WINTER / 2013
In this issue:
1844 – 6159
There is probably no EFL teacher who can
blithely say that they have
enough time for all the challenges, opportunities and
duties surrounding them. More often than not, we are actually so bogged down
with projects, preparing classes, student writing and paperwork that the
idea of an imminent shutdown is not far-fetched. How then could the able
English teacher get out of such a delicate situation?
The typical response is to deal with emergencies and neglect the baby that
cries the least: do the paperwork that superiors so firmly require, mark
those papers that are expected by the end of the week and forget about that
intriguing idea for a new class activity, the book you bought at the
conference and the private conversation you know you have to have with that
difficult or vulnerable student.
However, while it is so natural and customary to feel there is no choice but
to yield to the highest pressure, it is also true that teachers do have a
choice. We still live in a system so poorly regulated that there is room for
individuals’ conscience to freely exert itself, so, if only we could muster
all the courage we preach to students faced with a world of challenges and
demands, if only we could snap out of that inertia we like to see in office
workers but not in ourselves, if we could only wake up as Thoreau would want
us to, then we can actually set our own agenda. While still paying lip
service to empty formalities, we should save our vital energy for assisting
those young minds in the classroom, for making an actual difference, however
small. Just give Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give children what
rightfully belongs in their eager hearts.
by Ovidiu Aniculăese,
Colegiul Naţional "A.T. Laurian", Botoşani
Technology - Friend or
Fiend? A New Teaching and Learning Experience
by Maria Bogătean, Seminarul Teologic Ortodox, Cluj-Napoca
Keywords: training course, technology, problem based
learning, teaching benefits
This article starts from the false premise that students waste their time
online without very many academic gains. However, as the article will in
fact prove through some examples, by merely adapting our style of teaching
to modern technology we might obtain the same anticipated results. The
examples offered are taken from a training course organized by the Ministry
of Education: „Formarea continua a cadrelor didactice pentru utilizarea
resurselor informatice moderne în predarea eficienta a limbii engleze şi
evaluarea la nivel european a competenţelor lingvistice.”
Have you ever thought that your students spend too much time online and too
little doing their homework? Have you ever blamed the internet for most
things that go wrong? I did that sometimes. However, there is a course that
proved me wrong: „Formarea continua a cadrelor didactice pentru utilizarea
resurselor informatice moderne în predarea eficienta a limbii engleze şi
evaluarea la nivel european a competenţelor lingvistice.” This is a course
organized by the Ministry of Education that offered me, as a teacher, a
range of benefits: a valuable training experience, the possibility of
meeting my fellow teachers from Cluj County and from other counties and the
chance to visit a different country - Great Britain.
The most important outcome of this course was the valuable training
experience it provided. As a young teacher, I feel I constantly have to
strive to improve professionally. Moreover, because my students are “digital
natives,” I have to do some extra work to keep up with them in respect to
this. Since the entire course is based on an electronic platform that can
only be accessed through an internet connection and, in the same time, it is
a modern adaptation of the traditional techniques of teaching English– if
one could ever speak of “traditional” in regard to ELT -, it offered me the
possibility of reaching both my aims: professional improvement and better
computer skills. It is more likely that before this course, I would have
given my students a map of the London underground transport system, paired
them and asked them to give each other directions on how to travel from
point A to point B. After attending this course, I found out there are
several other possibilities to exercises our students’ ability of giving
directions. One additional possibility is that of asking them to use the
Google Maps application that most our students have on their high-tech
phones. Another possibility is that of giving them an actual travelling
situation and leaving them in front of the computer to solve the problem.
The problem I gave my students was: “You are in London for a course and you
are staying at the Mercure London Bridge Hotel. You have an afternoon off
and you would like to visit our cousin who lives at 14 Marlborough Close.
After you visit her, send me an email with all the information I might need
for when I plan to visit her myself. Could you include a map of London’s
transport that might help me? And could you tell me how much money did you
spend on bus/tube fare in order to arrive back at your hotel? Did the
journey by bus/tube take a lot?” It took a whole hour and the collaboration
of more than two students but by the end of the lesson, without any other
piece of information from me, they sent me emails with everything that was
required from them. The entire training experience did just this: it offered
us new solutions to old “problems” and all these solutions were electronic
Videos can also be used in combination with the internet as shown during the
same training session in London. Let’s take advertisements in consideration.
Without the use of technology, we might ask our students to glue some photos
on a piece of paper and come up with a catchy slogan. However, by using
technology such as video cameras or even simple phone cameras, students can
exercise their ability to work in groups, improve their written and oral
communicative skills their negotiating, organisational and their computer
skills and technology operating skills – all new skills required by the 21th
century. They need a script, prompts and a setting and they need to develop
editing skills and to assign roles according to strengths in their teams.
The thinking processes involved in these activities are higher than those
involved in the creation of a simple collage. After the students participate
in the creative stage of the project, they film the advertisement, edit it
and then they present and/or publish their projects online. Social networks
such as Facebook could be used for this; however, with younger students it
is advisable to use other sites with a higher degree of security. Provided
that your students are older and you obtain parents’ permission, their work
can be posted on a private Facebook page. It is a very good exercise for
peer assessment since by counting “likes,” students can see the impact their
work has among their friends. Of course, there is the risk of students
receiving votes simply based on friendship, but if these exercises are
repeated enough times the votes will be real after a second or a third
attempt. As seen, technology can help us and our students get from an idea
to the final product in a more fun and interactive manner with added
benefits for our students.
Another outcome of the course was that it offered me the possibility of
meeting my fellow teachers from Cluj County and from other counties in
Romania. On one hand, I met the ones in our county during the training
sessions that we had here in Cluj-Napoca. These sessions were innovative and
fun. Furthermore, our trainer, Ms Luisa Filip, engaged us in conversations
during which she asked us to think about how we might adapt all the things
we learned there to the needs of our students. Thus, we consolidated our
team and as a group we came up with better teaching solutions because we
shared our experience. On the other hand, I met my colleagues from other
counties during the training session in London. This training session came
as a consequence of the first one, as a step further from the first one.
Hence, teachers with different experiences came together and learned or
shared new methods, new techniques. Even today, we keep in touch via a
Facebook private group that we were prompted to create by one of the British
facilitators. Again, the internet proved to do more good than harm in this
Nevertheless, I cannot forget to mention that the course also offered us the
possibility of immersing ourselves in the local culture during the training
session in London. We experienced the city as teachers, trying to find
authentic materials to take back to our students and we also experienced the
city when we had to prepare video presentations for one of the training
sessions of the course. We presented London through our eyes to the world
since all the materials were later on published on Youtube. So, we used the
internet in a positive manner once more.
Whether we visited London in reality or simply virtually, whether we shared
our ideas with colleagues or improved what we do as teachers in the
classroom, the internet proved to be a helping factor and not a distracting
one. I learned I can use it more by channelling the students to use it as a
learning tool and not just as mere pastime. For this, I have to be grateful
to all the trainers we had during this sessions. If you would like to start
or continue using technology to your advantage, this course is a good
starting point, you and your students will do the rest and I hope you will
enjoy the experience as much as I have.
Biodata: Maria Bogătean graduated from “1 Decembrie 1918” University of Alba
Iulia, and teaches English at the Seminarul Teologic Ortodox in Cluj-Napoca.
She has been awarded two Comenius grants (one in Brighton, UK, and one in
Cork, Ireland). She was involved in extracurricular activities like Summer
Schools, English Clubs and volunteer work. She has also done translation at
conferences organized by prestigious universities and other institutions and
the translation of articles or books published by famous Romanian publishing
Wonders of Wikis. Using Wikis for Collaborative Writing
Darron Board, The Open
University, Milton Keynes, UK
wiki, online teaching skills, collaborative writing
teachers have heard of wikis and that they can be used to good effect to
develop collaborative writing tasks. However, it is sometimes thought that
a high level of ICT competence is needed by both teachers and students for
this to happen, or that the effort required to set up such a task does not
compensate the benefits that could be gained. This article provides a
step-by-step guide of how to successfully introduce wikis to students and
build up their confidence to use it in a collaborative writing tasks.
the Cinderella of skills, writing was usually left to homework tasks, with
students submitting work which was done in isolation, submitting a piece of
writing that they had put together at home alone. I'm sure many of you
reading this will have heard that wikis (from the Hawaiian “wiki wiki”
meaning “very quick”) are powerful tools which allow students to write texts
collaboratively, working as a team to produce a text, comment on each
other's work, suggest corrections and alterations, and to use technology to
develop texts in a way that in the past was not possible. You are maybe
also thinking that this sounds rather complicated or far fetched and that in
reality it takes a very dedicated and IT-savvy teacher and group of students
to work. As someone who also thought the same, but now uses wikis
successfully in teaching EFL as well as EAP, I hope to give you some ideas
on how to gradually introduce the use of a wiki in your teaching context.
