In this issue:

ISSN 1844 – 6159

Editor's Notes:

More and more teachers today complain about the pressure from peers, students and parents to give high marks indiscriminately. Add to that the compulsion to let students cheat during exams when one is an invigilator, the tradition of turning an understanding blind eye to homework that is either downloaded off the internet or done by some good Samaritan and the tendency to kindly overlook truancy and you have an almost perfect recipe for disaster in our schools.
Why do we allow this to happen? Is it because our own corrupt past and even present puts us off all strictness? Or is it because our entire culture is going through such turmoil that opportunism and corruption are as pervasive as an epidemic? Or maybe because the system is so poorly organized that professionalism is discouraged?
Whatever the answer may be, our profession allows no excuse. The reason is that we, teachers, operate at individual level, and so, while we cannot change the world, we can make a world of difference in one child or another’s crucial early experience of life. They may not learn and actually remember all the facts that we strive so hard to teach them throughout those years of school, but they do leave us with a serious amount of life-shaping experience: they practice and learn how to deal with a challenge, how to deal with their own failure, how to respond to threat or temptation and, generally, how to respond to their environment. It is up to us to make them take the right attitude or just constantly try to cheat … life.

Ovidiu Aniculăese


The Story of a Flying Sandwich. The Challenges and Expectations of Primary School Children

by Elena Gărdescu, School nr. 149, Bucharest

Key words: children, class management, motivation, effective learning, challenge, values


In her presentation on class management ”Control or chaos? Managing classes of primary children in a positive way” Carol Reed tells a story.

Recently qualified and working with an unruly class of 7 year olds in New York, one teacher watches a child throw a sandwich across the room. The sandwich lands on the floor. The teacher says “Stop throwing sandwiches!”, to which one student instantly replies: “ It’s too late, sir! It’s no point in saying that, sir! He’s already thrown the sandwich!”
It’s an agonizing moment when the teacher wonders what to do. He walks very slowly across the room, picks up the sandwich and eats it.
That moment wins him the amazement and respect of the whole class.
The teacher concludes: “They don’t teach you how to deal with flying sandwiches in the University!”.

Indeed, they don’t, but we are expected to deal with all sorts of problems from the very first lesson.

Unexpected and disruptive behaviour may occur at any time in the lesson and you might not be as inspired as the teacher who dealt with the sandwich.

Here are a few points to consider in teaching kids:
1. Children will always challenge you, to see how far they can go.
There is nothing new in this assumption. We all did that as kids. Imagine the children’s response if the teacher had started a moralizing speech on how disrespectful throwing sandwiches is. The children in the story were so amazed because they expected being told off. The last thing they expected was natural behaviour. Instead of reproaches and blame thrown upon one or more students, think of a set of simple rules to set up and agree with from the very first lesson and keep to the rules.

2. Children expect to learn something new in each lesson
Curiosity is what characterizes kids. There must be something new you bring to each lesson- new vocabulary, a new game, new pictures, a new song. However, developing skills practice involves routine. Even so, you have to raise the children’s awareness on each step they have made forward ”You see, now you can tell a story” or “You see, now you can understand the dialogue on the CD completely” This gives the kids a sense of achievement and motivation that will make wonders.

3. Children will learn when they are challenged.
Children are active in class if the task you give them is a little more difficult than what they can do. But what’s “a little”? It’s what Krashen and Terrel called “n+1” in their Natural Approach theory. Successful acquisition occurs when the learners have to understand input that is a little beyond their present level. This is particularly true in the case of developing oral fluency in which new vocabulary is regularly added to structures the speakers already use.

4. Children expect a certain routine
Kids feel safe when they know what comes next. The foreign language lesson is a new experience in itself. When the children can anticipate what they are supposed to do, they will feel confident and secure. Accurate lesson planning is the key to creating the climate of confidence, as it inspires the children with the feeling that the teacher is a responsible adult who is in control and knows what to do.

5. Children get bored easily
Variety is a basic requirement of the lesson. In a primary class, activities need to be simple and they must not last long. If we want to teach the children a poem, for example, we can plan a sequence of activities including repetition, role play, different intonation, movement, drawing- all focused on the same language input. Alternatively the kids need to be involved in both stirring and settling activities.

6. Children learn differently
The Multiple Intelligences theory has shown the diversity of ways in which people learn. If you want your lesson to be effective, it needs to be a combination of visual, auditory and kinesthetic stimuli (e.g. using flashcards, CDs, action rhymes in the same lesson).

7. Children expect you to be firm but fair.
Evaluation in primary school is a painful issue. Apart from being teachers of English, we are educators. Students learn such values as fairness and equality of chances if they are treated fairly and equally. Besides, we need to evaluate in the same way we teach – through games, picture dictation, oral interaction, etc.

8. You are expected to be flexible and tolerant.
If the children feel that you can understand their hesitations and their feelings, they will definitely understand yours. In class, children follow examples and models and the first one is the teacher. Some procedures and methods which work with some groups may not work with others. The ‘trial and error’ strategy is one we should adopt not only for ourselves, but also for the children.

9. Engage hearts and minds.
Effective learning is favoured by creating an affective, supportive climate It is very important to praise the kids, to build up rapport, trust and self-esteem. If this seems difficult to achieve, simply think of an old saying ”You may forget what someone told you or taught you but you will never forget how he or she made you feel.”

10. Children expect their teacher to have a sense of humour
Last but not least, the deep secret that ensures success in primary school is a very simple one: remember to be children yourselves. A teacher who can play and laugh along with the kids will win their hearts forever. Some fear they will lose face or control of the class if they do it. It’s all a matter of how you can teach the kids that learning can be fun but not only- it’s also hard work.

In conclusion, getting to know the children, their way of thinking and the way they learn is a must for primary school teachers. We may mot have learnt how to deal with flying sandwiches, but we need to accept this:

Control is a myth. The only person you can control in class is YOU.


1. Phillips, Sarah, Young Learners, Oxford University Press, 1993

2. www.onestopenglish.com, Carol Reed webinar “Control or chaos? Managing classes of primary children in a positive way”


 Motivation for Learning English. Teachers' Influence in the Continuance of a Student's Motivation

by Maria-Magdalena Dumitraşcu, Grup Şcolar Industrial Transporturi Căi Ferate - Craiova


Keywords: students' success, acquisition of English, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, teachers' role

Working as a high school teacher, I have been observing the factors that influence both students’ success and failure in their acquisition of English. I have noticed that some students are successful at language learning whilst others are not, although all my students are aware of the importance of learning at least one foreign language nowadays. Student motivation is rooted in students’ subjective experiences, especially those connected to their willingness to engage in lessons and learning activities and their reasons for doing so. Although English is not the language with the largest number of native or “first” language speakers, it has become a lingua franca. There is no doubt that English is and will remain a vital linguistic tool for many businessmen, academics, tourists and citizens of the world who wish to communicate easily across nationalities for many years to come.
Like all other processes, teaching changes and develops continuously. One of the most important things a teacher of English can give to a student is a love of language – an appreciation of subtle nuances of meaning, for rhythm in poetry, for the power of word. Teachers of English often say that a student who really wants to learn will succeed whatever the circumstances in which he/she studies. All teachers can think of situations in which certain “motivated” students do significantly better than their classmates. Students frequently succeed in what appear to be unfavourable conditions: they succeed despite using methods which experts consider unsatisfactory. It seems reasonable then to suggest that the motivation students bring to class is the biggest single factor affecting their success.


Learners’ motivation has become more commonly recognized as perhaps the major determining factor for successful learning in general, whether one is a high school student pushing one’s way through the battery of required courses needed to graduate, or an adult learner taking distance education courses. In any learning setting, the dynamics of motivation will be different. What will help a high school student sustain motivation may not apply to an adult learner, for example. Similarly, what factors affect and enhance learner motivation in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) setting will differ as well. Furthermore, motivation for EFL learners in a middle school or high school class will differ from the experience of an EFL adult learner.
It is accepted for most fields of learning that motivation is essential to success: that we have to want to do something to succeed at it. Without such motivation we will almost certainly fail to make the necessary effort. If motivation is so important, therefore, it makes sense to try and develop our understanding of it. Are all students motivated in the same way? What is the teacher’s role in a student’s motivation? How can motivation be sustained?

Defining motivation

At its most basic level, motivation is some kind of internal drive which pushes someone to do things to achieve something. In discussions of motivation an accepted distinction is made between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, that is motivation which comes from outside and from inside.
Extrinsic motivation is caused by any number of outside factors, for example, the need to pass an exam, the hope of financial reward, or the possibility of future travel.
Intrinsic motivation, by contrast, comes from within the individual. Thus a person might be motivated by enjoyment of the learning process itself or by a desire to make themselves feel better.
Most researchers and methodologists have come to the view that intrinsic motivation is especially important for encouraging success. Even where the original reason for taking up a language course, for example, is extrinsic, the chances of success will be greatly enhanced if the students come to love the learning process.

What is Student Motivation?

Student motivation naturally has to do with students' desire to participate in the learning process. But it also concerns the reasons or goals that underlie their involvement or noninvolvement in academic activities. Although students may be equally motivated to perform a task, the sources of their motivation may differ.
A student who is intrinsically motivated undertakes an activity "for its own sake, for the enjoyment it provides, the learning it permits, or the feelings of accomplishment it evokes". An extrinsically motivated student performs "in order to obtain some reward or avoid some punishment external to the activity itself", such as grades, stickers, or teacher approval.
Infants and young children appear to be propelled by curiosity, driven by an intense need to explore, interact with, and make sense of their environment. Unfortunately, as children grow, their passion for learning frequently seems to shrink. Learning often becomes associated with drudgery instead of delight. A large number of students leave school before graduating. Many more are physically present in the classroom but largely mentally absent; they fail to invest themselves fully in the experience of learning.
The motivation that brings students to the task of learning English can be affected and influenced by the attitude of a number of people. It is worth considering what and who these are, since they form part of the world around students’ feeling engagement with the learning process.
• The society we live in: outside any classroom there are attitudes to language learning and the English language in particular.
• Significant others: apart from the culture of the world around students, their attitude to language learning will be greatly affected by the influence of people who are close to them. If they are critical of the subject or activity, the student’s own motivation may suffer. If they are enthusiastic learners, however, they may take the student along with them.
• The teacher: clearly a major factor in the continuance of a student’s motivation is the teacher.
• The method: it is vital that both teacher and students have some confidence in the way teaching and learning take place.

What Factors Influence The Development Of Students' Motivation?

According to Jere Brophy (1987), motivation to learn is a competence acquired "through general experience but stimulated most directly through modeling, communication of expectations, and direct instruction or socialization by significant others (especially parents and teachers)."
Children's home environment shapes the initial constellation of attitudes they develop toward learning. When parents nurture their children's natural curiosity about the world by welcoming their questions, encouraging exploration, and familiarizing them with resources that can enlarge their world, they are giving their children the message that learning is worthwhile and frequently fun and satisfying.
When children are raised in a home that nurtures a sense of self-worth, competence, autonomy, and self-efficacy, they will be more apt to accept the risks inherent in learning. Conversely, when children do not view themselves as basically competent and able, their freedom to engage in academically challenging pursuits and capacity to tolerate and cope with failure are greatly diminished.
Once children start school, they begin forming beliefs about their school-related successes and failures. The sources to which children attribute their successes (commonly effort, ability, luck, or level of task difficulty) and failures (often lack of ability or lack of effort) have important implications for how they approach and cope with learning situations.
The desire to learn can come from many causes. Perhaps the students love the subject or are simply interested to see what it is like. On the other hand, they may have a practical reason for their study: they want to learn an instrument so they may have a practical reason for their study: they want to learn English so they can watch American TV or work with English people.
Famous research carried out in the second half of the twentieth century by Gardner and Lambert suggested that students who felt most warmly about a language and who wanted to integrate into the culture of its speakers were more highly motivated than those who were only learning language as a means to an end (e.g. getting a better job). In other words Integrative motivation was more powerful than Instrumental motivation. But whatever kind of motivation students have, it is clear that highly motivated students do better than ones without any motivation at all.

Suggestions for teachers

Increasing and directing student motivation is one of a teacher’s responsibilities, though we cannot be responsible for all of our students’ motivation. In the end it is up to them. However, there are three areas where our behavior can directly influence our students’ continuing participation:
• Goals and goal setting: motivation is closely bound up with a person’s desire to achieve a goal.
• Learning environment: although we may not be able to choose our actual classrooms, we can still do a lot about their physical appearance and the emotional atmosphere of our lessons. Both of these can have a powerful effect on the initial and continuing motivation of students.
• Interesting classes: if students are to continue to be intrinsically motivated they clearly need to be interested both in the subject they are studying and in the activities and topics they are presented with. We need to provide them with a variety of subjects and exercises to keep them engaged. The choice of material to take into class will be crucial too, but even more important than this will be the ways in which it is used in the lesson.
In order to make the language learning process a more motivating experience instructors need to put a great deal of thought into developing programs which maintain student interest and have obtainable short term goals. Teachers need to create interesting lessons in which the students’ attention is gained. This can sometimes be accomplished by the use of teaching strategies which are not often called upon by other teachers in mainstream subject areas. Encouraging students to become more active participants in a lesson can sometimes assist them to see a purpose for improving their communication skills in the target language. Successful communication using the target language should result in students feeling some sense of accomplishment.
One of the main tasks for teachers is to provoke interest and involvement in the subject even when students are not initially interested in it. It is by their choice of topic, activity and linguistic content that they may be able to turn a class around. It is by their attitude to class participation, their consciousness, their humour and their seriousness that they may influence their students. It is by their behavior and enthusiasm that they may inspire.
Teachers are not, however, ultimately responsible for their students’ motivation. They can only encourage by word and deed. Real motivation comes from within each individual.


Motivation may be influenced by various external factors including education, teachers, parents, peers, and classroom, which can enhance or lower children’s motivation. In other words, it is possible to enhance children’s motivation by creating an appropriate environment and using proper teaching methods and materials. By stressing meaningful aspects of learning tasks, encouraging pupils to have clear and specific goals, promoting perceptions of autonomy, and giving activities that are challenging but within their competence, children might be more intrinsically motivated to learn English.
Our attempts to initiate and sustain our students’ motivation are absolutely critical to their learning success, for as Alan Rogers writes, “motivation …is as much a matter of concern for the teacher as it is for the learner; it depends as much on the attitudes of the teacher as on the attitudes of the students” (Rogers 1996: 66).

Bibliography/ Sigles

Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Pearson Education Limited 2001
Harmer, Jeremy. How to teach English. Pearson Education Limited 1998
Rogers, A. Teaching Adults. Open University Press 1996
Brophy, Jere. Motivating students to learn. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. 2004


Tasks and Exercises in EFL Classes. Theoretical and Practical Aspects

by Cătălina Ecaterina Burlacu, Ionel Teodoreanu School, Iaşi

Key words: task, exercise, focus, authenticity, interaction patterns, cognitive process, role of participants, freedom of choice

Teaching a foreign language implies the use of a great variety of methodological devices, ranging from the traditional drills of the audio-lingual method to the current interactive activities proper to the communicative approach. Different in many aspects, all these devices aim more or less at eliciting language from the learner’s part. As any domain of research, EFL methodology has developed its own terminology, including also concepts whose definition still poses problems to the specialists, or which create confusion among EFL promoters due to their misleading nature. Thus, “activity”, “task” and “exercise” are only three terms frequently used for describing the same device of eliciting learner language. But do they refer to the same thing? How do they differ from each other? Wanting to clarify as much as possible some of the terms encountered on a daily basis in EFL practice, my essay will focus on the distinction between a task and an exercise. The essay will begin by presenting the differences between the two terms function of various aspects, whereas the second half will provide examples of tasks or exercises and identify their features as such.

