In this issue:

ISSN 1844 – 6159

Editor's Notes:

What is the most important part of TEFL? What should teachers focus on? Some say it must be grammar, while others say vocabulary, some focus on class chats while others are partial to practicing international tests. Some like to just finish the coursebook, while others think their own collection of materials is more relevant or reliable. With such a wide variety of teaching preferences, there must be an answer that finds some value in everything.
Perhaps the answer comes from examining our reasons: we do literature, cultural studies and grammar because they are intellectually appealing to us, we have chats with students because we think communication matters and we practice exams to reassure ourselves we are preparing students for their future careers. But is it as simple as that?
In reality, it seems to me that all of the above reasons often fail to fulfill their promise particularly because of their specialisation. If we forget to see our work as a mentor-mentee relationship whereby the student is a whole person rather than a special interest, we are bound to fail. On the other hand, if we somehow kindle real-life situations, problems and concerns, if we present them in a memorable way and we ensure that students take ownership of the class communication in a meaningful way, then we have justified our salary and the parents’ vote of confidence.

by Ovidiu Aniculăese, Colegiul Naţional "A.T. Laurian", Botoşani


 Acting as an Interpreter. A Challenging Task
Peter A. Stepichev, PhD, Moscow City Teacher Training University, MELTA Early Career Teachers Committee Coordinator

Keywords: interpreting, social work, rapport, emotion memory

Interpreting has always been a challenging task which requires high level of proficiency in the field of linguistics as well as cultural awareness and background knowledge on the subject of interpretation. All of these make a good interpreter who can easily deliver a message from the speaker to the audience in its language. But the fact is that it's still not enough. I felt something is missing here when I started interpreting for British delegations in the field of social work.
Working with vulnerable social groups even in the native language requires special skills. Establishing rapport with service users is crucial because it's the only way to persuade them to change their life, e.g. pay more attention to their children, start struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, reconsider their deviant behavior, try to reunite with a family, etc. A social worker has a few tools to influence a person and one of the most powerful is communication. The ultimate task for a social worker is to trigger resources in a person that help him or her overcome life crisis, find a solution, make an important decision and stick to it.
The same kind of rapport is obligatory in international research in the field of social work. A global look on social problems can have promising outcomes for local communities and vulnerable groups because they can gain from international experience and practices. The challenge is that a service user who is asked to evaluate some kind of social practice can be reluctant to share his or her understanding especially to strangers. And here an interpreter can be the cook who spoils the broth.
To be effective at interpreting in the field of social work, especially when it comes to feedback sessions with vulnerable groups or individuals an interpreter needs to be intuitive and mind psychological aspects of communication. First of all it's quite important for an interpreter not to appear to be too official or dominating. Suits and ties are not usually for such talks. If a service user looks casual so should an interpreter. Another important aspect is the manner of speech. An interpreter should try to copy the manner that a service user has, telling about his experience. A person should see an interpreter as his representative who advocates for him in front of another culture.
Unfortunately a usual situation is a misfortunate service user who is asked to tell about his life problems to a prosperous foreign citizen and his no less prosperous interpreter. Both foreigners and interpreters are believed to have high social status, well-paid jobs and thus unable to really understand life calamities of a common person in difficult circumstances. Standing alone in such a talk with two strangers a person feels shy and reluctant to share his vision of this or that social practice or service. The situation can be quite different if an interpreter tries to establish a bond with a service user signaling him that he's at his side and understand him on two main assumptions: they both are humans and they both belong to one culture. When a empathic interpreter stands by a service user they are together when talking to a foreign social worker.
One complicating thing is that bonds appear to be multi-directed. On the one hand a foreign social worker tries to engage a service user usually by also sharing personal experience and looking for a common ground for communication, thus proving the content of communication. On the other hand an interpreter tries to find a form of communication that is psychologically comfortable for a service user. The functions of content and form are split between the two people who altogether try to create an atmosphere of trust in which communication bears more fruit.
One can tell that the rapport is established when the talk becomes emotional. It's quite natural as the topics that arise come from real life experiences. The most important thing here is not to lose contact by interpreting only the content of the talk. A very important thing is communicating emotion. And here comes a challenge for an interpreter who should speak with empathy about things which he or she has probably never experienced. According to my observations when it comes to personal details service users expect compassion and empathy from both parties - firstly from the interpreter and then from a foreign social worker. They are looking for subtle gestures of approval or disapproval, intonations and the manner of interpretation. They want to make sure that an interpreter understands what they feel, share their position and can express it. Every detail is crucial here. An emotional speech which is interpreted in an indifferent voice lose part of its message. A story told in whisper being interpreted in a clear loud voice is a different story. An interpreter needs special tools to gain the trust of a service user and we believe such tools can be found in the heritage of a famous Russian theatre director Constantin S. Stanislavski.
One of the methods that can be applicable for an interpreter in the field of social sphere is Stanislavski's technology of emotion memory. C. Stanislavsky told that to be true to life an actor should feel the emotion to act it. If an actor can elicit certain emotions based on his personal experience, it can help to express this emotion and to get trust from the audience. A similar method can be applied for interpreting in a social sphere. Telling a story an interpreter should try to recall the same emotion that the service user communicates in his message. Experiencing what he's interpreting is a challenging but a rewarding goal. Thus an interpreter will believe in what he interprets and it will be felt by both the speaker and the listener.
The issues outlined in the article appear to be quite important for interpreters in the social sphere. We believe further research is needed which might lead to a new theory where linguistics, culture and psychology merge together to create a new approach to help practitioners in their work.


 Free Online Corpora for Teaching Collocations. An Overview

by A. Suzan Öniz, PhD, INGED

Keywords: collocation, corpus, pre-constructed phrase

“Free Online Corpora for Collocation Teaching” was an interactive demonstration aiming to share with the audience brief background information about collocations, their types and the advantages of learning vocabulary with their collocations. The main part of the presentation dealt with some of the free online corpora and ideas as to how to use these to create vocabulary activities.

What are collocations?
Lewis (2000), who is well-known for his Lexical Syllabus, where teaching is based around vocabulary learning and vocabulary acquisition, defines collocation as the way in which words co-occur in natural text in statistically significant ways. He goes on to say that the collocating words need to occur together statistically frequently in ‘natural texts.’

Researchers use a variety of terms to describe the relationship between collocations. Lewis for instance mentions “word partnerships”; Jimmie Hill talks about “prefabricated chunks.” These terms all describe the close non-random bond between certain words as well as their almost predetermined co-occurrence.

Types of collocations
Hill (1998) and Conzett (2000) mention three types of collocations: strong, weak, and medium-strong collocations. In strong collocations, one word is decisive about the other collocates as opposed to weak collocations where collocates vary greatly. Examples of strong collocations include ‘ulterior motive’, vent your anger’, harbor a grudge’ (Hill, 1998).

The interesting thing about strong collocations is that synonyms do not work as can be seen in the examples below:
Call off a match/a meeting/a wedding/an engagement = OK
Call off my/the class = Sound awkward

This butter is rancid (*sour, *rotten, *stale).
This cream is sour (*rancid, *rotten, *stale).
They took (*made) a walk.
They made (*took) an attempt.
They had (*made, *took) a talk.

Weak collocations include ‘long journey’, ‘good idea,’ where these adjectives can collocate with a large number of nouns with the same applying to the nouns. These types of collocations, however, are less problematic for learners when compared to strong collocations according to Hill, because they generally work across languages and only present a problem if they cannot be translated.

Medium-strength collocations, according to Hill , are the most problematic to teach or learn because students often know all the individual words in them but need help with their collocations.

Here are some examples of lexes that can form numerous collocates or partnerships: ‘conversation’, ‘break off’, ‘monopolize’, ‘have’, ‘hold’, ‘in’, ‘listen to’, ‘lead’, ‘overhear’

The advantages of learning the collocations
Collocations are important for language learners, one reason being that most students aim to enrich their total knowledge of vocabulary. However, learners’ treasury of words is far from full when compared to a native speaker’s knowledge of words. Native speakers’ lexicons consist of thousands of items, many of which are multi-word items. To be more specific, an average educated native speaker’s knowledge covers approximately 20,000 word families (Goulden et al, 1990, cited in Nation and Waring, 1997; Zechmeister et al, 1995, cited in Nation, 2001). This is an impossible target for language learners. Yet making vocabulary learning more efficient is not.

When learning words with collocations as opposed to isolated items, language learners enrich their word treasury. As a result, they become fluent and quick in the production of language because they have “ready-made language immediately available” (Hill, 2000), or in Sinclair’s (1987) terms they can produce “preconstructed phrases”. Another major advantage of learning strings of collocating terms is that grammar mistakes can be avoided (Hill, 2000) because when students learn lexes with their collocations, they are increasing their chances of producing grammatically accurate language because their sentences will consist of several prefabricated chunks (Lewis, 1997).

Some Free Online Corpora
BAWE: The British Academic Written English Collection
The BAWE corpus contains 2761 pieces of proficient assessed student writing, ranging in length from about 500 words to about 5000 words. Holdings are fairly evenly distributed across four broad disciplinary areas (Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences) and across four levels of study (undergraduate and taught masters level). Thirty-five disciplines are represented. Free of charge to non-commercial researchers who agree to the conditions of use and who register with the Oxford Text Archive

BASE Plus: British Academic Spoken English
The BASE Corpus consists of 160 lectures and 40 seminars recorded in a variety of departments (video-recorded at the University of Warwick and audio-recorded at the University of Reading). It contains 1,644,942 tokens in total (lectures and seminars). Holdings are distributed across four broad disciplinary groups, each represented by 40 lectures and 10 seminars.

MICASE (Michigan Corpus of American Spoken English)
There are currently 152 transcripts (totaling 1,848,364 words) available at this site. MICASE is a corpus of spoken English is a unique collection of a large number of speech events recorded at a large American research university, and has been a source of study for researchers in a wide variety of fields since the late 1990s. MICASE has produced myriad interesting findings in areas such as Discourse Analysis, Syntax, Semantics, and EAP Teaching.
Explanations for researchers: http://micase.elicorpora.info/researchers

Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (VOICE)
The Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English comprises one million words of English as a Lingua Franca interactions, equaling approximately 120 hours of transcribed speech, and covers the following speech event types: Interviews, press conferences, service encounters, seminar discussions, working group discussions, workshop discussions, meetings, panels, question-answer sessions, conversations.

