaste

c) Who should not take this medicine? Stomach products Personal products
__________________________________________________ _______________________ _______________________
_______________________ _______________________
d) How long can you take this medicine?
__________________________________________________ Cold/flu medicines First-aid supplies
e) Do you have to keep this medicine in the refrigerator? _______________________ _______________________
__________________________________________________ _______________________ _______________________

f) How much medicine is in each pill?

3 Can you think of any other things you would buy at
a drugstore?
g) When do you have to throw the medicine away? ____________________________________________________
__________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 19

IN THE CLASSROOM we see firsthand the advantages the
students are getting from these short
one-hour get-togethers. In this article

we wish to share with you our belief
that if a mixed-level class follows some
simple principles and the challenges of
such a class are overcome, then all the
students can really benefit.


There are some challenges that will
present themselves and these will need
to be dealt with before and during the
Firstly, we have learnt from
experience to pitch the class in the
middle of the two extremes of level.
Once this middle level is decided, you
need to have a clear language focus and
clear ideas about what you want each
level of student to achieve by the end of
Aliwyn Cole, ll English teachers have

Sheila Parrott
and Steven Smith
A experienced mixed-level
classes at some point in their
career. If you think you
havent, then its likely you actually have
without fully realising it on a basic
the lesson.
Secondly, lower-level students may
feel intimidated or nervous about sharing
a class with students from higher levels.
Pre-lesson student management is vital
here. You will need to spend some time
celebrate the unique level, think of an elementary class
with the weaker ones, equipping them
consisting of students who have just
benefits of mixed-level progressed from beginner and those
who are nearly ready to move up to pre- If a mixed-level
classes. intermediate. Mixed-level classes seem
to be frowned upon in our profession. class follows some
Taking a look at ELT forums and
websites, we have seen advice ranging simple principles and
from teachers declaring Dont do it! to the challenges of such
good ideas on how to deal with such
classes, like those from Alex Case in his a class are overcome,
article Teaching mixed-level classes on What we havent
then all the students
seen is anyone outlining the benefits that can really benefit
these classes can have for all the
students. And we have found that, in
fact, mixed-level classes can have with confidence and fearlessness as well
benefits for the students, and that these as useful phrases and relevant
are benefits which classes where all the vocabulary which they can use when
students are at roughly the same level interacting with the others. There will,
dont possess. We believe that the of course, be times when they dont
negativity towards mixed-level teaching understand, but they should feel
felt by teachers can be turned around if reassured that it is OK to speak up, ask
they can see the benefits and realise that questions and clarify new language or
mixed-level classes dont necessarily misunderstandings.
require more planning just more Thirdly, higher-level students might
specific, targeted planning. initially feel that interacting with lower-
At our language school in central level students will be detrimental to
London, we are in the unique position their learning. Explaining the benefits
of being able to teach regular Fast (see page 21) that they can get will ease
track classes, consisting of students their fears. We have a lot of students
ranging from lower-elementary to who positively enjoy the mentor role
upper-intermediate. For these classes we they play in helping their lower-level
purposefully mix three levels together classmates. Helping the higher-level
on one day a week. We do this because students to identify potential problems

20 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

Advantages for each level of mixed-level classes

High level Middle level Low level

(upper-intermediate) (intermediate) (elementary to pre-intermediate)

Review previously-acquired Learn new structures and Learn new and review
structures pronunciation previously-acquired structures,
vocabulary and pronunciation
Receive boost to Review previously-acquired
confidence structures Practise key phrases

Eradicate errors and Receive peer correction Receive peer correction

improve accuracy
See what is needed to achieve See what is needed to achieve
a higher level of English a higher level of English

that the lower-level students might have vocabulary where necessary and, most different: by purposely mixing our levels
can help them understand that peer importantly, peer correction. Self- once a week, we believe we can give
correction might be necessary. correction would, of course, be ideal, extra benefits to our students. However,
but this is rarely achievable for a lower- this may not be possible in your teaching
Benefits level student. Now that they are situation. If so, dont let that prevent
interacting with higher-level students, you trying out some ideas with your
1 By pitching the class in the middle
they potentially have access to a lot of regular classes. As we mentioned at the
of the two extremes we have discovered peer correction. At the same time, the beginning, we believe all classes are to
the following: higher-level students are benefiting by some degree mixed-level and our ideas
The lower levels are exposed to new listening out for and correcting any can be adapted for your class. ETp
target language which may be above errors the weaker students make.
their level, but is still linguistically
attainable. 4 The higher-level students will be
dealing with language and vocabulary
The middle-level students have a
which they have studied previously.
lesson perfectly pitched and have the
Whilst our students may have studied
challenge of using the target language
and learnt this language before, there is
accurately in a suitable context.
always a question mark over their ability
Aliwyn Cole, Steven Smith and Sheila Parrott
The higher-level students are given the to use it accurately. Students usually are all teachers at Malvern House
opportunity to improve their accuracy make mistakes even with language they International in London, UK. Aliwyn Cole has
been a teacher for eight years, and has
in using target language which they are familiar with, and their mistakes are taught in Thailand and Italy. Steven Smith
should fully understand but maybe usually ones that have become ingrained previously taught in Beijing, China. Sheila
Parrott specialises in the innovative
still make minor mistakes with. over a long period of time. We are, Springboard programme, which introduces
therefore, providing an opportunity to new students to London.
2 Although we have seen the lower- focus on these common errors, make the
level students being initially fearful of student fully aware of them and, by
extensive interaction with higher-level doing so, to eradicate them. Eradicating
students, they have actually come out of them at the top begins to have a trickle
the classes feeling encouraged. For them, effect down to the lower levels via peer
there is the benefit of seeing firsthand correction. We identify the mistakes
exactly what they need to achieve to be made by the higher-level students and
in a higher-level class. It is widely they, in turn, do the same when Visit the
believed that you learn best from people conversing with the lower levels. ETp website!
more able than yourself, and giving the
The ETp website is packed with practical
lower-level students the opportunity for  tips, advice, resources, information and
a lot of interaction with higher-level
selected articles. You can submit tips
students benefits them enormously. The purpose of this article is to suggest
or articles, renew your subscription
that mixed-level classes can be viewed as
3 By working with lower-level an opportunity rather than a hindrance. or simply browse the features.
students, the higher-level students easily Many teachers will advise you to avoid
adopt the role of teacher, providing them wherever possible. Our view is ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 21


answers (from talk about football to
use the textbook more). When I
explained that it was impossible to
incorporate every idea, one of the
students made a radical suggestion:
Lets vote!. With those two words, the
shape of the course changed
completely and the Democratic Project

for kids!
Approach (DPA) was born.
From that moment on, every major
classroom decision was decided by a
referendum, from the form of the task
(making speeches, designing posters,
writing journals or sketches) to the
distribution of roles (presenters, artists,
writers); from the break-up of the class
(group-, pair- or solo work) to the
Brett Daviess students get the vote. question of whether or not they do
homework. Rather than being a

he use of Task-Based Learning However, by the end of the second teacher, I became a supervisor, ensuring
(TBL) is gaining popularity in lesson I noticed that many of the free and democratic elections and being
the language classroom, both learners were becoming restless and available for help when needed. The
for children and adults. The distracted. Only a minority were rise in student talking time was
benefits of TBL are well-documented: by actively participating and the less testament to the childrens increased
focusing on the task rather than language confident members of the class became interest. Even the shyest students
form, the students can find a genuine marginalised by the more talkative enjoyed talking about topics that they
purpose to the lesson beyond simply children. themselves had chosen. And when a
memorising a specific language point. This vote did not go a particular childs way,
builds their problem-solving and social there was no apparent drop in interest.
skills, and more closely translates to real- Rather than As one learner put it, I still want to try
life situations outside the classroom. This being a teacher, my best for the team. This sense of
can lead to an increase in confidence ownership led to a very successful
and fluency, whereby the students I became a supervisor, open day in which everyone
become L2 users rather than learners.
ensuring free and participated enthusiastically.
Since that early trial, my colleagues
TBL with young democratic elections and I have adopted this approach with
and being available for dozens of classes, enjoying similar
learners success. Democracy does not come
My experiments with TBL were largely help when needed easily, however, so here are six tips on
successful, so I developed a course for making the classes run as smoothly as
young learners (nine to eleven year possible:
In order to prevent this problem
olds) using the principles of TBL to
from escalating, I found myself 1 Agree on a goal
complete longer-term projects over an
intervening and assigning roles. In any democratic society there are
eight-week period. I judged that the
Gradually, the focus shifted from the aims, tacit or otherwise. Children can
students would jump at the chance to
students and the task to the teacher be easily distracted, so it is doubly
make wall displays, scrapbooks and
and the classroom the exact opposite important to agree on a tangible goal
stories on an ongoing theme, with the
of what I had intended. from the beginning. This could be an
intention of presenting their work at an
open day for parents. end-of-term presentation, a learner
The early lessons were promising. The democratic portfolio or even a test on some of the
Such topics as local wildlife or dinosaurs language raised in the classes. Whatever
sparked lively discussions for one or
project approach the goal is, a clear focus (and a
two periods, and the children enjoyed Frustrated by this initial failure, I asked reminder of it before every vote)
the initial research phase: reading books, the learners what they wanted to do. makes the democratic process run
sourcing pictures from the internet and Not surprisingly, in a class of ten more smoothly. Every vote must serve
asking each other for advice. students there were ten different the final goal. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 23


Democracy 4 Be prepared for

(almost) anything
A complaint by some teachers new to
6 Relax
Some teachers have expressed
trepidation at going into a classroom

for kids!
DPA is that it is impossible to be and telling the students You are the
prepared for every eventuality. This is boss. I had reservations at first about
especially relevant when considering devolving power to nine year olds, but I
materials. A well-stocked resource quickly learnt not to worry. Children
cupboard and access to the latest are a lot more conservative than we

2 Rules are OK technology are huge pluses, of course, often expect. Even the naughtier
Devolving power does not give the but it is OK to enter the classroom members of a class soon come round
children a licence to run wild. To avoid with nothing more than a pad of paper to the idea that it is fun to write their
a scene from Lord of the Flies, some and enough pencils for everyone. In own stories or make their own
rules are necessary. I adapted a list our school we created an updatable presentations. As long as the teacher is
made by Jeanne Gibbs: resource list that states which available to help and support, and
equipment is potentially available for occasionally remind learners to follow
 Listen carefully to each other. future lessons. Whatever the learners the class rules, then DPA leads to a
 No quarrelling the vote is final. grand plans (one group even made a relaxed, cooperative environment. Most
short film), they can begin on paper, importantly, the students soon forget
 Speak when you want to, but its
then be expanded later when that they are learning. Instead, they
OK just to listen sometimes.
equipment is available. Honesty is the begin to use English as a genuine tool
 Encourage and help each other. best policy: state clearly what can and for communication, assisting each other
After offering these rules, I ask for cannot be done, and the learners are and asking the teacher for help when
further suggestions from the class, usually willing to adapt their ideas needed.
followed by a vote. Additionally, I allow accordingly.
the students to propose new rules as Another great help is a flow chart. 
the course progresses. Some ideas have Before a lesson, try to think of likely
been: votes, then make contingencies based By following these guidelines, teachers
on each possible response. You cannot here in Japan have now used the
 All votes are secret (by paper Democratic Project Approach in classes
be prepared for every eventuality (a
ballot). both small and large (from six students
problem not exclusive to DPA), but by
 Everyone works hard (not just some careful pre-planning you can be ready to 40), with learners aged seven to 15.
members of the class). for most. Learner confidence has risen in all age
 There will be a different class leader groups, along with their scores in
each week. 5 No dictators allowed standardised tests.
As teachers, we are accustomed to I hope that your classes can be
 All pairs must share coloured similarly rewarding when you try giving
telling our students what to do. In DPA
pencils fairly. democracy to kids. ETp
we must control this urge. It is our role
It is interesting to note that the to guide and help the learners when
learners usually enforce stricter laws on necessary, not to force our views upon Gibbs, J Tribes: A New Way of Learning and
themselves than the teachers do! them. Some of the more successful Being Together CenterSource Systems 2001
projects have developed out of Hedge, T Teaching and Learning in the
3 Give options Language Classroom OUP 2000
mistakes. In one case, a very confident
student wanted to memorise a four- Willis, D and Willis, J Doing Task-Based
Choices can be quite daunting for Teaching OUP 2007
children, especially in those cultures page speech for open day. The teacher
where the student usually plays a less advised him that it was too long but he
Brett Davies has ten
active role in the classroom. Therefore insisted he could do it. A week before years experience
it is important for teachers to provide the open day, the student realised that teaching English and
Welsh in Canada and
options. A question such as What would he had overstretched himself, so he Japan, and he recently
adapted the speech into a short play completed an MSc with
you like to do for open day? is likely to be Aston University, UK.
met by blank looks. By adding options involving his classmates. The play was a He currently teaches at
a Rikkyo University,
like Make a wall display? Give a speech? great hit, and the student had learnt a Tokyo, Japan.
Write diaries? the childrens imagination lot of valuable lessons. This would
kicks into action. Always be ready with never have occurred if the teacher had
a list of possibilities, leaving room for intervened early in the process, even
them to contribute their own ideas, too. though she was correct!

