Issue 21: Autumn 2006
ih j o u r n a l
o f e d u c a t i o n a nd de v e l op m e n t
Life Before EFL
IHCOLT … What is it? Why take it?
Talking to Engineers at Parties: In Defence of TESOL as a 'Proper Job'
Teaching and Training Sudanese Refugees in Egypt
Beside Ourselves (Reflecting on TP Feedback)
Language Philosophy and Language Teaching
Life After EFL
The Long Wait (or The Approach without Method)
Learning About Ukraine, Pre and Post Chernobyl
E LO P M E
All change, please!
Embracing Change - the 11th IH Portugal Symposium
IH Summer In England! (sic) or An Idiot’s Guide to Summer School
Reflective Practice during Teacher Training Courses
THE INTERNATIONAL HOUSE WORLD ORGANISATION
106 Piccadilly London W1J 7NL
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w w w. i h w o r l d . c o m
journal of education and development
Issue 21 • Autumn 2006
Life Before EFL - Jan Wright
IHCOLT … What is it? Why take it? - Mike Cattlin
Talking to Engineers at Parties: In Defence of TESOL as a 'Proper Job' - Phiona Stanley
Teaching and Training Sudanese Refugees in Egypt - Adrienne Radcliffe
Beside Ourselves (Reflecting on TP Feedback) - Rachel Ramsay
Language Philosophy and Language Teaching - Mark Lowe
Reflective Practice during Teacher Training Courses - Margaret Horrigan
Embracing Change - the 11th IH Portugal Symposium - Editor
All change, please! - Jenny Bartlett
Future Projections - Martin Heslop
Learning About Ukraine, Pre and Post Chernobyl - Kristina Gray
The Long Wait (or The Approach without Method) - Duncan MacKenzie
Life After EFL - Cambridge Calling to the EFL World - Angela Lilley, Brendan Wightman, Daniel
Stunell and Roisin Vaughan, (Cambridge University Press)
An A-Z of ELT - reviewed by Tamarzon Larner, Ana Calha and Brian Rey
Face2face Elementary - reviewed by Sarah Williams
Natural English Pre-Intermediate - reviewed by Camilla Mayhew, IH Buenos Aires
Market Leader Advanced - reviewed by Christopher Holloway, IH Madrid
Unlocking Self-expression through NLP - reviewed by Paula de Nagy, IH Lisbon
A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers - reviewed by Angela Richmond
English Adventure - reviewed by Alex Bishop, IH Madrid
Editor: Ian Berry [email protected]
Editorial Board: Steve Brent, Pippa Bumstead, Michael Carrier, Roger Hunt, Jeremy Page, Scott Thornbury
Advertising: Alex Monk [email protected] +44 (0)20 7394 2142
Subscriptions: Ania Ciesla [email protected] +44 (0)20 7394 2143
IH Journal, International House, Unity Wharf, 13 Mill Street, London SE1 2BH [email protected] +44 (0)20 7394 2143
E D I TO R I A L
adly, this will be my last editorial, as I will be stepping
down as editor following this issue. This was not an
easy decision for me to make, but a young family
and an increasing workload (not to mention waistline) were
influencing factors. With the help of Ania Ciesla and Alex
Monk at IHWO, it has been my pleasure to bring you the
last four issues of the IH Journal and I must say it has been
a great experience. I felt particularly honoured to be at the
helm for the 10th anniversary issue, and to be able to build
on the legacy of founding editors Charles Lowe and
Matthew Barnard, as Paul Roberts, Susanna Dammann
and Rachel Clark had done before me.
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Duncan MacKenzie, Adrienne Radcliffe and Phiona
Stanley. At the same time, we are also very pleased to
welcome the return of Mike Cattlin, Kristina Gray, Martin
Heslop, Mark Lowe, and Jan Wright to the pages of the
Journal. Thank you, you can all take a bow!
Whilst thanking people, I would like to give praise to all
those who have reviewed books for the Journal during my
time. The role of book reviewer may appear secondary to
article writer, but your contributions have been greatly
appreciated. We have another crop of excellent reviews in this
edition and I would like to give special thanks to Ana Calha,
who, despite being straight off a CELTA course and in the
middle of her first week as a teacher at IH Lisbon, took time
out to contribute a review of Scott Thornbury’s An A-Z of ELT.
Thank you for showing devotion beyond the call of duty!
As editor of the Journal, I have been privileged enough
to meet many interesting and highly talented individuals
working both within, and outside, the IH network and have
worked with many more who I will probably never get to
meet. We live in a ‘Global Village’ where modern
technology enables us to contact people half way around
the world in a matter of seconds (time zones permitting!)
and in putting this issue together I’ve been in contact with
people as far flung as Cambridge, Budapest, Egypt, Kyiv,
Rome, Bielsko-Biala (Poland) and Adelaide, to name but a
few! Indeed Mark Lowe and I have been indulging in online
ping-pong since I took over the editorship, batting emails
to and fro between Tbilisi and Lisbon. One can only
wonder how long all those correspondences would have
taken to reach their destinations, say 20 years ago!
One of the most gratifying comments I have received
about the Journal, was that it had a great balance to it.
Again, this was something I strived for and I think this
issue is a fine example. It brings you articles on topics as
diverse as Philosophy in ELT, personal reflection and
development and ‘bigging up’ our profession. There are
the Life Before and After EFL features, which have proven
popular with readers, and it also carries a ‘3-in-1’ book
review of An A-Z of ELT. Incidentally, I would strongly
advise you have a copy of Scott’s book at hand when you
read Duncan MacKenzie’s Mickey Spillaine style take on
the DELTA. Definitely not for the faint-hearted!