David Lee’s Tiny Corpora
These annotated links (c. 1,000 of them) are meant mainly for linguists and language teachers who work with corpora, not computational linguists/NLP (natural language processing) people, so although the language-engineering-type links here are fairly extensive, they are not exhaustive (for such info, you'll have to look elsewhere).

Sites that list online corpora:
 http://courses.washington.edu/englhtml/engl560/corplingresources.htm
 Corpora4Learning:
 http://www.palgrave.com/language/corbett/resources/corpora.html

Additional corpora
 BNC: http://www.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/
 SCOTS: http://www.scottishcorpus.ac.uk
 ELISA: http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/elisa/html/elisa_index.html
 IViE Corpus (English Intonation in the British Isles)
 Speech Accent Archive: http://accent.gmu.edu/
 Compleat Lexical Tutor (access to Brown and BNC sampler among others):
 Brigham Young University Corpus: http://corpus.byu.edu/

Ideas for activities that are based on collocations taken from corpora
Traditional matching: Break up the collocations to create this activity. Since it is an in-class activity, to make students think, include items that match with more than one item and invite students to find these. Students generally work with one-to-one matches so multiple matching items may serve as a perk.

Traditional fill-in-the-blanks: Remove one part of the collocation and put in a blank. You may list the missing items or to make the activity more challenging by withhold the missing collocates. Providing some or all of the missing items after learners have started working may also be an alternative way.

Fill-in-the-blanks with the same word: Select a vocabulary item that has several meanings. Copy suitable sentences from one of the corpora, blanking the word you have selected for this activity. Ask students which word can go in all the blanks, whether it has the same meaning in each blank and if the meaning differs, whether their collocations relate only to that meaning. This may be an intermediate level activity.

Matching pictures with collocations: If the target vocabulary lends itself to this, select one or two pictures (from Clip Art or other sources) for each of the collocations. List the pictures and ask students to write the collocations beneath them. You may withhold the collocations for the first few minutes of the activity and then give students the list to make it a little challenging. During the teaching term, as learners’ language proficiency improves, the vocabulary that you need to work with becomes more abstract so try out ways to find pictures that symbolize the concept of the lexical item. You may, for instance, show a result or cause of the concept. Alternatively, you may give one picture to each pair of students and ask them to look through their vocabulary notebooks and see how many items they can relate to this picture then asking pairs to exchange pictures.

The fly swatter activity: Divide the collocations in two, making a list of the first part and keeping this list for use during the activity. In class, write the second parts of the collocations all over the blackboard or better yet, write these in big letters on separate pieces of paper at home and attach them to the board when you want students to do this activity. The second method of writing the words on pieces of paper makes it easier to keep track of which group got more answers right. When you are ready to start, ask students to face the board and stand in two rows with the first ones in each row holding a fly swatter. Read out the first part of a collocation and the student who swats the correct ending on the board gets the paper with the word on it (or you note down the group that got it right for later reference). If two students hit the same correct word, the one with the fly swatter directly on the word wins and gets the paper with the word. Both students move to the end of the line. If they cannot get the right answer, do not tell them. You can reuse this item later. Both students move to the end of the line. Either when time is up or when all the words have been taken, count up the points and announce the winner and have a small group reward ready. Alternatively: Ask the winners to say out loud the collocating words for the words that they got right before you reward them.

Pairing activity: Divide each collocation in two, writing each half on a separate slip of paper. Distribute these randomly and ask students to find their partners by asking each other: “Do you have a matching ending/beginning? I have …..” Alternatively: Find pictures that show the collocations, cut them in two, ask students to study their pictures carefully for 1 minute, concentrating on what may be missing and then place the picture face down on their desk and move around asking questions such as “Do you have half of a tall tree/ half of a left arm with a blue sweater/one white shoe?” When all students have found their correct partners, they sit together and try to come up with the collocation that the teacher was thinking of when picking this picture. Then, two pairs get together to hear what the others decided. You may need to time this activity because pairs may go into discussions and it may take up too much of your time.

Final suggestion: Pick one of these activities and explain to students exactly how it works and what you want them to do. Get pairs or small groups to actually write the activity as homework using a free online corpus. Ask them to produce a detailed key. Collect these, check them for accuracy and give them out to different students another day as an in-class recycling activity.


Conzett, J. (2000). Integrating collocation into a reading and writing course. In M. Lewis (Ed.). Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach. Hove: LTP. pp. 70-88.
Hill, J. (1998). Plenary talk. May 1998. Ankara, Turkey.
Hill, J. (2000). Revising priorities: From grammatical failure to collocational success. In M. Lewis (Ed.). Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach. Hove: LTP. pp. 47-67.
Lewis, M. (1996). Plenary talk at the Turkish Army Academy. June 1996. Ankara, Turkey.
Lewis, M. (1997). Implementing the lexical approach. Hove: LTP.
Lewis, M. (2000). Language in the lexical approach. In M. Lewis (Ed.). Teaching collocation: Further developments in the lexical approach. Hove: LTP. pp. 126-153.
Nation, I.S.P. (2001). Learning vocabulary in another language. Cambridge: CUP.
Nation, I.S.P. and Waring, R. (1997). Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. In N. Schmitt and M. McCarthy (Eds.) Vocabulary description, acquisition and pedagogy. Cambridge: CUP. pp. 6-19.
Sinclair, J. McH. (1987). Collocation: A progress report. In R. Steele and T. Threadgold (Eds.). Language topics: Essays in honor of Michael Halliday. Vol. 2. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 319-331.



 Steps to Follow in a Culture Course Syllabus Design

by Cătălina Dumbrăvanu, Liceul de Artă Ştefan Luchian, Botoşani

Keywords: syllabus, design, learning process cultural awareness, task, evaluation, communicative approach.

When I first started my teaching job at Fine Arts Highschool in Botosani, I noticed that students were dealing with a constant lack of cultural knowledge but they were used to dealing with grammar and vocabulary activities. Therefore, I decided that a few lessons based on some cultural information will not hurt.
Easy said, easy done!
After a small period of teaching cultural insights, I had to make sure that they understood everything we had done during the activities. But when the final evaluations came at the end of the semester, I realized that my students were having the same confusing problems. So, I asked myself who was to blame: the students, for not paying attention or me, the teacher, for not having found the correct way to make them learn these aspects.
I did not find the answer right away. At that point, I decided it was easier for me to blame my students and went on working with the textbook. But cultural knowledge became more and more needed, as my students found it difficult to find a way to combine fluency with the right information about aspects of culture and civilization.
And one day I asked the school principal what the conditions were to set up an optional course for my needy students .The next thing I did was to ask my students about studying an optional course; surprisingly enough(or not), they chose cultural issues.
It was then that I realized that teaching culture is of great importance in a language teacher’s job. The way teachers teach culture in classes, the way they get it across to their students reflects actually their understanding of what is useful for their students. As for the time teachers need to dedicate to teaching culture, I thought optional classes would be a problem partly solved.
In the light of what I have mentioned so far, this paper aims to set up the right steps for building a proper syllabus for such a course.

Step 1. Deciding on the nature of the course
The new economic and social background of our country has intensified the already existing need for an international language and a better understanding of the European and international realities. Raising our students' cultural awareness from an early stage is not only a privilege but also a chance for them to become responsible European citizens.
Cultural awareness through foreign language learning leads to comparing and appreciating the similarities and differences between the learners’ own culture and the cultures of the countries where the target language is spoken. It also provides learners with the necessary knowledge, skills and cognitive abilities to enable them to establish links with other cultures and present their own culture to others. It is not sufficient for the learner to encode or decode language while learning a foreign language; the student will bring his/her own culture into the communication process with the foreign culture. Cross-cultural awareness should be seen as an interdependent relationship between cultures which constitute an enrichment of the "self" as well as the "other".
European and world integration has constantly been a hot issue in present-day Romania, as it has probably been in a few other Eastern and Central European countries. Therefore, I think that a syllabus on cultural issues can make a small contribution in this respect. Developing pupils' cultural knowledge will make it easier for them to understand and learn about the English speaking world. Such activities also stimulate their creativity by using English in contextual, real-life situations which will enable them to connect to certain national and universal values and will broaden their views.

Step 2. Needs analysis
An important step in designing a syllabus on cultural issues is to determine pupils' needs and wants.
Determining needs is not an exact science, however, since it involves both quantitative and qualitative approaches, it requires the use of a variety of formal and informal data-gathering procedures, and seeks to identify or quantify needs that may be by nature imprecise. Needs statements thus represent judgments as to what should be analyzed, the means to be used, and the meaning and significance of the data collected. Methods employed in gathering data vary according to setting and may involve participant observation, interviews, questionnaires, tests, role-play, and analysis of communicative competence.
The task of a teacher designing a syllabus for his/her pupils is much easier than that of a course designer who knows only general aspects about the learners and teachers to whom the course is addressed. Therefore, before data collection for the course some questions might help to set up the right direction of establishing the goals and objectives, such as:
• Who needs the course: teachers or students?
• Why is the course needed?
• What is the purpose of the course?
• What should both teachers and students deal with in the course? How should they handle it? …
The most important questions are related to the pupils' interests concerning topics and learning styles as well as to their language proficiency. An example of test that provided me with useful information about my pupils’ cultural awareness is the one I gave my 11th graders before starting the course about English language and culture. It is a test based on 15 multiple-choice items; its aim is to check pupils’ knowledge in a structured time pattern that is a rapid quiz which learners are supposed to solve in approximately fifteen minutes. (see Appendix A)
Other ways of data collection are the questionnaires and observation forms (see Appendix B and Appendix C). The pupils' proficiency level should also be established before proceeding with the syllabus design, through testing, in order to find out what needed to be reinforced and further practiced. All the formative and summative tests done during the previous school year should highlight pupils’ weak points. These tests, as well as the final tasks (project work, essays, letters, portfolios) show how difficult or easy is for pupils to express themselves in writing, to make them take part in speaking activities and to raise grammatical awareness, too..
This stage of needs analysis offers a lot of information on both the content and the form that the syllabus: Who (target learners) - pupils), Why (their reasons for attending this course - their special interest in the English culture), Where (the location of the course - the classroom) and When (The duration and frequency of the course - one year/one class-hour per week).
The implementation of a new programme can be realistic and effective only if it takes into account the resources and equipment that are available: recorders, slides, films, pictures, posters, and other such visuals and audio features which may greatly affect some of the activities carried out in class. Time available for the acquisition of the target language is a key factor and can easily be determined since any planning takes into account the available hours per week, and the number of weeks in the school year. The objectives and the ways in which they can be achieved as always are dependent on the amount of time available and how it is distributed.
Classroom setting is also an important factor, reflecting a number of relevant features of the teaching/learning situation. Factors such as the number of pupils in the classroom and whether the desks are fixed or can be easily rearranged might be very important considerations when planning group or individual activities. The actual physical environment of the classroom (light, shape of the room, etc.) is also significant and may affect the learning process positively or negatively. Budgetary restrictions should also be considered as they may determine the ideal planning adjust to realistic limitations, or even doom it to failure.