24 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


Answer the
tion ere is the (fictional!) answer to Although this answer is almost comical, / Alistair Scott

a question in a recent English it is not very different from many
exam. Do you think its a good answers that I have seen. The above

swer answer or a poor one? answer is characterised by having:

An much too much signpost language;
What are the main advantages much too little content;
and disadvantages of a) cars and the absence of any discernible
b) bikes? argument.
Today Paul Bress
Most examination boards will ask their
would like to tell you about Answer examiners to mark according to a
Today Id like to tell you about the number of criteria, one or more of
his personal opinion on a current debate which is raging which will be language-related.
between different people who have However, an examiner reading an
current debate that is raging opposite views on the relative answer like the one above will feel that
merits of cars and bikes. There are the language has been learnt off by
between different people certain people who put forward the heart and is, therefore, tantamount to
view that cars are faster than bikes. plagiarism. As a result, a low mark may
who have opposite views ... However, there are also those be awarded for language. This is
people who have a completely because the candidate hasnt really given
different opinion. These latter the examiner the chance to assess their
people hold the view that bikes are real linguistic ability.
more eco-friendly than cars. I would suggest that students often
In my personal opinion, I think that write scripts like this because they are
these two groups of people may encouraged to do so by their teachers.
both be considered to be right. The They use a battery of fixed phrases and
fact of the matter is that, while cars expressions to try to give an impression
are faster, bikes are more eco- of linguistic competence. Occasionally
friendly. This is where I stand on the such candidates can pull the wool over
matter (this is my viewpoint). But, the eyes of a gullible examiner, but it is
of course, there are other people all style over substance and a good
who may have a wholly different examiner will see this for what it is. It
viewpoint from my own one. I would be much better if candidates were
conclude this essay on the alerted to what examiners are really
advantages and disadvantages of looking for and how this can be
cars and bikes by saying that more achieved.
research needs to be carried out in Lets consider now how to answer
this highly controversial area. discursive questions properly and how
teachers can help their learners do this. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 25

Gradually phase yourself out.
Answer the
examples and methods of organising
the material. Useful suggestions can Obviously, when your students are in
be put on the board. So, if the the exam hall, you wont be there to

question! question is Should the very rich pay

very high income tax?, your board
might look like this:
help them. So youll be doing them a
favour if you gradually phase yourself
out of your teaching role. An interim
 stage might consist of an able learner
Advice for students LANGUAGE CONTENT taking the role of the teacher,
Take time to study the question. collating ideas for content and
If candidates spend time studying the Introduction organisation. But, at the end of the
question thoroughly and tailor their Wealth more and more course, even this phase should be
answers to what is actually being unevenly distributed (eg omitted. The learners all need to
asked, they are likely to score highly increasing number of work by themselves. In this way, they
for relevance. If they dont, their billionaires in the world) should develop more confidence and
answers will probably irritate the autonomy and should be able to
Argument for
examiner, and consequently they will handle the exam better. If there isnt a
Increase in numbers
be given a low mark. phasing-out process, the learners
of multinational orgs in
Construct a sound argument. eg Sub-Saharan Africa might feel suddenly frightened in the
This means getting some notes down exam hall and perform poorly.
Exploitation by
on rough paper. If these are visible, the multinationals (abuse Give your learners lots of
examiner will be impressed that the of child labour in poor practice.
candidate is using a strategy. If they countries) Practice might not make perfect, but
fail to do this, their argument is much it will ensure that your learners will
Wheres the fairness?
more likely to be thin or flawed, and perform to the best of their abilities.
they will score a low mark for content. Argument against They will get more and more used to
Trickle-down theory a genre the more they practise writing
Provide examples to back up
the very rich spend a lot in it. Answering a discursive question
your points.
of money, creating work should become second nature to
Candidates can add such examples in
and money for others them. Without such preparation, they
their notes beforehand. When
examiners see examples, they will will probably score a significantly
want to reward the candidates ability lower mark than they are capable of
An aspirational, but fair,
to go from the general to the achieving.
tax system
particular. They will most likely feel
minded to award a high mark for 
content. A script with no examples is If learners get used to brainstorming
likely to receive a very low mark. mini-plans like this, it should result in In conclusion, signpost phrases are
a solid answer to the question. If they clearly important, but they are not a
Divide your answer up dont, the answer is likely to be short cut to answering a discursive
proportionally. clichd and superficial. question properly. A good answer will
Again, the attempt to do this can be probably include expressions like for
shown in the candidates notes in the Help them to move from content
example, meanwhile and in conclusion.
form of a pie chart marking out the notes to prose.
But the last thing an examiner wants to
proportion of the essay to be allocated It is important to focus on accuracy
read is a succession of signpost phrases
to the introduction, arguments and and register, but only once the
substituting for an argument (with
counter-arguments with examples and content is in place. Content first,
points, examples and a coherent
conclusion. Doing this will help the language after. You can ask your
structure). Moreover, if candidates are
students to construct a more balanced learners to make complete and
hoping to study at tertiary level at an
answer. Examiners are more likely to connected sentences with the notes on
English-medium university, their tutors
be impressed by a well-structured essay the right (above) and you can then
will be much more interested in their
which looks at the question from put these phrases in the column on
ability to handle ideas. ETp
different angles and will probably give the left. After a time, the learners will
a high mark for relevance. An find that a number of common Paul Bress works both
unbalanced script will undoubtedly phrases come up, such as for example. in the fields of personal
Examiners will note that such growth and ELT and
receive a much lower mark. has published very
cohesive devices serve to make the widely in both areas.
content coherent and will look on this He is a life-long, non-
Advice for teachers in a favourable way. However, if the
stop learner he learns
more from everyday
Encourage your learners to learners are encouraged to go straight experience than from
formal research. His
think critically. to prose, the answer will probably get life coaching website is
To teach critical thinking skills you a low mark for content and the
need to give your learners sample language, too, might receive a low
questions and elicit arguments, score (if it appears memorised).

26 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

IN THE CLASSROOM give you any relevant comments, make
it clear that you want them to comment
on what will help them learn. Once they

start, give them some space. If possible,
leave the room for a few minutes and
allow them to discuss the course in your
absence and make notes. When theyve
finished, collect their notes and promise
that you will give them a follow-up in
the next lesson.

Stage 3 is reflecting. Read over the
students comments and think about
them. If you suspect their comments
might be excessively forthright and
critical, take a deep breath and read
slowly. Take a break now and then. Its
important not to take the comments
personally, and remember that you cant
Hall Houston finds out what his students really think. make everyone happy.
Take notes as you read. Look for
patterns in their comments, and make a
etting feedback from your I will now describe the four stages to

special note of anything you dont
students can add a new fruitful feedback: planning, presenting, understand.
dimension to your teaching. reflecting and reporting. Next, use your notes to help you
Quite often a course ends decide on some changes you can make.
Stage 1 is planning. Here are a few
and we have no idea what our students While you are unlikely to be able to
questions worth considering:
really thought about it. In this article, accommodate all of the students
Ill suggest some ways students can How often do you want to get
comments, you will almost certainly be
share their thoughts and feelings about feedback? Twice (the halfway point
able to find a few things that can be
a course. Ill provide some reasons for and the last class) is enough for most
conducting feedback sessions, outline teachers. Others may want to get
four steps to successful feedback, feedback more often. Stage 4 is reporting. Meet with the
provide some tips and troubleshooting What aspects of the course do you class and thank them for their feedback.
techniques, and suggest a few possible want feedback on? You may wish to Read out some comments, and respond
formats. get overall feedback on the course in to them. Also, bring up anything you
general, or zoom in on one aspect. found unclear. Finally, explain some
Why give a feedback changes you want to make, based on
What type of format do you want to
their feedback.
session? use? Anonymous feedback on slips of
paper? A questionnaire? A discussion
First of all, asking for feedback shows
in groups with reports from each What pitfalls can
that you care, that you are concerned
about how your students learn and want
group? Written comments on each we expect?
lesson? Consider carefully how each Here are some common complaints
to see them improve. This can have a
format might affect the class from teachers that arise in Stage 3.
positive effect on how a course progresses.
Another reason is to encourage the
My students hardly wrote
students to reflect on their own When do you want to schedule the
learning. If they can articulate the feedback session? Right at the
Remember that some students are not
reasons they like or dislike certain beginning of one class? The end?
accustomed to giving feedback, so they
elements of a course, they will become Somewhere in the middle?
might feel uncomfortable about it. In
aware of how they learn best. How do you want to introduce the some cases, it might reflect on the
Requesting feedback can make your feedback session? Is there anything students low motivation or lack of
classes more democratic. It allows the you want to emphasise in your interest in the course. Make sure that
students opinions to influence lesson instructions? they understand the reasons for the
planning, and gives the students a voice
What problems do you foresee? How feedback session.
in how they spend time in class.
do you plan to handle them?
A feedback session might already be My students wrote about things
part of the system at your school. Many Stage 2 is presenting. On the day you that were not related to the course.
schools ask students to fill out a plan to conduct the feedback session, Challenge yourself to see things through
feedback survey at the end of a course. tell the class you want to hear what they the students eyes. Things you might
Even if this is the case, you can do have to say in order to make future consider irrelevant (your fashion sense,
additional feedback sessions for your lessons even better. Also, if you are the temperature of the classroom) might
own purposes. concerned that your students will not loom large. Consider what changes you

28 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

could make to accommodate the few students to write the sentences on between each sheet of paper. Invite the
students, especially if the comment is the board, so everyone can check their entire class to come up and write
repeated several times. answers. Finally, ask the students to put questions and comments about what the
each card into the envelope that other rows have written. If time permits,
A student wrote the rudest thing.
corresponds with how they feel about read out some of their sentences and
First, question whether or not the
the statement. comment on them.
student was being rude. It could be a
cultural difference or a lack of maturity. Feedback grid 3 and 3
Consider scheduling a private This format allows the students to see This format allows the students to
discussion with the student concerned. each others comments, and gives you an discuss the course in groups. It works
Repeat the comment to the student and opportunity to give an instant response. best in classes where students enjoy
ask for an explanation. I recommend Draw a big 2 x 2 grid on the board. discussing and sharing their opinions.
telling students calmly but assertively Next to the grid, write Hows this class Put the students into groups of
when they offend you, and pointing out going? Tell the students you would love three to five. Tell each group you want
rude language and behaviour. to get their feedback on your course them to think of three things they like
and that you are going to give them about the course so far, and three things
My students comments were
some sticky notes. They need to write they think could be improved. Give
really harsh.
their comments on these, then put them each group a sheet of blank paper and
Perhaps one of the most frustrating
up on the board. Comments on what an envelope. Tell them youre going to
things that can come from a feedback
they like about the course should go in leave for a few minutes and want them
session is a big pile of negative
the upper-left box. Comments about to discuss, write their comments down
comments. Consider a class discussion
things that should be improved go into and seal them in the envelopes. When
in Stage 4. Encourage the students to
the upper-right box. Students questions they have finished, collect the envelopes,
speak up, and tell them you will
need to be placed in the lower-left box. thank the class, and then continue with
consider making some compromises.
And the lower-right box is for any the lesson.
Also, talk to your supervisor and
suggestions they have. Emphasise that
colleagues and ask them for advice.
you want them all to contribute at least 
I just dont agree with what they three comments (provide extra sticky
Student feedback can be tremendously
have to say. notes if they need them). Sit somewhere
beneficial for both teachers and
Accept the fact that some students will away from the board while they write. A
students. As Duncan Foord puts it,
make an observation about your few times, ask the class if they need any
getting regular feedback throughout the
teaching that you flat out disagree with. additional notes. To round things off,
course will help you become aware of
Avoid getting defensive, and see if there read out some of their comments and
possible problems in advance, inspire
is a sliver of truth in what the student get a few students to elaborate.
confidence in your learners and increase
has to say. your confidence as a teacher. ETp
Collaborative feedback
One advantage to this format is that it
What formats can allows the students to read and respond Foord, D The Developing Teacher Delta
we devise? to each others ideas. Publishing 2009
Tell your students that you would
Finally, Id like to present a few formats
like to hear their comments on how the Hall Houston teaches
for feedback sessions. undergraduate students
course is going. Give a large sheet of
at Kainan University in
Feedback dictation blank paper to each student sitting in Taiwan. He is the author
This format is ideal for classes where the front row. Tell them to write a of The Creative Classroom
(Lynx Publishing) and
students might prefer to share feedback sentence which expresses what they Provoking Thought
silently and anonymously. It can be done think of the course in general or a (BookSurge Publishing).
His professional interests
during the last 15 minutes of a lesson. specific aspect of the course. For include task-based
Prepare ten sentences about your example, a student might write This teaching, discourse
course, such as The course materials are analysis, creativity and
course is fun or I think we should have critical thinking.
interesting or There is a lot of variety in more grammar practice. Tell them to
each class. In addition, prepare five write in small letters, as the rows behind
envelopes. Each one should have one of them are going to add additional
the following phrases written in big letters comments. When the students in the
on the front: I STRONGLY AGREE,
front row have finished, tell them to
pass their papers to the second row. The TALKBACK!
I STRONGLY DISAGREE. students in the second row have two Do you have something to say about
At the beginning of the feedback options: they can add an additional
an article in the current issue of ETp?
session, give each student ten index sentence on the same topic as the first
This is your magazine and we would
cards. Tell them theyre going to do a writer (agreeing or disagreeing), or write
dictation and to write each sentence on about something else. Continue until the really like to hear from you.
a separate index card. Dictate the students in the very last row have Write to us or email:
sentences, repeating each one three written their comments. Next, put the
times. When the dictation is over, ask a papers up on the board with some space ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 29

IN THE CLASSROOM and produce language is influenced by
various neuro-cognitive areas, including
attention, long-term and working

memory, graphomotor skills and
sequential ordering abilities. The latter
has great impact on language
production and comprehension since
language is arranged in a specific
sequence that facilitates understanding.

disability 3
Besides all of the above, on top of
specific language disorders, students
may suffer from information-processing
deficits and be unable to keep up with
the pace of the class while listening,
reading, speaking or writing.