This will allow you and your students to learn not only the basics of how a
wiki “works” but also the importance of working as a group to achieve an end
1: Choosing a wiki
first decision as a teacher is which wiki to use. There are a number of
free wiki providers which are popular with teachers, and you might be lucky
enough to work in an institution that already has a dedicated wiki for
teachers and students to use. I personally have found that Wikispaces
is a user-friendly and intuitive wiki to use, although it's worthwhile have
a look at the other providers and trying them out before deciding on which
one to use yourself. Once you have learnt how the wiki can be set up, you
can then start inviting your students to join your wiki, or set up accounts
for them yourself.
2: Considering what you eventually want your students to use the wiki for
Clearly you should never use an ICT application for the sake of it – you
need sound pedagogical reasons. Wikis are great for getting small groups of
students to work together on a piece of writing which can be then assessed
and incorporated into a final course mark. There are many tasks you can set
a group of students to do using a wiki, including:
series of short film/book/game/app/TV show/etc reviews based around a
general genre (e.g. romance, comedy, adventure...)
discursive essay from a list of choices – each student writes a particular
travel guide to your local town – each student chooses a particular section
to work on
introduction to your school, college, etc for a group of visiting students
3: Using a wiki as a warm-up activity
you know what you want your students to use the wiki for, you need to get
them trained up on how to use it and the principles of editing work (as
opposed to deleting everything and posting your own version!). A good idea
is to set this up right at the start of a new course, as part of maybe other
warm-up activities you might do. If students know that later on in the
course they will need to use the wiki to do an assessed task, they will be
eager to learn how to use it, so a simple warm-up task on the wiki will
prove popular. Set up a wiki page with some instructions about how to use
the basic "edit" and "save" functions. Write four or five sentences with
factual mistakes – this takes the pressure off students who might feel
intimidated by making mistakes themselves. Here's one I've used in the past:
Welcome to the World of Wikis!
page is designed to help you practice using a wiki if you haven't done so
before. Wikis allow you to work with other people to create texts, edit
them, add to them and then finalise the document. On this wiki, you can go
to a page, click "EDIT" and then make changes to a text, such as correcting
information, spelling, grammar, adding new information, and so on. When you
have finished, click "SAVE".
will be using wikis on this course so it's important you learn how to use
them (it's not hard!)
Have a go now:
read the following sentences and first correct information (if you think
it's wrong) and then have a go at writing your own sentence with a factual
mistake in it. You can use the "REVIEW" button to see who has written what.
sentences to get you started.... remember to add some of your own!
Henry VIII had six wives, including Pamela Anderson and Isabel Pantoja.
2: To pass English course, you need to bribe your teacher.
The capital of the USA is New York.
a close eye on the activity and make sure that students are editing the
factual errors rather than deleting entire sentences and replacing them with
their own. You'll see that soon students get the hang of the activity and
start writing their own humorous sentences for others to correct. This
simple activity will teach them how your wiki works, and the principle of
correcting, adding and deleting information.
can expand this activity if you like to get students to use the review
function to see who wrote and who edited which sentences. They can do this
by adding a comment to the text, thereby also learning how comments can be
added to the main body. You can start if off by giving an example yourself,
"Juanjo wrote sentence 12 and Gemma corrected it."
is helpful when students start writing in groups so they can see who edited
their work, if the student forgets to add a comment to the editing.
4: Using a wiki for administrative purpose
order for your students to work in groups, they first need to put themselves
into groups. A good way to give them more practice in using the wiki, and
to form the groups, is to allow them to group themselves. Ask the students
to edit the wiki and create their own groups. You simply set up the wiki
with the skeleton groups and instructions on what they need to do:
Join one of the groups below by adding your name to the
Please note that for the assessed tasks you will need to work in groups of
four. Please note:
should be no more than 4 people in each group.
person in each group must choose a name for the group – the name should be
city in an English speaking country!
create a new group but there is another group which you could join, you may
be moved to that group.
definitive list of students in each group will be published at the end of
Group 0: San Francisco
sure you give your students a deadline and contact those who haven't signed
up to a group. Once you have your groups formed, you can set up individuals
pages for each group to work on.
4: Using a wiki for collaborative writing - I
now you and your students will be accustomed to using the wiki. It's time
to try it out for some collaborative writing. A good idea is again to build
up gradually so don't feel you have to rush into getting them writing a
piece of shared writing just yet. An easy way to start is to get students
to write an individual piece of writing but get them to post their work onto
their group's wiki page. As part of the task, ask students to post
comments and provide linguistic and content feedback on the wiki. You can
incorporate a “participation” mark in the final score (say 10 or 20%) to
encourage them to interact on their wiki. This activity will require
monitoring from you, and in particular initial scaffolding to show them how
you would like them to write the feedback. You also can show by example how
to make small changes to the text, as well as including comments on the
work. Make sure you provide a clear timetable for the posting of the
initial drafts and then the feedback, so that all students can benefit from
the feedback given and make changes where necessary. They can then send you
their finished draft via email, post them to a group forum or simply print
them and hand them into you.
5: Using a wiki for collaborative writing – II
students should now be comfortable using the wiki for posting, editing and
commenting on each other's work. They are now ready to try out a piece of
collective writing, which you thought of in step 2 of this process. Make
sure students understand that the mark they will get is a group mark, so
each member of group gets the same mark for the collective text produced.
Again it's a good idea to include an individual “participation” mark to
encourage each member to work collaboratively with the group. Depending on
what sort of writing task you choose, it might be a motivating idea to
publish their final texts on a blog, web site or classroom online forum.
6: What comes next?
you and your students have come this far, you will be well on your way to
using wikis for creative and collaborative writing tasks that will motivate
and interest your students. As well as being able to use the wiki
application they will also be aware of the need to work together as a group,
to pool resources, and to work collaboratively and actively. You will have
given writing a new lease of life and exposed your students to enhanced
opportunities to practice their language skills. Where you go next is up to
you and your students!
hope you have found this introduction to using wikis interesting. There is
a very helpful online guide to using wikis produced by the DOTS project
team, sponsored by the European Centre for Modern Languages (http://dots.ecml.at/)
which I thoroughly recommend. I am always interested in hearing how others
get on using wikis, so please let me know:
Associate Lecturer at the Open University UK. Previously worked as English
trainer at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, project manager at British
Council (London), senior teacher at British Council (Bucharest) and English
teacher at British Council (Madrid).
TEFL (U. Pais Vasco Spain) and EdD (U. Iberoamericana Mexico).
coursebooks. A Blessing or a Drag?
by Ileana Maria Chersan, PhD, Police
Keywords: ELT coursebook, course structure
and aims, students’ needs, standardization, context appropriate learning
investigates the purposes, strengths and shortcomings of ELT coursebooks
from multiple perspectives. While most researchers in the field agree that
coursebooks provide structure and syllabus for a language course and a
variety of learning resources of a standardized quality, they also
acknowledge that coursebooks may be inflexible and fail to reflect students’
needs. The findings of this study provide a set of minimal practical
guidelines; whether not intended to be prescriptive, they can act as an
evaluation method to both teachers who select the ‘right’ coursebook on the
market and to the teachers who plan to author such books themselves.
Selecting a material (and I am referring here to coursebooks in particular)
is an important decision a teacher has to make when planning the content and
nature of teaching and learning. This is a strenuous process, which involves
finding the material appropriate to the context of use and amending it if
necessary, matching the content of the coursebook with the curriculum and
the teaching aims of the syllabus, exploring the suggested methodology and
tailoring it to fit both students’ learning methods and the teacher’s own
methodological view. Two other cases are met in ELT practice: one is when
the teacher has no say in choosing the material, as this decision has
already been taken by local policy makers; another case is when teachers are
encouraged to develop and publish their own materials, as there is
insufficient representation of salient ELT books on the market, especially
for vocational and higher education.
In this paper, I will consider all three stances, in an attempt to aid ELT
teachers in their capacity as decision makers, tailors and creators. This
study will first look at the advantages of using ready made or custom made
coursebooks; another section is dedicated to their weaknesses, as recorded
by leading experts in the field. Based on this, I will frame several
evaluation methods which I find useful in either selecting coursebooks or
producing new materials for my own working context.
2. The role of coursebooks
In the ESL classroom, coursebooks are instrumental in reaching teaching
objectives, as they can shape both course syllabus and methodology; students
also experience a sense of secured learning while exposed to standardized
and approved materials. Many coursebooks are praised as they are based on
months or even years of research and feedback from teachers. According to
O’Neill (1982) there are four main reasons for the use of coursebooks.
Firstly, a significant part of a coursebook’s material can be suitable for
students’ needs, even if not specifically designed for them. Secondly,
coursebooks enable students to refer to past and future learning contents,
whether by revision of previously studied chunks or relating current
learning tasks with others across the book, in a consistent continuum of
development. Thirdly, coursebooks can be quite practical, in the sense that
coursebooks are generally well-presented and – ideally – inexpensive, in
terms of value for money. Finally, well-designed coursebooks also leave room
for improvisation and adaptation by the teacher, as well as create
communicative situations where students can interact spontaneously in the
class: “since language is an instrument for generating what people need and
want to say spontaneously, a great deal must depend on spontaneous, creative
interaction in the classroom.” (O’Neill 1982: 111). Coursebooks should be
flexible in that they should provide material to a variety of students with
various needs and learning goals, as well as be suitable to an array of
teachers and teaching styles.