Step 3. Setting Goals and objectives
Goals are used as a basis for developing more specific descriptions of the intended outcomes of the programme (the programme objectives). Goals refer to elements of the programme that are actually going to be addressed by instruction.
The goal statements reflecting this fact should be:
a) to raise the pupils' cultural awareness / to broaden their cultural knowledge
I have been teaching these pupils for one year and all the tests (summative and formative) as well as the classroom communicative activities had revealed that it is difficult to make them take part in speaking activities, rather difficult for some of them to express themselves in writing (writing short essays, biographies, articles are seen as difficult tasks to be done). They also need constant raising of their grammatical awareness and can be motivated by attractive, enjoyable activities. Therefore, the goals that I considered appropriate for a cultural syllabus are:
b) to stir pupils' interest and motivation in carrying out tasks linked to language learning
c) to bridge the gap between language study and language use and ensure genuinely communicative integration of the language skills
d) to develop favourable attitudes toward the programme
The connection between general goals and specific objectives at the syllabus level is obvious in the effect which goals have on the three concerns of the syllabus: the dimensions of language content, processes or means, and product or outcomes, such as:
1. Content area:
• semantic grammatical categories (modal verbs, adjectives, numbers, verb tenses, adverbs, prepositions, pronouns)
• functional categories (asking for information, making and declining an invitation, expressing personal opinion, talking various cultural aspects, etc.)
• themes for meaningful and appropriate communication (lifestyles, education, social life, entertainment, modern families, leisure time, weather, constitution and legal system, national days, shopping, arts, newspapers, radio and modern technology, etc.)

2. Product area:
• skills emphasis (tasks which are concerned with language skills as real communication in real time in the classroom)
• learner needs (needs and wants as perceived by the pupils, available materials to cover these needs)
• learner autonomy (to make decisions as to what topics and what activities they want to carry out, activities carried out to prove they have become independent learners, evaluation of success carried out jointly by teacher and learner).

3. Process area
• cognitive (classroom activities which stress intellectual aims)
• creative (classroom activities which develop the pupils' creativity)
• global workouts (language learning and language using activities which enhance the learner's overall acquisition process such as: operations/transformations, interviews with peers, group dynamics activities, experiential tasks, problem-solving tasks, transferring information, skill-getting strategies).
Many of these objectives can be useful, not only to guide the selection of structures, functions, notions, tasks, and so on, but also to provide a sharper focus to the teacher, to give learners a clear idea of what they can expect from this optional course, to help in developing means of assessment and evaluation.

Step 4. Planning the learning process
While the analysis of target situation needs is mainly concerned with language use (the specific situations in which learners are going to use the language), there is another aspect that should not be neglected in the process of course - syllabus designing: language learning. How are the pupils going to learn, what is the approach that the teacher should apply during the course?
It is quite obvious that an adequate procedure or system for planning classwork increases the efficiency and effectiveness of learning processes. Learning should be organized:
• around students' experiences — what they know and understand, what they are familiar with and has meaning for them - as the basis on which to construct new knowledge.
• in a way that ensures that contents and procedures are developed globally, as an integrated system.
• in a way that is motivating for pupils and ensures their involvement and willingness to learn.
• through a closely interrelated and coherent sequence of tasks which act as a scaffolding allowing pupils to do things in English.
The most common system for generating blocks of classwork is to use linguistic content, usually specified grammatically or functionally as the starting point for planning. The framework follows a very different system. Its starting point is the selection of the theme - units are generated thematically, meaning that thematic aspects will determine the linguistic content. They can be decided by the teacher alone or jointly with the students, or in some cases partly or wholly determined by the materials available.

Step 5. Determining the topic and the tasks of the course
The theme and the possible negotiation of tasks act as an instrument for activating a network of background knowledge which will be effective for most of the tasks in the units.
A good choice of theme (based on learners' needs and interests) motivates learners to use and learn the language and together with the final tasks, becomes a driving force for the work to be done during the course. It also emphasizes the instrumental value of language. Language is learnt/recycled/reinforced/developed further in order to hear, read, find out, speak, and write about a topic which learners find stimulating and relevant. The more relevant the topic is, the higher motivation and involvement will be.
Although it was perfectly possible for me to decide the theme of the course, discussions with my pupils and the questionnaires they answered showed me that a theme related to the English culture and civilization would match closely their own experiential world, interests and preferences and would raise their cultural awareness as well as motivate them to learn the English language.
Throughout a school year the learners have the opportunity to discover the English-speaking world (places, famous people, special days and traditions, geography and history) and at the same time to discover themselves and relate and compare their culture to the English one through games, debates, role-plays, maps and film watching.
Besides the variety of cultural information, pupils will be able to acquire, through attractive learning activities, new items of vocabulary (related to traveling, shopping, monuments, artists, music, animals, food, holidays, entertainment, houses, sightseeing, etc.) and grammatical structures (nouns, adjectives - comparatives and superlatives, adverbs, verbs - the tenses, prepositions, passives, imperatives, questions, etc.). The syllabus also implies real-life situation activities (for example to ask for and give information, to express likes and dislikes, to ask for and give directions, to make and decline invitations, etc.). Pupils will learn to write e-mails, postcards, birthday cards, letters, to express opinions, to ask questions, to exchange information, to write biographies and diaries, articles, to describe places etc.

Step 6. Organizing the language learning process
Taking into consideration the thematic aspects and the aim of such syllabus, communicative approach within the framework of a task-based syllabus, in which tasks are designed to foster strategies for learning and communication need to be considered. All the definitions of the term ‘task’ share one thing in common: they all imply that tasks involve communicative language use in which the user’s attention is focused on meaning rather than linguistic structure. Consequently I will consider the communicative task as a piece of classroom work which involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is principally focused on meaning rather than form. The task should also have a sense of completeness, being able to stand alone as a communicative act in its own right.
The modular format is well suited to a syllabus which integrates thematic language content and in which the objective is maximum flexibility in the materials to be used.
The first thing was to decide on the communication tasks that are appropriate in order to lead pupils towards the final task(s) and to specify enabling tasks needed so that pupils could learn, recycle, reinforce the specified content. In a task-based syllabus all the tasks in a unit lead towards a goal — the final task(s) — which creates a series of requirements (linguistic, conceptual, procedural, etc.). While doing tasks, students' interaction with the materials used, their classmates, and with the teacher acts as the motor of this process.
The inventory of tasks includes the two types most authors divide ELT tasks into: communication tasks and learning tasks or enabling tasks. A communication task is a piece of classwork which has a structure consisting of:
• a specified working procedure, which establishes how the task is going to be carried
out. In certain cases, though, working procedures can be flexible; pupils can take different routes.
• appropriate data, materials (if necessary)
• a communicative purpose: what are we communicating and why?
• a concrete outcome, which, in certain cases, can be different for different members of the class.
On the other hand, an enabling task acts as a support for the communication task. Its purpose is to provide pupils with the necessary linguistic tools to carry out a communication task. Though it can be as meaningful as possible, its main focus is on linguistic aspects (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, functions, discourse) rather than on meaning. It is an overt language learning experience, whose aim is to enable learners to communicate as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Some of the types of classroom work that may be classified as enabling tasks are listed below. Examples are shown immediately after the list.
a) Presentation of necessary new language (functions, grammar, vocabulary, phonology, discourse features); checking that the new language has been understood, records of new language learnt kept by pupils.
b) Controlled pre-communication practice or awareness-raising tasks usually focused on accuracy:
• done immediately after presentation of new language, or as part of recycling of previously learnt language
• aimed at facilitating a specific aspect of a communication task which is to be done immediately afterwards
• improving any of the four skills
There is a great variety of types of controlled pre-communication practice or awareness- raising tasks, such as:
a) (after doing a communication task) Checking and discussion of outcome(s) and difficulties encountered, improving the linguistic quality of outcomes through correction and editing: pupils keeping records of language they have used for the task.
b) Systematization/globalization of linguistic content previously dealt with in a fragmented way (grammar, functions, vocabulary, phonology, discourse features). Like communication tasks, enabling tasks have a structure consisting of:
• a specified working procedure
• appropriate materials
• a concrete language learning purpose (learning X in order to be able to communicate Y)
• a concrete learning outcome

Final tasks are communication tasks at their highest point of communicativeness, at a level that is realistic and achievable by the pupils in a given class. They serve as indicators of the development of the learners' communicative competence. The question we can ask ourselves to help us at this stage is:
What do our pupils or other people normally do through language in everyday life in relation to the theme chosen?
An analysis of final tasks planned by foreign language teachers who have followed the framework so far has led to divide final tasks into the categories described below:
a) Final tasks in which there is a tangible end product: a series of posters, a classroom or school newspaper, or elements for a classroom or school newspaper, letters to pen friends or any other written texts, audio or video recordings produced right at the end of the unit, or at different stages within the unit. The end product is then presented/displayed and exploited in a relevant way.
b) Final tasks in which the people in the classroom interact - taking the classroom as a real social context where things happen and people have things to say to each other (role-play). The people in the classroom (teacher and pupils) deal with aspects of their own lives and experience at school and outside school, they exchange information, discuss an interesting issue, take decisions that will affect classroom or school life (decide as to what activity they want to carry out for the final course activity).
c) Final tasks in which pupils take part in a simulation or series of simulations. This is very appropriate for themes related to specific situations but also applicable to other types of themes (pupils make a reservation for a table in a restaurant, book a ticket for a flight, plan a trip and organize it in details, etc.).
The final tasks are the pivot of the unit, round which each one of the tasks to be done on preceding days will be based. That is why I have given a lot of consideration to the final tasks.