Lesley Lanir summarises some of the problems Receptive language

learners face.
Some students have poor sustained
listening skills, possibly due to one of, or
y previous articles (ETp doesnt understand what he is reading

M Issues 67 and 68)

established that over 20
per cent of our English
students have learning difficulties, and
that any problems that arise while they
and gives up.
Or 14-year-old Nicole, who reads
well and seems to understand the
overall picture. However, she fails
reading comprehension quizzes because
a combination of, the following: weak
attention controls, limitations in working
memory, or poor verbal or sequential
memory. These deficiencies can bring
about reduced concentration in verbal
settings and an inability to remember
are acquiring their first language are she cannot answer the questions.
information presented orally. Thus, class
transferred to second language In the same group, Danny needs to
members with this disorder will perform
acquisition. In addition, it was have explanations repeated and is unable
badly in most listening activities and
emphasised that attention is a critical to follow through multi-step instructions
will have trouble following directions.
factor involved in information of any type. In addition, it takes him
processing and proper storage in the ages to copy from the board and even
Classroom strategies
long-term memory. though he repeatedly tries to memorise
The main aim of this article is to vocabulary lists, he still cannot Break verbal information or
give an overview of the principal remember the words and their meanings. instructions into chunks.
difficulties found in our classrooms in And finally, there is 16-year-old Establish eye contact.
the areas of receptive and productive Yasmin, who performs well on grammar Slow down and repeat directions.
language. Although reading, writing, and vocabulary tests and multiple- Provide printouts and/or visuals.
vocabulary and grammar are mentioned choice questions; however, she avoids If listening comprehension exercises
briefly, they require deeper, more participating in discussions. When called are used, allow plenty of time for the
extensive explanations, which will be upon, her speech is choppy; she mixes students to familiarise themselves
given in separate articles. up words and sometimes blanks out. with the questions, and break the
The above examples represent a few task down into manageable parts.
The challenges of of the many different types of language For example, after playing each
learning disabilities, ranging from paragraph, pause and get them to
language problems with reading to difficulties in answer the corresponding questions.
Although a whole spectrum of learning processing information or translating
disabilities exists, if language difficulties thoughts into spoken and written
are the primary problem of our language. Reading
students, then studying the English To read, we must convert visual symbols
language becomes especially demanding. into words, and words into meaning.
The demands of This complex task can be divided into
It has an extensive sound system, close
to 100 spelling patterns and their language word decoding and comprehension.
exceptions, numerous tenses and a long Both receptive and productive language Decoding
list of irregular verbs. All these abilities involve activating multiple Decoding is the ability to read single
characteristics, and more, can prove linguistic levels, including language sounds words in isolation. In order to do this,
challenging for our struggling learners. (phonology), word parts (morphology), students must be aware that language is
Take Tony, for example, who is 11. word meanings (semantics), sentence composed of individual speech sounds,
When reading anything that contains word order (syntax) and paragraph and or phonemes, which are represented by
new or unfamiliar vocabulary, he slows passage organisation (discourse). letter symbols or graphemes. Connecting
down and resorts to decoding to try to In addition to these linguistic sounds to letters is the first step in the
make out the words. In the end, he factors, our students ability to process reading process. Students begin to

30 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

understand the alphabetic principle Classroom strategies
once they realise that words are formed Writing is the most complicated language
when a number of sounds and their Introduce new words and important skill that a student has to perform. It
corresponding letters are strung together. concepts before reading, and involves all levels of linguistic skills,
This is a known as cracking the code. provide a glossary next to each together with a large number of neuro-
Students who find learning to paragraph. cognitive functions, which include at least
decode problematic have trouble Use frequent questions focusing on seven different kinds of memory recall.
identifying words that rhyme and main ideas that will help the Consequently, writing disorders have
blending, segmenting and manipulating students construct meaning from a many sources, ranging from graphomotor
syllables or sounds. passage. and visualspatial difficulties that cause
Other symptoms of weak readers improper pencil grip, poor letter
are difficulties sounding out words and formation, illegible handwriting and poor
recognising words out of context; Productive language planning to underdeveloped neuro-
confusion between letters and their linguistic functioning that results in the
representative sounds; reading at an In addition to the apparently passive inability to remember and retrieve letters,
unusually slow rate and ignoring receptive language skills, students need spelling errors, poor vocabulary and the
punctuation marks. verbal and written communication inability to grasp and apply grammar
All these inconsistencies are based proficiency. This depends upon the rules.
upon inadequate phonological perception ability to access ideas and skills using Other probable causes of below-
and phonological awareness the keys to interaction between attention, long-term standard writing are weak attention
efficient decoding and fluent reading. and working memory, language, spatial controls and underdeveloped
and sequential ordering, and more. organisation and planning skills, which
Classroom strategies Students need to recall information for result in delays in starting writing
classroom activities and tests fairly assignments, inconsistencies in the
Explicitly teach how letters and automatically. legibility of handwriting, careless errors
letter combinations correspond to Productive language deficiencies can and poorly-planned written work.
their speech sounds. be seen in students who seem to blank
Practise sight words, words taught out during tests, writing tasks or if Classroom strategies
as whole units because they are asked to do oral work. These students
frequent, have irregular spellings or most likely have problems accessing and Write in stages over time:
cannot be decoded, eg their, the, activating language knowledge stored in brainstorm, organise ideas, draft
because. their long-term memory and are unable ideas, revise, correct spelling and
to hold verbal information in their grammar, final draft.
working memory while communicating Provide templates and models of
their ideas. completed written assignments in
Skilled readers construct meaning by
Because of this, many students order to give an idea of how to
combining fluent and accurate word
prefer writing assignments to oral work organise an essay and how the
decoding with prior knowledge and
because written work allows them more finished product should look.
experience. Coordinating the bottom-up
and top-down approaches during time to translate their thoughts into
words and sentences; however, for some,
reading involves attention, memory,
all types of language production may 
language and higher-order thinking
skills. If efficient decoding skills are not prove difficult. Unfortunately, although the difficulties
acquired, reading will be hesitant and mentioned here exist in our classrooms,
laborious, and effort will be focused on Speaking it is almost impossible to develop
decoding and not comprehending. During oral tasks, class members with individual lesson plans. Therefore,
Even if their reading is fairly fluent, productive language problems will avoid teachers have to be eclectic and design
some students cannot think about ideas participating and, if they do contribute, lessons to include as many different
or information while they are reading. will have poor articulation or will speak ingredients as possible in order to cater
In addition, they cannot grasp the hesitantly. They may repeat themselves, for all learners. Although this may be
meaning and forget what they have read employ unnecessary words or time-consuming and it is not the perfect
even before they reach the end of a circumlocutions and use only simple, solution, hopefully it will be rewarding
sentence. Others appear to get through weakly-structured sentences. if learning occurs. ETp
the text but do not seem able to Lesley Lanir is a
Classroom strategies freelance writer, lecturer
remember any details.
and teacher trainer who
Weak attention controls can cause Dont call on these students to has been involved in
such problems, but so can limitations in speak without prior notice. teaching English for over
15 years. She specialises
temporary storage space in the short- Give them preparation time in in learning disabilities
term and working memory. Further advance to rehearse presentations and foreign language
learning. She has a BA in
reasons may be inadequate processing on subjects of interest to them. English and Education,
of linguistic data and unsuccessful Allow them to use PowerPoint or CTEFLA/RSA and an MA
retrieval of information from the long- in Learning Disabilities.
prompt cards.
term memory. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 31

wall ... Alan Maley seeks
the solace of solitude
and silence.

t might seem a little odd to be writing He survived on what nature provided, built comes across as a little too self-righteous

I about books which have as their

theme the need for, or the fact of,
solitude and silence. We live, after all,
in a world which is founded on an almost
pathological need for social contact. In
his own house, and spent much of the
time in solitary communion with nature.
(There are some beautiful passages on his
nature observations.) His book Walden is
the precursor and the inspiration for
at times, and his high-minded Puritanism
and self-denial probably did not make him
the easiest person to be with. However,
his book, for all its faults, and in spite of
its archaic-sounding turns of phrase, is
some ways, we would cease to exist many later experiments with solitude. It still well worth reading an eloquent
without the social network which extols the beauty of the natural world and testament to the possibility and desirability
supports us. A person without friends or of the simple life. He writes, I find it of living alone, at least for a time.
contacts is hardly a person at all in this wholesome to be alone the greatest part
world view. If we were not sustained by of the time. To be in company, even with Solitude
the scaffolding of email, text messaging, the best, is soon wearisome and
Facebook, Twitter and the rest, we could dissipating. I love to be alone. I never Anthony Storrs book Solitude has a
lose our sense of identity. In parallel with found the companion that was so slightly different take on the subject. He
this, we live in a culture of ubiquitous and companionable as solitude. He is deeply takes a broadly psychoanalytical
near-permanent noise. Silence is to be critical of industrial society, even at that perspective to explore the human need
avoided. It is threatening to many, if only early stage of its development. He asks to be alone at least some of the time. He
because without noise, there might be what need we have for elaborate houses, claims that interpersonal relations are
space for self-examination. So these fancy food, fashionable clothes, for not the only way of finding emotional
books are in a way deeply subversive of news, for trains, for the telegraph, for fulfilment. His main focus is on the
our view of what is normal. Yet there commerce in general. He would doubtless relationship between creativity and
does seem to be a profoundly-felt need have been a proponent of Dogme if he solitude, and he presents some fascinating
for humans to be alone and to be quiet. had been a TEFL teacher today. In fact, he case studies along the way, ranging from
We live together but we die alone. writers like Kipling, Coleridge and Plath,
musicians like Beethoven and Brahms, to
There does seem to philosophers like Kant, Newton and
Walden / Steven Robertson

Wittgenstein. Whether they experienced

In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved be a profoundly-felt deprivation, bereavement or depression,
into the woods near Walden Pond in all found the strength to write (or create)
Massachusetts and stayed there for over
need for humans their way out of it. And to do this, they
two years, living an independent, self- to be alone and needed solitude and silence: many
sufficient life. He basically wanted to get creative activities are predominantly
away from it all, remarking that the mass to be quiet solitary. They are concerned with self-
of men lead lives of quiet desperation. realization and self-development in

34 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

Do you have an idea which you would like to contribute All the contributors to It Works in Practice get a prize!
to our It Works in Practice section? It might be We especially welcome joint entries from teachers
anything from an activity which you use in class to a working at the same institution. Why not get together
teaching technique that has worked for you. Send us with your colleagues to provide a whole It Works in
your contribution, by post using this form or by email Practice section of your ideas? We will publish a photo
to of you all.























Return to: It Works in Practice Or email:

English Teaching professional
P O Box 100
West Sussex PO18 8HD

36 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

B USINESS E NGLISH professional 

Wake me up when
the slides are over
Monica Hoogstad places PowerPoint perfectly within her presentations.

orget counting sheep and understand that effective presentations influencing the impact a presentation is

F taking valerian, just read a few

PowerPoint (PP) slides and itll
cure your insomnia for ever. In
spite of the emerging trend of whining
about PP presentations, everyone keeps
require both verbal and visual skills.
Actually, modern text-based
communication, such as texting and
emailing, thrive on the use of various
visual expressions emoticons, symbols,
going to have on the audience: the mind
processes visual and verbal input
separately; the brains capacity to pay
attention to information in each channel
is limited; and presented data is
using them ad nauseam. Precisely those logos, iconic images that convey understood and actively processed when
people whose whingeing is the loudest emotional and cognitive messages. So why people can organise it into a coherent
seem not to be able to break with this not apply the same principle to PP slides? mental structure and integrate it with
coma-inducing habit. Apparently its so Instead of relying solely on plain text and their prior knowledge. In more down-to-
addictive that PP junkies would even bullet points, presenters could tell their earth English, this means that presenters
write their shopping lists in bullet points story through words and images. This shouldnt overload their PP slides with
on their BlackBerry notepads. However, alternative to conventional presentation words, but instead should offer balanced
an increasing number of experts, like techniques is bound to persuade and input, comprising images, colour and
Denning and Atkinson, believe that engage the audience at the same time, as sound. Also, it is important to collect
grumbling about PP is like complaining they get to relate to the story on a relevant details about the audience, so
about the English language. They argue twofold level: affective and rational. as to use their background, knowledge
that both are tools which aid and skills as a scaffold for the
communication and, if used properly presentation of new information.
and intelligently, offer the right medium A well-chosen and
to communicate and reinforce a message. appropriately-told story Image and text
Words and images can help the teller Once we have acknowledged that the
human brain is hardwired to learn,
The most common assumption made by achieve any results remember and make sense of
presenters is to consider PP slides to be information through stories, we need to
the presentation. How many truly
they envisage select the right narrative to achieve our
memorable presentations have you purpose. Dont let words like narrative
attended? What made them so interesting? and storytelling confuse you and keep
Was it the bullet points or the graphs? It Verbal and visual you anchored in the verbal realm. The
is unlikely to have been either. Experience To be able to convince business English discourse of modern telling is reaching
shows and pundits confirm that a great learners of the necessity to change their towards new horizons, where meaning is
presentation relies on two pillars: the approach to presenting, teachers must at the interface of words and pictures.
story and the presenters way of telling develop a basic understanding of how And its thanks to modern technology
it. Stories have the power to influence the human brain learns, makes that we can achieve this with one click
human thought and action because they connections and processes information. of the mouse. Bearing in mind that bare
paint a clear vision and capture This will enable them to help their texts lack the power to ignite enthusiasm
untapped knowledge. A well-chosen and students employ the best techniques to and set people in motion, well have to
appropriately-told story can help the present information in a way that is revisit our communication strategies
teller achieve any results they envisage. congruent with the minds processing and follow an image-based, rather than
Futurists maintain that an organisations capacity. The effective presenter and the a text-based direction. Communication
success will be gauged by its ability to use PP aficionado ought to be aware of the experts suggest intertwining the
corporate stories to create products and latest revelations in cognitive science. structure of traditional stories and
services that evoke emotions. This will Educational psychologist Richard Mayer Hollywood script patterns with the
be possible only when communicators argues that there are three crucial factors facilities provided by modern visual ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 37

B USINESS E NGLISH professional 

Wake me up when Slides Description Text accompanying

the image
the slides are over 1 The setting identifying the background: There is a lot of
 media to create compelling presentations (image: cyclists) a profession, an industry jockeying for position in
that open access to deeper levels of the bio-energy sector.
Ever since linguist George Lakoff 2 The protagonist the audience, to whose To remain a front runner,
and philosopher Mark Johnson (image: runner) needs the presentation is we must recruit and
demonstrated that metaphors are tailored retain world-class talent.
pervasive in everyday life to such an
extent that they structure our perceptions 3 The imbalance pinpointing the event that The lack of incentives to
and understanding, communicators from (image: hurdlers) has set the story in motion motivate staff is the
various industries have started using biggest hurdle we face.
them not only to spice up their language,
but also to align it to the way people 4 The balance the emotional engine that We should start the ball
think, act and define reality. In line with (image: footballer) energises the audience and rolling by launching a
this theory, Cliff Atkinson advocates leads to the desired benefits plan.
the use of metaphor as a recurring outcome
motif in presentations, to give
coherence and to aid comprehension. 5 The solution defining the measure of Adopt and implement the
He suggests choosing a metaphor to be (image: athletes success for the benefits plan to live up to
the underlying theme that makes the raising Olympic presentation our motto: faster, higher,
story stronger and more believable. The flag) stronger.
marriage of text and images is made in
PP heaven, as it awakens the imagination
his key statements with symbolic images secret of a memorable and persuasive
of the audience and it simultaneously
from the Olympic Museum Sculpture presentation its simultaneous appeal
appeals to their reason and emotion. The
Garden. The first slide, featuring three to the brain and to the heart. Then
story is told through a sequence of
racing bikers, symbolises the cut-throat make it clear that the ultimate goal of
pictures reinforced by pithy statements.
competitive atmosphere that any any presentation isnt information, but
businessperson would be able to relate inspiration. Explaining wont work here.
Communicators to. The last slide alludes to the Olympic Youll have to give your own example to
quest for excellence through the demonstrate that bullet points dont
have started using Olympic motto Citius, altius, fortius move mountains, while emotions and
(faster, higher, stronger). passion do. ETp
metaphor to spice up In the table above is an overview of
their language and his slides, which demonstrate a powerful, Atkinson, C Beyond Bullet Points
well-structured and well-scripted Microsoft Press 2005
align it to the way introduction to an effective presentation. Denning, S The Leaders Guide to
people think, act and The first column lists the determining Storytelling: Mastering the Art and
factors upon which the story is based Discipline of Business Narrative Jossey-
define reality they come from the components Bass 2005
Aristotle defined as necessary in a good Lakoff, G and Johnson, M Metaphors We
Live By University of Chicago Press 1980
tragedy (though of course you dont
Following Atkinsons five-step want your students presentations to be a Mayer, R interviewed by Cliff Atkinson, at
pattern (see the table), you can help
tragedy!). The second column outlines
your business English students unleash mayer.htm
the role each of these components fulfils.
the power of their story and turn their The third column records the text (one Monica Hoogstad is a
PP slides from passion killers into statement per slide only!), which business English teacher
attention grabbers. The examples accentuates the image, thus conveying a and an intercultural
described in the table and shown on page communication trainer
compelling message that simultaneously and examiner with 20
39 are from a presentation given by a addresses the brains visual and verbal years experience in ELT.
human resources executive, who aims to She runs The English
information-processing channels. Channel, a language
convince his company to implement a institute specialising in
organising and
benefit plan to attract and retain top-  conducting bespoke in-
class staff. The venue of the presentation company business
is Lausanne the Olympic Capital so Whenever your business students ask communications training
his sports metaphors are highly for advice on making their presentations
appropriate. He has cleverly illustrated more effective, start by disclosing the

38 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

Slide 1

Slide 2
Slide 3

Slide 4
Slide 5 ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 39



Wh word compounds
John Potts gives you whatever you want, whenever you want.
Ai Whoever can that be, phoning at this time of night? Biii Wherever you go in India, youll see shrines and temples.
Aii Whatever made you buy those purple shoes? Biv Whenever I leave home without an umbrella, it always starts
Aiii Wherever have you been? I was getting really worried raining!
about you! Bv Whichever advanced learners dictionary you choose, youll
Aiv Whenever do you find the time to read all those books? learn a lot from it.