Tasks and exercises differ in many aspects, such as their focus, the role of the participants, the way learning takes place, authenticity, and cognitive processes involved. What they have in common is the purpose for which they are used, namely learning a language and requiring learner language. What they differ in is the way this purpose is to be attained.
First of all, tasks and exercises have a distinct focus. Thus, tasks are activities that aim at meaning-focused language use, promoting communication and message conveyance in context, whereas exercises are oriented towards form-focused language use, resulting in displaying learner’s knowledge of the target language and having a linguistic outcome. At this stage, it is worth mentioning that even when carrying out a task (whose clear primary goal is using language pragmatically), learners may get to focus also on form and expose their knowledge of the linguistic system.
A second distinction between tasks and exercises refers to the roles of the participants. In the case of tasks, learners are language users, taking part in communicative activities similar to those encountered in real life, such as making an airline reservation, asking for and giving directions, accepting and refusing invitations, asking for help, filling in an application form, taking part in an interview, etc. In this case, the participants` primary focus is on communication through interaction with the others and learning takes place incidentally, without consciously reflecting upon it. When referring to exercises, the participants are learners focusing consciously on a specific linguistic aspect of the target language and learning takes place intentionally.

Another aspect which differentiates the two terms is authenticity, that is the likeliness of the language activity to happen in the real world. For example, the first activity below (World Class, M. Harris, David Mower, 1997, 6th Grade) is an authentic task, taking into account the daily necessity of carrying out similar conversations in real life; also, in order to be authentic, the final product, the interaction itself, should resemble to an authentic conversation carried to the market. On the other hand, the second activity, which is obviously a language exercise, lacks authenticity because what the learners have to do is only to complete the sentences with certain items in questions and answers, activity which definitely will not engage real-world language use. Moreover, for completing the exercise, the learners have no choice over the language to be used, as it happens in the case of tasks, where the language is selected by the learners themselves according to a certain semantic context imposed by the task. Besides that, the task itself offers some guidelines about what linguistic forms to use in a context, but the real linguistic choices are left to the learners. Also related to the authenticity of tasks, it should be mentioned that, at first sight, some of them could seem artificial, but the language elicited by the task may be related to real-life communication. For example, although the situation proposed by a task asking two students to describe two pictures could seem artificial, since in real-life communication we are not very often asked to do it, the language elicited by it, namely providing clear information about something, asking and answering questions, is part of our everyday interactional exchanges.



  1.                2.



Another example of an exercise is the one above (English Scrapbook, 7th grade), focusing on a language aspect, namely connectors or linking devices. In this case, the learners have to rewrite the sentences using three given items: but, however and although. Like in the other example, the learners have no option in terms of language use except for the given items, nor are they engaged in any form of interaction; the activity itself is not related to normal real-world communication, but it represents an initial stage in language learning. I assume that beyond this stage of controlled practice, free-practice tasks are going to be used in order to develop communicative competence.
Besides the aspects mentioned so far, tasks and exercises differ also in what they lead to. If exercises develop language knowledge and awareness, tasks are clearly oriented towards developing proficiency by means of interaction and communication. Obviously, exercises constitute a stage in language learning, but if communicative competence is envisaged, then they gradually should be replaced by tasks, that is more cognitively demanding activities, implying processes such as selecting, classifying and evaluating information.
The following activity (English Scrapbook, 7th grade) has all the features of a task since it focuses on meaning, interaction through pair-work and oral language use; also, the learners have the freedom to choose the language necessary to perform the task (how to formulate the questions, what register to adopt, what questions to select); it resembles to an authentic conversation (asking for information about people, interviewing), and finally the interaction leads to a definite written product (the biography) which proves that the task has been successfully carried out.

Here is another example of a task promoting communication through pair-work, negotiation between the participants, authentic interaction reflected in real-world situations (expressing wishes, agreeing or disagreeing), selection of information, and leading to a final product – building up full sentences expressing personal and other person’s wishes.



           To sum up, we have seen so far that tasks and exercises are different devices used in language learning and teaching. By analyzing the examples provided above, we could clearly see that they differ in many aspects, such as focus, degree of authenticity, interaction patterns, cognitive processes involved, role of participants, degree of freedom in choosing the language use, and the presence of a final outcome proving the task completion. Although the exercises have a restrictive linguistic focus, this does not turn them into less valuable resources in language learning and teaching. Language exercises and communicative tasks are interwoven in the process of language learning, providing the complete background of a language, including both form and meaning, structures and functions, language use and language usage. 

 Grammar in the Communicative Language Class

by Oana-Elena Andone, Liceul Waldorf Iasi

Key words: explicit grammar, implicit grammar, grammatical competence, structure based task, focus on form

In an age of global communication it is only natural that teachers of foreign languages should adopt a communicative approach to teaching, with a focus on communicative competence and communicative functions. However, communication is not possible with vocabulary and listening, reading or writing skills only, without the mastery of the system of rules that governs the language, in short what is normally called grammar. For communication to be genuine the speakers must be creative with language and have the ability to produce fairly accurate utterances that express whatever they wish to convey. It is safe to say that the deeper the grammar knowledge a speaker has, the more effectively he can use the language for communication.

However, teachers are faced with the question of how explicitly grammar should be taught or of how efficient the implicit teaching of grammar is for the student to achieve genuine communication skills. When selecting classroom tasks, educators must not abandon the final goal of communication, therefore what they include as learning activities must compel students to use language in authentic contexts, to convey real meaning and, last but not least, to use accurate and complex structure.

Pennington (2002) coined the phrase “action grammar” to describe his view of a communicative grammar class which “must be interactive in nature and relative to specific discourse communicates and their communicative practices.” A slightly different approach is offered by Fotos (2002) who suggested that a grammar lesson should follow three parts: explicit grammar instruction, communicative activities, and summary activities. The class begins with the teacher providing explicit grammar rules and explanation and continues with a large variety of communicative activities that contain uses of the instructed form. At the end of the lesson, in the summary activities section, students will focus on the grammar form they have just studied and then perform communicatively. Fotos strongly believes that explicit instruction will draw students’ attention to form and will raise accuracy.

Explicit description of language refers to whether the materials offered by the teacher provide learners with an explanation of the grammar point or whether learners are required to discover the rule themselves and develop their own explanations. Whether explicit or not, grammar must be put to work immediately in communication. Therefore tasks provide students with opportunities to produce the target language and receive feedback on the productions. Through feedback the students can notice the difference between the structure that they want to produce and their actual productions, thus leading to accuracy. Structure based tasks combine two goals- on the one hand there is the practice of language, which is communicative because it is meaning-focused interaction, and on the other hand learner awareness of language is enhanced.

Furthermore, Ellis (2002) suggests that when grammar instruction is extensive and is sustained over a long period of time, it contributes to the development of implicit knowledge and it promotes accuracy in the use of difficult forms in the target language. He also insists on the need for providing communicative opportunities that contain instructed grammar forms and a combination of form-focused instruction and meaningful communication. In a nutshell, students need opportunities to encounter and produce the structures that were previously introduced explicitly through the grammar lesson, or implicitly through direct exposure.

While Fotos and Ellis see in explicit grammar the opportunity of promoting language awareness and accuracy, others challenge the value of explicit grammar instruction. Krashen (cited in Ellis, Fotos and Nassaji, 2007) argues against explicitness stating that explicit grammatical knowledge about structures and rules for use may never turn into implicit knowledge underlying unconscious language comprehension and production. Thus his view is that the instruction of grammar alone may not promote genuine language of knowledge.

The Latin “aurea mediocritas” that teachers cannot go wrong with is focusing on form through process, as proposed by Nassaji (Ellis, Fotos and Nassaji, 2007). Focusing on form through process occurs in the context of natural communication when both the teacher and the learner’s primary focus is on meaning. On the contrary, focus on form through design is achieved through designing tasks which have deliberate explicit focus on language structure. Moreover, focus on form may be achieved within a communicative task by providing reactional feedback on students’ errors. But whether educators adopt explicit or implicit grammar teaching, focus on form is essential in language teaching. Without grammatical competence one cannot achieve discourse competence, i.e. the mastery of combining grammatical forms and meaning to achieve a unified spoken or written text, and without discourse competence one cannot achieve communicative competence.

Ellis, Rod. (2002) “Methodological options in grammar teaching materials”, in Hinkel, Eli and Fotos, Sandra (eds), New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in second Language Classroom. New Jersey, Publishers Mahwah;
Ellis, Rod, Fotos, Sandra and Nassaji, Hossein. (2007). Form Focused Instruction and Teacher Education: Studies in Honour of Rod Ellis. Oxford, Oxford University Press;
Fotos, Sandra. (2002) “Structure-based interactive tasks for the EFL grammar learner”, in Hinkel, Eli and Fotos, Sandra (eds), New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in second Language Classroom. New Jersey, Publishers Mahwah;
Pennington, M.C. (2002) “Grammar and communication: New directions in theory and practice”, in Hinkel, Eli and Fotos, Sandra (eds), New Perspectives on Grammar Teaching in second Language Classroom. New Jersey, Publishers Mahwah.


 Prompting Feedback from Students During Literature Classes. An Interactive Manner

by Delia Ilona Cristea, National College ”Elena Cuza”, Craiova

Key Words: lead-in, comprehension, analysis, suspense, fight of influences, vulnerability, sarcasm, elegance, wit, temptation, portrait, Faust, hedonism, Mephastophilis, validity of Art.

Understanding Dorian Gray is equal to accepting the value of Art

The first line of the chapter presents the inevitable meeting between Dorian and Lord Henry. How would you define “fate”? Why is suspense used in a story? ( the teacher gives the definition of the term) . How do you think the two characters are going to react? Timing: both activities last no more than 10 min.
(Suspense: The growing of excitement felt by an audience or individual while awaiting the climax of a movie, book, play, etc. due mainly to its concern for the welfare of a character they sympathize with or the anticipation of a violent act. An example of suspense can be found in the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in the AP literature textbook. When the family is systematically killed off one by one, the reader cannot help but have a sense of sympathy for the poor unfortunate souls of the unlucky family members thus adding to the suspense of the story.) (46)
At this stage the students are acquainted with the text :
”As they entered they saw Dorian Gray. He was seated at the piano, with his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann's "Forest Scenes." "You must lend me these, Basil," he cried.... I am far too frightened to call”.
Answer the following questions:
1.Dorian blushes at the sight of Lord Henry.How do you interpret that? Is it mere shyness or already attraction?
2.The three man start talking about Lord Henry’s aunt and her charities, and we learn that has got involved in these charities but has already failed to go. How would you describe the young man in one sentence, given this information?
3.What do you think is the first impression Lord Henry has about Dorian? Is it a favourable one? Give instances from the text.
Timing for all: 10 min.
The text to be analysed is given below.
"Just turn your head a little more to the right, Dorian, like a good boy," said the painter, deep in his work and conscious only that a look had come into the lad's face that he had never seen there before.... Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!"
The fight of influences between Basil and Lord Henry is presented in four stages in the excerpt. Find the references for each.
a) Basil asks Lord Henry to go...
b) Lord Henry’s art ...
c) Basil tries to warn Dorian...
d) Lord Henry warns Dorian himself ...
Timing:5 min.
Then comment on the content of this influence, starting from: “Let your impulses rule your life” and “We all have impulses”
Timing:10 min.
Give one example from the text to illustrate the way in which Lord Henry manages at the outset to change the young man’s principles of life radically.Comment on Dorian’s vulnerability and find three reason why such a thing happened.
Timing:10 min.
Which of the following syllogism in Lord Henry’s monologue is false :
a) We must enjoy the pleasures of life to be happy
b) We can only enjoy them when we are young
c) We must be young to be happy
Some new elements about the text may be introduced at this stage. They are related to the characters, inasmuch as the novel may be interpreted as an autobiographical novel too. Dorian : represents the sort of young man O.Wilde could fall in love with. He is also an image that the young Wilde had of himself, an image with which he was narcistically in love. He is an ideal of beauty and purity at the beginning of the book but will become a degenarate soul. This degradation expresses Wilde's disgust with his own sexual life. Lord Henry : he is Oscar wilde's dark side : the corruptor. So he has what can corrupt : Wilde's charm and elegance, his intelligence, his wit. Basil Halward : he is Wilde's conscience, good and and pure, disinterested. He is also the artist in the story, not a poet and writer like Wilde, but a painter.
Further notes: In contrast with the autobiography, an autobiographical novel is a semi-fictional narrative based in part on the author's life experience, but these experiences are often transposed onto a fictional character or intermixed with fictional events. Examples include Thomas Wolfe's “Look Homeward, Angel” and James Joyce's “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”.
Timing:10 min.
Focus on the character of Dorian. His reaction at the sight of the portrait “came on him like a revelation”as he understands fully the implications of Lord Henry’s speech. Therefore, he wishes never to grow old and that the portrait should grow old instead.What is the key sentence in the text and, in fact, the turning point of the whole novel?
Timing: 15 min.
Do this while reading the following text:
"How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June.". . . "This is your doing, Harry," said the painter bitterly.Lord Henry shrugged his shoulders."It is the real Dorian Gray-- that is all.""It is not.""If it is not, what have I to do with it?""You should have gone away when I asked you, he muttered.”
Focus on the character of Basil Hallward. Students are given a written assignment in which to portray this character’s traits mainly focusing on his pain at the sight of the innevitable and obviously negative influence Dorian has undergone in contact with Lord Henry’s sarcastic remarks of life.
Timing: 10 min.
Focus on the character of Lord Henry in opposition with the painter. At this stage the teacher may want to offer another theoretical support as to the symbolical interpretation of the characters.It is also a kind of background for the understanding of the novel as a whole, at a stage where the students have already become acquainted with the main characters ( Dorian, Lord Henry and Basil ) and the major conflict (Dorian’s promise to give his soul to the devil in return for perpetual youth ).
Timing; 10 min.
One school of thought presents to us an idea of life after death as either heaven or hell. The concept is one that you grow to understand, one that you create. However, Dorian Gray and Dr. Faustus are two literary characters that shake hands with the devil early on. The two met their fate long before they had sinned. According to The Faust legend, Dr. Faustus sells his soul to the devil in return for twenty four years of service. While reading the novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray," it is obvious that he has followed a similar path of signing a pact with the devil. He will receive eternal youth as long as hecommits himself to sin. The stories of their lives intertwine and each can be seen in a reflection of the other.
Dr. Faustus of The Faust Legend and Dorian Gray of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray have similar personalities in that both are naive and easily tempted. Before Dorian’s pact with the devil, he was a young gentleman very much respected for his good looks and childish innocence. Similarly, Dr. Faustus was well respected for his reputable education. The two have gifts that others admire, yet they are both dissatisfied with the way their lives are and indiscreet. In their quests for happiness, they both become vulnerable and open to the influence of others. The hedonist (The term “hedonism” refers to the pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses), Lord Henry begins his influential work on Dorian. He says, "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful" . Suddenly, a whole new world is open to Dorian, one that had been previously inconceivable. These words made sense to him and so he thought they must be true.
His gullibility blinds him to think critically about consequences of this new life style. Dr. Faustus, who is also searching for a new way of life, begins to practice and learn magic. He too, begins to see life differently. Magic gives him power to have whatever he wishes and he never questions the consequences. Both want pleasure, a feeling so far unknown; on the other hand*, the two are not completely gullible. Both Dr. Faustus and Dorian Gray question their actions, but the apprehension fades and both continue their pact with the devil. There is also a parallel character of Lord Henry. Dr. Faustus’s new influence becomes a devil named Mephistopheles/Mephastophilis. "Later, Mephastophilis answers all of his [Dr. Faustus] questions about the nature of the world" (47). While many characters are alike, the events of both stories resemble each other.
Dr. Faustus and Dorian Gray begin to create turmoil wherever they go. In Dorian’s first act of sin, he breaks the heart of a young girl, Sybil, and this girl commits suicide. James Vane, Sybil’s brother vows revenge on Dorian. "Don’t forget that you will have only one child to look after, and believe me that if this man wrongs my sister, I will find out who he is, track him down, and kill him like a dog. I swear it" (48). This vow of revenge also occurs in Dr. Faustus’s case. On one of his travels, a knight taunts Dr. Faustus’s magical powers and Dr. Faustus makes antlers sprout from the knight’s head. The knight vows revenge. Both Dr. Faustus and Dorian Gray cunningly escape the vows of revenge. After Dorian Gray commits himself to sin, he receives a signature from the Devil. The beautiful portrait of himself is altered. His face is no longer young and beautiful. The look on his face changes. The evil look mockingly haunts him. Dr. Faustus also receives a signature mark. "As soon as he does so, the words ‘Homo fuge,’ Latin for ‘O man, fly,’ appear branded on his arm" (49). Lord Henry, Dorian’s evil influence, gives Dorian a little yellow book about a young man who is also committed to sin. This book becomes his bible and Dorian reads it repeatedly. Mephastophilis, Dr. Faustus’s influence, also gives Dr. Faustus a book. This book contains spells which Dr. Faustus must learn and follow, in the same way that Dorian follows the little yellow book. In essence, the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, used The Faust Legend 1619 as an inspiration for his novel. The similarities are too evident to ignore. One begins to wonder why Wilde would use the legend as an inspiration. Based on background information, Wilde was accused and found guilty of sodomy in his late life. He was interested sexually in men during a time when this thought was depraved.
In the novel, Dorian Gray himself has sexual relations with men. Generally speaking, this action was unacceptable by societal standards and Wilde had to come up with a defense for writing such a thing. As a result, The Faust Legend gave an excuse for Wilde’s ideas and Dorian’s actions. Now it could be justifiable, because it was a literary character that was dedicated to committing sin. In other words, it’s not me; it’s the devil! And anyway, what Wilde intends to demonstrate is the validity of Art, which is not constrained by any barriers related to religion, morality, politics etc.


Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 1891. Ed. Donald L. Lawler.New York:
Norton, 1988.
Bowlby, Rachel. "Promoting Dorian Gray”Shopping With Freud.” London: Routiedge,
Cervo, Nathan. "Wilde's Closet Self: A Solo at One Remove." Victorian Newsletter. 67
(1985 Spring): 17-19.
Hart , John E .” Art As Hero : The Picture of Dorian Gray .” Research Studies. 46 (197$):
Blake, Robert W., ed. Reading, Writing and Interpreting Literature: Pedagogy, Positions and Research. Schenectady, NY: New York State English Council, 1989. [Johnson LB1049.95 .R44 1989]
Bogdan, Deanne. Re-educating the Imagination: Toward a Poetics, Politics, and Pedagogy of Literary Engagement. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1992. [PN70 .B6 1992]
Cahalan, James M. and David B. Downing, eds. Practicing Theory in Introductory College Literature Courses. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1991. [PS25 .P7 1991]


Interactive English with Young Learners. Making Learning Enjoyable and Memorable

by Lăcrimioara Nasui, “Mihai Eminescu” School, Dej

Key words: motivation, interactive, young learners, warmers, mood changers, fillers, games


Motivation is the thoughts and feelings we have which make us want to do something, continue to want to do it and turn our wishes into action. Motivation is very important in language learning. It helps make learning successful and it needs to be both created and continued.

Among the factors that influence our motivation we can mention: the usefulness of knowing the language well; our interest in the target language culture; self-confidence; learner autonomy; encouragement and support from others (teachers, family, peers, school, society, etc); our interest in the learning process; etc.

How teachers can encourage greater motivation in their learners

►Set a personal example with your own behaviour as a teacher
►Create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom
►Present interesting and achievable tasks
►Establish a good rapport with the class
►Increase the learners’ self-confidence with praise and encouragement
►Personalisation- the lessons should be relevant to the learners’ lives

Interactive activities that motivate learners

♦ Simon Says
It is a good warmer for revising parts of the body or instructions before a lesson. Ask all the class to stand up. You give them instructions which they only follow if you say “Simon says”, e.g. “Simon says ‘Sit down’ ”. If they follow the instruction without “Simon says”, e.g. “Touch your shoulders”, they are ‘out’ of the game. You can speed up or make it more exciting. It can get quite frenetic, so it’s good for warming up a sleepy class, but not so good if the class is very noisy. They will just get more noisy!

♦ Line up
It is a good warmer for previewing the topic of the lesson or for language revision. Ask students to line up according to when their birthday is, to preview a lesson on how to say dates and practice ‘I was born in 1998’ or ‘I was born on the 9th of July’. You can also ask them to line up according to height for comparatives and superlatives, e.g. ‘John is taller than Maria’ or ‘Tom is the tallest in the class’. They can then line up according to the number of letters in their name in order to practice spelling names.

♦ Wheels
It is a good warmer for getting talking in English, class dynamics, previewing the topic of the lesson. Get students to form two circles, one inside the other one. Each circle should have the same number of students. The outer one walks in one way, the inner one walks the other way. When you clap your hands, students on the inside turn outwards to talk to students on the outside (in pairs). You can do it 5 times or so, each time giving them a different topic. The topics can range from ‘What did u do last weekend?’, in order to practice Past Tense, to ‘What do you think about keeping pets?’, to preview a lesson about pets.
Start with easy topics and move on to the subject of the lesson as the students warm up! A good variation is to play music as the students walk for a few seconds, then stop it.

♦ 2 true, 1 false
It is a good warmer for class dynamics or getting to know each other better. You should demonstrate the activity with yourself first. Tell students 3 things about yourself. Students have to say which is false. Then pair them up to do the same. Give them a few minutes, then take feedback.

♦ Letter mix
It’s a good activity for getting brains working or for vocabulary revision. Put the letters of a word on the board, all mixed up. Give students a few minutes to work it out. You can start with something easy, such as something they had the previous lesson, like UCBROADP (for ‘cupboard’); then give them something more difficult, depending on their level, such as MSOEUTRALS (for ‘somersault’).
A variation is to give them a clue, e.g. the first one is something you have in the kitchen; the second one is something an acrobat does.

♦ Five-minute writing storms
This activity is for an upper level and is excellent to change the mood in the classroom or as a filler at the end of a lesson. Tell students they have exactly 5 minutes to write about a given topic. Examples are: ‘A favourite relative’, ‘My favourite TV programme’, ‘My favourite singer/actor’, etc. In order to motivate them even more, you should start writing furiously yourself! They must know you are not going to mark them for language mistakes, but for content. Take them in and give general feedback.

♦ Kim’s game
This game is good for vocabulary revision or as a memory game. Put about 10-12 small objects on a tray and cover it with a cloth. Put the tray on the table so that all the class can see it. Students are not allowed to write at this point. Uncover the objects for 1 minute, then cover it again. The aim is for students to remember as many objects as possible and write them in their copybooks.

♦ 20 questions
It is a good game for question practice. A student chooses a place, a famous person or an object. The rest of the class have to find out who/what it is by asking a maximum of 20 yes/no questions. Make it more competitive by dividing the class into teams.

♦ Biting your tail
This activity is good for vocabulary revision, for all levels. Start with a word that everyone knows like ‘elephant’. The next person has to give a word beginning with the last letter of that word, e.g. ‘train’, and so on, ‘number’, ‘rabbit’, etc. you can’t repeat words. If you take longer than 10 seconds, you are ‘out’. To make this activity more challenging, they have to make all words belong to one category, e.g. ‘family’, ‘fruit’, ‘furniture’, ‘clothes’, etc.

All those warmers, mood changers, fillers and games keep students motivated and make learning enjoyable and memorable. When learners are enjoying themselves, they seem to pick up new words and other language items quickly and easily. You will be amazed at how fast the language will really ‘stick’ to them!


1. TKT Course (Teaching Knowledge Test), Mary Spratt, Alan Pulverness, Melanie Williams; Cambridge 2005
2. TKT Glossary, University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, Cambridge 2005
3. The Practice of English Language Teaching (3rd edition), Jeremy Harmer,
Longman 2001
4. Steps to Success. A starter pack for newly qualified teachers, Sue Leather, British Council 2007
5. Teaching English to Children, Wendy A. Scott & Lisbeth H. Ytreberg, Longman 1990


New Trends in Teaching Vocabulary. Affective and Cognitive Factors

by Ioana Constantinescu (Dugan)
School nr. 139 “Mircea Santimbreanu”, Bucuresti

Key words: personality, interdisciplinary, motivation, global education, communicative competence, mastery learning, quality of instruction, personalized system of instruction.


Throughout the history of language teaching, theories and methods have gone through a recurring cycle: development, arbitrary enforcement, a brief period of enthusiasm and rejection. We cannot and we should not ignore the achievements of the past. To do so would severely limit our view of current trends. Many theories and favored methods at the turn of the century are still in the use today. We still utilize some facets of the audio-lingual method with its emphasis on structural linguistics and behaviorist psychology. Dialogues are shorter and more lifelike. Learners comprehend the meaning of all utterances through pictures, gestures, dramatization. Utterances are usually contextualized.
A student response that is rewarded by the teacher is reinforced and therefore learned, while negative teacher reaction on feedback is generally detrimental to learning.

Some key words and phrases, like motivation, personality, interdisciplinary, and cultural are regaining respectability. Let us take a brief look at several of these words and phrases that appear frequently in learning or teaching materials, bearing in mind that the line of demarcation between affective and cognitive factors is no longer clear-cut. Factors in both domains in¬teract, depending on the surrounding "world" and on in¬herent cultural structures within the individual.
Motivation is no longer thought of only as integrative or instrumental. It is again considered a key to learning, created, fostered, and maintained by the enthusiastic, sensi¬tive, well-prepared classroom teacher at every stage of the learning process, as he or she meets the students' basic needs. The universal needs identified by the psychologist Maslow are: survival, (and security), belonging, identity, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Procedures that can be¬come a part of every lesson and which will help students de¬velop these positive affective feelings include:
(a) relating the presentation and practice of any communicative or lin¬guistic item or the reading and writing of any "text" to their native language and culture and to their probable experience in their native land or their new environment; (b) encourag¬ing them to speak of their native culture in English or in their native tongue, where feasible;
(c) making sure that they com¬prehend every dialogue utterance, the gist of the reading passage, instructions for tasks and activities, and cultural allusions in a listening or reading passage;
(d) giving them extensive practice in using verbal or—if necessary—non¬verbal alternatives for communicative expressions, struc¬tures, or language items;
(e) rotating their participation in groups according to their academic needs or their evolving interests;
(f) engaging them in paired practice activities for a good part of each lesson;
(g) correcting important errors tact¬fully by rephrasing a question, expanding an answer, or by merely saying, "Listen," and giving the correct answer;
(i) announcing all tests in advance and indicating clearly what the content of the test may include.
( j) showing concern for school or community problems of individuals;
(k) making it possible for them to enjoy many small successes and a feeling that they are making definite—even if slow—pro¬gress toward their goals. Every lesson step, every class or out-of-class task or activity, can be designed to enhance motivation.
The importance of personality has gained currency in the last decade. While the neo-behaviorist psychologists still agree that language is a form of behavior, they see speech as a mediated response to stimuli—as an activity that directs and transforms the behavioral function and restructures the cog¬nitive processes. Personality influences speech, which in turn influences personality. Nuttin (1968)¹ postulated that personality is a mode of functioning involving the ego and the world. It is an open-ended system that relates an indi¬vidual's internal structure (affective, verbal, perceptive, cognitive) to the outside environment—physical, social, and cultural. Verbal communication is an expression of the indi¬vidual's internal and external personality.
Teaching approaches emphasize the central role of lan¬guage as a social phenomenon. Students are engaged in realistic communicative activities that make use of the tenta¬tive type of language that leads to more harmonious interper¬sonal relationships in social situations.
The above remarks bring us to an emerging study termed global education. This concept transcends that of cultural pluralism, which includes a sensitive perception and appreciation of cultures beyond that of the target language. Global education, already a discipline in its own right in several universities, is interdisciplinary, embracing several universal goals:
(a) to help students under¬stand the ways of thinking, the values, and the problems of oilier peoples; i.e., to develop cross-cultural awareness;
(b) enable students to analyze and suggest measures for using and sharing the earth's resources;
(c) to develop a spirit of hip with other peoples, since humanity shares a common I mure;
(d) to make students aware of the choices they can make in order to consider themselves citizens of the world.
It is our responsibility to prepare our learners to cope not only with ili< world's universal problems and "behaviors" but with its many ethnic and cultural systems.
Communicative competence is the principal objective in the majority of second- language teaching programs. The linguistic competence demanded in the past asked for the mastery of features of pronunciation, grammar, lexicon and culture. Communicative competence asks that teachers be satisfied with a reasonable knowledge of those features. It considers it imperative, however, that students learn to use language appropriately in the social situation in which the speech act takes place. Presuppositions are the "real world" experiences that people engaging in a conversation should have shared—or at least learned about—if full comprehension of their meaning is to occur. Unless the context and the situation are crystal clear (really unambiguous), it may be wiser to avoid time-wasting guessing games in which students hear only "What do you think it is?" followed by a one-word answer and the teacher's "No, it's not." If a presupposition is important for comprehension and for continuing the conversation, the teacher should explain it immediately, returning to it in greater depth when necessary. By the same token, para-linguistic features of language behavior, such as unarticulated sounds and hesitation or transitional words, are part of normal conversation and should be used and practiced in role plays, paired practice, and other relevant activities.
Literature is being recommended for early levels of language learning. Some will object, but I approve whole¬heartedly. Learning simple poems, plays, and simplified ver¬sions of classics in English gives students a much-needed feeling of achievement.
The term interdisciplinary has several meanings, each of which is important:
(a) our theoretical background for lan¬guage teaching and learning should include a knowledge of linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, semantics, communication theory, and didactics;
(b) in order to enhance motivation, the teacher of English as a foreign or second lan¬guage should use concepts, terms, and techniques from every area in the curriculum the learners are studying. This will give students an opportunity to talk, ask, and write about topics with which they have some familiarity. An inter¬disciplinary approach is particularly important in the English as a second language situation, enabling language learners to get into the mainstream of the school and to function on a par with their classmates as quickly as possible.
Until a few years ago, language acquisition and language learning were used interchangeably. In studies by Krashen (1981) , learning is used to describe what the students learn in a formal school situation and acquisition refers to what a person learns unconsciously from the varied stimuli he receives from the world around him. Assuming that we do succeed in identifying all possible learning strategies, any teacher should find his own style and way to individualize instruction, use many media, integrate the language laboratory effectively with classroom work, grade the material, and encourage autonomous learning.
One of the most powerful ideas shaping educational views and practices in recent years is mastery learning .It provides successful and rewarding learning experiences to almost all the students, it ensures that all or almost all students can master what they are taught. This idea is very old, it was the concern of teachers from the oldest times,being stressed by Comenius in the 17th century, by Pestalozzi in the 18th century, by Herbert in the 19th century. What’s new in our century? The quality of instruction is defined in terms of the degree to which the presentation, explanation and ordering of the learning task’s elements reached the optimum level for each learner. School learning is a function of five elements: the time allowed, perseverance, aptitude quality of instruction and ability to understand instruction. The teacher teaches each unit using group-based methods and supplements this instruction with feedback procedures.
“ The world, our countries, our communities will survive with faulty pronunciation and less than perfect grammar, but can we be sure they will continue to survive without real communication, without a spirit of community, indeed without real communion among people? Part of the answer lies in the hands of everyone in our profession. Seeking the truth to that answer is a challenge we cannot, dare not refuse to accept.”
In choosing the most suitable sets of practical activities, I paid attention to the major factors which can influence student success in school learning. John B.Carroll first began to shape the concept of school learning. Essentially, this was a conceptual paradigm which pointed out the major factors influenc¬ing student success in school learning and indicated how these factors interacted. He found out that a student's apti¬tude for a foreign language predicted not only the level he would reach in a given time, but also the amount of time he would require to reach a certain level.
This model assumed that, under typical school learning conditions, the time spent and the time needed were functions of certain characteristics of the individual and his instruction. The quality of instruction was defined in terms of the degree to which the presentation ,explanation and ordering of the learning task’s elements reached the optimum level for each learner.The ability to understand the instruction represented the student's ability to generally benefit from the instruction and was loosely identified with general intelligence. The model proposed that the quality of the student's instruction and his ability to understand it inter¬acted to extend the time he needed for task mastery beyond that normally required by his aptitude for the task. If both the quali¬ty of his instruction and his ability to understand it were high, then he required little or no additional learning time. The Carroll model can be summarized as follows:

