In this issue:

ISSN 1844 – 6159

Editor's Notes:

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 ones.
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 situation.
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 houses.


 The Wonders of Wikis. Using Wikis for Collaborative Writing

by Darron Board, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Keywords: ICT, wiki, online teaching skills, collaborative writing 


Many 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.


Once 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 goal.

1: Choosing a wiki

Your 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:

·         writing a series of short film/book/game/app/TV show/etc reviews based around a general genre (e.g. romance, comedy, adventure...)

·         writing a discursive essay from a list of choices – each student writes a particular paragraph

·         writing a travel guide to your local town – each student chooses a particular section to work on 

·         writing an introduction to your school, college, etc for a group of visiting students


3: Using a wiki as a warm-up activity


Now 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!

This 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".

We 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.

Some sentences to get you started.... remember to add some of your own!

1: Henry VIII had six wives, including Pamela Anderson and Isabel Pantoja.

2: To pass English course, you need to bribe your teacher.

3:  The capital of the USA is New York.

Keep 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. 

You 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, such as:


"Juanjo wrote sentence 12 and Gemma corrected it."


This 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 

In 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 list.

Please note that for the assessed tasks you will need to work in groups of four.  Please note:

·         There should be no more than 4 people in each group.

·         The first person in each group must choose a name for the group – the name should be city in an English speaking country!

·         If you create a new group but there is another group which you could join, you may be moved to that group.

·         The definitive list of students in each group will be published at the end of next week

For example:

Group 0: San Francisco

1. Pepa López

2. Dariuz Kowolosovitz

Group 1:                                       Group 2:

1.                                                1.

2.                                                2.

3.                                                3.

4.                                                4.

Make 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 

By 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

Your 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?

If 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!


I 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:  d.m.board@open.ac.uk



Biodata: 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).  DELTA, MA TEFL (U. Pais Vasco Spain) and EdD (U. Iberoamericana Mexico).



 ELT coursebooks. A Blessing or a Drag?

by Ileana Maria Chersan, PhD, Police Academy, Bucharest

Keywords: ELT coursebook, course structure and aims, students’ needs, standardization, context appropriate learning resources


This study 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.

1. Introduction
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: 10).
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 authenticity.
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 language course.
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 etc.
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 context).
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 expert.
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.

5. Conclusions
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 goal.
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, and administrators.


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6. Garinger, D. 2001. “Textbook Evaluation.” TEFL Web Journal. www.teflweb-j.org/garinger.html.
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 University Press.
11. Richards J.C. 2013. The role of textbooks in a language program, CUP online, http://www.cambridge.org.br/authors-articles/articles?id=337.
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 University Press.
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 Journal 37/3:251-5.

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

by Ştefana Balan, Colegiul Naţional "Vasile Alecsandri", Bacău

Keywords: creativity, motivation, strategies, learning, materials, activities


This 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 motivation.
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[1], 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[2], whose website and materials represent a great resource for the English teachers.

The 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 European countries.

The course mainly dealt with:

1. 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 impart.

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.


1. 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 Learning (TBLT)[3], 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.

It 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[4].

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 about literature[5]. 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.


2. Motivation to Learn English


It 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.

How 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.

At 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[6]. 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.

In 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.

Disclaimer: This 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 here: http://www.anpcdefp.ro/



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 and http://stefanabalan.blogspot.ro.



 Introduction of the Linguistic Material in Teaching English

by Anna Yessengaliyeva, PhD, L. N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Astana, Kazakhstan

Keywords: 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 speech.


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 connected.
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 hotels.
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 groups, singers.
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 content.
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 evident.

1. The content of the situation is a problem, conflict, violating the interrelations’ system.
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 mutual contact.
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 necessary.
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 the motivation.
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 so on).
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 difficult conditions.

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


 21st Century Multimedia Tools. Five Modern Technology Tools to be Used in the Class

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

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.

Survey Monkey

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.

Glogster EDU

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.

Blogger/Wikispace/EDU blog

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.

Reference Tools

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 who do."

"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, POSDRU/87/1.3/S/62665
Hubbard, Philip. Computer Assisted Language Learning. London: Routledge, 2009. Print.
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 classes.


 How to Deal with Conflicts in Teaching Process. An Overview

by Irina Soroka, ESP teacher, KROK University of Economics and Law, Kiev, Ukraine

workplace conflicts, conflict management, role-plays, resolution, training.

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, 2010).
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 knowledge;
- 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 work:
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 study.

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.
6. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_81.htm#irb

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.

Focus on Scotland. A Professional and Personal Experience

by Irina Oltica Creţu, “Ion Creangă” Secondary School,  Botoşani

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 English language.
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 Language Learning”)
• learner styles and learner training - different strategies for differentiation
• 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 minutes.

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.


 Practical Methodology. A Comenius Experience in Dunfermline, Scotland

by Cristina Nechifor, ”Mihai Constantineanu” Secondary School, Dorobanti, Botosani

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.
Course programme
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 today...;
- 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 film;
- 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 class.
- 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 concepts);
- 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 answers.
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, goggleglass.
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.

Biodata: 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 students.










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