Av Why ever did you give up that lovely flat you once had? Bvi However hard I try, I dont seem to make much progress.

Avi However do you manage to look after triplets? Ci If anyone whosoever touches my things again, Im going
straight to the boss!
Bi Whoever invented pizza was a genius!
Cii It makes no difference whatsoever which party wins the
Bii Whatever I say, it always seems to be the wrong thing!
election theyre all the same.


All the bold words in the examples are All are widely used in everyday Avi and Bvi: One potential problem is the confusion
compounds, formed by combining a spoken and written language. of however in the above senses of expressing surprise
wh word (how is included in these) with Ci and Cii may also be and it doesnt matter how (much) with however used
ever, except for Av, which is usually found in more formal contexts. as an adverb meaning despite this, eg It was raining.
written as two words (whyever does exist Note that in contemporary However, we went for a walk.
but is very rare). colloquial language (chiefly There are also some rare and/or archaic forms such
US but also UK), whatever is as whomever, whomsoever, wheresoever that
used as a dismissive reply learners may occasionally come across.
indicating no interest in or
Ai Avi: All of the examples are engagement with the topic
expressions of surprise.  PRONUNCIATION
(= I couldnt care less). People
Bi Bvi: These mean it doesnt matter may find this disrespectful and Often, the ever element in the compound is stressed,
who/what/where/when/which/how and impolite. For example, (parent) especially to add emotion.
are often synonymous with every or any. Look, you have to make an In the case of whosoever and whatsoever, all three
For example, Everywhere you go in India effort to be tidier. (teenager) word elements may be stressed, with equal stresses
... Every time that I leave ... Youll learn Yeah, whatever. on the first three syllables.
a lot from any advanced dictionary.
Ci and Cii are emphatic forms of
whoever and whatever.
Ai Whoever can that be, phoning at Bv Whichever advanced learners
this time of night? dictionary you choose, youll learn
 FUNCTION Do I know who is phoning? (No.) a lot from it.
Ai Avi: As noted above, these express Do I expect a phone call at this time Are there several advanced dictionaries
surprise. Depending on the context, they of night? (No.) to choose between? (Yes.)
can also express curiosity, mystification, Am I surprised to hear the phone Does it matter which you choose? (No.)
disbelief, alarm, irritation or even anger. ring? (Yes.) Why not? (Because the speaker thinks
How do I feel about the call? (Perhaps that they are equally good).
Bi Bvi: These may express positive
worried, alarmed or irritated.)
feelings about the fact that it doesnt Cii It makes no difference whatsoever
matter (Bi, Biii, Bv), or may express Av Why ever did you give up that which party wins the election
frustration, resignation or even lovely flat you once had? theyre all the same.
despondency about this (Bii, Biv, Do I think the flat was especially nice? Do I think that it makes a difference
Bvi). (Yes.) who wins? (No.)
Ci and Cii: As these are emphatic Do I understand why you gave it up? How sure am I about that (100%.)
forms, they express stronger emotions, (No.) How do I feel about the elections?
such as determination or, on the other How do I feel about that decision? (Perhaps resigned, dismissive,
hand, scornful indifference. (Surprised, puzzled, incredulous.) indifferent.)

40 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


PREPARING TO TEACH ... Wh word compounds

Surprise, surprise The students work in pairs and reconstruct the
Make a worksheet (see below) of various situations or missing lines, using wherever, whenever, etc. Then,
a set of cards (one situation per card). Depending on they can take turns in acting out the mini-dialogue.
the situations you choose, you may be able to find
some suitable Microsoft Clipart visuals that you could Frustrations
use. For each situation, the students have to react with Again, youll need a worksheet or cards to prompt John Potts is a teacher
surprise, eg a friend has dyed his hair pink Whatever the responses. This time, the students react with and teacher trainer based
some degree of frustration, eg you start your in Zrich, Switzerland.
made you do that? Why ever did you do that? He has written and
computer but it immediately crashes Whenever I co-written several adult
Mini-dialogues start it, it crashes! Whatever I do, it crashes! coursebooks, and is a
CELTA assessor. He is also
First, create pairs of characters and a location (eg a presenter for Cambridge
boss and employee at the office, two friends in a caf, Conversions ESOL Examinations.
etc). Prepare a four- or six-line dialogue with some To add variety and/or for exam practice, you can
lines missing these are reactions to the preceding create prompts which the students have to convert
line. For example: into two more sentences, eg: my boss always
Boss: [blank] criticises me Whatever I do, he criticises me. It
Employee: Im sorry, the traffic was very bad. doesnt matter what I do, he criticises me. More
Boss: Well, when can you make up the time? advanced learners can add another version: No
Employee: [blank] matter what I do, he ...

Surprise, surprise!
Work in pairs. Take turns to read a sentence out aloud or react with surprise to what your partner says.
A Yesterday I dyed my hair pink!
B Whatever made you do that? / Why ever did you do that?

1 Yesterday I threw my laptop out of the window.

2 My boss said that he wanted me to learn Latin.

3 My sister decided to get married on a beach in Hawaii.

4 I was told that New York is the capital of the USA.

5 Last week I bought an original Picasso for 100 euros!

6 Ive decided to wear only pink clothes from now on.

7 And this is my favourite guitar it used to belong to John Lennon.

8 Today our English teacher brought a snake to the lesson.

9 Im going to spend my summer holidays reading a dictionary from A to Z.

10 My brother gave away his car to a stranger last weekend. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 41

SCRAPBOOK Gems, titbits, puzzles, foibles, quirks, bits & pieces,
quotations, snippets, odds & ends,
what you will

Quotes for votes

ra cy su bs titutes election by
the incompetent
many Electoral quiz
D em oc
w. 1
by the corrupt fe What nation broke its own world record for voter
for appointment right)
Shaw, Irish playw turnout at an election in 1999, when 371 million voters
(George Bernard
pt all
government exce showed up at the polls?
em oc ra cy is th e worst form of e to time.
D tried from tim
e ot he r fo rm s that have been 2 Which US state waited until 1995 to sign the
thos n)
ill, British politicia
(Winston Church amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery?
win an election.
e alw ay s wa nt the best man to
W 3 What Caribbean nation was the target of the UN
never runs.
Unfortunately he r) peacekeeping mission called Operation Uphold
erican entertaine
(Will Rogers, Am Democracy?
your questions,
be glad to re ply to or dodge ost.
I ll lp our election m
pe nd ing on wh at I think will he 4 Which political leader voted for the first time in his life
de esident)
rmer American pr in the 1994 election that brought him to power?
(George Bush, fo ction,
nt decide an ele
cast the votes do
The people who do.
5 True or false? In the UK, there is a Monster Raving
count the votes
the people who Looney Party.
ssian leader)
(Joseph Stalin, Ru
6 True or false? In the UK, the secret ballot was
introduced in 1926.

Votes for dogs! 7 True or false? Universal voting rights for men were
introduced in the UK in 1918.
The second time Dunc
an MacDonald sent in
postal vote, a Seattle a
election official called
ask about the paw pri to 1872; before then, people had to announce their choices in public); 7 True
nt on the envelope. 1 India; 2 Mississippi; 3 Haiti; 4 Nelson Mandela; 5 True; 6 False (it was in
However, it took three
ballots before the po Answers
contacted the voting lice
dogs owner, Jane Ba
Ms Balogh registered
her dog to vote in pro
at a 2005 voter-registra
tion law that she say
t vote for me!
makes it too easy for
put her phone bill in
non-citizens to vote.
Duncans name, then
use d
Don an ne w sp aper The Mod
ern Times in
this as identification ared in the In di arlal Nehru in
to register him as a vo
ter . An article appe the pr im e minister Jawah
She then submitted ba 57, criticising
llot papers in the dogs November 19
name in three election
s, writing VOID on all scathing term
s. ive, he claimed
them so that no votes of
N eh rus dr ive and initiat
or acknowledg
ed d the
were actually cast.
While the auth , and he urge
r ha d an au tocratic streak co uld turn into
Balogh is being prosec e minis te that Nehru
uted for providing fal
se that the prim se caut io n, fe ar ing
rm, the
information on a voter rate to exerci consecutive te
-registration applicati Indian electo is m an for a third
form. Acting Prosecuti on ed, electing th Indian society.
ng Attorney Dan a dictator. Inde n hi s eg o and endanger
Satterberg says his off d, would fa to
ice cant simply look article warne self, seeking
other way. They say you the be Ja w ah ar lal Nehru him fice
should let sleeping as revealed to iled and he re
mained in
dogs lie, but you cant The author w H is pl oy fa
let voting dogs vote. term in office.
avoid a third
until 1964.

42 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

Microphone mistakes Votes
British Prime Minister
election campaign wh
Gordon Brown made
a big mistake in the 20
for women ich
en he complained to with the years in wh
the person he had jus
t been filmed talking
pa rty officials in private
that Match the countries g
to was a bigoted wo re granted votin
(she had raised the qu
estion of immigration). ma n all female citizens we
Brown didnt realise tha se en joyed by men.
the microphone he wa
s wearing was still sw t rights equal to tho
more microphone mi itc hed on. Here are some a) 1893
stakes from public fig 1 Britain
George W Bush on Ne b) 1974
w York Times reporter
Adam Clymer: a major 2 France
league asshole. - c) 1947
3 Switzerland
Jacques Chirac on the d) 1913
UK: After Finland, it 4 Jordan
worst food. One cann is the country with the e) 1920
ot trust people whos
e cuisine is so bad. 5 Norway
f) 2006
Prince Charles on a BB
C royal reporter: Bloo 6 New Zealand
that man. I mean, he dy people, I cant be g) 1964
is so awful, he really ar 7 the USA
is. h) 1928
Ronald Reagan on the
Poles: a bunch of no 8 Japan
good, lousy bums. i) 1971
Jesse Jackson, US civ 9 Libya
il rights leader, on Ba irates j) 1944
his nuts off ... Barac
k ... hes talking down
rack Obama: I want
to cut 10 the United Arab Em
to black people.
Answers 1 h; 2 j; 3 i;
4 b; 5 d; 6 a; 7 e; 8 c;
9 g; 10 f

rom beyond the grave

F method of finding and
discarding The vly be
llot boxes
Traditionally, stuffing ba
with the votes of dead
people was
al parties to
them. Other states
of Health lists to try
ide ntify and on the turmut
a trick used by politic disallow ballots from the de ad. By tradition, the victor
ele ctio ns. Ho we ver , the growing of Ha wa ii ious parliamentary
rig In 2008, the state candidate for the const
of po sta l vot ing in the ituency of Salisbury in
po pu larity as the
to an counted Barack Obam UK is required to sing
the song The vly be on
United States has led grandmothers postal
vote even turmut from the balco the
rea se in the nu mb er of recently days before
ny of the White Hart Ho
inc though she died three Crowds gather in the
op le cas ting their street to ensure that this
de cea sed pe , when Hillary
ally . election day. However 300-year-old tradition
is maintained, and the
vot es pe rfe ctly leg a televised
red Clinton mentioned in candidate is generally
accompanied by a bra
In 32 states, any registe Florence ss
ba llot paper in speech that 88-year-old band. The words of the
song refer to the
voter can sen t the ir a had proudly
go ing to a Steen of South Dakot problems encountered
in keeping beetles off
by po st ins tea d of ale
n day. In cast her vote for a fem turnips. The first verse
and chorus are as foll
polling station on electio candid ate be fore dyi ng , state ows:
er sta tes , the y can do so as Twere on a jolly zumme
14 oth alified
od reason. election officials disqu rs day,
long as they have a go Steens vot e. the twenty-fust of Ma
te, postal
Depending on the sta John Scroggins took
his turmut hoe,
tim e from
votes can be mailed any with this he trudged aw
eks be for e the ele ction, as Now some volks they
three we loikes haymakin,
before the
in Maryland, to 40 days and some they vancie
s mowin
ere is,
election, as in Iowa. Th But of all the jobs as Oi
loike best,
a rea son ab le chance gie Oi the turmut oein.
of the vot ers will die
that some
y the y po st their The vly, the vly
between the da
election. The vly be on the turmu
vote and the day of the t,
pends Tis all me eye,
What happens next de
a, Texas and Fer Oi to try,
on the state. Californi / Ahmad Hamoudah