Step 7. Assessment and evaluation
In any framework for building a course, the final step should be some form of evaluation of the work which has been produced by the designers.
Essentially, in assessing the result of the designers' work two basic questions must be asked:
• Has the syllabus/set of materials produced the desired results?
• How can the syllabus/set of materials be improved?
However, the ways of assessing results and means for improving instructional plans might be very different depending on the theoretical basis of those plans themselves. Accordingly, assessment might be carried out in an informal manner, relying on subjective reactions of the participants — teacher, learners, and all others, concerned with the programme. On the other hand, assessment can be quite formal, drawing on the technical field of assessment and evaluation which exists for general curriculum instruction.
The primary focus of evaluation is to determine whether the goals and objectives or a language programme are attained - that is, whether the programme is effective. Evaluation may be concerned with how a programme works, how teachers and learners and materials interact in classrooms, and how teachers and learners perceive the programme goals, materials, and learning experiences, The information obtained from evaluation procedure (tests, assessments, observation) is used to improve educational practices rather than simply describe them.
Ultimately, formal assessment of the results of language programmes cannot avoid getting into questions about testing students' language competence.
As my programme has been built upon humanistic educational goals which favour course outcomes such as helping learners to become better language learners, then subjective measures of evaluation may be to the point.
Subjective evaluation should also be carried out by both teachers and learners. Although they would not necessarily answer the same questions, ideally they would share their views with each other. From the learners' point of view, evaluation questions might ask:
1) Has my attitude toward language learning changed in any way as a result of my experience in this course?
2) Am I more willing to try new ways of learning as a result of this class?
3) Am I more self-confident in using the target language both within and outside the classroom as a result of this class?
Evaluation is an integral part of the learning process and should therefore be planned as part of the process itself, in advance, before the unit begins to take shape in the classroom. The role of evaluation is to give teachers and students’ feedback that will determine adjustments and re-planning of the work in hand to ensure that will determine adjustments and re-planning of the work in hand to ensure that learning takes place effectively and efficiently.
Summative evaluation may be used to support decisions about the continuation or modification of the programme and typically involves the use of criterion-referenced or other achievement tests based on the programme objectives.
Formative evaluation addresses the efficiency and acceptability of the programme, and frequently involves subjective and informal data (obtained, for example, from questionnaires or observation). The process of formative evaluation comprises two types of activity: the internal assessment of what the programme is supposed to be, and the gathering and interpretation of external information during field testing.
It is the teacher's and the students' responsibility to carry out this evaluation and in order to carry it out, a variety of evaluation instruments and procedures for gathering information need to be available from the start.
Evaluation as an information gathering procedure which offers feedback in a continuous process. Teachers carry out formative evaluation (concerned with evaluation done during a given period, its aim being to provide information that contributes to the development of the work being done during that period) all through the unit. This is usually followed at the end of the unit by summative evaluation (which concentrates on the end of the period being evaluated, its focus being on learning outcomes and on what has been achieved over that period).

Appendix A
British Culture Test

1. What is the name of the most famous and possibly the most expensive shop in London?
a. Macy’s
b. Woolworth’s
c. Marks and Spencer
d. Harrods
2. Ben Nevis is …….
a. a river
b. a mountain
c. a city
d. an island
3. What is an MP?
a. a military policeman
b. a monetary police
c. a member of parliament
d. a type of postman
4. The United Kingdom is made up of:
a. England, Scotland, and Wales
b. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
c. England and Scotland
d. England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
5. What is the busiest airport?
a. Gatwick
b. Stansted
c. Heathrow
d. London City airport
6. Who is the patron saint of England?
a. St. Patrick
b. St. Andrew
c. St. David
d. St. George
7. A brolly is…..
a. an umbrella
b. a cup of tea
c. a television set
d. a type of hat
8. What is the capital of Wales?
a. Belfast
b. Cardiff
c. Swansea
d. Glasgow
9. Who normally lives at 10 Downing Street?
a. the Prime Minister
b. the Queen
c. the Prince of Wales
d. Harry Potter
10. Where are the crown jewels kept?
a. Buckingham Palace
b. Windsor Castle
c. Westminster Abbey
d. the Tower of London
11. In which town was William Shakespeare born?
a. Brighton
b. Stratford-upon-Avon
c. Oxford
d. Cambridge
12. A quid is…..
a. a cigarette
b. a cup of tea
c. Ł 1
d. cheap wine
13. Which is the oldest university in UK?
a. Edinburgh
b. St Andrews
c. Cambridge
d. Oxford
14. Plonk is….
a. cheap wine
b. expensive wine
c cheap meat
d. expensive meat
15. What is a double-decker?
a. a house
b. a hamburger
c. a bus
d. a taxi

Appendix B
Cultural Awareness Questionnaire

1. As far as your English culture and civilization knowledge is concerned, what grade would you grant yourself ( on a scale from 1 to 10)

2. Do you find any differences between English and Romanian societies?
? great differences
? moderate differences
? very few differences
? no differences at all

3. What favourite topics would you like to learn about during the English classes?
 everyday life
 habitats and homelands
 states and systems
 education
 sports and leisure
 arts
 society
 communication and technology

4. How would you prefer to learn about your favourite topics during the English classes?
 I like the teacher to explain everything to us
 I like the teacher to help me talk about my interests
 I like to learn by pictures, films and videos
 I like to learn by conversations
 I like to listen to and use cassettes
 I like to learn by watching TV and using the Internet

5. Do you find the topics mentioned above useful for you in school?
? Yes (explain how)
? No

6. Do you find the topics mentioned above useful for you in real-life situations?
? Yes (explain how)? No

Appendix C
Observation Form
Pre-observation questions:
1. In view of what you have studied during the previous English class, what would be the topic of today’s lesson in your opinion?

2. Name three things connected to the topic you have mentioned above and that you would like to learn during the today’s lesson.

3. Specify how you would like to learn them (from 1 to 5 in order of preferences)
• Through speaking exercises
• Through listening drills
• Through writing exercises
• Through grammar and vocabulary exercises
• Through teacher’s explanations

Post- observation questions (based on the „3-2-1” technique):
1. Name three things that you have learned during the English language class today:

2. Name two things/ideas that you would like to learn during the next English classes:

3. Ask one question referring to the topic you have learned in today’s lesson:

  The Value of Using Haiku in the Language Classroom. Concentration and Reflection

by Roger House, TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece

Keywords: haiku, language learning, revision, affective response

Haiku is a traditional Japanese art form closely associated with Zen that dates back at least to the fifteenth century. In essence it is a poem consisting of only seventeen syllables, although there are some variations on this. One of the acknowledged masters of the form is the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho.
Here is one of my favourite haikus by Basho, suitable to the approaching end of the academic year, which, because of the translation, is not actually seventeen syllables.

Year’s end
all corners
of this floating world

It was while working with a group of Spanish teachers in Edinburgh that I discovered the value of Haiku in both my teaching and my training sessions. Since then it has proved a great tool for concentration and reflection.
Can anything be meaningfully said in seventeen syllables ?
( Yes, there are seventeen syllables in this phrase ! )
You can use this towards the end of a course. Cut up the words and then ask your students or course participants to reassemble them. This gives them the form with which to work. Ask them to think about different aspects of the course and then express their thoughts in a seventeen syllable Haiku. They can write one for each different aspect they discussed. This works particularly well on training courses but you can also use it in many different ways with your classes. It really helps learners to focus.

Vocabulary revision
Select a few items of vocabulary from a lesson or a course book unit that you want learners to be able to use productively. The optimum number of items is six so that they can write two Haiku utilising three items in each.

Structure revision
If you have been working on, let’s say present perfect, you can get your learners to write short Haiku using only this structure. It can also work with comparatives, superlatives, going to, modal verbs, some and any, too and enough etc.
It may also be possible to combine it with vocabulary revision as above.

Affective responses
• Monday morning / Friday afternoon
Learners can write Haiku expressing their feelings about these two times of the week.
Make sure you do the activity at those times!

• Course book units – bits I liked / bits I didn’t like
Learners can write a Haiku for each.

• Musical Haiku
Play some music in class. It can be any music, not necessarily in English. Learners can even bring their own choice of music if they want. They then write a Haiku for each piece of music. You can input vocabulary too if you wish.

The possibilities are almost endless. The only thing to remember is the seventeen syllables.
Here’s a re-phrase of Basho in seventeen syllables to start off with:-

Idea’s end
all notes
on this ill-tuned instrument
finally played .