The use of commercial coursebooks in class has both pros and cons, depending
on various factors, ranging from the context of use to students’ language
level and expectations. According to Richards (2013), one of the main
indubitable advantages is that coursebooks provide structure and a syllabus
for a language program. Without such materials a program may lack a central
core and learners may feel there is not enough planning and development
supported by material evidence. Coursebooks also help standardize teaching
and learning. The use of a coursebook throughout a language program can
ensure that the students in different years of study or parallel classes
receive similar content and therefore their performance can be measured in a
valid and reliable way. Coursebooks also maintain quality; this view is
supported by the fact that a substantial amount of work has been put into
developing, evaluating and revising them, which ultimately exposes students
with confidence to materials based on learning principles that are
distributed and paced appropriately.
Coursebooks also provide a diversity of learning resources, for both
students and teachers, as they are often accompanied by workbooks, CDs and
comprehensive teaching guides; specialized language courses also tend to
include glossaries, conceptual explanations and online resources to further
training. Coursebooks are efficient as they save teachers' time, enabling
them to devote time to teaching rather than material's production. In case
they need to produce materials themselves, teachers rely on both their own
experience and fellowship with other teachers to save time on production and
ensure reliability of the end-product.
Coursebooks can provide effective input as well as language models. They can
help teachers whose first language is not English and teachers who are not
specialists in the subject matters at vocational schools, where specialized
language needs to be taught. Background information is thus treasured and
used when in need, rather than searched for at odd times and from
uncertified sources. For learners, too, such coursebooks may provide a major
source of contact with the language, apart from input provided by the
teacher. Also related to this idea, coursebooks together with the teacher's
manual can supplement the teacher's instruction, especially for those who
have limited teaching experience. Finally, coursebooks are visually
appealing, especially the commercial ones, which boast high standards of
design and production.
3. The limits of coursebooks
While some experts would agree that selecting a coursebook is a clear
matching process: “matching needs to available solutions” (Hutchinson and
Waters 1987:97), others consider that the selection process poses a series
of difficulties for teachers, who sometimes base their decisions on feelings
and guts rather than fair analytical judgment (Swales, 1980), which can lead
to educational failures in extreme cases. This later opinion also states
that the weaknesses are not necessarily inherent to coursebooks, but may
arise from a variety of variables: one example is the lack of training or
funds, which makes the task of selecting or developing a coursebook more of
a ‘mission impossible’.
Relying on a single coursebook is considered by most experts to rather not
reflect students’ needs; subsequently, coursebooks need to be adapted and
supplemented with additions. (it should be rephrased, not very clear meaning
due to sentence structure) (Allwright 1981, Stern 1992, Cunningsworth 1995).
Despite its assistance in the learning process, a coursebook cannot build
the content of a language program, as the path should take the other way
round. As a solution, teachers are encouraged to rely on creativity and
strive to develop their own input according to the syllabus. Students should
also get actively involved in the management of their training and refuse
the statute of “captive learners.”
Four potential negative effects of the use of coursebooks were also
identified by Cunningsworth (1995). Firstly, coursebooks foster a lack of
variety in teaching procedures. Secondly, innovations towards individual
student’s needs are reduced. Thirdly, spontaneity and flexibility are
diminished. Fourthly, there can be a lack of creativity in teaching
techniques and language use: “heavy dependence on coursebooks is far from
ideal as it reduces the importance of the individual contributions that good
teachers make at all levels in the learning process.” (Cunningsworth 1995:
Richards (2013) finds another set of related shortcomings in the use of
coursebooks. Firstly, they may contain inauthentic language, as texts,
dialogues and other aspects of content tend to be specially written to
incorporate teaching points and are often not representative of real
language use. Coursebooks may distort content, as they present an idealized
view of the world, fail to represent real issues and avoid controversial
topics. Coursebooks may often not reflect students' needs. Since they are
often written for global markets they may require heavy adaptation.
Coursebooks and teacher’s books can deskill teachers; if teachers rely on
coursebooks as the primary source of their teaching, their role can become
reduced to that of a technician whose primarily function is to present
materials prepared by others. Then coursebooks, especially commercial ones,
tend to be expensive and thus not an option for many students in the world.
In conclusion, both the benefits and limitations of using coursebooks need
to be considered, and informed decisions need to be taken before choosing to
use these materials as such or by adapting and supplementing them.
4. An ELT coursebook evaluation path
Due to the wide variety of ELT coursebooks available, choosing the
appropriate coursebook and analyzing the existing ones, either commercially
available or home-made, are two issues of increasing interest in the ELT
world. They are both based on comprehensive checklists of evaluation
criteria, developed by specialists in an attempt to regulate, standardize
and ease the procedure for teachers and other decision-makers. As
Cunningsworth (1995) puts it, effective evaluation relies on asking
appropriate questions and interpreting the answers to them. His checklist
for evaluation and selection contains 45 questions, covering criteria such
as aims, design, language content, skills, and methodology, as well as
practical considerations such as cost and obtainability. Sheldon (1988)
provides a checklist of 53 questions classified under 17 major criteria,
which refer to content factors such as accessibility, content, layout and
However, as there is no standardized global checklist or approach to
materials analysis (Sheldon 1988: 240), teachers are advised to use these
criteria selectively and from a more subjective point of view (Sheldon 1988,
Cunningsworth 1995) to avoid disappointment related to an unsuccessful quest
for the ‘ideal’ material, and also to adapt such criteria, intended as a
framework not a ‘straightjacket”.
Apart from common places that steal the eye, such as visually stimulating
layouts, communicative approaches and the use of down-to-earth English, the
standards of ELT world today make both teachers and learners have high
expectations. As such, the coursebook selection or development process can
be greatly facilitated by the use of systematic materials evaluation
procedures which help ensure that materials are consistent with the needs
and interests of the learners they are intended to serve, as well as in
harmony with institutional ideologies on the nature of language and learning
(Nunan 1991: 209). The following is such an evaluation procedure, derived
from practical encounters with published and authored ELT coursebooks.
1. Coursebooks should contain real language which has world relevance and is
drawn from authentic sources.
2. They should contain relevant and genuine rather than distorted,
manufactured or idealized content. They should also be up to date (e.g.
published within the past 10 years).
3. They should train teachers with limited teaching experience (teacher’s
book should contain methodology suggestions, cut-outs, photocopiable
material), but should not over-prescribe methodology or deskill teachers.
4. They should provide structure, graded content and a syllabus for a
program, or follow the existent one. The pace should be level-appropriate
and grammar taught in context, using spiralling activities.
5. They should be relatively inexpensive, considering the budget and
permissions for pictures, copyright etc.
6. They should help standardize instruction and offer indicatives for
testing. The materials should contain exercises in which learners share
previous experience with prior knowledge of the content. Assessments and
self evaluations may be placed at the end of units.
7. They should maintain quality. Students feel safe if exposed to materials
that have been tried and tested.
8. They should provide a variety of learning resources. Coursebooks are
often accompanied by workbooks, CDs, videos, CD ROMs, teacher’s book.
9. The design and format (including font size) should be visually appealing
and appropriate for the student population. The layout and illustrations
need thorough checking. Visuals and graphics are clear, appropriate for
adults and culturally sensitive. Voice and sound in audiovisual materials
are clear, authentic, and appropriate.
10. Coursebooks should be tailored for the learners’ level; they should also
fit the number of hours per week or year and the expected outcome of the
11. They should cover and integrate all language skills: speaking,
listening, reading, writing. Receptive skills should come before the
productive ones. Language functions (or life skills) should also be
incorporated, paced and allowed enough practice.
12. They should be consistent in extent, numbering, tapescripts, rubrics
13. They should follow sound methodological principles (such as task-based,
activity-based, degree of learner autonomy etc.). They can integrate
different learning styles: aural, oral, visual, kinesthetic, different
grouping strategies: individual, pair, group and team work, and higher level
thinking skills and problem solving.
14. They should follow lines of responsibility and evaluation (e.g.
discussion of drafts, exchange of ideas, revisions before publication,
standardization, with editor, fellow authors, peer reviewers, subject matter
teachers and experts, piloting samples of the new textbooks in the target
15. They should be appropriate to the context of use; they should take into
account the linguistic and cultural diversity of the student population and
as such promote cross-cultural awareness.
16. They should be valued by learners and other teachers. They offer choices
to teachers and learners, such as project work, computer work, self-study,
support learning outside the classroom. The content should also address a
variety of learning styles and reflect students' interests and needs.
17. The language has to be thoroughly checked for accuracy by a language
expert, if the coursebook has been authored by a non-native. If vocational,
the content has to be checked for appropriateness by a subject matter
18. They should contain tasks and activities to motivate learners and deal
with topics which learners can identify with. They should allow sufficient
student practice and interactive / communicative approaches.
19. They should promote an integrated approach, for example recycled themes
and target vocabulary; pre-read / read / post-read activities; or writing
activities integrated in text.