1.Time allowed;
4.Quality of Instruction;
5.Ability to Understand instruction
A clear conclusion can be drawn out of Carroll's model: School learning is a function of five elements:
1) The time needed for performing a learning task differs from one student to another, calling for the use of individualised strategies.
2) The time allowed is the time students have at their disposal usually shorter than the time needed.
3) The student’s perseverance, an element measurable and easy to check, in but not out of school.
4) The quality of instruction, depending only on the teacher, on his personality, on his training, on the strategy used etc.
5) The student's capacity to understand instruction, depending mainly on the material to be taught (in order not to omit anything) and the student's aptitudes and interest.
It was B.S.Bloom¹ who transformed Carroll's conceptual model into an: effective working model for learning. Bloom argued that if students were normally distributed with respect to aptitude for a subject and if they were provided instruction in terms of quality and learning time, then achievement at the completion of the course would be normally distributed. Furthermore, the relationship between aptitude and achievement would be high.
The strategy assumed that quality of instruction could be de¬fined in terms of:
a) the clarity and appropriateness of the instructional cues for each student;
b) the amount of active participation in and practice of the learning allowed each student;
c) the amount and variety of reinforcements available to each learner.

For the purposes mentioned above the following correctives were used:
- the course was broken into smaller units;
- brief diagnostic - progress tests were constructed to determine which of the unit's tasks the student had or had not mastered and what he had to do to complete his unit learning;
- formative tests were administered at the end of each learning unit and this helped the students pace their learning;
- for students who had thoroughly mastered the unity formative tests reinforced their learning and assured them that their learning approach and study habits were adequate;
- for students who had failed to master a given unit, the tests had to pinpoint their particular learning difficulties;
- the formative tests, having been diagnostic tests, had been marked mastery or non-mastery.

1. A. D. Cohen, E.Macaro, Language learner strategies, Oxford, 2007
2. Schmitt Norbert,McCarthy Michael, Vocabulary description, acquisition and pedagogy, Cambridge University Press ,1997
3. Lakoff G.,Johnson M, Metaphors we live by, University of Chicago Press,1980
4. Harmer Jeremy, The practice of English Language Teaching, Oxford University Press,2003
5. Ellis,R, SLA Research and Language Teaching, Oxford University Press 1997
6. Newton, Jonathan 'Options for vocabulary learning through communication tasks' ELT Journal Vol55/1 Jan 2001
7. Thornbury, Scott How to Teach Vocabulary ,Longman 2002
8. McCarten, Jeanne, Teaching Vocabulary, Cambridge University Press, 2007


 Developing Students' Language and Culture Awareness

by Irina Oltica Creţu, School nr. 13, Botoşani

Key words: the relationship between language awareness and foreign language development, preparing, planning and reflecting stages, culture and language activities, linguistically aware teacher

Language and culture awareness plays a relevant role in the process of learning a foreign language and it should not be ignored by teachers or learners, what¬ever the learning level.
Language awareness is a methodology with which to explore language and language use and their connections with classroom practice. It provides a divergent, challenging and destabilizing way to approaching language. (Wright and Bolitho, Language awareness: a missing link in language teacher education?, 1993, p. 299) Trainers should bear this in mind and support parti¬cipants in times of doubt, difficulty, conflict. Trainers have to recognize the effects of destabilization and address the process as the central part of the course they are involved in.
Language and culture awareness is associated with an educational movement meant to make the students in schools more conscious of the nature of language and culture and their role in human life. Increased reflection on language by student and teacher leads to im¬proved language use and better overall education. The direction of this relationship is seen from awareness to develop¬ment in macro-human terms. In contrast, macro-human development has an influence on the aware¬ness that learners have of language independently of reflection on lan¬guage. These are two complementary views of language awareness. When studying the relationship between language awareness and foreign language development, Howard Nicholas (1987,p. 90) organizes his research around five claims:
1. Foreign language development can be distinguished from first lan¬guage development by the presence in the second language learners of awareness of the lexico-grammatical level of language organiza¬tion.
2. Awareness of the lexico-grammatical level of language organization is unconscious in children under age seven and potentially conscious in children, adolescents, adults.
3. In both younger and older foreign language learners, constraints imposed by interaction can be made conscious.
4. Adult foreign language development can be distinguished from child foreign language development by the emergence in adults of conscious pragma-linguistic awareness. This leads to the mani¬pulation of discourse as a means of conveying information.
5. The emergence of pragma-linguistic awareness enables instruction about morpho-syntax to profitably complement communicative instruction.
"Learners could be trained to use task-specific strategies to enhance their performance. Teachers have the important role in encouraging children to reflect on the process of the learning they do, in preference to concentra¬ting solely on the product of learning. This is achieved within three stages: preparing, planning and reflecting." (Kennedy and Jarvis, 1991, Ideas and Issues in Primary ELT, p. 127)
In the first stage teachers can explain what the goals of the exercise are and how they relate to previous work. Teachers can support their learners in the planning stage by teaching the appropriate strategies and language required for different task types. After completing the task, the effectiveness of different kinds of strategies might be discussed and modelled. Modelling is more than demonstration and more 'show and copy'. It should represent an attempt to foster a transi¬tion for the child from control and direction to self-regulation. Successful teachers used and demonstrated learning strategies to their pupils in their methodology. Developing this kind of meta-cognitive awareness takes time. It is important that teachers of young learners ensure that their pupils understand the specification of the task and begin to learn strategies required to negotiate meaning in English for:
• providing feedback to show they have understood something;
• indicating that they do not understand something;
• asking questions to clarify misunderstandings;
• checking details when a message is inadequate.
Teachers might train their older learners to work independently when following written instructions. Learners will be then supported in understan¬ding, instructions which ask them to sort (classify, put things in order, match, say which is important). In the final stage the learners could be encouraged to reflect on the learning that they did in their group. This could be achieved through tape-re¬cording, learner diaries, group or individual questionnaires.
If we accept the need to develop the students' language awareness in the foreign language classroom, some common pitfalls must be avoided, such as:
• the frequent lack of a clear, previously defined objective for aware¬ness raising activities;
• the induction of language awareness activities to tasks aimed at in¬creasing knowledge of the formal properties of language;
• the low degree of initiative students are usually allowed to have and the high degree of control the teacher exerts by taking the central role (explaining, exemplifying, describing language properties or as¬king questions)
• the avoidance of the mother tongue, often resulting in either over¬simplification procedures on the part of the teacher or compre¬hension problems on the part of students;
• the tendency to emphasize individual work and teacher directed interaction." (Vieira, Language awareness and language lear¬ning, 1991, p. 15)
The process of awareness raising is seen as being a gradual one. Attitudes and beliefs change slowly. Therefore, language and culture awareness is concerned with behavioral changes of attitudes, greater insight, these ones being the foundations for future courses of action.(Wright and Bolitho, 1993, p. 298) The outcomes can be restated as broad objectives to be attained step by step over a period of time. Language and culture awareness activities are designed to contribute to this process. "We attempt to realize these processes through tasks and activities that are characterized by the following key features "(Wright and Bolitho, 1993, p. 298):
1. Talking about language is valuable. It can increase a trainee's confi¬dence .
2. Language awareness has:
• a cognitive dimension (it encourages thinking at various levels of various types)
• an affective dimension (it engages and evolves attitudes and va¬lues)
3. Language awareness involves:
• the left brain (it is logical and rational);
• the right brain (it involves intuition and the unexpected).
4. Language awareness work is:
• educational/developmental;
• functional/utilitarian (it has obvious practical relevance).
5. Through involvement in language awareness work, we enable teachers/trainees to become autonomous and robust explorers of language, capable of maintaining a spirit of honest and open in¬quirer long after the course ends. Awareness raising helps trainee participants to ask questions about language, the ones that enable them to be effective teachers and to develop their analytical powers.
2.7. Competences of linguistically aware teacher
"A linguistically aware teacher will be able to accomplish various tasks: preparing lessons, evaluating, adapting and writing materials, unders¬tanding, interpreting and designing a syllabus or curriculum, testing, assessing the learners' performance, contributing to English language work across the curriculum." (Wright and Bolitho, 1993, p. 297)Communicative teaching depends on a higher level of language aware¬ness in teacher due to the richness and complexity of a communicative view. A lack of awareness of language manifests itself at classroom level when a teacher is unable to identify and compensate for shortcomings in a course book or he is caught out by the learners' questions on the language. In these situations the teacher needs to draw upon the learners' linguistic knowledge and provide the necessary expertise to help the learners overcome difficulties. In Edge's view ( Edge, J., Applying linguistics in English language teacher training, 1988 - apud Wright and Bolitho, 1993, p. 297), the three competences which an English teacher needs are:
• the language user
• the language analyst
• the language teacher.
Edge's definition allows the teacher to be approached through the user and/or the analyst and the analyst to be approached through the teacher and/ or the user. None of the competences is seen as predominant.

1. Allwright D & Bailey KM, Focus on the language classroom: an introduction to classroom research for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1991
2. Bolitho, Rod and Tomlinson, Brian, Discover English, Macmillan ELT,2002
3. Brooks N, Culture in the classroom. In JM Valdes (ed) Culture bound: bridging the cultural gap in language teaching, Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp 123–128.
4. Crystal David, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Cam¬bridge University Press, 1987.
5. Cuniţa Alexandra, Janeta Drăghiescu, Ecaterina Popa and Dumitru Dorobăţ, Predarea şi învăţarea limbilor străine în România în perspectiva europeană, Alternative, 1997
6. Duranti, Alessandro, Linguistic Anthropology, Cambridge University Press,1997.
7. Ellis, Rod, The Study of the Second Language Acquisition, Oxford University Press, 1994.
8. Emmitt M & Pollock J, Language and learning: an introduction for teaching (2nded), Oxford University Press, 1991
9. Goodluck, Helen, Language Acquisition, A Linguistic Introduction, H.G., 1991.
10. Hatch, Evelyn, Discourse and Language Education, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
11. Hantrais L ,The undergraduate’s guide to studying languages, London: Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research, 1989
12. Harmer, Jeremy, The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman, 1991
13. Hill, A. David, Visual Impact. Creative Language through Pictures Longman Group UK Limited, 1990.
14. Krashen D. Stephen, Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning, Prentice Hall International UK Ltd., 1988
15. Maley A ,XANADU – ‘A miracle of rare device’: the teaching of English in China. In JM Valdes (ed) Culture bound: bridging the cultural gap in language teaching, Cambridge University Press,1986, pp 102–111.
16. Murray DM , The great walls of China, Today’s Education,1982, vol 71, pp 55–58.
17. Nicholas, Howard, Language Awareness and Language Acquisi¬tion, Edward Arnold, London, 1987
18. Nunan, David, Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
19. Ur, Penny, A Course in language teaching, Cambridge University Press, 2003
20. Valdes JM , Culture bound: bridging the cultural gap in language teaching, Cambridge University Press, 1986.
21. Wright, Tony and Rod Bolitho, Language Awareness: a Missing Link in Language Teacher Education?, ELT Journal, 4 (1993). 292 - 302.
1. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com- Franz Bioanthropology and Modern Life
2. http://www.jstor.org/stable/972203 - Reviewed work(s): The Archaeology and Pottery of Nazca, Peru: Alfred L. Kroeber's 1926 Expedition by Alfred L. Kroeber; Donald Collier; Patrick H. Carmichael
3.http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1403018/theories_of_development_by_piaget_and.html?cat=4 -Theories of Development by Piaget and Vygotski, January 28, 2009 article by Julie Ackendorf