This link may also provide some ideas:- http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Haiku-Poem

If you do try any of these ideas with your classes, I’d be interested in the result.
You can contact me at:-


 Woman Writing and Translation. Similarities between Feminine Writing and Translation, Women and Translators

by Oana-Elena Andone, Waldorf Highschool of Iaşi

Key words: translation studies, sociolinguistics, discourse, feminism

Translation has been the topic of many works throughout history. Cicero’s and Horace’s writings from the first century BC and St Jerome’s from the fourth century AD have been the most important “theoretical” approaches to translation until the twentieth century. Their concern is mainly the distinction between word-for-word and sense-for-sense translation. In Roman times, word-for-word meant simply replacing every word in the source text with the closest grammatical equivalent in the target language, whereas sense-for-sense translates the content of the source text into the content of the target text. Until the twentieth century, translation was the transfer of form or meaning from one language into another. The word-for-word versus sense-for-sense dilemma was recurrent for hundreds of years in other terms, such as literal versus free, fidelity versus truth. All these approaches treated translation as a more or less mechanical operation, in isolation from social, historical and cultural influences. The translator in this view would be anybody who can read and make sense of a text. It is only in the twentieth century that sex related differences in speech and writing are viewed as essential in translation.
A society’s attitudes are revealed in its vocabulary and speaking practices. Linguists generally agree that all languages are mutually translatable and that what can be said in one language can be said in any other somehow. All languages are so constructed that new thoughts can be expressed in them. Certainly, it is easier to express some ideas in one language rather than another. This is because the vocabulary of every language develops partly according to the priorities of its culture. The objects, activities, relationships and ideas important in one culture are encoded into words. This is relevant for translation since, although all languages can partially say the same thing, the way they say it is considerably different. Each language carves up the universe of all things which can possibly be said differently. Even when two words mean the same thing in two different languages, the semantic load of these words differs. And for humans reality is filtered via some linguistic code because the words we use for concepts help form our ideologies, attitudes and behaviour.
Furthermore, attitudes towards women are clearly revealed in English vocabulary and confirmed by differences in male/ female speaking practices. Sociolinguistics has studied sex related differences in speech and identified the Gender pattern, i.e. sociolinguistic variables used preferably by men or by women. Research has shown that the gender pattern is not as consistent in practice as in theory. Sometimes differences by sex are slight, but they exist and a considerable amount of evidence has been gathered to prove they do.
According to Ralph Fasold, there are ways of speaking which men use to emphasise their masculinity and other forms women use to symbolize femininity and this is more basic than social class. Men’s speech became associated with lower social status because men use vernacular speech as a subtle way of endorsing the traditional values that have them in firmer control of everyday life than women are. Women’s speech has been associated with higher social status because by sounding less local they subtly protest against traditional community norms which place them in a subordinate position to men and act in favour of a more egalitarian social order.
Robin Lakoff notices that woman’s language (both used to describe women and language used by women) has the overall effect of submerging a woman’s personal identity. Women are denied the means of expressing themselves strongly, encouraged to use expressions that suggest triviality and to use forms that express uncertainty concerning what they are talking about. Furthermore, she states that socialization is the means by which male- female differences in language occur. The differences are internalised and translated into behaviour producing properly dominant men and submissive women. ‘’If she refuses to talk like a lady, she is ridiculed and subjected to criticism as unfeminine; if she does learn, she is ridiculed as unable to think clearly and to take part in serious discussion (Robin Lakkof, cited in ed. Deborah Cameron, 1990: 222). Socialization is a very powerful framework around what we do for the rest of our lives. We tend to form our concept of the world as well as our own place in it very early in life, and to change that concept of the world is a threatening prospect for most people.
In addition, the awareness of sex-related differences in translation poses questions about the links between social stereotypes and linguistic forms, about the way any human mind works with and within language. The human mind addresses not reality, but a model of reality it constructs. Instead of taking for granted that everyone has the same reality, now there has appeared the problem of how different peoples’ models of reality may converge or diverge. There is not just one reality, but a built model of it that both controls and is controlled by the mind. The most decisive means for assisting the mutual control between mind and reality is discourse. Some authorities have suggested that we cannot think outside language and that every thought is shaped by means of language. It is true that one cannot have a thought before it is formulated through language, but the control which can be exerted by discourse is more active, more deliberate and more detailed.
Women’s discourse is considered double, unifying the self and the other in one. It is made up according to feminist theorists by echoes and reflections of the ”One ” in the other. The ”One” has traditionally been identified with man, whereas the other, woman, has been defined as the mirror, the reflection of which completes the male figure. Women’s discourse is therefore the discourse of a marginalized group. This marginal position in the system results in the double or plural perspectives on events. As Sandra Harding puts it ( in a lecture at OISE in February 1983, cited in Ed. Andre Lefevere and Susan Bassnett, 1990), ”women’s discourse is characterised by the view from bellow which is lateral as well as hierarchical, in opposition to the dominant discourse which knows only its own meaning”.
In the context of the multiplicity of women’s discourse translation has long served figuratively to describe what women do when they enter the public sphere. They translate their private, marginal language, their specifically female forms of discourse developed as a result of gendered exclusion into some form of patriarchal code. Women’s writing is a process of negotiation between the public sphere and the personal sphere, between what is permitted and what is not allowed, between their beliefs and the beliefs of society.
Consequently, women have tried to find a new language and new literary forms that would reflect and respond to their realities. They began to criticise and change existing language so that it might be rendered useful rather than oppressive for women. Most feminists viewed language as an instrument of oppression which needs to be reformed or, if possible, completely replaced by a new more feminine language. Thus they started attacking language itself rather than the messages carried by language. Writers tried out new words, new spellings and new grammatical structures in an attempt to get beyond the conventions of patriarchal language that determine what women can think and can write to a large extent. The theory is that the language women have at their disposal will influence their creativity and affect their ability to think in revolutionary terms. The deconstruction of individual words, syntax and other formal elements has been an important aspect of experimental feminist writing.
A woman writer in a patriarchal culture has to develop strategies against the internalisation of the oppressive ideologies around her. She will experience the conflict between her desire and what she has been taught is right. The woman must try and accommodate both desire and the ideology that denies it. The contradictions, tensions and so called inconsistencies of logic in their texts reveal how women tried to reconcile or not to reconcile the values they internalised and those they contested. Pressure or anxiety about social obstacles can work at the psychological level at the time of composition, and this may manifest itself in the style. Tina Krontiris points out that “the sense of being a female doing something transgressive may affect what a woman will write and what she will stop short of”(Tina Krontiris 1992: 26). This notion of composition is compatible with the concept of texts as places of negotiation and contestation of meaning. Women’s writing is therefore a constant negotiation of meaning. This is yet another similarity between women and translators and another stimulus pushing women towards translation. Women’s writing is translation to the same extent that translation is negotiation of meaning.
Translation reveals the role of language in social life. Translation is a process of negotiation between producers and receivers of texts. In other words the resulted translated text is to be seen as evidence of a transaction. It is a transaction of the same nature as that involved in female writing. Translators act under the same pressure of their own social conditioning as women. They create a new act of communication out of a previously existing one, therefore they try to help in the negotiation of meaning between the producer of the source language text and the reader of the target language text who exist in their own, different social frameworks.

1. Bassnett, Susan and Andre Lefevere–Translation, History and Culture, London and New York: Printer Publishers, 1990
2. Cameron, Deborah (ed) –The Feminist Critique of Language, London: Routledge, 1990
3. De Beauvoir, Simone–Le deuxieme sexe, Paris: Gallimard, 1953
4. Fasold, Ralph–Sociolinguistics of Language, Oxford: Blackwell, 1990
5. Krontiris, Tina–Oppositional Voices. Women as Writers and Translators of Literature in the English Renaissance, London and New York: Routledge, 1992
6. Lakoff, Robin–Language and Woman’s Place, New York: New York Harper, 1975
7. Munday, Jeremy–Introducing Translation Studies, London and New York: Routledge, 2001

 Yasemin Bayyurt’s “Non-native English Language Teachers’ Perspective on Culture in English as a Foreign Language Classrooms”. A Review

by Nazli Demirbas, INGED (Turkey) IATEFL Liaison Officer


As the number of non-native English speakers as a second or foreign language outweigh the number of native speakers of English, it has become essential for English language teachers to develop their learners’ intercultural communicative competence (Alptekin, 2002). This is necessary in a global world where English is the lingua franca to provide teachers with the skills and the knowledge so that they can deal with issues related to the use of English in local and international contexts. In this respect, the term culture is defined to be the system of shared beliefs, values, customs and behaviors that the members of society use to communicate with each other and that transformed from generation to generation (Bates & Plog, 1991). In ELT world, there are two main views on the inclusion of culture in EFL classes. The first group supports the culture free classes in order to protect their own culture, while the latter protects the idea that language and culture are united; thus, presentation of the target culture should be an indispensible part of the FL teaching.
Therefore, the author intends to understand how a group of EFL teachers define ‘culture’ in general and in relation to their ELT practices and to learn whether they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses in delivering cultural information to their learners in their classes as non-native English teachers. Accordingly, two research questions have come out;

1. How do a group of Turkish teachers of English define the concept of ‘culture’ in the EFL context?
2. What do they think about the incorporation of culture into their EFL classes?
3. How do they position themselves within the profession of ELT?



The participants of this study consist of twelve non-native English-speaking teachers, 10 of whom are female and 2 of whom are male. Their age range is between 21 and 38. Seven of them are from Anatolian high schools but five of them are from private schools. Their learners vary from beginners to upper-intermediate and their teaching experience differs from 5 to 12 years.

A semi-structure interview was designed to gather their views on;
a) the concept of ‘culture’,
b) the content and context of cultural information in the EFL classes, and
c) the strengths and weaknesses of non-native English teachers.

A thematic analysis based on the research questions was made by generating categories and themes from the answers of the respondents. Teachers’ independent variables such as age, gender, nationality and years of experience were not taken into consideration since the interview aimed to be exploratory and descriptive. In the data analysis, the following themes and sub-themes were identified;
1. the teachers’ concept of culture,
2. cultural information in the EFL classes;
- content of cultural information
- reasons for presenting cultural information
- reasons for omitting cultural information
3. the role of non-native educators in presenting cultural information.

Discussion and Conclusion

The participant teachers could see the relation between language teaching and culture, and maintain their views with respect to their own experience in ELT. They claim that language and culture are inseparable. Their answers reveal that in a way or so they deal with either the target culture or their own culture in their classes although they do not focus on target language culture and international cultures equally. A successful non-native English speaking teacher model helps learners to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers in the language learning process, which means that they believe in the necessity of teaching cultural information in EFL classes. According to them, the content of cultural information is everything related to everyday lives of people. Moreover, there are controversial perspectives as to whether cultural information should be presented in classes or not. Some claim that it is necessary for a fuller understanding of true meanings in a culture, whereas some defend the idea that local cultural information should be presented only as it makes learning more meaningful and easily available. Teachers in general are all aware of their importance and also they think that native English teachers were needed to help learners in pronunciation and communication. To put in a nutshell, the researcher believes in the fact that non-native teachers and native teachers who are trained appropriately and competently are necessary in ELT so that they can address the cultural and linguistic needs of language learners of all age groups and levels.