Whether going to a bookshop to choose an ELT book for your students from the
ones available, or striving to develop one, either as a joint venture or
alone, it is important to make informed and appropriate choices. Most
experts agree that a well-designed coursebook is the instrument or framework
enabling adaptation – for the teacher - and spontaneity - for the learners
-, usually shaping a balanced teacher/learner relationship (cf. O’Neill
1982, Cunningsworth 1995). It is of paramount importance that teachers
evaluate coursebooks in terms of their ability to meet the aims of the
language program and the teacher’s own methodology. The current wide array
of materials in the ESL publishing industry require careful selection of
such materials based on relevant evaluation criteria which should instruct
teachers how to best select appropriate coursebooks. A balanced view will
avoid being handcuffed to a book as well as dropping it entirely. Another
challenging view is designing a coursebook closely related to the teaching
aims. All these views require a set of structured predictive and
retrospective guidelines, with a more orientation rather than prescriptive
This study aimed at building an evaluation checklist for standardized use,
based on a meta-analysis of checklists published internationally and
locally, as well as adding some from our practice. Decisions related to
coursebook selection or production affect teachers, students, and the
overall classroom dynamic. Subsequently, the use of an evaluation procedure
or checklist can lead to a more systematic and thorough examination of
potential coursebooks and to enhanced outcomes for learners, instructors,
1. Allwright, R. I. 1981. “What do we want teaching materials for?” ELT
Journal Vol. 36/1:5-18., Oxford University Press.
2. Byrd, P. 1995. Materials Writer’s Guide. Rowley Mass. Newbury House.
3. Cook, G. 1998. ‘The use of reality: a reply to Ronald Carter.” ELT
Journal Vol. 52/1. Oxford University Press.
4. Cunningsworth, A. 1995. Choosing your Coursebook. Macmillan Heineman.
5. Ellis, R., Helgesen, M., Browne, C., Gorsuch, G., Schwab, J. 1996. High
Impact Coursebook. Longman.
6. Garinger, D. 2001. “Textbook Evaluation.” TEFL Web Journal.
7. Hutchinson, T., A. Waters. 1987. English For Specific Purposes: A
Learning-Centred Approach. Cambridge University Press.
8. McDonough, J., Shaw, C. 1993. Materials and Methods in ELT. Blackwell.
9. Nunan, D. 1991. Language Teaching Methodology. Prentice Hall.
10. O’Neill, R. 1982. “Why use textbooks?” ELT Journal Vol. 36/2, Oxford
11. Richards J.C. 2013. The role of textbooks in a language program, CUP
12. Sheldon, L. 1988. “Evaluating ELT textbooks and materials.” ELT Journal
Vol. 37/3, Oxford University Press.
13. Stern, H. 1992. Issues and Options in Language Teaching. Oxford
14. Tomlinson, B. (ed). 1998. Materials Development in Language Teaching.
Cambridge University Press.
15. Wang W. 2011. “Thinking of the Textbook in the ESL/EFL Classroom”.
English Language Teaching Vol. 4, No. 2; June 2011. www.ccsenet.org/elt.
16. Williams, D. 1983. “Developing criteria for textbook evaluation.” ELT
Biodata: Ileana Maria Chersan, PhD is a teacher and teacher trainer at the
Police Academy in Bucharest. She has been teaching ESP (English for Law,
English for Law Enforcement, English for History and Archives Studies) for
15 years. She has also (co-)authored several coursebooks, including English
for Law Enforcement, Macmillan, 2009.
Creativity and Motivation in the Secondary Classroom
Ştefana Balan, Colegiul Naţional "Vasile Alecsandri",
creativity, motivation, strategies, learning, materials, activities
article presents various aspects referring to creativity and motivation in
teaching English for teenagers. As Sir Ken Robinson said, school tends to
smother children's creativity and it is up to the teachers to adapt the
materials in order to boost students' creative insight as well as
Moreover, in an era of computers and information, it is quite a challenge to
keep students motivated. The article summarises the most important aspects
about the two topics I learnt during my most recent training, the Comenius
course, Creative Activities and Motivating Materials in the Secondary
Classroom, held in Portsmouth.
There has been great interest in the last decade regarding such aspects as
motivation and creativity. Since Sir Ken Robinson stated
in 2006 that schools killed creativity,
teaching experts have become more and more involved in developing trainings,
textbooks and programmes to enhance motivation and creativity. One of such
courses was part of the Comenius training offer, namely: "Creative
Activities and Motivating Materials in the Secondary Classroom".
During this course I had the chance to work, among others, with two
exceptional teacher trainers, namely Mark Skipper, author of Advanced
Grammar and Vocabulary from Express Publishing as well as Graham Workman,
whose website and materials represent a great resource for the English
course was designed for teachers of English to students aged 10-19 and the
participants had the opportunity to gain a huge variety of new teaching
ideas and motivating materials ready to use in the classroom, to keep
abreast of changes in British Life and Society and of new developments in
the English Language, to perfect their language skills, to exchange ideas
and to develop links with teachers from secondary schools in different
course mainly dealt with:
practical methodology workshops on teaching english as a foreign language,
conducted by expert teacher trainers with many years of experience in
training European teachers of English and a wealth of exciting ideas to
2. English language tuition - advanced language practice through activities
designed to improve intonation, pronunciation and communicative confidence;
creative writing and new developments in the English Language.
Aspects Regarding Creativity
Neurological studies have shown that the right hemisphere of the brain is
responsible for creativity whereas most school activities tend to be
organised for the left hemisphere. Creativity requires a certain state of
consciousness and the possibility of forming new neuro-cortical connections
and for such connections specific activities are required: brainstorming,
mind map creation and very importantly, a
certain degree of freedom.
During the Comenius course in Portsmouth we also discussed about Task-based
an approach that puts the task in the centre of the teaching process and
rather than the skills or the practice. Thus, students are also encouraged
to find new elements that would help them to achieve their tasks. The more
complex the tasks, the more creativity is required, and in TBLT many of the
tasks are related to the production of final activities or materials such as
a speech in front of the classroom, a flyer, a brochure or a poster.
seems that people learn a language much faster if they are required to be
creative because they will focus less on language competence and more on
performance. Both Mark and Graham used a lot of humour during their
activities as humour changes the brain's neuro-chemical production and
allows people to access their creativity.
Children access their creative levels with greater easiness than adults, and
teachers need to allow them to express their own vision more. English
classes represent a wonderful opportunity for creativity and Graham
encouraged us during the course to adapt the materials in the textbooks for
our purposes. Sometimes teachers are afraid to select or adapt the textbook
materials or imagine that they need to do a lot of research in order to
prepare a creative lesson. In reality, in order to have a creative lesson,
teachers should firstly allow their own creativity manifest itself. The best
materials are real life bits, as students can relate to and in English
teaching there are some of the finest materials of the kind.
During the training the teachers played the roles of the students and I
personally enjoyed the games a lot, as well as the debates and discussions
Moreover, I found very refreshing those activities during which we could
move freely in the classroom and later on, my students confirmed that they
found them invigorating as well. You can find more information about the
different learning styles at
http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm. Some teachers expressed
their fear that such activities might make the English class chaotic, yet I
can certify that as long as the students get clear instructions on what
they need to do and about the end product, they will do their best.
Motivation to Learn English
is such a task to keep students motivated, especially when we are dealing
with teenagers. If at the beginning of the school year they all seem
motivated and interested in learning and getting good results, this
motivation and enthusiasm seem to wear off after a month or two.
can we keep our students motivated all year long? We can do that by
encouraging them to set personal goals. In the context of the new National
Examinations, namely the Competency Test, the interest of the students seems
to have dramatically fallen, since the evaluation in English goes level B2
at most and the evaluation in English is not part of the average grade of
the Baccalaureate examination and not part of the Baccalaureate examination
either. Not to mention the fact that it is enough to be present in order to
pass the examination and such a low standard is hardly a stimulating factor.
Therefore, as far as short term, exam-determined motivation is concerned -
the only truly motivated students are those who intend to go to universities
abroad, apply for the Police Academy or study to become translators or
English teachers. For the past few years it has been a great challenge to me
to keep the other students motivated, to improve their level, and only by
encouraging them to sit for the Cambridge exams have I managed to make them
increase their motivation to improve their level.
the same time, students are encouraged to use English in real-life
situations and activities such as debates or projects keep them interested
in the English classroom.
Students, people in general for that matter, will only stay motivated if
they constantly see the connection between what they learn and their
environment, as well as the benefits the task fulfilment would bring to
their lives. I connect all activities to real-life topics teenagers are
interested in, like work, money, love, entertainment etc. I encourage them
to find such connections and consequently they become so eager to express
their opinions that they are no longer afraid of making mistakes.