Dealing with Students’ Anxiety During English Classes

by Cătălina Dumbrăvanu, “Ştefan Luchian” High School, Botoşani

Key words: anxiety, apprehension
, multi-level class


I have been teaching English for eight years now, and I am still fascinated by my students’ reactions when it comes to facing some situations or activities in the English class. I have always wondered what makes them so insecure and introverted.
I finally found the answer while reading Amy B. M. Tsui’s book, Classroom interaction, a book which raises plenty of problems that teachers face when communicating with their students. I would like to share one of her ideas with you, the other teachers and colleagues of mine, with the sincere hope that finding the problems will lead to solving them, too. In chapter 4, page 87, she says: “…much of students’ reluctance to participate in classroom interaction has to do with apprehension, fear, nervousness and worry. This is hardly surprising since the classroom is a place where there is unequal power relationship between the teacher and the students; this is bound to generate anxiety. Classroom anxiety is a phenomenon that is found in all classrooms.”
Anxiety is indeed an element that is often met in class activities. We cannot make it disappear, but we can diminish it. As a teacher, I deal with anxiety every day and in all my classes.
In my first year of teaching, I did something unforgivable: after I had got to know my students better, I tried to work with the best in the class so that I can “save” my lessons. And I did save them. But at the other students’ expense; finally, I realized that what I was doing was wrong: instead of reducing the difference between the lower-level students and the higher-level ones, I was emphasizing it.
It was then that I realized that there is no such thing as a unitary class; so I tried to involve the other students more than the good ones. I was even more surprised to find out that I was facing two problems: one was the lower-level students’ lack of response because of their obvious anxiety, and the other problem was the higher-level students’ loss of interest; they were always complaining that the class was boring, giving me the uncomfortable feeling that I should be moving faster.
There are some steps that a teacher can follow in order to diminish obvious anxiety, such as:
1. Discuss the problem honestly with students. The must make the best of the situation, they have to be patient with each other and help each other. I made sure that the less advanced students were not made to feel ashamed of their levels and assured the advanced students that I would give them more difficult assignments, so that they would be bored as little as possible. Each teacher should appeal to every student’s good will; if students feel they are nor reaching teacher’s expectations of good behavior, they will probably feel somewhat ashamed and will try harder to live up to teacher’s expectations.
2. The next thing that should be done in a multi-level class is to train the more advanced students to hold back their answers and give the others the chance to speak. I say, for example:” Let someone else try to answer for a change, Mihai”. This gives others the opportunity to speak while the advanced students are made sure that the teacher realizes they know the answer. There are of course some other methods for dealing with such enthusiasm, such as:
• Laying your hand on the student’s shoulder or making a facial expression or gesture which might indicate that you want the student to stay quiet.
• Having the student write the answers on paper to turn in to you to check after the class
• Having the student become the “teacher” and “ask” the questions.
3. Another thing that helps diminish anxiety in the classroom is keeping on track. The more advanced students may try to overwhelm the other students with academic details which are irrelevant (such as, “what is the origin of that word”?). While these details may be interesting to the students, they are not the focus of the lesson and may create a wide range of anxiety. Sometimes it is a slower student who gets the teacher on track because he/she needs to present some basic structures for the benefit of the lower student while the rest of the class waits for him/her to finally get it. One simple solution would be to give the student extra English classes outside the class itself.
4. The teacher should get the weaker students to participate more because this way they get used to the atmosphere in the class, they become more relaxed and thus their input would finally be according to their teacher’s expectations.
5. But one of the most difficult parts that a teacher should do is to assign different individual tasks to different levels of students; this can be helpful to them, so long as the slower students are not made to feel “stupid”; they should be equally praised for their work, even if it less sophisticated.
6. As far as the strong students are concerned, they should be used in the teacher’s advantage, such as in pair work and group work. Pair work is one of the best techniques teachers can use to help nurture all levels of students. It is also easier to control who interacts with whom and how much speaking time is required from each participant. Strong students can be paired together with weak students, and each pair can be given a task of difficulty appropriate to their level. The weaker student can work on more basic tasks, while stronger ones can be more creative in their language production.
As a conclusion to all these solutions, I must admit that these are very important elements that should be taken into account when dealing with students’ anxiety. Multi level classes are a reality and as teachers, we must do our best to produce the expected output from our students. I know for a fact that these problems can be solved with hard work and a lot of patience.


Let Us Teach Students How to Write Creatively

by Alina Ianeţ, “Nicolae Titulescu” National College- Pucioasa, Dambovita

Keywords: - imagination, creativity, creative writing activities, creative writing using comics; collaborative stories; showing vs. telling.


Basic concepts of creative writing
Examples of creating writing activities
Tying It All Together

Students should keep in mind that they can apply “creative writing” to anything, from their imagination, to their everyday life. Teachers have a very important role in helping their students develop and think creatively.
Creative writing ideas come from everywhere. "I have nothing to write about." How many times have students heard that come out of their mouth? I've said it to myself, many times. That is simply not true. If anything has made them stop and say, "Oh, that's kind of cool," they have something to write about. If they've ever watched the world around and wondered why people do the things they do, or events happened the way they did, then they have something to write about. If they’ve ever had a birthday party, been to a school dance or even just gotten up this morning, they have something to write about. The best way for a writer to get creative writing ideas is to say "What if…" Let's try it. What if someone found an old map in his attic that led to a treasure? Of course, he would have to go find the treasure, right? Well, if he didn't, it wouldn't be much fun. So, he packs up his suitcase, tells his friends and family good-bye, and heads out to find this treasure. What if he has to travel through some dangerous territory, like, an enchanted forest, or a mountain filled with trolls? What if he keeps getting sidetracked on his quest? Maybe he meets people who need his help.
Starting to get the idea? Teachers should apply this to anything, from students’ imagination, to their everyday life. What if they woke up one morning and their parents were different people? What if they got a 10 on that maths test they’ve been sweating over? Teacher should try it by looking around and asking "What if…"
They might have a few creative writing ideas floating around. "What’s next?’ teacher asks. Now the fun starts. Now they write. It sounds easy enough. This is the time where they want to get as many creative writing ideas on paper as they can. They should let themselves go, and have fun with it. Writing should make them feel like they're slipping into a special place, a place they have created.
Here is a quick list of a few creative writing prompts just to get their imagination going: someone finds a jewel-encrusted box; .their main character wakes up to find himself in a completely different place from where he fell asleep; their character is afraid of something. What is it? How does he confront it? / Their character is being chased and steps in a mysterious puddle, or makes a wrong turn and ends up in a dead end, or is rescued by someone she does not like. / their character is fishing and catches something interesting./ their character sees a shimmering light through the trees./ the sky changes colour./ a secret room is found./ a path branches off in three different directions and your character has no idea where to go./ a laughing spell goes terribly wrong.
These could be used to help develop their characters, or start a completely new story. They don't have to do all of these; they don't have to do any of these, but the more they practise writing the better they get. They can choose one that appeals to them and see where it is going to happen.
Now that they have covered some ways to get creative writing ideas, it's time they get into the nitty-gritty of writing. The teacher is going to explain a few of the basic concepts of creative writing and give them some examples of how each one works.

Basic concepts of creative writing
Writing their rough draft
The whole point of the first draft is to get their ideas on paper. There's time to worry about commas, spelling and all that stuff later.
Many elementary schools focus way too much on the basic mechanics of writing (the proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and sentence structure they need), but they forget to teach the application of those skills. In other words, they don't teach students how to tell a good story. How to make their words important enough that someone would want to read them. Having good mechanics is useless if they’re not writing anything interesting. So here are a few pointers to get them started.
Character development
Characters are the heart of any story. Many writers start with an idea for a character and then ask "What if" questions to build a story around them. Characters can usually be broken into three categories. The protagonists (good guys); the antagonists, the people who stir up all the trouble in the story (bad guys); and finally, the minor characters, the ones who help move the story along, but who are less developed than the main characters. The student, as the writer, wants to find out as much about these people as he/she can, even the minor ones. So here are a few questions to ask them when they're thinking about their main characters: “Is this person male or female?”, “What is his/her name?” Students would be surprised at how something as simple as a name will make them more real. “How old is he/she?”, “What does he/she look like?”. The teacher could make a list of hair colour, eye colour, details like that. When they are writing their story, they don't want to just write down a list to describe their character's appearance. “What is his/her job?” Or, “What chores does he/she have to do?”/ “Where does he/she live?”/ ‘What clothes does he/she wear?”/“How does their character view him/her?”, “Pretty, smart, artistic, weak, something else?”, “Who are his/her friends?”, “What does their character want?” These questions will most affect the plot of their story. Their job as the author is to keep their characters from getting what they want for as long as possible, then teachers either help them get it in the end, or throw some other kind of twist in there – maybe they thought they wanted one thing, when they actually wanted something else entirely. It's all up to them. In this world, they are the boss. Without a goal, there is no story to tell, so students shouldn’t give their characters resolution of the goal until their story is truly ending.
“What are some things in his/her past that effect who he/she is today?” This is something else that might affect students’ story dramatically. A person's history is part of what motivates him, so teachers should give this some thought.
Plot is the vehicle that moves their story along. Their job as the writer is to get their character stuck in a situation, get her more stuck, throw impossible obstacles in her way, and then when it all seems hopeless, show her a way out, and, if you're so inclined, hand her a happy ending.
The pace of the story
Pacing is how fast or slowly the story moves. They don't want the story to be boring, but they don't want non-stop action without any room to breathe. They should compare it to running on a track. If they sprint around the track quickly, they're going to wear themselves out; if they go too slowly, they may never get finished. Students want to keep a nice steady pace, fast enough to keep people interested, but slow enough so as not to wear themselves out. Most stories vary between three speeds, the slower beginning where they 're conserving their energy, then the pace picks up as the action comes in, then it's up and down hill for a while, with a few slower moments in between when the characters can rest, then the rapid sprint to the end. They can look at the stories they read for an idea of what pacing is. They can pick up any other book they've read recently, or even short story, and break it down like that. What happens first, second, etc? Are there moments of intense action followed by moments where the characters get a break? They think about this as they start to write. Many students have no idea how to begin their story. Just as many have no idea what to write about or how to develop the ideas they do have. Fantastic fiction has everything a teacher needs to get students over these obstacles and on to completing their first short story or chapter in a novel. The teacher should explain many point of view definitions such as first, second and third person, third person limited, third person omniscient and third person objective. All concepts should be explained easily to understand terms with examples.
Students should be able to: get and develop ideas for their stories/ develop characters / find out what makes a good plot and get tools for making sure their plots are consistent / decide what point of view to write from / understand how to build a proper setting for their characters and stories / learn how to write good descriptions / learn the grammar rules for writing dialogue / learn how to write interesting and realistic dialogue / discover the importance of "Showing" rather than just "Telling" the reader / understand how to use symbolism and foreshadowing in their writing / develop a writing style. There should be an efficient way to edit and revise their stories.

Examples of creating writing activities

A. Creative Writing Using Comics
Grade Level(s): 8, 9, 10, (pre- intermediate/ intermediate level)
Subject(s): Language writing (composition)
Objective: To use comics to foster creative writing and vocabulary skills
Materials: newspapers, construction paper;
Procedures: The teacher asks students to name their favourite comic strips and describe what they like best about the characters in the strips. He/she tells students what his/her favourites are and explain that the "bubbles" in comic strips take the place of quotation marks. Using a comic strip from the newspaper, students try to write out dialogues in standard form, using quotation marks and phrases of attribution.
Group Activity: The teacher has students create their own character to be introduced as a newcomer to their favourite comic strip. For example, they might develop a new kid in the "Peanuts" gang or a new pet in Garfield's house. Then each student draws a picture of the new character and writes a description of the character's personality. Next, students draw their own three-frame comic strip, using both new and regular characters. They should write the dialogue in bubbles above the characters' heads. A good idea is to compile all the finished strips together for a class "funny pages."
Follow-Up: Comics often contain unfamiliar words. Weekly vocabulary lists will be a lot more fun when students develop their own lists of new words, using comic strips as sources (serial and adventure strips are especially good for this activity.) Each week teachers should have students find five new words in the comics to write down and define. To underline the importance of using words in context, students should cut and paste the strips next to the words they have selected.

B. Creative Writing – “What Would Happen If?”
Major Objectives: 1. to produce a piece of creative writing;
2. to use word processing and graphics software;
3. to create a classroom journal combining creative writing and graphics;
Grade Level(s):9, 10, 11; (pre- intermediate/ intermediate level)
Subject(s): Language Arts/Writing (composition)
Materials: computers; printer Software: word processing, graphics;
Activities and Procedures: Firstly, the teacher should stir up the students' imaginations with the following: “What is imagination?”, “Are your imaginations like anyone else's?”, “Who are some people who use imagination?” Then the teacher tells them that they will be dreaming and imagining and creating word pictures of things that might never have existed or happened. In addition, he/she presents the students with "What Would Happen If..." scenarios. For example, "What would happen if..." vegetables could talk; your brother turned into your sister; water in the oceans evaporated; all clocks stopped; people decided to no longer work for minimum wage; everyone looked alike; and all trees began growing money. Teacher has the students brainstorm their ideas in phrase form, using the word processor, and print out their notes. Then the students use their ideas to develop a story, proof/edit it, and print out a copy. They edit, and print a final copy. Students go on creating a picture to illustrate their stories and print the picture at the top or bottom of the stories. Finally they can combine stories into a booklet.
Follow-Up/Extension: It’s very important for them to spend a class period sharing the stories and pictures and talking about new ones to write. As a larger project, creative teachers can have their students create a literary magazine.
C. Creative Writing - Collaborative Stories
Grade Level(s): 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Subject(s): Language writing (composition);
Overview: This is a creative writing time that takes a minimum of 25 minutes. During this time students are beginning their own story, reading another's beginning and creating the middle section, reading yet another story and finally developing a conclusion for that story.
Purpose: This activity encourages students to be creative in their own writing, as well as being critical and analytical of another's. I find that students, who accomplish very little during a typical, structured writing time, become very involved in this type of writing.
Objective(s): To create the beginning of a story;
To introduce the characters and the setting;
To develop the action for the story;
To bring the story to a conclusion;
To read and analyze another's work;
To recognize the need for neat, well-organized work;
Resources/Materials: Pencils and writing paper for each student
Activities and Procedures: Each student is asked to take out a clean piece of writing paper and a pencil. They do not put their name on this paper. The direction is given to write the beginning of a story. The characters' names should not be those of students in the class and gory (blood and guts) type plots are not allowed. They are given 5 minutes to write as much of the story as they can. (Time might be lengthened for older students.) At the end of 5 minutes, the teacher directs the students to pass their papers in a given order. The teacher tries to get them at least 3 or 4 students away. The teacher has the students read the story that has been started and continues it for the next 5 minutes and reminds them that they are developing the plot.
At the end of these 5 minutes, again the teacher has the students pass the papers in the same pattern as before. The students now read their new story, keeping in mind that it will be their job to write the conclusion for this story. Again the teacher allows the students 5 minutes for writing.

Tying It All Together
There are several possibilities. Any and or all could be used. They could pass the stories yet another time and have a fourth student illustrate the story then read it aloud to the class. Then they collect the stories and use them for an editing activity. Two or three students could edit the same story. After the stories have been edited, the teacher should have them copied in best writing or put on the computer and published as a class book available for free time reading by all. Everyone enjoys hearing the stories read aloud and listening to see if something they wrote is in that story and what others did with their story line. The books are fun to go back to later in the year and see how their writing skills have improved.
To conclude I want to point out that these activities encourage students to be creative in their own writing. I find that students, who accomplish very little during a typical, structured writing time, become very involved in this type of writing. Thus, they get and develop ideas for their stories, develop characters, discover the importance of "Showing" rather than just "Telling" the reader. On the other hand they understand how to use symbolism and foreshadowing in their writing and the most important thing is that they develop a writing style.
Consequently, there should be an efficient way to edit and revise their stories.
Scrivener, J.: Learning Teaching. Heinemann, 1994, ISBN 0 453240 98 7

Ur, P.: A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge : CUP ISBN 0521 44994-4

Harmer, J.: The Practice of Teaching English. Longman 1993, ISBN 0 582 091337

Doff, A.: Teach English. Cambridge : CUP 1988, ISBN 0 521 34864 1

A Common European Framework of reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment . www.culture2.coe.int/portfolio/documents_intro/common_framework.html

Improvisation and Dramatic Literature
by Cristiana Faur, George Cosbuc National Bilingual College

Key words: improvisation, drama, Macbeth, tension, negative feelings, performance

Improvisation can also be used to enhance one’s understanding of a dramatic text. I do not consider it to be a sacriledge, but a means to help the student get closer to a literary text, which otherwise would have been difficult, if not inaccessible. If we can identify at least one emotion or situation in the text that can be extracted and related to real experience, this can be used as an entry point into the fictional world of the text.
These are some activities that were inspired by a well-known literary text, Shakespeare’s Macbeth. They are intended to familiarize students with the play, to link literature to every day personal experience and to facilitate better understanding of self and others. Of course, we should not forget all the others benefits of drama activities, of improvisation in particular………… increased self-confidence, better commnunication skills, fun!