Bayyurt, Y. (2006). Non‐native English language teachers’ perspective on culture in English as a Foreign Language classrooms. Teacher Development: An international journal of teachers' professional development, 10(2), 233-247. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13664530600773366



 TEFL Tips. Five Useful Activities in the Classroom

by Monica Borş, Liceul Tehnologic de Electronică şi Automatizări “Caius Iacob”, Arad

Keywords: activities, beginners, upper intermediate, advanced, vocabulary

At the beginning of my career I was interested in the role of ice-breakers, warm-ups, and energizers in the class. I spent my free time planning and over planning materials for students, and my breaks at school photocopying and over photocopying other materials. And all that time I had a feeling that all that photocopying was a totally waste of time, as most of the sheets of paper ended in the waste bin at the end of the class.
I started to pity myself as a teacher and tended to regard myself as a slave to the photocopying machine, not to mention those poor students forced to fill in paper after paper. At that time, I thought that was it. And I kept thinking like that for a while until I had a revelation during a workshop. There was another possibility. A teacher can go to class without books, textbooks, or without photocopied materials and teach. I wish I had known sooner; I wish I had had the confidence to put them into practice earlier.

Therefore I would like to share five useful activities in the classroom, which have been used on me at different trainings and workshops and which at my turn I have used them very successfully on my students, slightly changed, or adapted according to the needs of the students and the purpose of the lesson.

1. Merry Go Round
I’m not sure about the real title of this activity, or where I heard it first, but I’ve been using it on a regular basis with my students. The activity is useful especially at the beginning of a school year with new students, but it can also be used with regular students at the beginning of the school year or term.
The activity usually starts with the teacher telling the class his/her name, the animal he/she is and the country he/she lives.
I usually start by saying “My name is Monica, I am a kangaroo, I live in Australia”, then the activity moves to the first student, who before he/she presents him/herself has to present the teacher, so the first student will say “She is Monica, she is a kangaroo, she lives in Australia” and continues with “I am…, I am…, I live in…”
The second student will present the teacher and the first student before presenting him/herself and so on.
When the activity reaches the last student, he/she will present the teacher, his/her colleagues and after that presents him/herself. The activity moves from one student to another like a merry go round and ends with the teacher who will have to present him/herself and all the students of the class by name, by animal they’ve chosen to be and by the place they live.
It sounds a bit difficult in the beginning, but once the activity has started, it becomes very engaging and entertaining. The students will love it with a slight possibility that the first students might get bored, especially if there are many students in the class, but you can always ask them to help those with short-term memory so that they can still feel that they are part of the activity.

2. What about you?
“What about you?” is another engaging activity that can be used at any moment in the lesson. This activity can be very useful if you want that all the students to take part in the activity.
The activity consists in having the students answering a question and in their turn asking their colleagues the same question by addressing the words “What about…(the name of the person).
As in the previous activity, this one starts as well with the teacher. Let’s take for example the question “How do you travel to school every day?”. I usually answer the question and name a student. “I go to school everyday on foot. What about Andrei?”, Andrei will answer the question and he will ask one of his colleagues the same question by naming his colleague. For example “I go to school by bike. What about Flavius?”.
We have to supervise and make sure that all the students have been named and have taken part in the activity. This example is very suitable when learning the means or forms of transportations, by illustrating the common mistakes students make. The most common mistake is using with instead of by.
There are many variations and many teachers can come with new and new ideas to this activity. For example, it can be used to an upper level when describing personality characteristics or traits.
Let’s say the teacher, as the teacher always starts, as he/ she acts as an example “I hate waiting. I am impatient. What about Răzvan?” and Răzvan will continue the activity “I don’t like to share things. I am selfish. What about Mark?” and so on till every student has made a short characterization of his/her personality. Again, make sure everyone is involved and everyone has taken part in it.

3. Forming Words
I actually came up with this activity on my own and to my dissapointment, this activity has been widely used in classes by various teachers. By chance I discovered that this activity is common usage in Gaelic classes by English teachers who teach Gaelic.
The activity is very similar to the Romanian „Fazan” but while in Romanian we form the next word from the last two letters of the first word, in English we form new words from the last letter of the word.
Usually this activity is done at different levels in writing so as not to use the same word twice. The activity starts with the teacher asking randomly a student to say a word in English.
Let’s say the student says robot, then the teacher writes robot on the blackboard and underlines the last letter T and asks the students in the first row of desks to come up with a word in English beginning with letter t, let’s say train and so on.
It is important both for this activity Forming Words and for Merry Go Round that the students answer one by one in the order of their placement in the desks, and only at the activity “What about you? “ the students are picked randomly.
This is a very short version of the activity. It can be made more complex if we want to stress certain parts of speech like nouns, adjectives, verbs or if we are interested in fixing vocabulary we will form words belonging to the vocabulary related to let’s say house. The teacher writes House on the blackboard as we are going to elaborate on the vocabulary connected with house and begins with table, writes table on the blackboard, and asks the first student to say a word begin with e, let’s say the student says electrical fireplace and so on.

4. The cat in the hat
I really don’t know where the name of this activity comes from, or whether this is the real name of the activity, but it is a very useful activity. As all the previous activities it can be done to all levels from beginners to advanced students.
Usually students are asked to write a word in English on a piece of paper. The teacher must make it clear that the word has to be a concrete noun to make the activity easier and abstract words to be avoided, especially at the beginner level. All the pieces of paper are put into a hat, or a container, are mixed and students take turns in drawing one of the pieces of paper from the hat.
When it is applied to beginners due to the short list of words in their vocabulary the students will tend to mime the words, for example, if on the piece of paper is written the word “cat”, the student who has drawn the piece of paper, instead of saying “It is an animal, it catches mice”, the student will utter a meaw, at which all the students will cry “cat!!!”.
The activity can be particularized according to what wants to be learnt or stressed. For example at the upper intermediate level we learn about personality characteristics, and we write all the personality characteristics we have learnt on pieces of paper such as reliable, clever, lazy, neat.
Then students take turn to extract a piece of paper from the hat and give a definition to the word written on the piece of paper. Let’s say “if she sees something she likes, she will buy it, without even think if she needs it or not” and the class will give the correct answer or even ask for more details or if such the case ask for clarification. In the case of our example the answer is “impulsive”.

5. If I were a building…
This activity is one of my favourites as it requires some artistic skills, imagination and self-expression. The activity can be used at the beginning of the school year with the new students, or during the school year. It is usually used as a means of turning the English language into a tool of self- expression leading to self-confidence. As the title suggests it, this activity requires the correct usage of the second conditional, therefore the students should be familiarized with the drill “If I were…, I would…”. I use this activity in my classes mostly as a means of enhancing the students’ self-expression, but it can be used specifically for the grammar pattern.
I start the activity by telling them that we would talk about ourselves and ask them to fill in the following statement “If I were a building, what building would I be?” Then I ask them to draw the building they would be, if they were one.
As all the other activities, this activity starts with the teacher giving an example. I draw a house on the blackboard with lots of details door, windows, curtains, ivy, attic and a chimney. At this point all the students will pay attention to the details of the house drawn on the blackboard. Then I start the activity by explaining “If I were a building, I would be a house. I would have an open door because I am friendly and I like to have friends coming over. I would have ivy on the house because I like nature. I would have curtains at the windows because I am curious and I can hide behind the curtains and spy outside and so on and so forth. Each detail of the building has to be an analogy to the personality traits of the student.
The teacher can also draw a block of flats, or a skyscraper and say “If I were a building I would be a skyscraper. I would have lots of apartments because I am sociable and I like making new friends. I would have a steel structure because I am a strong person” and so on and so forth.
It’s a very enjoyable and fun activity and the students will come up with lots of beautiful drawings and ideas.

I hope you will find these five useful activities in the classroom useful indeed and good luck putting them into practice.


Judith Baker & Mario Rinvolucri, Unlocking Self-expression through NLP, Delta Publishing, 2005
Peter Watkins, Learning to Teach English, Delta Publishing, 2005
***, Dimensiuni europene moderne în predarea-învăţarea limbii engleze, POSDRU/87/1.3/S/62665

 Page McBrier's "Beatrice’s Goat". How We Can Change Our Lives for the Better

by Irina Oltica Creţu, “Ion Creangă” Secondary School in Botoşani & Simona Petruc Crihan, “Alexandru Iona Cuza” Secondary School in Podu-Iloaiei, Iaşi

Key words: school, money, family, goat and milk

This is a book review. "Beatrice’s Goat" is based on the true story written by Page McBrier in 2001, illustrated by Lori Lohntoeter, with an afterword by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Beatrice was a nine-year-old girl who lived in a small African village in the hills of western Uganda. She lived in a mud house with a steel roof with her mother and five younger brothers and sisters. They were very poor. The house they lived in was new, just like any other new things lately to Beatrice and her family. One of these things was a goat named Mugisa. Mugisa means “luck” in their language and indeed it brought good luck to the girl and her family.
But, let us continue the story! Beatrice loved everything about Mugisa- her coarse brown-and-white coat, her chin, her gentle teases with her horns. Before Mugisa came into this family, Beatrice helped her mother every day- she hoed and planted in the fields, took care of her siblings, tended the chickens and ground the special sort of flour that they sold in market.
Sometimes, when she was tending a baby, Beatrice would stop by the schoolhouse. Beatrice would stand quietly off to one side, observing the students and pretending she was a student, too. How she longed to go to school, but in her country poor children couldn’t study, because they had no money to afford to buy the books and the uniforms. She wanted desperately to sit on the benches and to write something on a chalkboard. She heard herself sighing: “I’ll never be able to go to school. We will never save enough money”.
One day, when Beatrice was in the field, her mother came and told her the good news- their family was on the 12 list- family to receive a goat for free. Beatrice was puzzled. She didn’t understand what kind of gift that goat was. But, thanks to Heifer Project International, that is a charitable organization that donates livestock to poor communities around the world, many other poor families like this one will receive animals having the opportunity to change their lives completely.
The days went on, Beatrice was working harder and harder, helping her mother collecting the posts, planting bands of grass along the field and finally, the goat arrived.
At first Beatrice stood shyly, then she stepped forward and knelt close. The girl named the goat Mugisa and the name was not accidentally given to it, because in two weeks time the she-goat gave birth to two baby goats. Beatrice called them Mulindwa- which means “expected” and Kihhembo- which means “surprise”.
Each day Beatrice made sure that Mugisa got extra grass and water because it helped her produce a lot of milk. She gave goat’s milk to the kids, to keep the all much healthier. Later Beatrice sold milk:”Open for business”, she would say, in case anyone was listening. Often she would spy her friend Buname. He would say: “ Hallo all!” Then he would hand Beatrice a pail and she would tuck the money into a small woven purse.
Day after day, week after week Beatrice watched the purse get fuller. Soon she had enough money for a new shirt for her brother and a warm blanket for the bed of her sister and her.
One day when she returned from collecting water she noticed that her mother was counting the money in her purse.”Mama! What is it?” she asked. “What’s wrong?” she said. Her mother replied:” I think you may have saved just enough money to pay for school.” Beatrice gasped in disbelief: ”But what about all the other things we need?” “First things first”, Mama said. Beatrice threw her arms around her mother’s neck and thanked her. Then she ran and hugged Mugisa tight.
Then, soon afterwards Beatrice started school. She thought about all the good things Mugisa had brought. On a certain day on her way to school, Buname eyed Beatrice’s new uniformed and sighed: “You are so lucky. I wish I could go to school!” Beatrice replied: “Your family is next in the line to receive a goat.” Buname enjoyed it.
In the end Beatrice kissed Mugisa’s nose and off she went to school.