To keep vlies off them

rat ely co unt ballots turmuts.
Florida delibe
ers wh o then die In May this year, the new
sent in by vot ly elected Conservative
n da y, wh ile states MP for Salisbury, Joh
before electio n Glen, took to the ba
ad o, Wa shi ngton and at midday on the day
such as Color after the election to giv
acc ep t the m spirited rendition of the
South Dakota song he did admit
e no reliable afterwards that he had
because they hav been practising. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 43

put their case convincingly, supporting
The Bilingual Reform:
their arguments with insights into the
A Paradigm Shift in Foreign
mechanisms used by children growing
Language Teaching
up bilingually: mixing their languages is
by Wolfgang Butzkamm
a tactic that helps them learn.
and John A W Caldwell
A separate chapter discusses
narr studienbcher 2009
translation as a fifth skill with the help
of some intellectually demanding (and
The question of whether the therefore enjoyable) classroom activities,
mother tongue (MT) should be which, not least, help develop MT
allowed in foreign language (FL) competence.
teaching has a long history in The authors do admit that there are
methodology debates. It has many situations where monolingualism is
often been argued that the MT preferable, especially for classroom
should definitely be avoided as management, and claim that a controlled
it has a detrimental effect on use of the MT should actually increase
learning a foreign language. the time available for using the FL.
Wolfgang Butzkamm and John The book is aimed particularly at
Caldwell, however, claim not student teachers, having study questions
only that the monolingual and tasks at the end of each chapter as
approach has a weak basis in well as many practical ideas, but I am
theory (even though they sure that experienced teachers will also
consider it a comprehensible benefit from it. A benchmark in its field,
reaction to the outcomes of the book is a must for all those who want
the grammar-translation to contribute to the debate over the pros
method), but also that it is better to work and cons of using the MT in FL teaching.
with the MT as a natural tendency in FL can increase the input of authentic Stefan Rathert
teaching. To support their inclination material in the form of, for example, Kahramanmarafl, Turkey
towards a more relaxed approach to MT bilingual readers or DVDs with subtitles.
use, they scrutinise the reality of what A controlled use of the MT in the FL
they call the MT taboo, formulate a classroom also allows access to the English from England
theory of MT use in the FL classroom and understanding of language concepts that
exemplify their insights through practical each learner has, even if those concepts
teaching techniques. It is the are different in the MT and the FL. For English from England is an English-
combination of theory and practice that example, when a teacher wants to show language website for young learners who
makes the book much more than a how how continuous tenses are formed to do not have English as their first language.
to use the MT in FL teaching guide. learners whose own language has no It gives practice in listening, repetition,
The book discusses the importance continuous tenses, translation is a better speaking and reading. There are also
of immersion for MT acquisition, which way to express finer shades of meaning worksheets to encourage simple writing.
means that a child is exposed to a huge than an explanation or paraphrase in the At our small, private academy in
amount of language, first learning chunks target language. When the FL can be Totana, Murcia, Spain, we seek to teach
of language for communicative purposes integrated into existing knowledge (ie the English in a fun and dynamic way to pupils
and much later learning to break them MT), the FL is deforeignised and aged from three to 73, with the majority
down into parts. Since it is impractical to confidence is built up in the learner. In being of infant and lower-primary age.
reproduce this natural process of other words, the MT can be useful in Having read some reviews of English from
acquiring a language in the FL classroom promoting understanding of both form England, we decided to investigate further
because of restrictions on the time and meaning (which use of the FL alone as it seemed to be something which
available and, therefore, the exposure to often fails to do). Real understanding and would align itself nicely with what we are
the target language, FL teaching has to control are key words in this book, and it currently doing with our young learners.
provide a focus on both meaning and is argued that fashionable methods of The website has films of English
structure. A prudent use of MT here helps communicative language teaching which children who model basic English in a
make life easier for teachers and strictly exclude the MT often cause a natural, domestic English setting. There
learners: sandwiching, mirroring and learning situation in which students do are also interactive games, which have
contrasting or literal translation, as the not really understand what they are been designed to encourage and
authors show, can be embedded in saying (but merely parrot phrases for no stimulate a desire to learn English by
pattern drills in grammar teaching, communicative reason) and, as a result, providing opportunities to practise,
dialogue work and drama. Moreover, it skills learning is impeded. The authors rehearse and repeat the target language.

44 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

we were struggling to find a
product that was simply, yet
effectively, presented, and
which did just what it said
with English from England
there are no complicated
menus to navigate, nor is
there lots of advertising to
avoid. Each child has access
to the websites Learning Zone
via a password which was
competitively priced for a fixed
number of home users via the
English from England team.
The students love seeing
other young people
Every session starts with a on the videos. They
film, demonstrating the have been fascinated
language being taught. The by the houses and the
learner can simultaneously school particularly
see the speaker and listen to the uniforms and we
the models, and can then have actually used
practise what has been taught these units with older
by using the online listening, students to stimulate
reading and writing exercises. discussion. They
Essentially, English from seem to relate
England fits in with our young extremely well to the
learner curriculum and overall voices of younger
approach to the teaching and speakers of English
learning of English. We find that and are easily able to
the structured materials are distinguish the sounds
flexible and suitable for classroom for example
use or for individual students and between the full and
they help learners become familiar contracted forms of
and confident users of the language. verbs.
They can be used as a stand-alone We would like to
system as there are teachers notes, control of his or her own learning, and can see more units and more graded
worksheets and other teaching practise as often as necessary to ensure worksheets, so we can develop themes
resources, or they can enhance and personal progression through carefully with a common format. This would be
complement existing classroom materials graded grammatical and linguistic goals. less time-consuming than trying to
by adding a new dimension to teaching Many parents have said how pleased enhance the existing units and
and learning. Our classes are small (a they are to see their children working this worksheets with supplementary
maximum of five students), and when we way at home. Given that we have so materials.
study a unit in class, the webpage is many young learners, we have tended to Overall, we are very pleased with the
displayed via a projector. We also use a use this site with those whom we feel are website. It is perfectly suited to those
laptop on the table for the students to able to use it in an independent way students who can deal with the written
complete the interactive exercises. This is (currently these are children between the word and benefit from the support of
then supplemented with the worksheets, ages of eight and ten). Each student video and sound to aid comprehension.
further oral work or whatever other receives a weekly message via our own We dont use it with very young pupils
resource matches the learning needs of website to guide them as to which unit because the written elements would be
the particular students. they need to review in line with their beyond their natural development. In fact,
Use of the website can also be set as classroom lessons. The opportunity to we graduate the students to English
homework as a follow-up to lessons in give the children more exposure to good from England, and they see it as a
class. Initial guidance from teachers or material that they can use outside the moment of triumph when they get the
parents is needed, but the children can classroom to reinforce their lessons has password!
eventually work independently and at been very important to us. Despite the AnnMarie Delaney
their own pace. Each child then has wealth of material available these days, Totana, Spain ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 45


The connective
tissue issue
Isobel Fletcher de Tllez champions the cause for connectors and cohesive text.

sk a surgeon or anatomist Usually when people think of and others very much the opposite.

A about internal organs and

they will tell you that they are
not quite as distinct as they
are in book illustrations, even if their
functions are distinct. They are all bound
connectors, they think of conjunctions
such as and, but or so, but certain
adverbials (especially), pronouns (she),
prepositional phrases (by the way) and
parts of verbs (given) can all act as
Connectors, as we have seen, may be
grammatical items (ie they have a
function) or they may be lexical (they
convey meaning). Chains of lexical
items can be traced in texts: writers
together with connective tissue and one connectors. However, it is not just a employ repetitions, near-synonyms,
thing very much leads to another. matter of the syntactic, horizontal antonyms, echoes and related lexis to
More importantly, their sequencing of items other aspects of give their writing cohesion.
intercommunication is vital for the grammar are involved, too. Ellipsis
operation of the whole organism; the (leaving out an element that would Connectors in ELT
organs communicate through a network otherwise be repeated) is of connective There has been very little emphasis, to
of chemical supply and demand, sending value, as are subordinate clauses, date, on the teaching of connectors to
and receiving messages, anticipating comparisons and contrasts, and some students of English, and little has been
need and responding to stimuli. elements of punctuation. Some uses of written specifically to help them with
As with our bodies, so in our the present and past participles are these, particularly at lower levels. Some
speaking and writing: distinct ideas connective, as is the infinitive of assistance can be found in sections of
need to be joined to one another by a purpose. Even intonation patterns can books on writing skills, and cohesive
network; references must go backwards be connective, such as the sing-song devices such as pronominals may be
and forwards, links must be made, to pattern or rises of a list, or the rise and highlighted in reading comprehension
enable the whole text to work. fall of contrast. exercises. Materials for English for
We can rarely communicate what we Connectors deal with many different Academic Purposes may include help in
wish to convey, in writing or in speech, in relationships between things and ideas: widening a students repertoire of
merely one clause or one sentence. We how far they are the same or different, connectors, particularly with regard to
always need more than one. And then related or separate, equal or sequencing and highlighting relative
more follow. We need to relate ideas, subordinate, a cause or a result of each importance, but this is often incidental.
explain where, why or how, who and other. They are concerned with logic, Michael Halliday and Ruqaiya
whose, and refer back, refer forward. It time, contrast, relative intensity and a Hasans Cohesion in English, published
is this network, sign-posted with good many other logical connections. in 1976, is still the major academic work
markers, that builds up logical, coherent Some of these relationships will appear quoted on the subject. More recent books
and cohesive text. This makes the whole in the semantics of the words chosen. for teachers and academics by Michael
body of our language function. In writing, we use connectors that Hoey, Raphael Salkie and Scott
make our fine logic apparent and Thornbury draw on discourse analysis
Connectors in language indisputable. In the ripostes of speech, and text linguistics to discuss connectors
If linking ideas is such an integral feature we echo, emphasise, contradict and and cohesion. Donald Adamsons
of a language, we would expect its prevaricate because we are emotional Practise your Conjunctions and Linkers
grammar to supply items for the purpose. beings as well as logicians. There are is a practice book of great value to
English does, indeed, in great abundance. some spoken connectors concerned with elementary and lower-intermediate
Connectors make up a very large repairing the muddled thinking of students, but it is now out of print, as is
grammatical group, often borrowing from improvised speech (what I mean is, or Sylvia Chalkers English Guides 9: Linking
other groups. Grammarians and teachers rather, thats to say that ). Some Words, which contains both excellent
differ in the terminology they use: connectors are restricted to either written explanations and very useful exercises.
cohesive devices, linkers, linking adjuncts. or spoken text; some are very informal More recently, some excellent and ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 47

The connective Adverb of time in preference to traditional houses.

tissue issue
Pronominal (eg their possessive
Walls can be rendered with earth or lime
determiner; theirs pronoun; many/none
to protect them from the elements.
determiner used as a pronoun)
 comprehensive material for teachers to Comparison Three common misconceptions are that
use is available on Andy Gillets website Relative pronoun (who, whom, which, they are a fire risk , they can house
Using English for Academic Purposes, that) vermin and they are not durable. None
but this is definitely in the academic
Lexical link ( subsequent lexical of the above is true.
realm. There is also now some Viva
Lexico software, which teaches connectors links />/# )
US tests have found that even
by means of a game. It divides connectors Conjunction (ie an item that has a
simple joining effect) unrendered straw-bale walls are less
into types, Grammar and Meaning,
Lexical, Reference and Textual, as a Condition of a fire risk than timber walls
way of keeping students concentrating Semantics of the verb ( rendered walls are no more
on their practical use, regardless of Echo/repetition/synonym flammable than bricks). Mice and rats#
strict grammatical classifications. are not attracted to straw as it is not a
Reference to parts of the text
food source. They are attracted to holes,
Neglect in ELT Infinitive of purpose
though , but as long as walls are
It is remarkable that this extensive area
of lexico-grammar has been so very Straw-baling is a building technique rendered, they wont house vermin# .
much neglected in ELT, especially when that uses straw bales ( or even hay As for durability, there are 100-year-old
it is of such value to a students active bales ) for walls which can be load- straw-bale houses in the States.
and passive language repertoire. Some bearing or used to infill a timber frame.
areas of neglect in ELT, such as The wetter climate of the UK presents
pronunciation or stress, are at least It was pioneered in the US mid-west more of a challenge, but weatherproof
likely to be acquired by continued in the 19th century by farmers whose rendering and a good moisture barrier
exposure and over time, but connectors only building material was the waste mean that there will be no problem,
are needed from the beginning, and
from their wheat crop . The buildings> whatever the wall material. In theory ,
learners cannot know the items or how
they function without being taught. were intended to be temporary until there is no reason why a well-built and
Perhaps teachers see the need for conventional building materials were rendered building with a solid roof
cohesion as a writing skill and, along delivered. However, they found them> shouldnt last for at least 100 years and
with writing itself, it has been eclipsed to be solid, warm and comfortable, and possibly a lot more . Furthermore , any
in recent decades by the emphasis on many continued to live in them> problems can be rectified very easily.
communicative ability. But cohesion is
also central to spoken communication.
Indeed, dozens of connectors are only represented as grammaticised lexis. Halliday, M and Hasan, R Cohesion in
used in speech: right then, uh ha, you In fact, it is discourse analysis that English Longman 1976
know, mind you and many others. A has shown the centrality of connectors Hoey, M On the Surface of Discourse
speaker needs, constantly, to reply to an to the cohesion and therefore coherence George Allen and Unwin 1983
interlocutor, and replies are only made of texts. Michael Hoey, Scott Thornbury Salkie, R Text and Discourse Analysis
relevant by echoing and linking with and others have brought discourse Routledge 1995
what the other person has said: analysis into the ELT realm, but perhaps Thornbury, S Beyond the Sentence
repeating lexis, eliding verbs, echoing teachers feel they have enough to cope Macmillan 2005
auxiliaries all connecting strategies. with already, without a whole new Adamson, D Practise your Conjunctions
More recent than the communicative element to add to their curricula. and Linkers Longman 1995
emphasis has been the Lexical Approach. Chalker, S English Guides 9: Linking
Perhaps teachers have felt that lexis Prevalence in language Words Collins Cobuild 1996
equates with nouns rather than the A short authentic text from an internet Using English for Academic Purposes
pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, site is analysed in the box above to
adverbial and prepositional phrases demonstrate just how prevalent Trix for Connectors Viva Lexico 2009
typical of connectors. However, the lexical connectors are. The text cannot manage
After many years in ELT,
approach very much embraces the as text without them. An appreciation teaching and publishing,
principles of discourse analysis, which sees of this might go some way towards Isobel Fletcher de Tllez
has founded Viva Lexico
cohesive elements, within and between encouraging teachers to address the to pursue the
sentences, as essential for enabling connective issue with students when possibilities of teaching
lexis and grammar with
students to understand texts. Lexical they look at texts. One way to use this software games.
strings, traced through texts, are revealed information would be to cloze a text for
to be major elements of cohesion. particular connective features and give
Emphasis is placed on contextualised these in a box, for students to insert in
language, and language as a whole is the gaps. ETp