Even the grammar activities are connected to real-life topics, and our
textbooks are already very well organised and have a variety of texts that
could be exploited from all points of view: grammar, reading, discussion or
vocabulary. At the same time, students should be aware of the fact that
having good grammar is a mark of good education and is highly regarded in
academic and business areas.
conclusion, creativity and motivation are key aspects in learning and if we
want to achieve great results we need to find the strategies to enhance
both. We are fortunate to teach a subject that will always be highly
regarded, yet, in the current context, students might find difficulty in
getting interested and it is up to us, the teachers, to help them.
project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This
communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission
cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information
contained therein. More information about Comenius grants can be accessed
Stefana Balan is an English teacher in "Vasile Alecsandri" National College,
Bacau. She is interested in applying and eliciting strategies to enhance
creativity and motivation in learning. She is also interested in Neuro-Linguistic
Programming and in October 2013 became a Licensed NLP Master Practitioner
having as main trainer Dr. Richard Bandler (co-founder of NLP). Her articles
about personal development and education can be found on her blogs: http://balanstefana.blogspot.ro
of the Linguistic Material in Teaching English
Yessengaliyeva, PhD, L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Astana,
linguistic material, oral
speech, theme and situation, situation and social contact
The article considers some aspects of introduction of the linguistic
material in teaching English. The author analyses main differences between
the following notions in the intercourse process: theme and situation,
situation and social contact; shows the importance of the
situational-thematic organizing of the material for development of oral
This article is an attempt to analyze some aspects of introduction of the
linguistic material in teaching English. Eventually all speech peculiarities
are specified by the situation. The theme is a substantial content of the
situation. It is supposed methodologically incorrect to consider the theme
as a “starting point” and to break it into situations.
In the theme we can find out subthemes, sections, subsections, any you like,
instead of situations because these notions are multifaceted though closely
The situation is added by the theme, but by some of them, not by one:
combinations /dependent on the semantic relations [1, 67]. The principle of
the situational stipulation of the speech contact allows to consider the
theme as all-sufficient, communicative category existing out of the
intercourse, but as the result of the confluence and interaction of the
basic components of the communicative - speech situation (circumstances,
personalities of intercourse and their mutual relations, speech motives,
development of the contact itself). By this means, the situation causes the
theme, not the theme causes a speech contact.
Situational-thematic programme in English teaching
Situational –thematic programme of teaching is concretized by variants of
the typical communicative situations at the lessons, supplied with the form
of the description of the most fractional situational contacts. Let’s
illustrate this type of presentation on the basis of based on one of the
general communicative situations.
Thus, to the general situation “Entertainment of the guests from Great
Britain” (they must be students, tourists, businessmen) the following
concrete situations must be used:
1) You got the information about the arrival of the group of students
from Oxford to your university. You are discussing the programme of their
accommodation, the programme of their visit.
- Good morning.
- Good morning. Glad to meet you.
- Is this your first visit to Astana?
- Yes…etc. Or
- How do you do? Very happy to meet you at last.
- How do you do.
- Did you have a good journey? ...etc.
1) You take part in the accommodation of the students in the dormitories or
Which hotel are you going to stay in? Where would you like to stay?
- In the hotel.
- We’ll be glad to see you at our home, etc.
2) You are discussing with the group of students the programme of their
visit in your city and clear up the concrete requirements of the guests.
3) You invite English students to come to the party. You are discussing
about spare time, exchanging opinions about the most famous and popular
What are you going to do on Sunday?
- I was planning (to see the sights), to go to the disco-club. Or
What about going to the disco-club with us this Sunday? … etc.
Thus, situational- thematic organizing of the communicative content of the
oral speech teaching is methodically efficient. In this context, it is
preferable to speak not about situations’ thematicity, but about their
Subject discussions are usually related to a definite attitude. They exist
out of usirrespective of us. But at any moment they are/may become connected
with the person’s activity: the definite event happens (the person notices
and knows about it), that makes discord, mismatch to the system of mutual
relations between a person and surroundings (another person). The problem
has appeared. The situation as a problem causes the speech action, which is
expressed concerning the person to the mismatch of the system, i.e. to the
problem and desire to change unmatched attitudes to the “norm” [2, 55]. The
attitude of the person to the problem is its speech function. Just this
attitude is an organizing beginning in the situation.
Thus, the main difference between the theme and situation is not in the
amount of the activity (the “situation is a part of the theme” or vice
versa). The situation is that/what caused the problem for me just at the
moment (the words “just at the moment” can’t be understood as “immediately”:
the problem could be yesterday, and we’ll solve it tomorrow.
- What did you see yesterday?
- “Hamlet” with Smoktunovskyi.
- It’s an old film, isn’t it?
- Yes, but it’s still drawing a full house.
The theme is a potential store of the social experience, not included to/in
the context of the personal activity i.e. something that is in reality and
in the conscience, but at present it isn’t related to me.
Further analyzing the intercourse process we’ll find out another “type of
social connection”/of the social connection type, that is called a social
contact, i. e. “a definite system “ [3, 49] including at least two persons,
any value, that is going to be the basis of the contact, some interactions,
concerning this value. The sample can be: buying of the journal at the
kiosk, the dinner order/ordering dinner in a restaurant and so on. The
contradiction of the notions”situation” and “social contact” is quite
1. The content of the situation is a problem, conflict, violating the
2. A speech situation is always expressed in the speech actions.
3. The situations are not local. One and the same situation can be in
different extra-linguistic conditions. To compliment a person for something
at school, in the institute, at home, in the cinema or at the post-office.
4. The situations are correlated with the themes, which can be called
“dynamic”: “How to spend your spare time?”, “What are the achievements of
Kazakh cinema art?” and so on. These themes are theme-problems and something
to be discussed.
Social contact (SK)
1. The content of the social contact is any volume as the basis of the
2. A social contact can be without speech actions: it’s enough to give money
and you’ll get a journal.
3. A social contact as a rule is made in the definite extra-linguistic
conditions, i. e. it is local (the order at the restaurant, buying of the
journal in the shop and etc.).
4. A social contact is correlated with the themes of another plan, which can
be called as static: “Cinema”, “Theatre”, Café” and so on. We can only
describe these themes.
When We can say,- that a social contact is not a problem, it is generally
saying, “the norm” of intercourse (a ritualized dialogue), though a
situation is “a violence”/violation of the norm which we want to set in
order with our speech behavior.
Thereupon it is interesting to remember that in a social psychology surface
and deep layers of interpersonal relations are distinguished.
Presumably, we can consider that a social contact is a form of a surface,
and a situation – a form of a deep layer of interrelations.
If the material has been chosen only on /based only on the themes and social
contacts, the teaching of the real intercourse is in most cases apart.
Considerably, a social contact as a type of social connection is used mostly
in the country of the studied language. That is why the person, who studied
the language in the country of the language, probably is able to communicate
in concrete everyday conditions of the country of the studied language.
During the intercourse with a foreigner in our country this knowledge is not
In teaching speaking, the social contacts are secondary in comparison with
the situations. Thus, the redirecting/redirection of the social contacts in
the content of the selection and organizing of the material must be taken
into attention. In terms of the organizing of the material the/its
classification is necessary. We’ll point out two main types of situations,
important from this point of view.
In one case the conversational turn of the trainee is specified by the
definite context, situational-conversational turn of the speaker and the
task of the speaker (the set task at the beginning or followed). For an
example, the task “Suggest your service”.
- I dream to see this film.
- Let’s go. I can get tickets.
- It’s a pity. I have no time.
- I would like to read “White Fang” by Jack London.
- I can give you this book.
- Thank you very much.
The situations in which the reply of the trainee is defined, we’ll designate
as “defined situations”. The methodical meaning of these situations (with
the aim of the selection and organizing of the material) is in the
following: the speech material can be selected and organized due to the
relevant tasks to fulfill speech functions i.e. appropriate speech behavior
in the relevant, in advance provided situations.
In other cases the speaker is not connected with to a hard activity program.
His speech acts are more or less free and are directed by the common task in
this situation, the task that is not fully completed by one speech action,
one conversational turn. That is to say, each of his speech actions is not
specified. The situations directed to the formation of the more augmented
utterance, not a micro dialogue or micro monologue, we’ll designate
unconditioned. The sample of its product can be any dialogue of more than
four conversational turns.
According to our observation the situational thematic organizing of the
communicative content of the oral speech teaching is of great interest among
the students, creates a psychological effect, which is clearly appreciable
in terms of the didactics. It is based on the following factors:
1. The factor of the definition of the aim. The students (or trainees) feel
the reality of the foreign speech teaching aim, understanding, that the
studied language can be the means of the real intercourse, mostly in the
situations of international contacts.
2. The factor of effectiveness. Due to the fact that the typical
communication – speech situations are very discrete, easily observable as
training steps of one programme, there is the possibility to achieve real,
clearly appreciable results, which in their turn, corroborate and maintain
3. The factor of communication. The training students’ activity is directed
to the real interaction between the participants of the training process, i.
e. it is connected with the intercourse, directed to the communication. The
communication is always entertaining, new, emotional, provokes the
intellectual activity of the trainees.
4. The factor of the play. The training activity is in point of fact, an
alternation of the parts – communicative (speaker - listener), training
(respondent, explicative, asking questions and etc.), accepted socio-
communicative (customer, passenger, patient, master, taking guests, and
others) and actable (film producer, farmer, scholar in History, minister and
The above mentioned discussion reveals that methodically efficient
situational-thematic organizing of the material for the development of the
oral speech contains a significant psycho-motivational potential, enables to
intensify the process of acquirement and mastering foreign languages in
1. Patricia A. Richard-Amato. Making it happen. (Interaction in the Second
Language Classroom), Longman, 2005.
