SUMMER / 2013
In this issue:
1844 – 6159
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
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 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.
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
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,
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
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
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:
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
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
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.
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:
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.
to Follow in a Culture Course Syllabus Design
Dumbrăvanu, Liceul de Artă Ştefan Luchian, Botoşani
syllabus, design, learning process cultural awareness, task, evaluation,
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
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
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
The goal statements reflecting this fact should be:
a) to raise the pupils' cultural awareness / to broaden their cultural
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
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,
• 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
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
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
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
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
• a specified working procedure, which establishes how the task is going to
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
• a specified working procedure
• appropriate materials
• a concrete language learning purpose (learning X in order to be able to
• 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
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
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
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
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).
British Culture Test
1. What is the name of the most famous and possibly the most expensive shop
c. Marks and Spencer
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?
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?
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?
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?
b. St Andrews
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
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
habitats and homelands
states and systems
sports and leisure
communication and technology
4. How would you prefer to learn about your favourite topics during the
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)
6. Do you find the topics mentioned above useful for you in real-life
? Yes (explain how)? No
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
• 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
2. Name two things/ideas that you would like to learn during the next
3. Ask one question referring to the topic you have learned in today’s
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
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.
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.
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.
• Monday morning / Friday afternoon
Learners can write Haiku expressing their feelings about these two times of
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
The possibilities are almost endless. The only thing to remember is the
Here’s a re-phrase of Basho in seventeen syllables to start off with:-
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
You can contact me at:-
Writing and Translation. Similarities between Feminine Writing and
Translation, Women and Translators
Andone, Waldorf Highschool of Iaşi
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
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
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
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:
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:
Bayyurt’s “Non-native English Language Teachers’ Perspective on
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
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.
Tips. Five Useful Activities in the Classroom
Monica Borş, Liceul Tehnologic de Electronică şi Automatizări “Caius Iacob”,
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
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
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
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
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,
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,
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
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
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
If you enjoyed reading this book review you can find it an Amazon.com. It
costs $6.86 and the shipping is free.
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,
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
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
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:
9. Weimer, Maryellen (2002): Learner-Centered Teaching. Five Key Changes
to Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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
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
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.
٭ ٭ ٭ ٭ ٭
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.
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.
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
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
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
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!
Copyright © Romanian Association of Teachers of English
ISSN 1844 – 6159
Edited by Ovidiu Aniculaese