48 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

EAP An all-round challenge 1
Louis Rogers begins a new series on English for Academic Purposes
with a look at the challenges for students and practitioners.

his article aims to provide a brief coursebooks will present teachers with Listening Listening, as with reading, is

T outline of some of the issues within

English for Academic Purposes
and will be followed by a series of
concepts such as thesis statement,
reduced adjective clauses, post-modifying
prepositional phrases and parallelism with
often for the purpose of expanding
knowledge in a field and acquiring
knowledge to form the basis for writing
practical tips, lesson plans and correlative conjunctions. Consequently, an essay. The listening text will often be
photocopiable materials for teachers to many individuals may feel insecure when longer in length and tasks may focus on
use in the classroom. required to handle these concepts. notes and note-taking skills rather than
multiple choice and gap fill.
Statistics Students
The number of students entering higher In much the same way that teachers can Speaking The main two areas in EAP for
education, taught via English around the feel disarmed by the new context and the which students require speaking skills are
world, has increased significantly in expectations placed upon them, students the delivery of presentations and
recent years. In the UK alone, the Higher are often in an equally, if not more, difficult participation in seminars. Both of these
Education Statistics Agency places the situation. Many of them, before even skills will be expected to be undertaken
number of international students in UK undertaking an EAP course, will have had from an informed perspective, and are
higher education at 341,795. The British a number of years of instruction in a often used to expand shared knowledge
Council forecasts that this number will General English setting. As a result, they between participants.
increase to approximately 800,000 by 2020. may even question why they are being Syllabus
Furthermore, there are also increasing asked to complete yet another language The vocabulary and grammar taught in an
numbers of universities in non-native course before being allowed to study on EAP setting is a topic that a number of
English-speaking countries around the their degree programme. Having probably practitioners have started to revisit in recent
world offering degrees taught in English. written essays in their own language for a years. The focus has tended to be on the
This growth has led to an increasing number of years, and having studied four skills mentioned above, perhaps to the
number of ELT practitioners finding that English to perhaps upper-intermediate detriment of language input. One particular
they are either fully or partly employed to level, a course teaching how to write an development is the focus on general
deliver EAP courses and, as a result, essay may not seem particularly pertinent academic vocabulary, with the production
facing numerous new challenges. to their own perceptions of their needs. of Coxheads academic word list.
Stakes Skills Additionally, a number of writing books,
Similarly, the expectations placed upon However, it is important to keep in mind such as that by Oshima and Hogue, tend
students within an EAP setting can differ that whilst there will be new skills and not to focus on the teaching of tenses
significantly from those within a general concepts to learn, a large proportion of but on the teaching of clauses.
ELT course. One particular challenge for
both is that often the stakes are higher
those gained within other contexts remains
applicable to an EAP setting. It may simply

and the students success on the course be the balance or focus that shifts. For Whilst there is a shift in focus when
will have a direct impact on their overall example, reading and writing skills will changing from an ELT to an EAP setting,
educational aspirations. probably play a bigger role. Vocabulary which may initially be unsettling, it can be
and grammar teaching will focus on viewed in a positive light. It could be
Settings those lexical items and structures that argued that teaching on a course with
Due to the varying nature of the settings specific aims, targeted lexis and the
more commonly occur in academia.
in which EAP courses are delivered, it is learning of specific skills, such as critical
impossible to explore all the issues faced Reading Reading of texts will move
thinking, can actually give a practitioner a
within the field. However, one common beyond basic comprehension, to critical
greater sense of purpose in their role. ETp
challenge experienced by many and evaluative analysis. Reading is also
practitioners is that of being new to the for a purpose, to inform knowledge in a
Coxhead, A A New Academic Word List
field. Only for a limited number of people subject field, for use in an essay or as a TESOL Quarterly 34(2) 2000
will EAP play a role in their initial teaching pre-seminar/lecture activity to enable Oshima, A and Hogue, A Writing Academic
post. participation and comprehension. The text English Pearson Longman 2006
Many institutions recruiting teachers is also likely to be significantly longer.
Louis Rogers is a
to deliver EAP courses wish to hire Writing The skills required for writing course tutor on the
instructors who have experience. However, also differ from those in a number of ELT International Foundation
experienced in ELT does not necessarily settings. For example, writing needs to Programme at the
University of Reading,
mean experienced in EAP. The style of the be formalised and should move from the UK. He has previously
materials and the language used to frame subjective to the objective. The writing worked in Italy, Germany
and Portugal, where he
concepts within EAP can make even the needs to be informed by further reading, taught General English,
most experienced of ELT professionals which also brings in the skills of critical Business English and
Academic English.
feel very much outside their comfort analysis, paraphrasing, referencing and
zone. For example, few mainstream ELT bibliographies. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 49


Write your
other for writing the teachers notes.
Alternatively, you could have one person
writing the skills-focused activities and
the other writing the language-focused
ones. However you do it, its vital to sit
down together and plan the entire
course before you begin writing. Here

own course
are some questions to consider:
What are the course objectives?
What language and skills will need to
be covered?
What methodology will best suit
Amy Lightfoot says do-it-yourself course design these?
How long does the course need to be?
can be a very real option.
What kind of format are you going to
ave you ever been faced with Focusing on the students use?

H a group of students with

needs that are so specific
that there isnt a suitable
coursebook? Or maybe you discover
that your class or one-to-one student
Carefully considering your students
needs is probably the most important
stage of the project:
Draw up a course overview that details
what each lesson or unit will cover. Look
at the beginning of a few published
coursebooks for an overview template to
use as a starting point. Think about how
has a really jagged profile for example, What are the learning outcomes that
you will do any listening skills work:
fabulous vocabulary but very weak in the course will need to address?
grammar. Perhaps there is a demand for Will you need to record your own
What are the students current
a course on a particular skill like listening activities?
strengths and weaknesses?
speaking, and you just cant find a book Will they be scripted or unscripted?
that covers suitable topics. In these What type of language or skills do
situations you have two options: they need to learn? Who will provide the voices and
technical skills?
1 Trawl all the coursebooks and A well thought-out and carefully
photocopiable activity books that targeted needs analysis will help you to Finally, decide how you will pilot the
you can get your hands on and identify these issues. Take time to course and start making any necessary
piece together a course. consider whether there actually is arrangements.
already an established course that you
2 Write the course from scratch
could use. After all, theres no need to Researching the content
yourself. reinvent the wheel. Gather together examples of materials
Clearly the latter is a much more that cover similar topics and language
interesting option, with the potential to Planning the project points to the ones you have chosen to
be a real learning experience. I recently You will need to think about whether include. Both published materials and
completed a speaking skills coursebook there will be other groups of students the internet are excellent sources of
to be used by the British Council with similar needs or a similar profile in inspiration. Look at how the activities
teaching centres in India. I would like to the future is this course going to be a and exercises are structured and,
share with you some of what I learnt one-off, or will it be used by other importantly, how the rubrics or
during the process, and identify the key teachers and groups? Perhaps there will instructions are worded. Writing clear,
factors that need to be taken into be certain parts of the course that will level-appropriate instructions for an
account to make a course-writing be able to be recycled and others that activity can be one of the most difficult
project a success are group-specific. In either case, its a things to do. Remember that you will
First of all, lets be clear: writing a really good idea to work with at least need a variety of activity types that
course, no matter how short, is never one other teacher to develop the course, cater to different styles. If the lessons
going to be a simple task and it will as the end product will benefit from are going to centre on a topic or a task,
always take longer than you think. your inevitably different teaching and research ideas for reading and listening
Having said that, it can be an incredibly planning styles. Make sure you think input as well as writing or speaking
rewarding experience and, if done well, carefully about how you will divide the activities. Finally, be aware of
can provide your students with a totally work and ensure uniformity throughout international copyright laws. As a general
tailored course which meets their needs the course. One way to achieve this is to rule, nothing can be copied word-for-
better than any mass-produced have one person take responsibility for word and no pictures cut and pasted
coursebook could ever hope to. writing the students materials and the unless you have written permission.

50 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


Writing the course work, or something equally disastrous. you have included enough space for
When you begin writing, you need to be The extent of the piloting should reflect students to write their answers and
prepared to end up writing the first one how widely the course will be used once notes. Include some copyright-free
or two units a few times before you are it is completed. If it is just for a specific pictures to liven it up. Consider how you
happy with the structure of the group of students, to be used only once will bind the pages together. In short,
materials. While you will need to ensure or twice, then piloting samples of make the course look as professional as
a variety of activity types, its important activity types with a similar group your budget and time will allow.
to have some consistency across the should suffice. If you foresee that the
units. This is what will make it a course, course will be used with a wide variety 
rather than just a series of lessons. of students and/or by many different
Think about how you can structure the teachers, then you need to increase the We all do a certain amount of course
materials. Are there headings you could piloting accordingly. Get feedback from planning and writing in our day-to-day
use and repeat in each unit to delineate as many people as you can following the teaching, supplementing core materials
the different sections? For example, the piloting. Invite other stakeholders, such with others to suit our students or our
lead-in, grammar work, speaking as your Director of Studies or future preferred style of teaching. However, for
activities, etc. Perhaps you may want to course teachers, to observe the lessons those situations where there really arent
employ symbols for this purpose, or activities as they are piloted. Its any core materials available, setting out
instead. worth creating a feedback form for to write a course yourself really is an
While you are writing, make sure them and the students to complete, to achievable option. It does take a long
you keep your course objectives firmly focus their thinking. Remember to note time, but it will also lead to a real sense
in mind. What are the aims for each down your own observations as well. Be of achievement.
unit? Do they link clearly to the overall as thorough as you can. In this article we have looked briefly
objectives? Consider the purposes for at the main areas you will need to
which the students will be using the Final editing consider when going through the
language outside the classroom. Set up Collate the feedback and decide which process. Here are some key points to
activities so that they mirror these real- points you need to take action on. Be take away with you:
world uses of the language as closely as aware that if the course is widely piloted, Be realistic about how long the
possible. While there is certainly a place you will get a variety of feedback which project will take.
for gap fills and sentence may be conflicting. Some students or
transformations, this isnt why the teachers may love a particular activity Plan the entire course before you begin.
students need to learn that grammar while others dont get on with it at all. Try to work with at least one other
point. They need it to communicate Thats fine. Consider whether you need teacher.
effectively in a variety of situations. to change the teachers notes to make it
Make sure that the course materials clearer, or tweak the rubric in the Do your research look at other
reflect this. students book. Make a note of all the materials and the internet for
If you are going to create your own changes you make and show them to inspiration.
audio for the course, then get started on the other teachers involved. This will
Pilot the material thoroughly as you
this as soon as you can. (I have included help with the writing of future units.
go along and edit accordingly.
a link at the end of this article to some One of the beauties of writing your
free recording software called Audacity.) own course is that it is flexible and can Make the course material look as
Decide which activities will need scripts be updated and changed each time it is professional as possible. ETp
and which you can leave open to the taught, to reflect different student and
actors and transcribe later, to make teacher needs. How much you expect to Useful links and references
them more authentic. do this will affect how you decide to Woodward, T Planning Lessons and
Finally, as you go along, remember print or publish the course. Theres no Courses CUP 2001
to update the course overview. Dont be point spending a lot of time and money Free audio recording software:
afraid to change things from the designing the layout and printing it
original plan as long as you still professionally if you are only going to
maintain a balance of input across the use the course once or if it is likely to be Amy Lightfoot has a
changed considerably each time it is DELTA and an MA (ELT).
course. She has worked as a
used. Having said this, you should teacher and trainer for
International House and
Piloting the material always pay attention to the final look
the British Council in the
This is a crucial stage in the project and of the materials. In my experience, UK, India, Afghanistan
students place a lot of value on the and Bhutan. She is now
one which sometimes gets overlooked or working as a freelance
rushed. It is a good idea to pilot the appearance of the materials they are materials writer and
using. More professional-looking trainer in Somerset, UK.
material you are writing as you go
along. Otherwise, you risk getting to the materials tend to be better received than
end of your project and then finding a collection of photocopies. Check the
that the format you have chosen doesnt course thoroughly for errors. Make sure ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 51

Teacher +
Looking for new experiences within the profession?
Interested in different ways of developing beyond

plus +
the classroom?
Hoping for 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.

Writing for publication

Sue Leather has some tips for teachers who want to see their work in print.

nglish writer W Somerset writing an article for an international Blogging

E Maugham famously said about

writing fiction: We do not write
because we want to; we write
because we have to. Whether or not that
is true for professional writing in ELT, it is
teaching magazine such as English
Teaching professional. Magazines such as
this focus on practical ideas, and are often
looking for new writers. Publishing your
activities or your ideas about teaching in
Nik Peachey, a learning technology
consultant, suggests that blogging may
be a good place for a budding author to
start. He says: My best advice for
a fact that many teachers turn to writing a magazine will get your name known wannabe writers is to start a blog and
at some point in their career. One of the and, if you are lucky, you will get some build up a portfolio there of good
reasons for this is that ELT writing, in its feedback from readers. Other possibilities materials especially if you can blend in
various forms, often grows naturally out are the EL Gazette, Voices (the IATEFL new media, adding video and images and
of teaching. It is also an excellent way for newsletter) or any of the IATEFL Special polls. You then have some proof of what
us to develop and to expand our Interest Group newsletters. you are capable of, and show some
horizons beyond the classroom. Another way is to write for a website. range and develop a reputation that
When you think of writing for ELT, you There are hundreds of them around, so makes it much easier to get writing work.
may automatically think of coursebooks. you will have to do some research to find These days, starting a blog is really
But writing a major coursebook is not the out which ones have big audiences. The easy. Many of the best bloggers around
only option and, in any case, is not quality of the material on sites also use Wordpress ( or
likely to happen immediately. Other varies, so look for websites that have a Blogspot (
possibilities for places to start are writing consistently high standard. Think
articles for ELT magazines or refereed Research
journals; graded readers; activities for
Its important, whether youre thinking of
websites; supplementary materials and Like many ELT writers, writing for a magazine, a website or your
workbooks, to mention but a few.
In this article, Ill give a brief survey of
your starting point may own blog, that you do some research
first. If you want exposure, there may be
some of these avenues including well be creating materials little use in writing for a magazine or site
coursebooks and suggest ways that
you could make a start on your own ELT for your own classes that has limited circulation. On the other
hand, we all improve our writing skills by
writing career.
actually writing, so there may be good
carefully before getting published on a reasons to try to get published anyway.
From classroom site that publishes virtually everything. On You also need to find out some
the one hand, it may give you some technical things about the publication
to print or web experience; on the other, it may not look you plan to write for. Is the tone practical
Like many ELT writers, your starting point that good on your CV. or more academic? What is the usual
may well be creating materials for your Having said that, there are some length of articles? You have more chance
own classes: you find that your students excellent sites that encourage new authors. of getting published if you make your
respond well to your materials and you The British Council teachers website article fit the publication well.
enjoy using them. Perhaps other teachers ( With regard to books, you also need
in your school look at them and give you periodically publishes work by outside to do your research. Which major
positive feedback. You feel that you have writers. There is also Onestopenglish, publishers publish the kind of book you
something to say, something to offer. You (, a resource site are thinking of? How about the smaller
think that they could be published, but run by the publisher Macmillan, which publishers? They may be hungrier for
you wonder if your materials have often looks for new writers. Another site material, so they could be a good option.
widespread appeal. What do you do? to consider is the Humanising Language In either case, get a range of catalogues
One way of making a start is by Teaching site ( and go through them carefully. ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 53