2. Tony Wright. Roles of Teachers and Learners, CUP, 2005.
2. Wilga M. Rivers. Interactive Language Teaching. CUP, 2005
Biodata: Anna Yessengaliyeva, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Russian
Academy of Natural Sciences, head of Foreign Languages Department, L. N.
Gumilyov Eurasian national university, Astana, Kazakhstan
Century Multimedia Tools. Five Modern Technology Tools to be Used in the
by Monica Borş, Liceul Tehnologic de Electronică şi Automatizări “Caius
Keywords: multimedia, tools, technology, podcast,
vodcast, Glogster EDU, Wikispace, online dictionary, thesaurus, blog, Survey
Monkey, English teacher website
The article presents briefly the beginnings of teaching with technology, in
particular in the teaching and learning of the foreign languages. With the
latest developments in technology and the rise of the Internet, the teaching
and learning with technology has developed as well. Therefore, the article
presents five to six modern multimedia tools to be used within the 21st
modern technology class. The article concludes with the importance of using
technology in our classes as “teachers who don’t use technology will be
replaced by those who do", encouraging teachers to take initiative and
approach teaching using technology confidently.
Technology in the classroom has been used for decades. Teachers of modern
languages have been accustomed to technology since the 1960s and 1970s when
tape recorders, language laboratories and videos were introduced for the use
in the classroom. Not long after, in the early 1980s, the computer was also
introduced and together with it, computer-based materials for language
teaching. The use of computer and computer-based materials are often
referred to as CALL, which stands for Computer Assisted Language Learning.
As ICT, the acronym for Information and Communication Technology has become
more and more widespread, Computer Assisted Language Learning has moved
beyond the mere use of computer programmes and embraced the use of the
Internet and web-based tools. The Internet allows users to access, share and
interact with information and other users around the world.
There is no news that technology is present everywhere including in the
class. While some teachers choose to ignore it and complain that most of the
time technology does nothing more than disturb the class, other teachers
choose to use it during their classes. Whether you are in the first category
or in the second one, there are some multimedia tools that, at least, need
to be tried out.
It is essential to stress the fact that all these multimedia tools require
Internet access. This makes the teaching a bit difficult as with Internet
available students can get easily distracted. Even if they start using the
Internet to look up the information required by the activity, they might end
up browsing the Internet and be drifted in another direction. Therefore, one
solution is to block some sites that are among the students' preferences or
to keep a very close eye on the students' task solving.
First and foremost there are podcasts. Podcasts are available on any device
as long as it has Internet connection. Podcasts are audio files. Some of the
podcasts are especially adapted for the learners of the English language
while others are simply recordings of TV programmes. The podcasts for
learning the English language are usually organized according to topics. The
majority of radio stations use podcasts to record previous programmes. A
version of podcasts are vodcasts. While podcasts are audio files, vodcasts
are video files.
Podcasts and videos are good substitutes for the traditional cassettes, CDs,
and for the time spent looking up videos on you tube.
Secondly there are online questionnaires. Students love to ask and answer
questions. Teachers have a variety of questions to teach: direct, indirect,
subject, object questions and so on. A good site for creating online
questionnaires is Survey Monkey. Students will have the opportunity to
create different types of questions and answer them online.
Online questionnaires are easy to make, fun to answer and the amount of time
spent by teachers correcting the questions is greatly diminished.
Thirdly there are online posters. All teachers have experienced in their
teaching their students' vivid creativity and all teachers at one point have
asked the students to create a poster on a given assignment. Among favourite
topics, there are cities, artists, singers, bands, sports and so on. What is
different from a traditional poster is that when creating an online poster
you can also attach to your poster audio files such as songs and even video
files such as videos. The tool that allows you all these is Glogster EDU.
Students can browse the Internet and choose among the multitude of pictures
the right one or use more pictures. The same goes for the video files.
Teachers can store all posters in the same place and post them online.
Fourthly there are blogs. Everyone knows what a blog is, almost everyone at
one pointed started a blog, but few could cope with the routine and work a
blog requires. Typically a blog is nothing else but an online diary on
different topics, and the writer of the blog known as blogger posts
periodically new writings known as posts. Blogs are a must for every
teacher. It's the perfect opportunity to post students' work as the one
mentioned above using Glogster EDU. For this, there are different sites
available that offer free hosting such as blogger, wikispaces, or EDU blog.
Blogs are easy to maintain as each activity is posted as soon as it has
taken place. In addition, students love seeing their work on Internet and
getting comments from other readers. It motivates them as well as giving
them a real audience.
Fifthly there are the reference tools such as online dictionaries and online
thesauruses. A thesaurus is a reference tool that lists all the words
grouped together by similarity of meaning. Usually a thesaurus is used to
find different and more expressive ways of speaking and writing and the
dictionary is used as a semantic tool, to determine the meaning of words.
While dictionaries can be used at all levels, thesauruses are more suited to
the intermediate and advanced levels than to the elementary or
pre-intermediate levels, where much more language is new to the learner.
Thesauruses can be used at higher levels to enrich and extend the vocabulary
of the learners, whereas the lower-level learners might find the variety of
language on offer too overwhelming.
Online dictionaries are easy to use, fast and effective. A thesaurus can do
wonders for writing projects. It can encourage learners to be more
adventurous in their creative writing and, at the same time, it helps them
to analyze their writing with a critical eye. Once the students have seen
how the thesaurus works, they can look back at some of their writing and
identify the words and phrases they tend to overuse.
English Teacher Websites
Last but not least, there is a large number of blogs set up by teachers for
teachers, and one site that comprises the best of them is English Teacher
Websites. English Teacher Websites is "a non-profit website which aims to
provide a one-stop resource website which helps the teachers and students,
which promotes those websites which offer genuine resources, and helps
teachers who are looking for work or trying to promote themselves." The
creators of the site are all former or current teachers of English who
decided to create a comprehensive descriptive listing of the various
resources available online.
The listing consists of English resources for students, English resources
for teachers, English teacher websites, English teacher blogs, English
language schools, Skype and online English courses, English Teacher
Training, and even advice on how to plan your own teacher website.
In conclusion these multimedia tools definitely need to be tried out, get
accustomed to, and put into practice. That is partly because the future
looks grim as Sheryl Nunnbaum-Beach, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
of Powerful Learning Practice predicts "Teachers will not be replaced by
technology, but teachers who don't use technology will be replaced by those
"We live in a completely digitilized age and there's a whole generation of
so called digital natives coming through who will resist any kind of
education that doesn't take that into account and in fact it challenges us
to look at the possibilities of technology to see how they can assist in the
creation of learning opportunities using the learners' language
using/creating opportunities for real language use". Scott Thornbury,
academic and teacher trainer in the field of English Language Teaching.
***, Dimensiuni europene moderne în predarea-învăţarea limbii engleze,
Hubbard, Philip. Computer Assisted Language Learning. London: Routledge,
Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk, Barbara, John Osborne, and Frits Schulte. Foreign
Language Teaching and Information and Communication Technology. Frankfurt Am
Main: P. Lang, 2001. Print.
Morrison, Gary R. & Lowther, Deborah L., Integrating Computer Technology
into the Classroom, Pearson Education, Boston, 2010
Thornbury, Scott. About Language: Tasks for Teachers of English. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.
Biodata: Monica Bors has been teaching English for 9 years. This year she's
had the opportunity to attend a training course in London which focused on
Integrating Technology in English Language Instruction. The outcome of the
training consisted in using the tools summarized in the article in her
to Deal with Conflicts in Teaching Process. An Overview
by Irina Soroka, ESP teacher, KROK University of Economics and Law, Kiev,
Keywords: workplace conflicts, conflict management, role-plays,
This article is devoted to psychological trainings and such methods as:
games (business, role-playing), case studies, group discussions,
brainstorming, video analysis, etc. as a means of conflict resolution. It is
stated in the article, that these are designed to allow team members to
increase their ability to resolve conflict and ultimately transform it into
collaboration. By participating in conflict resolution games, team members
build trust, improve communication and create a team that is more productive
and more effective. Experiential learning activities and exercises can
challenge a team to deal with the real issues of conflict – different
personality styles, perceptions, assumptions, and ways of thinking – and
provide skills that can be used in real life.
Conflict is a natural and normal feature of the workplace. It occurs in
every organization. The educational institutions are not the exception.
Language teachers as well as those of other subjects face conflicts almost
every day in the classroom. Conflicts challenge people to think, to be more
creative, to develop greater understanding, and to search for alternative
ways that are more efficient, effective, and productive. Unresolved
conflicts, however, can result in the breakdown of a group. They can reduce
morale, hamper performance, lead to increased stress among employees,
decreased productivity, and at worst, aggression or violence (M. Scannell,
Conflict becomes a problem when people are unable to manage and resolve it
effectively. If conflict is not dealt with constructively, it can be a
powerful destructive force between teachers and within organizations. If it
is managed effectively, conflict can be turned into a constructive force.