We decided to write a review of this book, because we were deeply touched of the girl’s desire to go to school and study. We are sure that very few students in Romania, who are as poor as our protagonist make such huge compromises just for the sake of learning. Some prefer to abandon school because of poverty, some because they want to earn money and some because they think school makes them bored. For each and every one of these reasons we must reflect on Beatrice’s story, understand her enormous sacrifices and her mother’s encouragement for her to go to school and postpone the other priorities in their family for later.
Studying defines us as human beings. We would be nothing without school.
Beatrice Biira graduated from Connecticut College in 2008 and selling the book helped the Heifer International Company support many more children like Beatrice.
If you enjoyed reading this book review you can find it an Amazon.com. It costs $6.86 and the shipping is free.



 Reflections on Effectiveness. From Books to the Intangible ‘Out There’

by Gianina Roman
“Al. I. Cuza” High School, Iasi

Keywords: effectiveness, relevance, transferability, task.

One of the major concerns of successful teaching is the effectiveness of the learning process that basically comprises two aspects: the acquisition of language structures and functions and the transfer of the acquired language onto real-life situations. While there are several factors that contribute to achieving this, three main principles should never be overlooked when designing a learning process: relevance, transferability or applicability and task orientation (Morley, 2002, p.7). Teachers need to reflect on the relevance of the chosen materials and activities to the learner’s cultural and conceptual universe so as to engage the student in the learning process, on what the learner is able to do with the intake of a lesson outside the classroom so as to activate it, to function as autonomous learners, but also focus on tasks rather than content or theme so as to sustain the use of language outside the classroom.
To begin with, relevance is an important issue to consider, a determining factor.According to Morley, both the content and “the outcome (i.e., the nature of the use of the information) need to be as relevant as possible to the learner” (2002, p.7) since both engage students in the learning process. Discussing the similarities between the language learners outside schools and those from the classroom, Jeremy Harmer (1998) asserted that the latter “will need to be motivated, be exposed to language and given chances to use it” (p. 25). Therefore, getting the students’ interest, involving them in the learning process, encouraging them to participate and take responsibility for their learning should be a primary concern. So, one fundamental question arises during every lesson I teach, with every step I take into and out of a classroom: am I effectively piquing my students’ curiosity to drive them ever deeper into content? Sometimes the answer is yes, other times no! Maryellen Weimer (2002) once gave a very prosaic, but also realistic description of who our students are or are going to be and I was impressed with how much her students resemble mine: “Many students lack confidence in themselves as learners and do not make responsible learning decisions. Significant percentages of today’s college students have serious personal issues and experience emotional distress, characteristics well substantiated in data” (95-96). Keeping in mind relevance and the groups I teach, I think that there are several aspects to consider here: the content of the learning task, its design and its outcome, all leading to motivation. In other words, if the content is engaging, if the employed strategies are stirring and the outcomes effective, having some quantifiable success, then we can draw the line and decide that the effectiveness goal has been reached. Some time ago, I had a lesson about health issues – how can I make “health” an engaging topic for 17 year old students, mostly girls, the distressed, personal issues type mentioned above, on the brink of graduation? Let’s have a warm up activity to arouse curiosity! An interview with Portia de Rossi in Oprah’s show in which she talked about bulimia did the trick! Devising a listening task for instance into the three stages, pre-listening, while listening and post-listening, as outlined, for instance by Miller (2003) or Davies (2008, p. 77 – 78), is an effective way of developing the skill in question. Stimulating pre-listening activities, like guessing questions, weird photos or even role play arouse my high school students’ interest in the upcoming listening tasks. In short, adequate approach to a topic and thorough planning or sequencing of an activity would have great results. Responding to the affective and cognitive needs of our learners enhances the amount of the intake of our students.
Secondly, there is the principle of transferability which is both internal and external (Morley, 2002, p. 7). In other words, the content of a lesson should be liable to use both in classes and outside school. According to Stern, “the transfer goals involve learning how to learn so
that one can call upon learning skills gained in one situation to meet future learning challenges” (cited in Graves, 2001, p. 182). That could be achieved by using realia as well as appropriate tasks. Since natural acquisition can be difficult to set up in the classroom, we can only imitate real life situations, by using relevant contexts and tasks. Designing activities meant to activate the language beyond the learning situation is again a way of motivating students. As Harmer (1998) asserted, the objective for the students is “to use all and any language which may be appropriate for a given situation or topic” (p. 26). It is important for the teacher to offer a context for use of such elements so as the learners would also contextualize them. Interviews, news broadcast, talk shows are rich sources of contexts, reflecting real life For instance, a commercial in which one of the protagonist was a salesperson trying to get phone order through was an interesting listening text because the students were supposed to analyse the verbal and paraverbal means of persuasion that were used and then they had to carry out a similar task, to persuade each other to buy a product. Such using authentic material is a means of overcoming the artificiality of the classroom. Therefore, our success also depends on conceiving our lessons as previews or, to use Harmer’s term, “rehearsal” (p. 26) for the real world” as “learners are also striving to mean” (Shehadeh, 2005, p. 13)
However, the transferability principle cannot be conceived without that of the task orientation. The paramount importance and advantages of task-based learning have been repeatedly emphasized, being central to successful learning. Nunan discusses the communicative task as “a piece of classroom work which involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is principally focused on meaning, rather than form” (in Willis and Willis, 2001, p. 173). Peter Skehan conceives the task as “an activity in which: meaning is primary, there is some communication problem to solve, there is some sort of relationship to comparable real-world activities, task completion has some priority and the assessment is in terms of outcomes.” (cited in Brown, 2007, p. 50). In other words, since a task always involves a context, not only does it imply a focus on meaning and language function rather than language structures, but it also mirrors real-life situations in which meaning is usually negotiated and people are expected to solve one situation or another. Further, the notion of task has been connected to that of the “outcome”. Thus, Willis (2001) points out that, in a communicative task, language is “seen as bringing about an outcome through the exchange of meanings” (p.173). For instance, the outcome of a task could be an exchange of information or a physical / emotional reaction. In the above-mentioned example related to the phone commercial, my tenth graders had to perform a more complex task – the analysis of the persuasion strategies used by the salesperson – which is what Morley calls “language analysis task” (p. 78) – and to make up their own commercial – “language use task” (Morley, 77). The great advantages of learning tasks is that learners are able to use any language to achieve it – which is what we normally do in real life, isn’t it? On the other hand, we should not assume that everything that occurs in classroom mirrors real-life. Rather, we should agree with Brown’s taxonomy of tasks: target tasks (the use of the target language in the real world) and pedagogical tasks or classroom activities (p. 243), the latter having some degree of artificiality. All in all, via realistic tasks, we can create conditions conducive to durable, effective learning.
To sum up, to encourage students’ successful language acquisition, teachers need to ponder about three main principles: relevance, transferability and task orientation. Relevance should be achieved both in terms of content and outcome, determining interest, motivation on the part of the learner. Motivated, responsible learners are the type of learners who are able to transfer their knowledge of language outside the classroom, transfer for which they are prepared by the task-oriented teaching. After all, effective teaching means bridging the gap between the classroom and the real world while enabling the students to take those steps to actual use of language without which knowledge is meaningless.


1. Brown, Douglas H. (2001). Teaching by Principles. An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy (2nd ed.). Longman.
2. Davies, P. (2008). Success in English Teaching. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from ELC 688 Blackboard course: http://blackboard.umbc.edu.
3. Graves, Kathleen (2001). A Framework of Course Development Process. In Innovation in English Language Teaching. Teaching English Language Worldwide, R. David, A. Hewings (ed.) Rutledge, New York.
4. Harmer, Jeremy (1998). How to Teach English. Longman.
5. Miller, Lindsay (2003). Developing Listening Skills with Authentic Materials, ELC 689: English as a Foreign Language Assessment Continuing and Professional Studies, UMBC. Retrieved from ELC 688 Blackboard course: http://blackboard.umbc.edu
6. Morley, J (2002). Aural Comprehension Instruction: Principles and Practices. In M. Celce Murcia. Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Longman. Retrieved from ELC 688 Blackboard course: http://blackboard.umbc.edu.
7. Willis, Dave, Willis, Jane (2001) Task-based language learning. In Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language, D. Nunan, R. Carter (eds.), Cambridge University Press.
8. Shehadeh, Ali (2005). Task-based Language Learning and Teaching: Theories and Applications. In Teachers Exploring Tasks in English Language Teaching, Corony Edwards and Jane Willis (ed.), New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
9. Weimer, Maryellen (2002): Learner-Centered Teaching. Five Key Changes to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


 Teacher Cooperation in the Light of Teacher Development

by Katarina Ristanović, ELTA Serbia Vice President

Keywords: teacher development, cooperation, observations, raising awareness, safe teaching environment