Teacher plus A big idea? suggests a possible career ladder for a
coursebook writer. It has six steps, starting

Writing for American writer Toni Morrison said: If

theres a book you really want to read,
from writing activities or worksheets for a
publishers website, going through writing

publication but it hasnt been written yet, then you

must write it.
worksheets or activities for a teachers
book or resource pack, writing a teachers
Many writers start from the feeling that book, writing a workbook for a course,
theres something missing. If you have co-authoring a students book, and finally
 Before contacting a publisher, too, do that feeling, then the best thing to do is being a main author for a series of books.
some research into what lists they are to pursue it. ELT writer Sheila Thorn did
developing at the moment. Unless your The lesson in this is that starting with
just that. Convinced of the importance of a small writing job may well be an
idea is truly earth-shattering, its unlikely authentic listening, and dismayed by the
that a publisher will start a new list just excellent way of starting to pursue your
dearth of materials on it, she set up The dream. Getting yourself known,
for you. Is your idea something that could Listening Business and got a licence from
fit into an existing list? networking, putting your material out in
the BBC to use news broadcasts and the public domain these are all ways of
produce authentic listening materials. Now developing your writing career. People
Conferences and she is writing a set of 100% authentic need to know that you exist, and that you
networking listening materials for publication in book can write. You may be the best ELT writer
format. This is a rewarding career path. As in the world, but its not much use unless
Conferences are a good place to talk
she says: I count my blessings every day you are out there. Or as Napoleon
about your ideas. Giving a presentation
that I am in the fortunate position of being Bonaparte said: Ability is nothing without
or a workshop will give you some direct
able to do something that I really believe in. opportunity. ETp
feedback and, potentially, get people
interested. Coursebook author Lindsay
Clandfield also points to the networking A graded reader? Clandfield, L Career steps to becoming
value of conferences. He says: You can On the subject of supplementary a materials writer on ELT Link Up
meet people and, most importantly, materials, writing graded readers is
editors from publishing houses. They are something to consider. Most of the major Thorn, S Real Lives, Real Listening
North Star ELT 2009
often sent to conferences for research publishers and some of the smaller ones
purposes and to scout authors. Try have readers lists and there is a wide The Listening Business
approaching the publishers stands and choice of original fiction and adaptations.
asking around. Also, if you do present a I will deal with writing readers in greater Sue Leather is a trainer
workshop, make sure you also join in the depth in a future article in this series. trainer, educational
social aspect of the conference (dinner, consultant and writer.
She is currently Lead
cocktail party, etc). Thats really where And what about that Consultant to the ETTE
you can network and find out who to (English for Teaching:
contact with your ideas.
coursebook? Teaching for English)
project in Central and
If youre thinking of approaching a As I said at the beginning of this article, South Asia, and is also
Development Editor of a
publisher, its a good idea to find out who many of us dream of writing a bestseller new series of readers,
the commissioning editor is for the series coursebook. Its rare, though, for someone Page Turners, published
by Cengage Learning/
youre interested in. Is he or she at the to soar immediately to those dizzy heights. Heinle.
conference? If not, you can still get a In his article Career steps to becoming a
name. materials writer, Lindsay Clandfield


Do you have ideas youd like to share
EACHING with colleagues around the world?
Tips, techniques and activities; simple or
Do you have something to say about
an article in the current issue of ETp?
sophisticated; well-tried or innovative; This is your magazine and we would
something that has worked well for you? really like to hear from you.
This is your magazine.
All published contributions receive Write to us or email:
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54 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


Peter Wells queries the
automatic application of an
Come on, surely
someone must have an
Ive been doing this job
for 40 years
answer. Its a simple Everybody has been to school and
anachronistic activity enough question. knows what teachers do. We were at
school for a long time and at an
There is a story about a supply teacher
impressionable age. Therefore, no
who was sent at short notice to a
matter how they have been trained,
primary school in the Welsh hills to
teachers of all ages, in all countries,
stand in for a teacher who was ill. She
tend to default, under the pressure of
was told that the regular teacher had
standing in front of a class, to the
got up to S in the alphabet, so she
methods and mannerisms of their own
carefully prepared a large picture of a
teachers. This is why Ive had the
sheep and took it to the class, where she
frustrating experience, far too often, of
asked, Can anyone tell me what this is?
watching teachers half my age doing the
Silence. She asked again. And again.
same pointless things that my teachers,
Stony silence, fraught silence, terrified
some of them born in the 19th century,
silence. After a final wild threat, one
were doing 50 years ago.
bold infant raised his hand, as much to
save his new teacher from further
humiliation as to preserve the lives of Just settle down at the
his classmates. Please, Miss, he back, there, please!
ventured. Its not a three-year-old One of these practices is what Im going
Border Leicester, is it? to call question and answer. Q&A is a
plenary classroom procedure which
characteristically takes place at the
beginning of a lesson. It may take the
form of a discussion of a previous
lesson, or it may anticipate a writing or
speaking activity. What happens is
something like this:
Teacher: OK. What did we do in the last
A student: (Mumbles)
Teacher: Thats right. We did the present / Eric Delmar

perfect tense. And the present perfect

tense consists of ...?
Another student: (Grunts)
Teacher: Well, yes, a past participle,
actually, Sameera. And part of the verb
to have, of course. Who can give me an
example of a past participle? Kristina? ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 55

they know that any of them may be

and/or continue undisturbed in their
private thoughts until the lesson gets called upon to give an answer so,
underway and they have to do instead of looking out of the window,

and-answer something. So although the teacher is

working hard, nothing is learnt.
Moreover, Q&A is divisive. It favours
students who are strong and assertive,
they are mentally rehearsing their
answer in other words, still on task;
as the answers are prepared, they are
 Kristina: (Remains silent) more audible, better expressed, and
and marginalises those who are weak
(Several students bounce up and down more relevant, so its at least possible
and diffident.
and wave their hands.) that some of their classmates will
Teacher: Mati! listen to them (though its better if
Mati: Broke er OK. We can do this the they can be shown to the rest of the
Teacher: Thats right, broken hard way, or the easy class, eg by being written on the
way board).
Of course, it neednt be a grammar
lesson. The teacher might ask the If the aim of a Q&A session is to give Of course, preparing quizzes, handouts,
students, according to their level, to information for example, to consolidate PowerPoint presentations or even well-
think of animals beginning with certain material learnt in a previous lesson, or organised writing activities prior to a
letters of the alphabet, mention Western lead into a new item on the syllabus, why lesson takes time and effort, and
food items, talk about recent events in not write it on a hand-out, a PowerPoint teachers are notoriously overworked.
the news, or say what they think should slide or the board, or dictate it, However, keeping the students
be done to murderers. The set-up is the depending on the technology available? attention and managing a plenary
same. The session is entirely teacher- It is far more efficient for teachers to session of this type is itself exhausting,
centred, and the teacher is expending say or write needed information than to especially as it is often carried out in
huge amounts of energy trying to elicit it from students, who will explain large, hot, noisy classrooms with
generate interest and maintain control, it (comparatively) badly, and inaudibly. students who may need to be disciplined
while relaying individual students After all, students who can explain the (because they start talking out of turn)
answers to the rest of the class. The point as well as the teacher shouldnt be or cajoled into speaking (because they
purpose of these sessions is not clear, in that class. are reticent). If we prepare these
except that the teachers are standing at activities prior to the lessons, the lessons
the front of the class conforming to their themselves will not be so tiring, and
image of how teachers ought to behave. In a normal-sized well have more energy for preparation
a virtuous circle! What is more, the
class, most of what materials weve prepared can be
This is going to hurt me
more than it hurts you. students say in a retained for future use.

The only advantage of Q&A is that it plenary session is Ive never met a class
requires absolutely no preparation on
the part of the teacher. And, just in case
inaudible to the rest of as bad as this.
youre wondering, yes, this is how I the group, and theyre Even when it is pointed out to teachers
taught, until I got the opportunity to that nothing is learnt in Q&A sessions,
watch other teachers teaching and, not listening anyway and that few, if any, of the students are
more importantly, to watch their on task, they are reluctant to abandon
students with an observers eye. this practice. This is partly because of
If the aim is to establish what the
What I noticed when I became a their ingrained ideas about What
students remember of a previous lesson,
teacher trainer is that in Q&A sessions Teachers Do, and partly because of
why not produce a short quiz, which all
the students are only minimally on task. two probably subconscious beliefs: the
the students do, and use it to find out
In a normal-sized school or university Myth of Class Character, and the Myth
whats known and what isnt?
class, most of what students say in a of Lesson Atmosphere.
If the aim is to prepare the students
plenary session is inaudible to the rest The Myth of Class Character is the
for a forthcoming activity, why not,
of the group, and theyre not listening belief that classes are like people, and
instead of having the bolder students
anyway. (Prone as students are to ignore are friendly or unfriendly, lazy or
shout out unprepared answers, ask all
their teacher, theyre even more prone to hardworking, etc, in the way that people
the students to write down whatever is
ignore their classmates.) The students are. As soon as it is stated, it is clear
required, whether it is past participles,
who answer the questions correctly are how false this is. Although no one would
names of food items or animals, or their
obviously not learning anything. The deny that some groups have a greater
views on current affairs? Then the
aim of those who volunteer to speak is proportion of outgoing or diligent
teacher can call upon any student in the
to show off their knowledge, or at least members than others, classes essentially
class to give an answer, including the
curry favour with the teacher by contain individuals, each with their own
shy ones. This procedure has the
showing interest. (It is not to impart character, aims and relationship with
advantages that:
information to their less knowledgeable the teacher. A class is nothing like an
classmates!) The aim of the silent all the students are on task while organism, and there is no such thing as
students is to hide their ignorance writing this information; a class spirit. (Many students go

56 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

through an entire course without even sing and tell stories as enthusiastically
bothering to learn the names of most of as any students in the world, given If you ask your
their classmates, in spite of ice-breakers encouragement, appropriate activities
and the teachers enthusiastic shuffling and the right preparation. What they students to comment
of groups and pairs.) wont do is to play the Q&A game. They on what happens in
have no interest in answering a question
Whats the matter with to which the teacher obviously has an your lessons, you will
answer already, especially if there is a
you all today? chance that they might not give the
be astonished at the
The Myth of Lesson Atmosphere is answer the teacher has in mind. Unlike extent to which their
similar, and similarly false. It is the belief students in some other countries, they
that at a given moment a particular have no interest in showing that they perceptions differ
atmosphere exists in the room, which know something which other people
may be passive, enthusiastic, negative, dont know, because showing off is,
from yours
etc. Again, once examined, this is happily, not part of their culture. They
obviously untrue. A lesson is not a one- (rightly) dont think its their job to activities which promote learning among
on-one relationship, like a marriage, impart to the class information which our students, rather than activities of
between two individuals: the teacher the teacher can give far more effectively the sort that have traditionally been
and the class. It is an extremely than they can. So when teachers start called teaching such as Q&A.
complex sequence of interactions shooting off open-ended questions, One way to do this is to enlist the
between all the people in the classroom. Japanese students wait silently until the help of our students. If you ask your
Teachers impressions that a lesson went lesson starts. Being, of course, too students to comment (anonymously) on
well (or went badly) are usually based polite to say, Excuse me, teacher, but what happens in your lessons, you will
on the behaviour of a small number of isnt this a waste of time? be astonished at the extent to which
assertive students, whether supportive their perceptions differ from yours (and
or disruptive, and these students may Right, I think its time to from each others). Alternatively, or
not be representative.
move on now. additionally, you could invite a colleague
to observe a lesson and compare your
Needless to say, Q&A is not a waste of perceptions of what went on. Although
A lesson is not a one- time in small classes. With groups in youll sometimes be disappointed,
on-one relationship, single figures, it makes complete sense sometimes youll be pleasantly surprised!
as a civilised procedure for imparting It also helps to visit other teachers
like a marriage it is information, practising new structures classes and watch what they do, and,
or vocabulary, exchanging ideas, clearing
an extremely complex up misunderstandings, and getting to
more importantly, what their students
do as a result. If the students are not on
sequence of interactions know each other as human beings. task, then theyre not learning, and
Above that number, however, all therefore the teachers arent teaching,
between all the people sorts of bad things start happening. whatever they may appear to be doing.
Students find themselves able to avoid
in the classroom the teachers eye, and lose concentration.
Conversely, if the students are on task,
then they are learning, and the teachers
The lesson doesnt appear to cater for must be teaching whatever that means.
As a result of these myths, teachers their particular needs or feelings. The Theres another old joke, which
(not always the most self-aware teacher doesnt seem interested in them originated in a Peanuts cartoon. A
individuals) believe that when they are as individuals; in fact, the teacher stops teacher says, Ive just taught my dog to
conducting Q&A they are interacting looking like a helpful friend, and begins whistle! Well, says his friend, Ive just
with the class, checking the classs to look like an authority figure. They tested your dog, and he cant whistle. I
knowledge, or warming the class up. get fewer chances to contribute to the didnt say hed learnt to whistle,
In fact, however, they are just making discussion; they find it hard to hear responds the teacher. I said Id taught
teacher noises. other students, and to make themselves him to whistle. ETp
heard. It takes nerve to speak in front of
Im not doing this for a large number of people. (All of which Peter Wells was trained at
illustrates just how difficult it is for Durham and Manchester
fun, you know. anything meaningful to be learnt in
Universities, and has
taught English in Africa,
The futility of Q&A was brought home groups of 20 or 30, no matter how clever Asia, England and the
Middle East. He has been
to me forcibly when I began to teach at or hard-working the teachers are.) involved in teacher
a Japanese university. development since 1978,
When you arrive in Japan you are  and is also interested in
assessment, extensive
told by the Old Hands: You wont get reading and discourse
The size of our classes, however, is a analysis. Peter is currently
them to talk. They dont talk. an Assistant Professor at
Dont believe this. Japanese students matter beyond our control. What we can Kansai Gaidai University
do, in our present situation, is to reflect in Japan.
will argue, discuss, give oral
presentations, joke, do roleplays, shout, on our own teaching and devise ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 57