Conflict is considered constructive if:
1. People change and grow personally from the conflict.
2. A conflict results in a solution to a problem.
3. It increases the involvement of everyone affected by the conflict.
Conflict is considered destructive if:
1. No decision is reached and the problem still exists.
2. It destroys the morale of teams or individual team-members.
3. It polarizes or divides teams or groups of people.
There may be varied causes of conflicts in teaching process. Some of them
are as follows:
- scarcity of resources (finance, equipment, facilities, etc);
- disagreements about needs, goals, priorities and interests;
- diversity in age, gender, race, religion, culture, experience and
- poor communication;
- lack of teamwork;
- lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities;
- incompatibility of old and modern methods of teaching etc.
Conflict management is the process of planning to avoid conflict and
organizing to resolve conflict where it happens, as rapidly and smoothly as
possible. There are some rules which can help language teachers (as well as
teachers of different subjects) to manage (or prevent) conflicts in their
Make sure that good relationships are the first priority. Treat each other
calmly and try to build mutual respect.
Keep people and problems separate. By separating the problem from the
person, real issues can be debated without damaging working relationships.
Listen first; talk second. By listening carefully you'll understand the
position of the counterpart.
Brainstorm possible solutions. Be open to all ideas, including ones you
never considered before.
Negotiate a solution. A technique like win-win negotiation can be useful to
find a solution that satisfies everyone. Roger Dawson in his work on “power
negotiating” states: “The most powerful way to get what you want is to make
sure that others get what they want”.
Call in an independent mediator. This person gives advice, acts as
intermediary and suggests possible solutions.
Appoint an arbitrator to act as a judge in a dispute. The arbitrator listens
to and investigates the demands and counter-demands and takes over the role
of decision-maker. People will accept his decision as final, in order to
resolve the conflict.
Be calm, be patient, have respect.
By following these rules, teachers can often keep discussions positive and
constructive. This helps to prevent the antagonism which often causes a
conflict to spin out of control.
Conflict management trainings are wide-spread and quite popular nowadays,
because they are really effective. Dale Carnegie was the first who began
using trainings and founded Dale Carnegie Training in 1912 which provided
trainings on Public speaking, Assertive communication and so on. Significant
contribution to the training as a form of education was also made by a
well-known social psychologist Kurt Lewin. In 1946 he with his colleagues
founded the training group (T-group) to increase competence in
communication. Management personnel, political leaders were trained to
resolve conflicts in organizations, develop interpersonal communication,
problem-solving, decision making, and critical thinking skills.
The rapid development of psychological trainings in America, followed by
Western Europe happened in the 60 – 70s of the XX century. During training,
the following methods are used: games (business, role-playing), case
studies, group discussions, brainstorming, video analysis, etc. Such
activities create a safe environment for team members to experience real
conflict, allow team members to practice their reactions to conflict.
Consequently, in future workplace conflicts, they will have the tools and
the experience to bring about positive results. By participating in
conflict-resolution games, team members build trust, improve communication,
and create a team that is more productive and more effective.
The ultimate goal of conflict games is to reveal collaborative solutions.
Experiential learning activities and exercises can challenge a team to deal
with the real issues of conflict – different personality styles,
perceptions, assumptions, and ways of thinking – and provide skills that can
be used in real life. Games can reveal real conflict along with emotions,
personalities, misunderstandings and reactions. The best feature of games is
that they allow teams to practice new skills in a fun and engaging manner.
As they become more at ease with the concepts, it is more likely they will
use the skills in the workplace. Games help team members become more
flexible and adaptive. Colleagues soon understand and appreciate the fact
that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. There are games that
build trust, improve EQ, enhance verbal and nonverbal communication. A lot
of excellent books (for instance, Scannell M. “The big book of conflict
resolution games”) and Web sites can be used by a trainer (teacher) for
conflict management in teacher training to resolve conflicts between:
teacher(s)-teacher(s); teacher-student(s); teachers-administration of a
school or university.
In conclusion, conflict is healthy for a team as long as it is handled in an
effective manner. By engaging in conflict-resolution activities,
participants may become more accepting of others’ beliefs, perspectives, and
experiences. Interacting on the informal level that conflict-resolution
games provide can change attitudes and behavior, ultimately providing an
opportunity to build a more cohesive and trusting team. Trainings are quite
new in Ukraine, as compared with the experience of the USA and countries in
Western Europe, so this issue is worth further theoretical and practical
1. Dawson R. Secrets of Power Negotiating. – New Jersey: Career Press, 2000.
– 320 p.
2. McConnon Sh. Conflict management in the workplace/ Sh. McConnon, M.
McConnon. – Oxford: How To Books, 2008. – 144 p.
3. Scannell M. The big book of conflict resolution games. – New York: The
McGraw-Hill Companies, 2010. – 231p.
4. Stewart L. Getting to Resolution. – San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Publishers, 2009. – 274 p.
5. Thomas K. Capozzpoli. Resolving conflict within teams/ Journal for
Quality & Participation; Dec 95, Vol. 18 Issue 7, p28.
Biodata: Iryna Soroka has been teaching English for about 17 years. She has
experience of work at language courses and has been teaching ESP (English
for Specific purposes) at University of Economics and Law, Faculty of
International Affairs, Kyiv, Ukraine. She is a member of IATEFL Ukraine and
is doing her PhD research in psychology.
on Scotland. A Professional and Personal Experience
by Irina Oltica Creţu, “Ion Creangă” Secondary School,
Keywords: Comenius course, 6 participating countries, discussions
about systems of education, teaching ideas to motivate students, from word
to word technique, Scottish society
Between 18-26th of May 2013 I participated in a Comenius training course in
Dunfermline, Scotland where I had a lot to learn from my experienced teacher
trainers and I shared a lot with the other European countries. I learned a
lot about new techniques and strategies of teaching, different strategies
for differentiation, motivating mixed ability classes, creative writing
activities, using authentic materials and grammar activities, how to teach
vocabulary, etc. My proposal is from word to word technique.
Between 18th-26th of May 2013 I participated in a Comenius-funded course-
FOCUS ON SCOTLAND - 1 Week Course for Teachers of English at Secondary
Level, organized by International Study Programmes which has 30 years
experience in organising courses for European Teachers. My participation
into the course was possible after my grant had been approved by our
National Agency-ANPCDEFP with the support of the European Commission.
The course took place in Dunfermline, Scotland and focused on working with
new methods and techniques that can be applied to secondary students,
discussions about the systems of education in the participating
countries-Romania, Spain, Netherland, Poland, Germany and Belgium, sharing
ideas and good educational practices, all done at a high level of use of
We also had the opportunity:
• to gain a huge variety of new teaching ideas and motivating materials
ready to use in the classroom.
• to keep abreast of changes in British Life and Society and of new
developments in the English Language
• to improve/perfect their language skills
• to exchange ideas and develop links with teachers from secondary schools
in different European countries.
The practical workshops conducted by expert teacher trainers with many years
of experience in training European teachers of English explored a wide range
of teaching ideas and activities designed to motivate students and make
language lessons more enjoyable and worthwhile, including:
• a variety of motivating activities which engage students’ imaginations and
creativity - innovative role play and drama activities, use of the media,
poetry and stories (based on the European Lingua Project: “Staging Foreign
• learner styles and learner training - different strategies for
• increasing motivation and inclusivity in the classroom
• motivating mixed ability classes
• creative activities for large classes
• cross-curricular language teaching
• developing learner autonomy
• all four skills - particularly integrated tasks
• stimulating ideas for exploiting textbooks
• creative writing activities
• correction and feedback strategies
• evaluation and assessment
• using authentic materials
• grammar activities
• teaching vocabulary
• the Lexical Approach
• task based learning
• using new technology
• recent developments in English
•relevance of World Englishes and ELF to the language classroom
At the end of the course all the teachers were asked to consider which
aspects of the course would be the most relevant to their teaching
situations. On their return we were invited to keep a record of how we have
been able to utilise ideas gained on the course in our own classrooms. We
were encouraged to share our experiences with our fellow participants by
email. Teachers also have email access to the teacher trainers for
discussion and advice after the course.
What I liked most was the fact that we got a wide range of ready-made
teaching material to share it with our students. One of the technique I want
to share with you and which worked excellent with my 12 –year- old ones is
called From Word to Word:
It took us about 30 minutes and we worked with a vocabulary frame-that means
I drew a frame in the shape of a diamond on the blackboard. I was working
with vocabulary frames for the first time, so I had to show my students how
these work, by doing an example on the board. I told them there is no single
correct answer. Then I told my students that, starting from the keyword
house (because we have already finished a unit about House) to list all the
word associations that came into their minds; they worked individually for 5
Then I put them into groups of two or three and asked them to fill another
empty frame by sharing their ideas.
The next step was putting two groups together and letting the students in
these enlarged groups compare results and comment on them (finally we had
*funny * words like toilet or unmade beds).
The final part was the whole group to write a text about the keyword, using
all the words in their frame. This is the model, but I added something-I
suggested them to make a poster with their text, a drawing and a name for
their group-they will present the posters next week, I can’t wait!