‘’Training is what other people do to you. Developing is what you do to yourself.’’
If we are to rely on this quote (Julian Edge,2002) referring to life-long teacher development, we may conclude it is something we engage in on our own. Indeed, some teachers may argue that they would rather tackle this issue individually, others may be depending on the institutions they work in to support their professional development. Just as students have different learning styles, teachers have different approaches to their own professional growth. In dealing with practical aspects of teacher development Duncan Foord (Foord, D The Developing Teacher Practical activities for professional development 2009: 14) suggests a model of five concentric circles of development entitled: 1.You 2.You and your students 3.You and your colleagues 4. You and your school and 5.You and your profession, allowing the opportunities for individual and collective approach. These circles include different activities you can engage in on your own or with other colleagues. In this way Foord’s model caters for different needs of development teachers may have and suits the individualists as well as team workers. From this point on we will be discussing the potentials of the activities you can engage in with your colleagues in two different places: the classroom and the staff room.
Cooperation in the classroom
According to Freeman (1989) there are 4 areas we need to change to be able to develop:
knowledge, attitude, skills and awareness.
The last one means the ability to notice what is happening in the classroom while you’re teaching the lesson. One of the ways you can help your awareness develop is to be observed by your colleague. If you and a colleague are to engage in this kind of cooperation you should both mind the traps that this kind of enterprise may include, such as: being too critical and not being able to communicate your ideas clearly. If you wish to be observed, it helps if you choose a specific area you would like to improve and ask your colleague to focus on it ( e.g. the way you move around the classroom, how you use the blackboard, the way you monitor group work/correct students/give instructions, etc.).The feedback the observee gets should be descriptive rather than prescriptive.
The purpose of your colleague’s visit can just be an opportunity for your students to have a chat with someone else other than their teacher and peers. Having a guest visitor can be turned into a press conference or a mini speech that a visitor can give on any topic students find interesting. What’s more, your guest can become one of the students who will actively participate in all the activities during the class. The feedback conversation with the teacher-student will certainly help you develop the awareness of what’s going on in the classroom.
The most challenging, but at the same time the most interesting idea to collaborate with your colleague is to teach a class together. Some may even find this way of teaching relaxing as the roles will be split between you and your partner so your partner can participate in the activity with the students while you monitor the students’ work. It is suitable for large classes and is applicable when setting up a pair/group activity (you demonstrate the activity with your fellow colleague before the students start doing it). This can be a class your students will appreciate very much as it brings a novelty into daily teaching practice.

Cooperation in the staffroom

Staffroom is often seen as a place of ‘’moaning and groaning’’ where no other words but those of complaining are exchanged although it doesn’t have to be this way. Working together we normally share ideas, lesson plans, teaching tips. English teachers can set-up their own share board in the staffroom for posting these, so that they are available for more people all the time. Share-board can also be a place for posting interesting recipes, pictures taken on holiday, newspaper clippings establishing this way safe and warm teaching environment. For this purpose you can use online space and create a teaching Facebook group or a blog. Needless to say, the effects of these changes will be felt by your students, too.
To conclude, there are numerous cooperation activities that may take place at school or elsewhere, those including students and those that don’t. To me, the most valuable are the ones that help teachers become self-confident professionals whose cooperation and development is of the kind students can most benefit from.

Foord,D The Developing Teacher, Practical activities for professional development DELTA PUBLISHING 2009
Freeman, D. (1989). Teacher training, development, and decision making: A model of teaching and related strategies for language teacher education. TESOL Quarterly, 23, 27-45.

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Katarina Ristanović graduated from the Faculty of Philology, Belgrade, in 2000 and has been working in Grammar school Takovski ustanak, Gornji Milanovac, Serbia ever since. As SITT trainer she has been involved in Towards Better Understanding project as a teacher trainer. In 2010 she became a member of ELTA Board and is the current ELTA International Coordinator and ELTA Vice President. Her interests include teacher development and CLIL.



 My Scottish Experience. Something Special for Everyone

by Raluca Sârghie, Dr. I. Meşotă College, Braşov

Keywords: IATEFL, Glasgow conference, scholarship, presentations, plenary, the evening events

Scotland attracts millions of visitors every year. They come for various reasons: shopping, nightlife or the chance to visit landmarks like the Royal Yacht Britannia or the Scottish castles and distilleries. In March 2012, the number of visitors included 2,313 ELT professionals from 116 countries who made their way to Glasgow for a different reason: the 46th Annual International Conference of English teachers.
The conference
First of all, it was a conference of superlatives. It was simply the best and the most enjoyable way to connect with fellow-teachers, researchers, writers and other professionals from around the globe. On offer were five days jam-packed with 581 sessions given by 649 presenters and four plenary talks which gave us new insights into contemporary teaching, learning and management issues.
I must also mention here that for financial reasons I could not have afforded to take part in this conference. Therefore, I applied for one of the 33 scholarships awarded in 2012. When I applied, I had no idea of the startling number of scholarship applicants. My sponsors, Cambridge ESOL, had one of the highest numbers of applications; they had to deal with a total of 332 applications for their five scholarships. The winners were due to be announced at the beginning of October, at the latest, and no news was available until the end of November. This delay made me sure that I was unsuccessful. Fortunately, time proved that I was wrong and my essay: “It’s all Greek to me. The Importance of Mastering English Idioms at C1 and C2 levels” brought me to Scotland. In the essay I examined the reasons why idioms are so important in the teaching of English as a foreign language. I also noted how the use of idioms makes spoken English sound more natural, and pointed out that even the most able student can find English conversation between native speakers difficult to follow if they do not understand a range of idioms, as their use is so common. Furthermore, not only did the essay discuss the advantages of teaching idioms but it also pointed out some of the pitfalls that teachers should avoid.
I have to thank these generous sponsors who made it possible for me to attend the conference. But above all, I cannot help admiring the fact that they offered the chance of attending this international event to teachers from remote or developing countries such as Nepal, Nigeria or India who could otherwise never have afforded it. This support cannot be ignored.
The event had a huge impact on my professional work and development as I acquired useful tips and practices for creative and innovative teaching. Meeting experts and leading theorists such as Jeremy Harmer, James E. Zull, Adrian Underhill (to name but a few) as well as sharing and exchanging valuable ideas with fellow professionals was a real bonus for me.
On Monday, the first day of the conference, there were a number of PCEs (pre-conference events) organised by the various SIGs (Special Interest Groups). I attended the Research SIG and the topic of the workshop was: “How to combine teaching and researching: focus on learners and classroom language learning.” There were around 45 participants and I appreciated the high level of interactivity between the teachers and researchers.
The second day of the conference started off with Adrian Underhill’s excellent opening plenary on ‘Mess and progress’, which explored the concept of difficulties and ways of looking at and solving them. Diana Laurillard’s plenary session on Wednesday looked at global policies and ways to make teaching more effective through the use of technology. On Thursday, Steven L. Thorne’s energetic plenary: “Awareness, appropriacy and living language use”, set a high standard for the rest of the day. On the last day of the conference Professor James E.Zull explained learning cycles in the brain and how the brain physically changes over time. All these plenary talks were followed by a great number of interesting-sounding talks in every time slot. It was a challenge to decide what to choose and my only regret was that I missed the first part of the closing plenary, by Derek ‘Fish’ Dick, who started with some tales of his global music career. He told us that we are like ‘rock star teachers’ because we use teaching to travel the world, rather than music. He also played some songs for the audience explaining the stories behind them. It was an interesting way to bring to a close a marvellous conference.
Evening events
There was, of course, far more to the conference than ‘just’ the academic sessions and workshops. A variety of events and a number of local tours allowed us to explore the beauty of Scotland. On Tuesday evening Collins ELT invited everyone to an authentic Scottish “shindig” where we were all treated to local cuisine and tipple and enjoyed the sound of a pipe band. The event took place in the Hunterian Museum, the oldest public museum in Scotland. The exhibit that captured my entire attention was a womb and a foetus in the 5th month from before 1783 which is when Dr. Hunter died. The caption beneath it says: “The woman and baby died because the mother’s womb was pointing backwards, causing her to miscarry the foetus. Hunter’s recognition of this condition saved many lives and it is no longer a life-threatening condition.”
Then, on Wednesday evening I chose to attend Macmillan’s event. They invited everyone to the so-called Ceilidh (a lively fun event at which one could learn how to do traditional Scottish dancing) on a moored boat. The most difficult choice was on Thursday when I just couldn’t make up my mind whether to go to a karaoke, a quiz show or to the PechaKucha event. I managed to “taste” a little bit of all three. In the karaoke each of us had to share some of our national songs. The PechaKucha evening, coordinated by Jeremy Harmer, in which a group of enthusiastic presenters made everybody laugh, was an unforgettable experience! In the international quiz show, I teamed up with seven other colleagues from around the globe to pit our wits against other teams. In the end it didn’t really matter who won or lost as it was all about bonding and enjoying the wonderful company.
A glimpse of Scotland
There were several other famous landmarks I visited after the conference, as I extended my visit in Scotland with a few days, but this is not the object of the present essay. However, I cannot conclude without mentioning the five-star visitor attraction the Royal Yacht Britannia. One can visit castles or museums anywhere in this world but the Royal Yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II can be admired only in Scotland. And at the end of my visit to Scotland I have to recall the true and heart-warming tale of the Skye Terrier: Greyfriars Bobby that became known in the 19th century for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, until he died himself in 1872. A statue and a fountain were erected to commemorate him and his uncommon loyalty and affection.
To sum up, even if this was not the first international conference that I have attended abroad, I found it perfect, very well-organised with many inspiring workshops, many people, but also so much professionalism. At the beginning I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in as I knew nobody there. I was wrong again. I was overwhelmed, I enjoyed everything: the welcome, the interesting exhibitions, the seminars I went to and the great speakers I met, as well as the entertaining evening events. I felt at ease from the beginning. All participants mingled immediately as a group to build relationships and connections worldwide. The effect of social networking has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had as a teacher as it has helped me reinforce my worldwide connections and has shown me how alike we all really are. It was an outstanding event and a marvellous experience for me personally - a must for any teacher who wants to improve!






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