Activity 1: There are killers in the room!!

All the participants in this game stand up, eyes closed and backing the leader of the group. The leader will choose 2-4 “murderers” by tapping on their shoulders gently. The chosen ones do not have to move until allowed to, because the rest of the group must not know their identity. Then everybody will walk through the room, watching the others. These murderers will “kill” the victims by simply winking at them. The one(s) who is/are winked at will “die”. If someone sees the “murderer, then the murderer is sent to jail. But if someone mistakes the “murderer” then s/he will also go to jail. It is very important to look people in the eyes, and try to gues who the murderer is. Otherwise the game is no fun.
The aim is to create tension, but in a pleasant way.

Activity 2: Get angry!

a. In pairs create a short improvisation whereby one of you is angry with the other. You are annoyed at their foolish behaviour and are worried about the consequences. Run these scene using language that you are familiar with.
b. Repeat the scene above, this time concentrating only on movement; leave out the words, and focus on the gestures which you feel are appropiate to the words, illustrating the tension within the scene.
c. Choose one sentence which contain tension and shout it as angrily as possible. This can be shouted by several people, in turns, trying to enhance the anger.

The aim is to concentrate on body expression and voice.

Activity 3: Macbeth scene

Read the excerpt and identify the reason for the tension in this particular scene.(At the end of the article you can also find the summary of the play Macbeth.)
The dialogue takes place the very night of Banquo’s murder, during a dinner given by Macbeth at the castle. Banquo’s ghost appears to Macbeth and sends him into hysteria, scaring his guests and angering his wife. His very presence as the king of Scotland has angered the other nobles and further incites Macbeth’s misgivings and paranoia.

Re-enter Ghost

Macb: Avaunt! And quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!
Lady M: Think of this, good peers,
But as a thing of custom: ‘tis no other;
Only it spoils the pleasure of the time.
Macb: What man dare, I dare:
Approach thou like the rugged Russian Bear,
The arm’d rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger;
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble: or be alive again,
And dare me to the desert with thy sword;
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
Unreal mockery, hence! [ Ghost vanishes.
Why so: being alone,
I am a man again. Pray you, sit still.
Lady M: You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting,
With most admired disorder.
Macb: Can such things be,
And overcome us like a summer’s cloud,
Without our special wonder? You make me strange
Even to the disposition that I owe,
When now I think you can behold such sights,
And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks,
When mine in blanche’d with fear.
Ross: What sights , my lord?
Lady M: I pray you, speak not; he grows worse and worse;
Question enrages him. At once, good night:
Stand not upon the order of your going,
But go at once.
Lennox: Good night; and better health
Attend his majesty!
Lady M: A kind good night to all!
[ Exeunt all but Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
Macb: It will have blood; they say, blood will have blood:
Stones have been known to move and trees to speak;

a. Prepare an improvisation, starting from the text that you have just read and using common language. You need the following characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Ross, the Ghost, some of the guests who are very scared of Macbeth’s behaviour. Focus on the tension created by Macbeth’s fear and the special circumstances in which he is, as well as the tension between himself and his wife. Perform it in front of the group.
b. Work in pairs on a situation when somebody is trying to help somebody else solve a fear. For example: one of you is a small child afraid of the Boogie Man. Improvise the situation when mother or father is trying to convince the child that there is no reason to be afraid. Present the dialogue in front of the others. Use common language and emphasise the tension by gestures and mimick.

The aim is to become aware of the universality of human feelings and the link between literature and everyday life.

Activity 4: Interrogation scene

a. In pairs – one person remains still whilst the other walks around them, sometimes moving close, sometimes at a distance but always watching. Discuss feelings.
b. In pairs – repeat the above only this time the person moving around can begin to question the other, for example, who are you, what is your name, what are you doing, etc. Ask question by raising your voice and be as menacing as possible.
c. In pairs – commence an improvisation between parent and child/ police officer and arrested person/ etc in which one is exercising his power over the other one, being agressive.
d. Discuss the feelings you experienced.

The aim is to explore the tension within a particular situation.

Activity 5: Negative feelings

Improvise a situation in which one person experiences some sort of strong negative feeling. Use words and body language to make it as clear as possible. Choose one of the following situations:
• challenging status (i.e. teacher- student/policeman – arrested person)
• different energy levels (i.e. dentist waiting-room)

The aim is to allow freer experimentation of negative feelings.

Summary of Macbeth (taken from http://www.wikisummaries.org/Macbeth)

The play opens with Macbeth and Banquo, two of the Scottish King Duncan’s generals returning from battle when they encounter three witches in the woods. The witches tell Macbeth of how he will become the Thane of Cawdor and then the King of Scotland. For Banquo, they prophesize that he will beget the line of Scottish Kings, though he will never become king himself. The two are sufficiently skeptical and continue their journey home.
However, when the two come closer to the encampment, they are presented with a messenger from King Duncan who announces that Macbeth has been made the Thane of Cawdor, immediately putting the prophecy into perspective, making Macbeth wonder how he might become king. He invites Duncan to dine at his castle that evening and goes ahead to tell his wife of the day’s events.
Unlike Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is very sure of her husband’s future, desiring the throne and telling him that they must murder Duncan to ensure his ascension. Immediately upon returning to his castle, Lady Macbeth is able to convince her husband to take initiative and murder Duncan that very night.
The two plan to get Duncan’s chamberlains drunk enough that they will not remember the evening and blame them for the murder. When the body of Duncan is discovered in the morning, Macbeth quickly kills the “culprits” and assumes the kingship. All the while, Duncan’s sons flee the country, afraid for their own lives.
Immediately, Macbeth’s misgivings and trust in the prophecies force his hand in the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance as well, afraid that his heirs will seize the throne. Successfully killing Banquo, the murderers fail to kill Fleance.
The night of his murder, Banquo’s ghost appears to Macbeth and sends him into hysteria, scaring his guests and angering his wife. His very presence as the king of Scotland has angered the other nobles and further incites Macbeth’s misgivings and paranoia.
To ease his fears, he visits the witches again and they offer to him more prophecies. He must beware of Macduff, a chief opponent to Macbeth taking the throne. He cannot be harmed by any man born of woman and he is safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Castle. He returns home and finds that Macduff has fled to England to join Malcom. In fear, Macbeth seizes Macduff’s castle and orders the murder of his wife and children, inciting Macduff to further rage. With Malcom, the two raise an army and ride to Scotland to take on Macbeth with the support of the Scottish nobles who fear Macbeth’s tyranny and murderous ways.
While Macbeth awaits his opponents, Lady Macbeth is in the process of going mad, unable to wash the blood from her hands. The news of her suicide reaches Macbeth directly before the arrival of the English forces and sends him into an even deeper despair. He awaits confidently as the prophecy foretold his invulnerability. However, Macduff’s forces arrive under the cover of boughs cut from Birnam wood. When Macbeth is finally confronted by Macduff after his forces have been overwhelmed, Macduff announces that he was “ripped from his mother’s womb” not born and ultimately defeats and beheads Macbeth, handing the crown back to Malcolm, the rightful heir.


The Role of Learning Strategies in SLA. Teaching Our Students How to Learn

by Elisabeta Maxim, School no. 2, Botoşani

Keywords: learning strategies, SBI, strategic learners, research

“Learning strategies are the conscious thoughts and actions that learners take in order to achieve a learning goal. Strategic learners have metacognitive knowledge about their own thinking and learning approaches, a good understanding of what a task entails, and the ability to orchestrate the strategies that best meet both the task demands and their own learning strengths.”
Anna Uhl Chamot

An important contribution that learners make to acquiring a second language is their use of learning strategies – the techniques or procedures that facilitate a learning task.
Learning strategies are important in second language acquisition for two major reasons:
In investigating strategies used by second language learners during the learning process, we gain insights into the cognitive, social and affective processes involved in language learning – these insights can help us understand these mental processes as they relate to second language acquisition and can also clarify similarities and differences between language learning and general learning processes.
It may be possible to teach less successful language learners to use strategies that characterize their more successful peers, thus helping students who are experiencing difficulty in learning a second language become better language learners.
Therefore, two major goals in language learning strategy research are to:
1. identify and compare the learning strategies used by more and less successful language learners
2. provide instruction to less successful language learners that helps them become more successful in their language study.
Identification of language learning strategies
Researchers have used a variety of approaches for identifying the mental processes used by learners as they seek to understand, remember and use a new language.
Observation of students in language classrooms has proved singularly fruitless as a method of identifying students’ strategies. The reason why classroom observation yields little information about students’ use of learning strategies is that most learning strategies are mental processes and as such are not directly observable in terms of outward behaviour. Therefore, research in this area has relied for the most part on learners self-reports. These self-reports have been made through:
retrospective interviews
stimulated recall interviews
written diaries and journals
think-aloud protocols concurrent with a learning task.
Each of these methods has limitations, but at the present time the only way to gain any insight at all into the unobservable mental learning strategies of learners is by asking them to reveal their thinking processes.
As Grenfell and Harris (1999) have stated:
[…] it is not easy to get inside the ‘black box’ of the human brain and find out what is going on there. We work with what we can get, which, despite the limitations, provides food for thought […]
In retrospective interviews, learners are asked to reflect on a learning task and recall what strategies or ‘special tricks’ they used to carry out the task. The task may be a recently completed one or a typical task with which the learner is familiar, such as learning and remembering vocabulary words or reading a story in the target language.
- the questions may be:
- open-ended e.g. What do you do when you are reading and you see an unfamiliar word?
- specific e.g. When you are reading and see an unfamiliar word, do you make inferences about the meaning or just read on?
 advantages
– that they provide a great deal of flexibility, as the interviewer can clarify the questions if necessary, ask follow-up questions and comment on the student’s responses
– in addition, if the retrospective interview is conducted with a small group of three or four students, one student’s comments can spur the memories of other students about their uses of learning strategies
 disadvantages
 are that students may not report their strategy use accurately, that they may report what they perceive as the interviewer’s preferred answers
 that they may claim to use strategies that they have been encouraged by teachers rather than actually used by students.
A stimulated recall interview is more likely to accurately reveal students’ learning strategies because it is conducted immediately after the student has engaged in a learning task. The actual task is videotaped, the interviewer then plays back the videotape, pausing if necessary, and asks the students to describe his or her thoughts at that specific moment during the learning task.
 advantages
 studying learning strategies through stimulated recall interviews can produce task-specific strategy descriptions with corroborating evidence of their use.
 disadvantages
 however, this method is time-consuming and only yields the strategies used on one occasion for a specific task. It does not reveal the range of students’ strategies or their frequency across tasks.
Questionnaires are the easiest way to collect data about students’ reported use of learning strategies and questionnaires such as Oxford’s Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL) have been used extensively to collect data on large numbers of language learners.
– a questionnaire that has now been tested in many countries and translated into several languages
– the 50 items divided into six categories (direct - memory, cognitive, compensation and indirect - metacognitive, affective, social), each presents a possible strategy which responders must indicate on a five-point scale of ‘never true of me’ to ‘always true of me’.
Other studies have developed questionnaires focused on particular learning activities in which their subjects were engaged. These questionnaires are based on tasks that students have just completed, reasoning that students will be more likely to remember and to report accurately if little time has elapsed. The limitations of this approach are that, to date, there has been no standardization of either tasks or follow up questionnaires, so that it is impossible to make comparisons across studies.
On the other hand, the SILL is a standardized measure with versions for students of a variety of languages, and as such can be used to collect and analyze information about large numbers of language learners. It has also been used in studies that correlate strategy use with variables such as learning styles, gender, proficiency level, and culture.
 advantages
 one of the advantages of questionnaires, aside from their ease of administration, is that students are asked to rate the frequency with which they use a particular strategy, rather than only indicating whether they use it at all
 drawbacks
 students may not understand the intend of a question, that they may answer according to their perception of the ‘right answer’ and that the questionnaire may not fully elicit all of a student’s strategies.
Diaries and journals have also been used to collect information about language learners’ strategies. In these, learners write personal observations about their own learning experiences and the ways in which they have solved or attempted to solve language problems.
 drawbacks
 as with other verbal reports, learners may not necessarily provide accurate descriptions of their learning strategies.
Rubin suggests using diaries for instructional purposes as a way to help students develop metacognitive awareness of their own learning processes and strategies.
A think-aloud protocol involves a one-to-one interview in which the language learner is given a target language task and asked to describe his or her thoughts while working on it. The interviewer may prompt with open-ended questions such as: What are you thinking right now? Why did you stop and start over?. Think-aloud interviews are recorded and transcribed verbatim, then analysed for evidence of learning strategies.
The rich insights into language learning strategies provided through think-aloud protocols tend to reveal on-line processing, rather than metacognitive aspects of planning or evaluating.
 advantages
 often provide a very clear picture of a learner's on-line processing strategies
 shortcomings
 these include the presence of the interviewer and the somewhat artificial situation, which may affect the learner’s response.
e.g. The learner may not engage in his / her usual amount of planning before engaging in the task because of a perception that the interviewer wants the task to be completed quickly. Similarly, once the task is completed, the learner may not (without a direct prompt) take the time to look back on the task and evaluate his / her performance.
 an additional drawback of think-aloud procedures is that individual interviews, transcription and analysis are extraordinarily labour-intensive.
In spite of these difficulties, however, data collected through think-aloud protocols provide rich insights into language learning strategies.
The instructional applications of the tools that researchers have used to identify language learning strategies are especially valuable for teachers who wish to discover their students’ current learning strategies before beginning to teach learning strategies. For example, teachers can ask students to complete a language task, and then lead a classroom discussion about how students completed the task and point out the learning strategies that students mention. Teachers could also develop a questionnaire appropriate for the age and proficiency level of their students and have students complete it immediately after completing a task. For a more global picture of their students’ learning strategies in general, teachers might want to use the SILL. When strategy instruction is underway and students show evidence that they understand and are using some of the strategies independently, teachers could ask them to keep a diary or journal about their use of strategies in the language class and in other contexts, thus encouraging transfer. Teachers can make their own thinking public by “thinking aloud” as they work on a task familiar to students, commenting on their own learning strategies as they go. All of these approaches can help students develop their own metacognition about themselves as strategic learners.
Since any type of self-report is subject to the limitations of the individual reporting, it would seem advisable to use two or three different types in any research study so that triangulation can help establish validity and reliability.
The good language learner
Research on language learning strategies has focused mainly on descriptive studies that have identified characteristics of ‘the good language learner’ and compared the strategies of more effective and less effective language learners. These studies have been important in understanding how language learners use strategies and they have provided important information to guide experimental studies to identify the effects of learning strategies instruction on students.
These studies identified the good language learner as one who:
is an active learner
monitors language production
practices communicating in the language
makes use of prior linguistic knowledge
use various memorization techniques
asks for clarification.
Other investigations compared the learning strategy profiles of more and less successful students in ESL classrooms. Differences between more and less effective learners were found in the number and range of strategies used, in how the strategies were applied to the task, and whether they were appropriate for the task. These studies confirmed that good language learners demonstrated adeptness at matching strategies to the task they were working on, while the less successful learners seemed to lack the metacognitive knowledge about task requirements needed to select appropriate strategies.
Applied research on language learning strategies investigates the feasibility of helping students become more effective language learners by teaching them some of the learning strategies that descriptive studies have identified as characteristic of the “good language learner”.
Models for language learning strategy instruction
A number of models for teaching learning strategies in both first and second language contexts have been developed. These instructional models share many features.
All agree on the importance of developing students’ metacognitive understanding of the value of learning strategies and suggest that this is facilitated through teacher demonstration and modelling.
All emphasize the importance of providing multiple practice opportunities with the strategies so that students can use them autonomously.
All suggest that students should evaluate how well a strategy has worked, choose strategies for a task, and actively transfer strategies to new tasks.
All the models begin by identifying students’ current learning strategies through activities such as completing questionnaires, engaging in discussions about familiar tasks, and reflecting on strategies used immediately after performing a task. These models all suggest that the teacher should model the new strategy, thus making the instruction explicit. The CALLA model (Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach - Chamot) is recursive rather than linear so that teachers and students always have the option of revisiting prior instructional phases as needed. The Grenfell and Harris model, on the other hand, has students work through a cycle of six steps, then begin a new cycle. The Cohen model (Styles and Strategies-Based Instruction) has the teacher take on a variety of roles in order to help students learn to use learning strategies appropriate to their own learning styles. The Grenfell and Harris model provides initial familiarization with the new strategies, then has students make personal action plans to improve their own learning, whereas the CALLA model builds in a self-evaluation phase for students to reflect on their use of strategies before going on to transfer the strategies to new tasks.
In summary, current models of language learning strategy instruction are solidly based on developing students’ knowledge about their own thinking and strategic processes and encouraging them to adopt strategies that will improve their language learning and proficiency.
What questions still need to be answered?
Although we have learned a great deal about language learning strategies in the last twenty or more years, there is a need for further studies that describe learners’ current strategies, that teach learners new strategies and that develop teachers’ ability to provide learning strategy instruction in the classroom. It is important that learning strategies research continue for only through a better understanding of learning and teaching process can more language learners achieve the level of success that currently characterizes only a small proportion of all of the students studying a foreign or second language around the world.