Web Russell Stannard
discovers electronic posters.

here was a real buzz at the IATEFL conference in add links to pictures, video or audio from the web. The tool is

T Harrogate, UK, this year and the technology talks

seemed to be better attended than ever. I came away
with a lot of ideas. In this article I want to look at what
might be described as electronic posters, though in reality the
technology could be used to develop all sorts of things. Thanks
pretty restrictive in this sense, as you cant add any pictures
from your own computer; it is all about linking to content that is
already on the web. You click on OK once you have done it and
then click on another part of the screen to create another box.
What you do is saved automatically. By copying the url in the
to Ozge and Conchita for their talk, which inspired this article. browser you can send your wall to anyone you like. If you go to
Home, you will see all the walls that you have created.
Electronic posters are basically electronic pages that might
include text and pictures, links, video, graphics and sounds, all
built up around one theme. They are great for project work. So if
you were going to get your students to write about a visit to Glogster is a pretty powerful multimedia tool, yet it has simple
London or the pyramids in Egypt or Labour Day, then you could controls that work really well. It gives you complete charge over
get them to produce an electronic poster where they can write the content of your electronic poster. You can add pictures, video
some text, add videos that they create themselves or links to and sounds from your computer, grab them from the web or you
videos on the internet, pictures related to the subject, etc. can even create them in Glogster itself. Glogster also has a
Electronic posters have the feel of a real poster because the massive range of built-in images, videos, etc that you can make
students can be very creative in design and layout, and can add use of. There are many designs, fonts and images to choose
things anywhere on the page. We are going to look at two very from, and the design features allow students to be really creative.
different tools for creating electronic posters. Wallwisher is very One nice thing is that the posters can be produced by choosing
simple and only allows you to create a very basic poster with from certain styles. So, for example, if the students always uses
links to video, pictures and audio that can already be found on the hippy style for the text, frames and images, etc, then the
the internet. It also allows you to write text and choose from a result will look very good as all the content will match.
limited number of designs. Glogster, on the other hand, can be You can even produce Glogster pages that link to other
used to produce very sophisticated posters, including things the pages. For example, you could build a video diary to which the
students have made themselves in the form of videos, pictures, students add a new linked page every week with text, pictures,
text, etc, as well as content from the internet. In fact, it is so audio, etc to reflect what happened during that week.
powerful that it could also be used to make websites, blogs or Take a look at these examples:
podcasts, as it offers recording facilities, too.
As always, I have produced some videos to show you how (a Glogster made by the Google team about their new offices)
to use these tools.
(about an ice-hockey team) This site is extremely popular and the creativity of some of the
Wallwisher is very easy to use and can be great for brainstorming work is amazing. If you go to the Categories section and just
ideas or creating simple posters. You could put the students into look through some of the examples that are available, you will
groups and tell them to brainstorm ideas connected to a certain get some great ideas about how to use them in class, and what
topic, to create a to-do list for a project, to write down good and sort of topics you might like to set. I was so stunned by what I
bad points about a certain subject, etc. Wallwisher could then saw that I ended up spending hours just looking at them. This
be the place where they bring all their ideas together, linking to site is really impressive, and the way it is being used is exactly
videos, pictures and adding text. Once the posters are created, what the web should be all about. ETp
they can be shared in a number of ways. You can see an example
of what Wallwisher can do at You can find help videos that will show you step-by-step
You can control what is actually written on the walls by how to use these tools at:
approving the content before it becomes public. Anyone can
make changes to a wall (by opening up someones wall and (Wallwisher)
editing the content) but they cant make their changes
permanent only the person who created the wall can save any (Glogster)
changes. This feature is quite nice because you could produce a
wall with grammar mistakes or gaps in it and get the students to Russell Stannard is a principal lecturer in ICT at the
University of Westminster, UK. He won the Times
open the wall and correct or complete it. Higher Education Award for Outstanding Initiatives in
Once you have signed up, you simply click on Build a Wall Information and Communications Technology for his
website He was also
and choose a background colour. You must add a title and a one of the winners of the 2010 British Council ELTons
description. Then you can start to build your wall. The controls are awards.
very limited. You simply double-click on the screen and a square
Keep sending your favourite sites to Russell:
will appear which allows you to do a few things. You can add
some text (there is a limit on the number of characters) or you can

58 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional


Five things you always wanted to know about In this series, Nicky Hockly
explains aspects of technology

Personal which some people may be

embarrassed to confess that

Learning they dont really understand.

In this article, she explores
Personal Learning Networks

(but were afraid to ask)
and how they can help
teachers with their ongoing
professional development.

1 Personal Learning Networks

... whats that? It sounds a bit
like a sect.
contact other like-minded professionals.
(See my article in ETp Issue 61 for more
on social networking.)
3 How would having a PLN
benefit me as a teacher?
Funnily enough, I recently asked a similar
Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) You could attend free online question to my own PLN via Twitter. I
also known as Personal Learning conferences such as IATEFL Online. challenged my Twitter network to define
Environments (PLEs) are the ways in PLN in no more than 140 characters (the
You could save your favourite internet
which learners can support their own maximum permitted in a Twitter
sites in a social bookmarking service
learning by tapping into existing online message, or tweet). Here is just a short
such as Delicious, which allows you to
networks and resources. Of course, selection of the responses I received.
share your links, and to explore links
teachers are learners, too, and PLNs Interestingly, most of the definitions that
suggested by other teachers.
reflect the explosion of opportunities that were sent to me included the things that
we now have at our disposal to use the Typically your PLN will consist of several the teachers quoted here see as the
internet to access resources and people different networks and resources, which benefits.
in the pursuit and support of our own help you keep in touch with other
learning and professional and personal teachers and with what is happening in @sethdickens:
development. the field. Your PLN should actively My Perfectly Lovely Network has
support the ongoing informal learning helped me grow professionally,

2 This all sounds very worthy,

but can you give me some
concrete examples?
that you do as a teacher. I find it useful to
visualise my own PLN as follows:
learn informally and about subjects
which interest me.

Think about your life and role as a

The blogs @marekandrews:
teacher. How could you use the internet
I read An ELT PLN is giving + receiving,
to help yourself continue to develop Free online helping + encouraging, thanking +
professionally, via contact and dialogue conferences acknowledging, learning + teaching
with other teachers from all over the & webinars + blogginanatweetin.
world? Obviously, there are a number of The blog
possibilities: I write
You could subscribe to blogs about @ShellTerrell:
teaching, created by other teachers. Passionate learning network an
My PLN individualised network of people
You could join an online discussion you choose to learn from,
group which focuses on teaching collaborate with & expand ideas.
matters. Twitter Online
You could join some of the newer discussion
social networking sites, such as the groups @Harmerj:
micro-blogging service Twitter (see ETp Social A collection of positive, funny,
Issue 60 for more on this). bookmarking informative people who keep me in
(Delicious) touch professionally & socially &
You could join a professional social feel like real friends.
networking site such as Linked In, and

60 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional

4 Well, it all sounds like paradise.
Are there no negatives? 5 It sounds interesting. Id like to
create my own PLN where do
I start?
Twitter homepage, and you can look at the
list of people they follow follow any of
these that look interesting yourself. Keep in
Probably one of the biggest challenges
mind that you will need to follow between
that teachers face when they have an Start by subscribing to a couple of
50 and 100 people before you start to get
extensive PLN is the sheer amount of teaching blogs. Go to a few well-known
a flavour of how Twitter can be a
information they receive. Information and well-established teaching blogs, and
professional development tool for you.
overload is a very real issue there is so look at the blog roll (list of recommended
Just integrating these two areas into
much out there, and so much of it is blogs). A good place to start is Lindsay
your PLN is a good start. After a few
interesting, that it is quite difficult to keep Clandfields Six Things blog
months, you could start to expand your
up at times! Teachers who are very active (, or Jeremy Harmers
PLN by exploring some of the areas in my
in a number of social networks often blog ( Or
PLN word map on page 60. Good luck! ETp
report feeling overwhelmed. There are try Shelley Terrells Teacher Reboot Camp
ways to manage this, of course, such as blog (, Nicky Hockly has been
involved in EFL teaching and
limiting the number of blogs you Scott Thornburys A-Z of ELT blog teacher training since 1987.
subscribe to, and making sure that the (, or Burcu She is Director of Pedagogy
ones you choose are really helpful and Akyols blog ( All of of The Consultants-E, an
online training and
relevant to you. Dont try to respond to these blogs (and their blog rolls) are development consultancy.
every blog post you read; rather, post worth exploring. When youve looked at She is co-author of Learning
English as a Foreign
comments now and again when you have 20 or so blogs, choose two or three to Language for Dummies (John
something to bring to the discussion. You subscribe to, to get started. Wiley & Sons), and Teaching
Online (Delta Publishing).
can also cut down your use of a micro- Next you could join Twitter, where there She maintains a blog at
blogging tool such as Twitter to a certain is already a very active ELT community.
and tweets under
period of time a day, say half an hour. How? Go to, and set up @TheConsultantsE.
Feeling overwhelmed can lead to an account. Then search for some of the Contact Nicky at
burnout, so this is something to keep an usernames I mentioned in question 3 and let her know of any other ICT areas youd like her to
eye on. above. This will take you to the individuals explore in this series.

16 6 7 7 20 19 21 24 5 Congratulations to all those readers who successfully completed
B U Z Z W O R D P our Prize Crossword 39. The winners, who will each receive a copy
15 12 12 16 1 6 21 24
E A A B S U R D of the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners, are:
15 5 21 12 4 1 15 26 15
E P R A I S E H E Deborah Levaufre Dubbelt, Saint L, France
22 21 8 21 4 23 Juta Hennoste, Tartu, Estonia
4 1 9 4 25 15
Line Legret, Vendme Cedex, France
I S K I V E Renata Lombar, Slavonski Brod, Croatia
10 19 15 6 21 19 23 11
M O E U R O T X Agnieszka Marecka, Miedzyrzecz, Poland
13 6 4 21 9 8 15 1 15 14 23 Eva Mara Gutirrez Moreno, Consuegra, Spain
Q U I R K Y E S E C T Ral Pontello, Buenos Aires, Argentina
21 15 10 23 22
R E M T F Mara Justa Senz de Tejada, Jan, Spain
24 20 12 12 21
Karen White, Ainet, Austria
25 15 23 19 4 21 2 5 4 15 Juliet Willsher, St Albans, UK
21 23 9 24 4 15 12 1 8 2 19 2 8 10 4 1
12 17 2 22 12 14 23 24 12 20 19 21 24 8 19 6
18 6 1 23 4 14 15 21 8 19 6 1 15 20 26 15 2 8 19 6
12 12 10 1 12 17 12 24 10 14 12 2 23 1 5 15 17 17
21 3 16 1 1 4 2 3 23 26 15 20 19 21 24 8 19 6
22 4 21 1 23 23 26 19 6 3 26 23

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
19 22
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
C E B L J O W R F T D V H Burt Bacharach ENGLISH TEACHING professional Issue 69 July 2010 61

Prize crossword 42
ETp presents the forty-second in our series of prize Ten correct entries will be drawn from a hat on 10 September
crosswords. Send your entry (completed crossword 2010 and the senders will each receive a copy of the second
grid and quotation), not forgetting to include your edition of the Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced
full name, postal address and telephone number, to Learners, applauded for its unique red star system showing the
Prize crossword 42, ENGLISH TEACHING professional, Pavilion Publishing frequency of the 7,500 most common words in English
(Brighton) Ltd, PO Box 100, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 8HD, UK. (

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3 4 5 8 6 9 7 3 4 24 8 8 3 22 22 24 13 20 2

10 11 3 4 10 10 12 10 13 3 5 21 3 9 3 2 5 7 3 4

13 3 14 15 16 10 6 4 2 William Shakespeare

17 3 5 6 18 19 20 11
*** One of the periods of time ** Gate that stops people or vehicles
6 21 10 5 3 22 3 10 13 4
that a week is divided into, equal from entering a place
to 24 hours ** A sound people make when they are
10 6 15 3 3 4 10 6
*** Dislike someone or something thinking about what to say next
very much ** Want something (formal)
7 10 4 10 23 3 13 11 17 10 2 2
*** Used for referring to yourself ** Someone who likes something such
when you are the person who is as a sport very much
3 23 5 10 1 6
speaking or writing ** Something that makes people laugh
*** A substance such as air that ** Part of the armed forces that can fight
4 20 10 19 9 12 2 5
is neither a solid nor a liquid at sea
*** An official group of people ** Not clean
5 13 6 1 17 3 23 10 2 24
who meet to make the laws of the ** A cloud produced by something that
UK is burning
10 10 2 24 25 13 3 20 24
*** Employ something like a tool, ** Touch someone or something gently
24 4 4 6 8 10 24 13 6
*** Receive money for work that * A liquid used for writing or printing
2 12 23 10 13 10 15 6 13
you do * A belief or attitude (formal)
G *** A substance that is added to * Involving three things of the same kind
24 3 26 11 13 3 7 3 4 5
food or drinks to make them taste * A model of the head and shoulders of
sweet a person
2 7 24 15 3 3 3 13 19 24
*** Allow something to happen * An adjective to describe someone who
Y *** The front part of your head, thinks they are attractive or special
where your eyes, nose and mouth LESS FREQUENT WORDS
are A very fast serve in tennis that your
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
*** Touching a surface or an opponent cannot reach
object Written in front of a name to show that
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
*** An urgent, difficult or something is intended for that person
L Y G dangerous situation Money demanded by a kidnapper
*** Used when you want to A lie about something unimportant
To solve the puzzle, find which letter each number represents. You emphasise a fact by saying what Feeling extremely angry without
can keep a record in the boxes above. The definitions of the words the result of it is showing it
in the puzzle are given, but not in the right order. When you have *** Wanting to do something The normal keyboard used for English
finished, you will be able to read the quotation. *** Succeed in doing something, Used to get someones attention
especially if it needs a lot of effort (mainly US)
*** A large road vehicle that you The solid waste your body gets rid of
pay to travel on (formal)
*** A group of students A small spot on your face
*** So much of a particular quality A very strong, sudden pain or emotion
that something is not possible Do something again

64 Issue 69 July 2010 ENGLISH TEACHING professional