Meanwhile we had the chance to enjoy the British society in all its
splendors. We visited Edinburgh which is one of the best places to live,
having won more than 12 UK Best City Awards in 8 years to 2013 and,
attracting over one million overseas visitors a year, is the second most
popular tourist destination in the UK and was voted European Destination of
the Year at the World Travel Awards 2012., there we walked on the crowded
streets looking all around for Scottish men with bagpipes and dressed in
kilts. I informed myself before the course and I knew that in Edinburgh
harbor there still exists the Royal Ship Britannia, used by the Royal
Family, now place for visiting, an intense moment for me to take photos with
the royal piano or to sit at the royal table. Dunfermline itself is a quiet
and relaxing place with many green parks and lovely people; we tried to
taste the famous Scottish whiskey and our host family who was a friendly
lady offered us a great portion of honey and oats every morning. Our course
took place in an impressive building which served once as the City Hall,
that is why we felt very welcomed there.
It is said they do not spend so much money. Well…it is half true, Scottish
people do not like wasting money on buying many things like clothes or food,
instead they eat less, recycle almost everything and are very organized.
I had many things to learn from my new experience in Scotland and this
course was really a great step in my professional and personal development.
Biodata: Irina Cretu has been a teacher of
English for 5 years. She has been involved in projects, training
courses, partnerships, etc. She has an international experience measured in
an international camp in partnership with U.S. Embassies in Bucharest and
Budapest, a multilateral Comenius project with six other European countries
and two individual Comenius training courses in England and Scotland.
Methodology. A Comenius Experience in Dunfermline, Scotland
Cristina Nechifor, ”Mihai Constantineanu” Secondary School, Dorobanti,
Keywords: TEFL, secondary level,
motivating activities, creative ideas
The present article is a dissemination of a Comenius
course for English teachers at secondary level in Dunfermline, Scotland,
financed by the European Commission. Twelve English teachers from
different European countries took part. The course lasted one week and
included workshops on Scottish literature, history and the most
important on TEFL. The last ones led by a first hand expert in training
English teachers, Lucy Norris, explored a wide range of teaching ideas
and activities designed to motivate students and make language lessons
more enjoyable and worthwhile such as creative, excited warm-ups,
different writing and interrogation techniques, flipping the classroom
technique, CLIL, new technologies in teaching a foreign language, and
finally ready to use material at the English classes.
Although having been teaching English at a secondary school in a rural
area for almost ten years now I have always tried to adapt my teaching
style so that all my students acquire at least the basic English
language knowledge and to make English classes more enjoyable for them.
For this I took part to many activities involving teaching experience
exchangings in our county and country but it was high time for me to go
further. Applying for a one-week Comenius course for English teachers at
secondary level in Dunfermline, Scotland, was the next step. Some say
you never know until you try yourself. And I did it successfully.
As all the Comenius courses organised by International Study Programmes,
Cheltenham, England, the programme in Dunfermline, I took part between
18 and 26 May 2013, started with a weekend of accommodation before the
initial course. Besides the financial reasons, staying at a Scottish
host was my choice to come into contact with the real Scottish life and
practise English as much as I could. All the twelve members of our group
did the same which means that everybody wanted to take this advantage.
The first day of the course was also an opportunity for all the group
members to know each other and find out everything we needed for our
stay there: the city map, other course details. It was great to meet
there English teachers for secondary level from different European
countries and of all ages: Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain,
Poland and Romania. This variety helped us during our course.
The same day we had two workshops on Scottish literature and history.
For the Scottish literature workshop we had to previously read several
pages about the bibliographies and works of Robert Burns, Robin Jenkins,
Norman MacCaig and Edwin Morgan in order to have an open discussion with
the lecturer Colin Stuart. He pointed out that in Scottish literature
everybody is important like ordinary people.
The illustrated lecture on Scottish history and traditions with Sheila
Szatkowski was very captivating and dense as she made us a complex
picture of the Scottish history and traditions with many details which
helped us understand better this unique people and culture. It was then
when we found out that the Scottish language was influenced by the
German and French languages due to the common historical events of these
nations. This was the theoretical part of the Scottish culture and
history insight. The practical part was about to follow later on and
during the following days. The afternoon of the first day was dedicated
to the city tour starting with Dunfermline’s most iconic landmark, the
abbey, where many Scottish kings are buried such as Queen Margaret and
Robert the Bruce, and ending in front of the city library.
This knowledge about the Scottish culture acquired during the first
workshops can easily be part of an English optional on Anglo-Saxon
culture which students might enjoy.
The programme of the following four days included the most important
part of our course that is practical methodology workshops on teaching
English as a foreign language conducted by Lucy Norris, an expert
teacher trainer with many years of experience in training European
teachers of English and a wealth of exciting ideas to impart. During the
first workshop we found out in groups of three similarities and
differences among our educational systems: compulsory education age,
national curriculum, language learning policy, performance related pay,
textbooks vs laptops and other educational policies. Here are some
examples. The compulsory age for education in Belgium and Netherlands is
between 4 and 18. There are three national curriculums in Belgium (three
regions) and Great Britain (three countries: England, Wales and
Scotland). Polish students learn English from the age of 6 during three
classes a week. Most UK schools refuse to use textbooks teachers
prefering to use their own materials. Uk schools have also been using
whiteboards since 2000 and every part of the classrooms such including
writing on walls and then wiping.
The following workshops explored a wide range of teaching ideas and
activities designed to motivate students and make language lessons more
enjoyable and worthwhile such as:
- musical background while working on different issues individually or
in groups, in order to stimulate creativity and imagination;
- creative, excited warm-ups at the beginning of each course day or
after breaks such as: dancing after a video model, songs implying
movement – stand up at each word starting with letter B, reading the
alphabet while raising the left or right arm and hand as the teacher
indicated above each letter, making a list of – something you were
puzzled by..., something you are keen to try..., something you think is
particularly useful in your teaching context...., something you’d like
to know more about..., something you would like to cover/learn about
- watching pictures from movies and expressing opinion by taking one of
the four positions previously established in the classroom, the four
places representing different opinions – like/OK/dislike/don’t know the
- experts/visitors poster presentation. After working in groups of four
on posters containing our opinions on educational systems, two members
of one group remain as experts near the poster to answer to the
questions of two visitors, members of another group. Posters are exposed
on the classroom walls.
- different interrogation techniques: one might imply movement as each
member takes one of the three positions on an imaginary cline in the
classroom – Who’s in favour?/ Who’s against?/ Who’s on the fence? -
after the teacher asks different questions.
- peer dictation: three timesat a normal speed, three students check
together for 1 version;
- Sandwich story technique: the teacher dictates the first part of a
story which ends with two negative sentences, then students are asked to
write three grammatically negative sentences, the teacher dictates
another bit of text with two questions, students are asked to write
three more questions, the teacher dictates another bit of text after
which the students end the story with three more statements. Students
may choose in groups of three the best version to read to the whole
- Drawing a text. Students are divided in two groups, A and B which are
subdivided in groups of 3-4 students. The students in group A receive
one text and the students in group B the other. After reading and
discussing the text in the group they should draw a picture story in
subgroups. Once they finish the drawings they compare their picture
story with the subgroup with the same story. Then they swap the picture
story with a subgroup who has the other text and try to write the text
from the pictures received. Students may write down expressions/phrases
used to describe the pictures. At the end they may compare the original
stories with the ones they have written.
- flipping the classroom technique in order to raise motivation and
inclusion in the classroom and to involve all the students, different
roles for each workgroup member: reporter (interviews members of other
groups to compare their work), facilitator (monitors and encourages
dialogue), ellaborator (leads the discussion towards the prior
- CLIL. Each member of the whole group of twelve received one blue
stripe of paper with a statement from the biology field and one yellow
stripe of paper with true/false then the explanation of a different
biology issue from the one on the blue stripe. A students starts by
reading its statement from the blure stripe and leads the discussion in
the group who must finally reach to a conclusion: true or false. After
the groups agrees on the answer another member of the group who
considers having the proper answer reads it and continues the group
discussion by reading his/her staement from the blue stripe. The
discussion finishes when all the members have read their statements and
We were also given ideas on how to use new technologies in teaching a
foreign language by using web 2.0 tools such as: wordle/wordcloud,
prezi.com, googledocs, social media: instagram, My space, Facebook,
Twitter, blogs, videos, devices: tablets, e-readers, smartphones,
All the ideas and activities from the workshops can be easily used as
such during our English classes at secondary level and more, or they
might be adapted by teachers according to the curriculum contents, their
preferences and students’ level. The knowledge enriched during the
workshops was completed by a lot of worksheets and materials on a memory
stick: power points, videos, reference material.
Working with English teachers from different European countries and
being trained by a first hand expert was a unique experience which has
already helped me improve my teaching style, my English speaking skill
and finally but not least lead more enjoyable and creative English
classes for my students.
Licensed in Geography-English and a master degree in European Studies at
”Al.I.Cuza” University, Iasi, Cristina Nechifor has been teaching
English for almost ten years during which she followed many training
courses and prepared students successfully for different English
contests. She was also a headteacher for three years. At present she is
an English methodologist and working on an e-twinning project with her
Copyright © Romanian Association of Teachers of English
ISSN 1844 – 6159
Edited by Ovidiu Aniculaese