Chamot, A.U., O' Malley, J.M., 1994 - The CALLA handbook: Implementing the Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach. White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman.
Chamot, A.U., Barnhardt, S., El-Dinary, P.B., Robbins, J., 1999 - The learning strategies handbook. White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman.
O' Malley, J.M., & Chamot, A.U., 1990 - Learning strategies in second language acquisition. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Oxford, R.L., 1990 - Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House.
Rubin, J., & Thompson, I., 1994 - How to be a more successful language learner (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.
Wenden, A.L., 1991 - Learner strategies for learner autonomy. London: Prentice-Hall International.

Language, Methodology and Culture. A Comenius Grant in Brighton, UK

by Bogdan Lazanu, Alecu Russo School, Iaşi

ELC, language, methodology, culture, grant

Between January 04th and 15th this year, I had the chance to take part in a course for ELF teachers organised by the English Language Centre from Brighton and Hove, UK, due to the Comenius mobility grant I got from ANPCDEFP.
There I lived in homestay accommodation, which provided me the perfect opportunity to experience British life and to practise my English in everyday situations.
The course was coordinated by Alex Thorp and Martyn Ford, two experienced teacher trainers from the ELC.
The daily school programme was between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. From the very beginning the teacher trainers created good opportunities for the participants to get to know each other. The other course participants were from Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Italy and Spain. At the end of the first day we went to a pub for the welcome party organised by the ELC.

As you can notice from the title, the course focused on English language, methodology of language teaching and some elements of British life and culture.
From this course I learned that the English language is changing every day, either by borrowing words from other languages, or giving birth to new ones. An example of the latter idea would be the word 'staycation', which refers to staying at home during your holidays.
Another important aspect of the contemporary English language that I learned about at this course is the culture of conversation. The language carries with it a variety of characteristics rooted in the culture.
Here are some of the most important English cultural aspects used in real life conversation:
- modality and indirectness in requests (will, can, could etc)
- softeners (i.e. 'Would you mind explaining...' or 'I hope you don't mind…'
- distance and hedging ('I would say that' / 'It appears to me')
- apology and politeness markers (like please and thank you)
- showing interest - back channeling, echo questions
- taboos - the use of imperative statements are is not natural in English and therefore it is considered a taboo.
From the methodological point of view the course provided us, the participants, with very practical teaching ideas and new techniques as creative ideas for teaching grammar, using the Internet and the new technology in the classroom, techniques for teaching pronunciation, classroom language, using games, songs, videos and drama in the ELT classroom.
Within the second week we had the chance to observe some lessons of other teachers from the ELC that we discussed with our teacher afterwards. I chose to observe a group of international students preparing for the FCE exam, taught by Pam, specialised in teaching Cambridge examinations courses (FCE and CAE). She was teaching her students behavioural and body language techniques during oral examinations.
Concerning the cultural and social aspects of British life we addressed Dave, who was in charge with that kind of activities. On the second day of the first week he took us to a tour of Brighton. On this tour we found out some interesting things about the history of Brighton&Hove and later on we visited some of the local beauty spots such as Devil's Dyke, The Royal Pavilion, The Lanes and last but not least the Brighton Pier.

At the weekend in between we had a day trip to London on Saturday. There should have been another one to Oxford, but that was cancelled because of the bad weather conditions.
On the last Friday we exchanged our e-mail addresses and took a group photo. At the end of the day we have all been invited to a pub-crawl by Alex on behalf of the ELC.

On this occasion I met great people from different countries with whom I have exchanged ideas about our countries, schools and of course about teaching English. So, if you want to apply for a Comenius grant in UK and you haven't made up your mind about the location, ELC Brighton&Hove would be a great choice, especially in the summer time.


Crosscultural Communication and Teachers. The Need to Learn How to Be an Effective Communicator Across Cultures

by Maria Roşu, “Carol I” School, Plopeni, Prahova

Keywords: communication, culture, nation, the internet, difference

Generally, cross cultural communication is the most important and vital issue for all communication. This is because culture has multiple aspects. Cross cultural communication is and will be the only “gate” to life, the only way to keep nations’ identity and to be “there” in a seat around that global table. Distances and borders between states disappear. Cross cultural communication is becoming a “need”. Books written by people like Geert Hosfetede “Culture’s Consequences” offer them instructions about how to handle intercultural management problems.
Cultural differences are not only national; they can rely on gender, class, religion, education, sexual preference. They are the consequence of the social position that the person has in society. The condition for an efficient communication is to look into the social distance towards the other. Relations and interactions between people are determined by differences of power. At the same time the people’s social position influences their perceptions towards reality. Every culture functions following its own internal movement, its own principles and laws – written or not, spoken or not. Even time and space are built and perceived in a different way. Some people think that differences between cultures are superficial. And it is a very big mistake. There are very important differences regarding habits, manners. An example of such differences is in France, between Flemish and Bretons. Romanian customs differ in Moldavia or Transylvania.
Social positions are not determined only by the nation we are part of but also by our every day local culture. The culture of everyday life is routine underlined by the practical sense, product of socializing in childhood. It teaches us how to behave as men and women for example. On this level people learn fundamental behaviors and taste: what to eat or not to eat, how to keep his house clean and so on.
We also have in society complex domains which produce culture. Developing a domain depends on the “fight” between participants. Communication between the members of the same domain is relatively easy because they are driven by the same implication and attitude.
Under the influence of the globalization process, domains become cross cultural. In every domain such as pop music, fashion, management – domains that surpass national borders, local traditions are influenced by global cultural products. Communication between participants concentrates on central matters. For a better communication it is important to know the domain. Understanding between participants is easier because the differences are less important. Football fans, pop music fans speak the same “language” and understanding is relatively easy due to the common domain. This helps understand each other. Every cross-cultural domain knows its own implication spiritual and physical wealth, young music and imaginary stories. In conclusion, for a successful communication in a cross-cultural domain is more important to know the domain than the national culture of a country. Obviously one can understand that the structure and size of the domain can vary. The medical domain can involve the whole globe; on the other hand football can involve several continents. Domains such economical domain, fashion, film industry, sport, education, social services, pop and rock music.. all of them offer us the possibility to identify which goes beyond national borders. We can also say that they form aspects of personal identity. The communication partner can change between these identities. The ability to switch between different identities facilitates communication.
“Culture can be compared with a very complex and subtle computer. It ( culture) can programme every gesture, every reactions even feelings. And we have to learn the << programme>> if we want the system to function the way we want. Making the system function means being careful about the way we live, we survive”. ( 26, Hall E, 1994).
It is all about the culture of a nation and about identity. Human beings used to live in a single world which could be their homes, cities, or even their country. But this is not the case anymore. After the recent media and information revolutions, people are more concerned with the world around them. And we can say that every nation should and must be “intercultural” and cross cultural communicators in order to live nowadays. It is an age of rapid change that occurs every single moment. People communicate all the time and there is the tendency that borders between cultures vanish. Thus, the importance of cross-cultural communication is significant. We cannot hide and neglect the rest of the world. Every nation has to find the necessary words to present the world his own culture, thoughts, needs, aims but in the same time to understand the others as well. Cross-cultural communication is not just about being a good listener, it is more about we know how to understand and respect the other as well. Without this all we can find will be more wars and more conflicts around the world.
With the Internet the opportunities for communication across culture have simply exploded. Undoubtedly, there is an unrecorded potential for misunderstanding. The combination of cultures affects human relationships. It is up to us, foreign language teachers, to have the knowledge, develop the sensitivity and appreciate the importance of understanding the diversity in communication styles, to be able to become a better observer of other cultures, and a more successful communicator. Knowledge of other cultures is better acquired by experience than by study. Teachers should experience cultures different from their own. Bill Gates challenges the idea that technology will dehumanize formal education. He argues that technology empowers students to become active learners as it provides them with the means of gathering information from and sharing information with a global community. There is no doubt that, when properly used, technology can supplement instruction and facilitate learning by making learners more responsible of their learning.
However, people believe that the technical act of communication that learners experience via the internet can replicate the dynamic social interactions between teachers and students and among students themselves when they come face to face. As Higgins and Johns (1984, p.8) put it: “There is warmth and immediacy in contact with another human being, which no amount of electronics could ever replace. In the early days of language laboratories, when mechanized drill and practice was seen as the panacea for all language learning problems…..such basic things as eye contact and smiles between teacher and students turned a dry exercise into something closer to communication.” All in all it is teachers’ primary aim to seek to remove cross cultural communication barriers from the school environment. Communication’s ethnography, illustrated by D.Hymes, the creator of the concept “skill in communication” was a reaction to N. Chomsky’s belief that “being able to speak means being able to produce and interpret a finite number of well formed phrases”. Hymes underlines the importance of “socio-cultural knowledge” of people. Without this we could not communicate efficiently in specific cultural situations. Thus, a person who was taught in school just to produce and interpret nice sentences in French will be taken as impolite by French natives who do not know that polite formulas are more numerous in French compared to Romanian in certain situations. (For example, what we say in Romanian” Thank you. Good bye”, is translated in French by “Merci beaucoup Monsieur. C’est trop aimable de votre part. Au revoir, Monsieur et merci encore.” These words should necessarily be said when smiling.
I am a teacher of English and I try as much as possible to use different patterns of interaction. I use:
T → whole class
T → individual student (in whole class activity)
T → individual student (with pair or group work)
Student → Student (open pairs)
Student → Student (closed pairs)
Students working individually
Students working in groups
Student → whole class
Each pattern has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, I think that variety of interaction in the language lesson is important. I try to lay emphasis on everyday speech because culture may be considered everyday language and behavior. As language is for communication, a medium for personal sharing and belonging I told my students that it is a good thing to communicate, especially in English with as many people as they can. I have a student in the 8th grade who speaks English very well. Last summer she went to America to visit her cousins. When she came back I was curious to know as much as possible about her experience there especially from the cultural point of view and also linguistically. Ant this is what I asked her and what she answered me (I am Maria Tudorache – MT and she is Roxana Costache -RC):
MT: Hello, Roxana. How nice to see you again back to school!
RC: Hello, teacher! How are you?
MT: I am fine, thank you. But tell us (me and the other students) about your summer holiday. We have heard that you visited your cousins in America.
RC: Yes, it is true.
MT: And where did you go?
RC: I went to New York. This is where my aunt and uncle live.
MT: How long have they lived there?
RC: They have lived there for six years.
MT: Have you ever visited them since they left?
RC: No, it is the first time.
MT: Did you travel alone?
RC: No, with my grandfather. But…ha-ha-ha…if I hadn’t gone with him we would have got lost in the airport…..and he didn’t like it there…..there were too many people on the streets…..he couldn’t understand the language at all…..he didn’t like the people there…..
MT: What about you? How did you like it there?
RC: Yes I liked very much but the teenagers are quite different. They don’t have as much homework as we do, they play on their computers all day long…they even use a different kind of language…..
MT: What do you mean by “different kind of language”? Give us some examples.
CR: For example they use a lot of abbreviations such as “asap”. Do you know what this means?... Well I didn’t know it meant “as soon as possible”. Or CUL means “see you later” or LOL means “Lots of love” ………
This is just a fragment of our conversation. It was a real “lesson” for me as I realized then that my students were not prepared to speak to native speakers. But they are quite poor children and do not have the financial possibility to visit different English speaking countries as to improve their language skills. And I think that the influence of American or British culture through films, TV and popular music is not enough. And I encouraged them to use as much as possible the chat rooms on the Internet, to make new friends, to read what students are writing to each other and , the most important thing, to write down the new words and expressions they have learnt from their experience. So, according to Hymes’ speaking grid, the setting and time are specified: pupils communicate on chat rooms whenever they can do it, except the school schedule, the participants to the conversation are students who share the same interests and opinions, they ask and answer questions using English. The purpose of their conversation is to exchange personal experience, ideas, to develop solidarity. The tone is relaxed, the conversation is informal. The communication channel is verbal or written because, thanks to new technology, children can speak on a microphone or even they can see each other. And here appears the importance of accents. Students can tell stories, jokes; they can even “fight” with words.
The conclusion was that we all learnt a great deal of new words and expressions such as:
webhead = someone who uses the internet a lot
cyberland = activity that involves the Internet
AFAIK = a written abbreviation of ‘as far as I know’
B4 = the written abbreviation of ‘before’
BCNU = ‘be seeing you’
BTW = ‘by the way’
FAQ = ‘frequently asked questions’
JIT = ‘just in time’
PLS = ‘please’
All in all, there is no formula on how to be an effective communicator across cultures. There are handbooks on how to do business in China, or how not to offend people in Fiji, and these guides contain useful information about these cultures. In French culture there is a complicated network of personal relations, as informal contacts are very important. In most business cultures writing memos and letters and minutes is often for self defense than communication. In German culture there is a lot of written communication as they do not communicate as much on the phone.
On the other hand, the Italians have a complicated communication channel. Dictating memos is regarded as a waste of time. People write their own or use the phone and facts are kept secret. For Spanish people communication is predominantly oral and, since the telephone system works so badly, face-to-face. The need to communicate to subordinates or colleagues anything other than what is strictly necessary to do the job is an innovation. Management keeps a closed door, especially if they are talking to someone else. There is plenty of one-to-one communication with the boss, as this is the conventional way for decisions to be made and instructions given, while everyone else wonders what they are talking about. Except in the largest companies there is a marked absence of correspondence and memos and staff notice boards. For the British people, communication is mainly vertical. They tend to prefer the phone instead of the personal visits and they also use memos. The Greeks do not trust written communication. They prefer the phone as important personal contact.
With respect to removing stereotypical language, online communication brings awareness of the need to choose words, images and situations which avoid using qualifiers reinforcing racial and ethnic stereotypes, racial identification, or language that has questionable racial or ethnic connotations. Body language being absent, we should respect rules for distance. We should also become conscious of the fact that cultures will vary in what they consider humor or taboo, which might give rise to misinterpretation. For example Romanians are considered less polite than the French. It is also said that everybody speaks French in Romania. People used to say that Bucharest is the little Paris. Another stereotype is that Romanians are lazy and this is why they are poor. But aspects of Romanian life are very positive. For example if someone comes round to a Romanian house, he makes sure that they are treated really well. He even says: “You can come round to my house at any time you want as long as you call me, I’m not worried or bothered” That’s a very Romanian behavior. The English way is that you have to make appointments and all you will get is a little cup of tea and a biscuit.
And when a Romanian says “come round any time”, he actually means it, whereas with the English people you do not know whether to trust them, whether they are just saying it as part of conversation. Or if an Englishman wants to meet a relative at 3.30 and he is an hour late, he gets really upset. Romanians are quite different from this point of view.
In conclusion I think that the key to successful cross cultural communication is accepting difference. Nations should try to remove cross cultural barriers. We should try and learn to remove language which appears to stereotype people and reduce violations of cultural rules during discussions and conversations.
1. Hall E.T., Hall M.R (1994): Comprendre les Japonais ,Paris, Seuil.
2. J Mole, Mind your Manners, London, The Industrial Society.
3. Higgis, J and T.Johns. (1984) “Introduction”. Computers in Language Learning. Collins ELT
4. Micaela Gulea, Bazele comunicarii fata in fata I , Bucuresti, ASE, 2003.
5. Dumitru Zait, Management Intercultural, Ed. Economica.

Boadicea and the Wall. A Communicative Approach to Teaching Culture and Civilization

by Mihaela Rosu (Para), Economic High School “V Madgearu”, Iasi

Keywords: communicative approach, Boadicea, intabulation (a new entry in English)

Sometimes culture and civilization may prove hard to teach. Likewise 16th century history facts may sound too remote to a 16 year old star craft player and TV watcher. Turning “dead” events into drama can prove effective as the reluctant learner becomes able to perceive “fact” as “act” with the least effort ever. Here I am suggesting a short dramatized and slightly Balkan version that might help us in teaching a lesson such as “Invaders”( from the “English My Love” textbook):

Boadicea and the Wall (A One-Act Play on British History)

1 the off stage critic:
2 the narrator:
3 queen Boadicea:
4 the vice queen:
5 the druid:
6 two Celtic soldiers( dressed approximately like Asterix and Obelix)
7 the Viking:
8 the architect:
9 two Roman soldiers:

COSTUMES: garlands and helmets (Celtic, Roman, Viking), cartons with names, a carton chariot, flowers, beard and hair, a walking stick, a broom, chocolate box, eyeglasses, a large bag, bills, agenda, ruler, pencil, mobile, nail polisher, newspaper, a pink bag, strainer, a ½ l bottle, playing cards
NARRATOR: It is spring time. Queen Boadicea is picking up flowers on the sunny hills of merry England.
CRITIC: Hey, it’s the 1st century AD for Christ’s sake!
NARRATOR: Oh, I’m sorry, did I say England? There must have been a slip of the mind.! On the sunny hills of NOWHERE YET where the merry Celts live. So: Queen Boadicea is picking up flowers where I have just mentioned.
QUEEN BOADICEA: Will you cut the crap and let me sing my beautiful lullaby!
petunias…petunias! Petunias don’t bloom in spring!
Over in Killarney
Many years ago
Me mither sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low
Just a simple ditty
In her ould Celtic way
QUEEN BOADICEA: Alas! The intruders have invaded my beautiful country already! My end is near, it’s almost here!
QUEEN BOADICEA: Do you have an authorization!
ARCHITECT: Sure, ma’am. (SEARCHES HIS BAG) There it is. No, sorry, that’s the electricity bill.(SEARCHES AGAIN) There. See! That’s emperor Hadrian’s signature. And his seal.
QUEEN BOADICEA: Really! Will you excuse me, I have a conference to attend. On human rights. Will you speak to my vice queen, please!
ARCHITECT: No problem.
QUEEN BOADICEA: Vice queen! Vice queeeen!
VICE QUEEN: Yes, my fair queen! Hath thou summoneth me!
QUEEN BOADICEA: Yes, dear. Will you talk to Mr road engineer here! I’m afraid he’s lost!
QUEEN BOADICEA (SMILING): Yes. And bring me my chariot, please!
Sweet chariot/Coming for to carry me home!
CRITIC: Look! Asterix and Obelix!
OBELIX (INTRIGUED): Haven’t I lost weight lately!
ARCHITECT: Yes, ma’am. So: I am here to build Hadrian’s wall. Here: my authorization, my intabulation…
VICE QUEEN: Intabulation! Is there such a word in English? Or Celtic?(TURNS HEAD TO NARRATOR AND CRITIC):
NARRATOR: Don’t ask.
CRITIC: Don’t ask.
VICE QUEEN: Whatever. Do you own the land?
VICE QUEEN: A lawyer! I need a lawyer!
(A LONG HAIRED AND BEARDED DRUID SHOWS UP WITH A WALKING STICK AND A BUNCH OF SOMETHING) Hath thou summoneth me, my mistress? Here .I hath gathered magic herbs all morning! Dandelion for thy acne! Burdoch for thy hair! Mint and yarrow. Ginseng for…
VICE QUEEN: Thanks wise old man. I hath not summoneth thou but please be seated.(SHOWS HIM A LOG. TURNS TO ARCHITECT)Look sir! As they say in “The 5th Element” I am a little disappointed. Your authorization is valid for several decades later. You’ve come too early.
ARCHITECT: No!(CHECKS THE DATE)Indeed! Hadrian’s wall was built around mmmnhm AD…and we are..hmmnhm…
NARRATOR: Dork! You are supposed to invade the country first! Isn’t it so!(TURNS TO CRITIC)
CRITIC: Undoubtedly!
ARCHITECT:Right! I knew it was something! Where is the author!(TURNS TO HIS SOLDIERS AND SPEAKS IN DETERMINATION): My brave Roman soldiers! For the glory of our empire…chaarge!
VICE QUEEN: My dearest soldiers. For the glory of the Celtic football team, do not let the invaders plunder our country and drink our whiskey!
ROMAN1: Ouch!
NARRATOR: That’s a Viking!
CRITIC: Indeed he is.
VICE QUEEN AND ARCHITECT: A Viking! Get out of my century, barbarian scum!
VIKING: Oh, I’m sorry, did I break up your concentration!(EXEUNT STAGE)
NARRATOR: Wasn’t that a remark from “Pulp Fiction!”
CRITIC: I’m afraid so!
NARRATOR: Friends, Romans, countrymen! Lend me your ear! It’s time to end up this mess and have a coffee break!(THEY STOP FIGHTING AND TURN TO HIM.HE GIVES THEM CHOCOLATES FROM THE BOX. THEY ALL CHEW. QUEEN BOADICEA AND VIKING JOIN FROM THE OFF STAGE)
CRITIC: As we all know, history is something hard to chew. We sincerely hope that our presentation will make facts more digestible.

With a little imagination, the experiment may be taken even further. Just think of a one or two-act piece of drama dealing with the Sequence of Tenses! Wouldn’t that be 100 per cent communicative in approach?


Optional and Intensive Courses . The Need to Communicate in English

by Raluca-Alexandra Herăscu, School No. 148 „G. Călinescu”, Bucharest


Key words: multicultural family; communication; optional and intensive courses; communicative aims; language functions; language structures, competences; teacher-student partnership

Europe is not only a geographical location or a historical reality, but also a community of countries, peoples, languages, customs and traditions, a multicultural family, to which a well known proverb perfectly fits: “So many countries, so many customs”. How do we “open the door” leading to today’s Europe? As part of it, we should feel at ease by communicating to all the other members.
Communication within and throughout the continent/world becomes a matter of belonging to the same cultural stock, a matter of cultural identity. Unfortunately, communication is still a problem to be solved in our school. This is why several questions are to be given fair answers:
 Who solves the problem? (school staff)
 What do we do to obtain true communication? (learn, practise)
 When do we practise it? (according to the timetable and extra)
 Where do teachers and students prove it? (in class and not only)
 How is it achieved? (class/homework, individual/pair/group work, projects)
 Why do we need to communicate to each other? (share human status, information, ideas, news, feelings, opinions, attitudes, by necessity or by pleasure)
The European Integration is understood as a phenomenon, a movement, a process. “To integrate” means to join, to identify oneself with, to be/become part of, to belong to the same whole. Its dimensions are geographical, historical, economic, social, political, cultural. The general framework of the European project implies 3 steps: adapting, adjusting, conforming, fitting, becoming accustomed to; integration (including opportunities and risks); compatibility.
There are some conditions to carry out in order to become and remain part of the project, namely to be in keeping with the European Union regulations and to share a common set of values, duties, rights, responsibilities, quality standards and performance-based progress.
One of the most important demands refers to quality in education. Tomorrow’s information and knowledge-based society has to cope with the on-going changes and challenges, such as: vast, rapid transformations at continental and world level; media development; world competition in the labour market; competences required (including working with the PC); building the national information understructure; using PC in all domains, on a large scale; training human resources.
The only possible solution to this new situation is life-long learning.
Any foreign language is an open door to knowledge and makes communication possible. Why then English as a global language? Leaving aside the cultural heritage, here are two powerful and topical reasons:
è ~ ¼ of the world population speaks or uses English. It is as clear as the daylight that English is world-wide spoken.
è ~ 80% of the electronic support information is in English. It is used in news and, by PC and Internet, enables “no frontier”, fast and comfortable communication.
Since English is in such great demand nowadays, optional and intensive courses prove to be successful solutions for first foreign language classes. Take for example “British/American Culture and Civilization” or “Celebrations, Customs and Traditions”. Let’s run over a list of communicative aims which should be present in such a syllabus:
- To enrich the students’ knowledge and experience;
- To offer cultural background information about the English-speaking countries through cross curricular topics;
- To develop cultural empathy and tolerance;
- To acquire new information and vocabulary at a higher level of understanding;
- To use new information and vocabulary in different situations and structures that enable communicative competence by exploiting the four language skills;
- To provide practice and opportunities in developing integrated skills by classroom activities based on students’ needs and interests;
- To make pupils express themselves in a free and enjoyable way;
- To develop the learners’ motivation, interest, confidence, personal engagement and responsibility in studying English;
- To develop critical thinking, creativity and imagination;
- To support the principles of holistic and active learning and of humanistic teaching;
- To meet the requirements of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in teaching, learning and assessment.
Let’s now take for example a unit which we shall entitle Narrative Structures and a group of lessons referring to Telling Stories. Here is a set of several important language functions:
* Asking/giving information and talking about celebrations in UK and USA;
* Giving instructions and directions (e.g. making a pumpkin, playing Apple Bobbing, preparing roast turkey following a famous recipe);
* Narrating events in chronological order (e.g. Arthurian legends, The Pilgrim Fathers);
* Describing people, places, costumes, characters in literary works;
* Acting short dialogues;
* Expressing “for” and “against” opinions in short debates;
* Comparing British/American and Romanian traditions;
* Writing under literary framework, pieces of stories and poetry (with given beginning, middle, ending)
Some of the language structures that may be required with this kind of lessons might be the following:
- Past Tense in narrative pieces; connectors for ordering a sequence of events;
- “Wh-” questions in dialogues;
- Vocabulary used to mark time and place in stories: Once upon a time; They say; It is said; In the end; They lived happily ever after and so on.
As far as competences are concerned, the teacher should focus on:
* To get the essential information, the main idea from texts they read or listen to for the first time;
* To take turns in a dialogue on a given topic in close and open pairs;
* To make up a short story by group working;
* To write down personal ideas on the topic under discussion.
As we know, language skills are passive, referring to getting/receiving the message by listening and reading and active, referring to producing/sending the message by speaking and writing. Skills have to be integrated during the lesson, just the way they are to be encountered in real life, in everyday conversation. It is obvious that we may have a main skill to work on. Take for example speaking. The reason why we concentrate on it may very well be to encourage the involvement of all the learners in the practice of spoken language.
Generally speaking, students enjoy whole class activity, pair and group work, taking action, learning by acting, playing games, singing, dancing, doing something either individually, or in a team. From this point of view, today’s class management should be based on an efficient teacher-student partnership. Under this favourable circumstance, the teacher’s roles are those of authority, organizer, adviser, partner giving feedback. To cope with these roles s/he must be responsible, dedicated, energetic, enthusiastic. On the other hand, the student’s roles are of listener, speaker, reader, writer, actor. These roles help him/her to feel and become confident, challenged, protected, happy, a better person.
It is but natural for each and every teacher to think of the best methods to get to a positive result at the end of the lesson, unit or school year.
These steps in attaining the activity aims have proved to be successful:
=> Review knowledge on the topic;
=> Enrich it;
=> Achieve progress.
By using the acquired knowledge in new contexts, by solving problems, the student becomes an independent, creative and responsible teen-ager and later on a grown-up, ready to face change and challenge, proving a positive acceptance of his/her own identity, sharing the set of European and world cultural values.
Modern teaching turns from what the student learns (information, knowledge) to how s/he learns. Whereas competence is potential knowledge (to know), performance is carried out competence (to do).
Information is better, long-termed remembered – among other methods – by means of word webs, cvintets, acrostics. Here are several examples of poems on two of the topics dealt with during the optional course “Celebrations, Customs and Traditions”:

Old, fascinating,
Listening, reading, learning,
We discover a magic world,
Imagination. Halloween

October celebration,
Playing, joking, laughing,
Putting on funny clothes,
Stories have lived for centuries,
Tell them to the children.
Once upon a time there were a king and a queen,
Realms of dream come to life,
Imagination is the key word,
Everybody likes them,
Save them for your cultural heritage.
Apple bobbing,
Lots of entertainment,
Laughing and playing funny games,
Old Irish tradition,
Witches and wizards go bump in the night,
Eating cloven cookies,
Enjoying the party,
Never sleep at night.

Teachers have to bear in mind a simple “recipe” which says that learning English should come naturally, avoid stress, be interesting, pleasant, enjoyable and fun. This means that we must start from our students’ needs, interests, expectations and make the lesson a leap in knowledge and skill.

1. Neacşu, I. (coord.) “Asigurarea calităţii în educaţie. Valori europene şi proiecte româneşti”, Galaţi, Ed. Şcoala Gălăţeană, 2005
2. Sheehan Andrew, “The Communicative Approach”, Forum Magazine, USA, 2004
3. Iucu, R., “Formarea cadrelor didactice – Sisteme, politici, strategii”, Bucureşti, Humanitas Educaţional, 2004


Copyright © Romanian Association of Teachers of English             ISSN 1844 – 6159             Edited by Ovidiu Aniculaese