Whilst on the topic (technology/change), in this issue I
have written an overview of the International House
Portugal Symposium, which was held in Viseu in March,
and was aptly named ‘Embracing Change’. Though
obviously not restricted to new technology, but also
including new teaching/training practices, the symposium
focussed on aspects of this and IHWO’s Michael Carrier
called on his technical know-how to give a comprehensive
plenary session on the cutting-edge technology currently
available in the ELT world. The piece also includes writeups on two of the sessions given.
Before signing off, I must thank all those who have
helped me bring the Journal to you over the last two
years. A big thank you must go to the aforementioned
Rachel Clark. Her knowledge and help, especially in the
transitional stage, was priceless. I would also like to thank
all the staff at IHWO for their help and support, with
special mention to my ‘Editorial team’, Ania and Alex.
Thanks guys! Thanks also to my director and colleagues
at IH Lisbon for your support and finally, I would like to
thank Peter Hooper at CK Litho for his time, expertise
When I took on the role of editor I (you’ll be relieved to
read) did have a few objectives in mind. One was to
bring the IHWO organisation to the reader, in an attempt
to put a few pieces of the IHWO puzzle on the board.
Along the way, I like to feel we have achieved this and
I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading articles in this issue on
teaching and training Sudanese refugees in Egypt and
reflecting on life in Ukraine.
I hope you enjoy Issue 21 and that we can count on you
for continued support of the IH Journal in the future. Keep
those articles coming in - I look forward to reading them
Ian Berry - Editor
Another was to encourage readers to pick up the
gauntlet thrown down by my predecessors, Suzanna and
Rachel. They appealed for new writers to join the swelling
ranks of professional ELTers contributing to the IHJ. Well
the response at the time was great and I’m pleased to say
that once again we have many first timers writing for us this
time around, namely Jenny Bartlett, Margaret Horrigan,
As Ian points out above, this is his last issue - many thanks
to him for such sterling work editing the IHJ over the last
two years. We are now taking applications for a new
Editor, so if you are interested and haven't already seen the
details on your school notice board, please contact Ania at
the IHJ office for more information.
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Life Before EFL
ne minute you’re standing by the side of the pitch at
Stamford Bridge with Chelsea about to play Liverpool in
the F.A. Cup, the ground is packed and the atmosphere
is electric. You’re praying that your match sponsor’s advertising
boards are picked up by the ‘Match of the Day’ cameras.
There’s a star-struck 10 year-old by your side and you’re about
to make his dream come true by introducing him to his all-time
footballing heroes. It’s all part of the job.
With the certificate tucked under
my belt, I headed off to Spain in
October ‘84 to cover a teacher
on three months’ maternity leave
It was the early ‘80s, I was in my
late 20s and I had just landed
It was time to take stock - friends and family inevitably
offered advice. Fortunately, I acted on one of those suggestions
and signed myself up for a CTEFLA course at IH London in
March 1984. To this day, I give thanks to Ruth Gairns, Jon
Naunton and Jim Rose for four of the most enjoyable and
stimulating weeks of my life! With the certificate tucked under
my belt, I headed off to Spain in October ‘84 to cover a teacher
on three months’ maternity leave. A good opportunity, I
thought, to see how I felt about teaching abroad. Said teacher
then decided to extend that leave so I stayed on, I was already
hooked. And the rest is history, as they say. Basically, I never
went home again!
myself the near-perfect job
which allowed me to indulge my
love of sport
You blink and the next minute you’re sitting in a classroom
observing a CELTA trainee. The room is full of practice class
students, more trainees and the Cambridge assessor. The
atmosphere is a little tense. and you’re wondering how best to
give constructive feedback on the lesson. It’s all part of the job.
You blink again and realise, to your amazement, that some
twenty years separate those two minutes in the film of your life.
Basically, I never went
So, rewind the tape. It was the early ‘80s, I was in my late 20s
and I had just landed myself the near-perfect job which allowed
me to indulge my love of sport. I was one half of the newlyformed two-man marketing and sponsorship department at
Chelsea Football Club. At that time, Chelsea was in the
doldrums on and off the pitch. Gone were the match-winning
glory days of the ‘70s, gates were dropping drastically and the
club was on the brink of financial ruin. As the history books
show, Ken Bates came roaring in on his white charger to take
control of the club in his own inimitable way! Throughout all this,
our small marketing team beavered away on projects designed
to bring additional income into the club.
Fast forward to the present and my colleagues and/or
‘heroes’ these days are unlikely to appear on the sports pages
or in the gossip magazines – more likely their photos pop up on
the back covers of ELT methodology books. And writing regular
articles for the Chelsea match day programmes has been
replaced by the occasional contribution to the IH Journal! I
never thought I would say it, but “Thanks, Mr. Bates. You
unwittingly did me a great favour.”
Probably my favourite moment was that of staging a floodlit
cricket match at Stamford Bridge, with Essex padded up
against the West Indies. I was just like the star-struck ten-yearold when I met my personal cricketing hero, Viv Richards! Four
years on and I unexpectedly and unwillingly found myself in the
transfer market. We no longer figured in Mr. Bates’ greater
scheme of things.
For the record, Chelsea beat Liverpool that day. The little boy
cried when he met Kenny Dalgliesh. And the trainee was
awarded a Pass B.
Jan Wright is a freelance CELTA trainer working mainly on courses at IH Palma de
Mallorca. Since doing her CELTA (then CTEFLA) course at IH London in 1984, she has
worked for International House in London, Reus, Valencia and Palma, plus CELTA at IH
Portland. She is still passionate about football.
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
IHCOLT… What is it? Why take it?
Mike Cattlin, Academic Co-ordinator, IHWO
o what is IHCOLT? In a nutshell, it’s the International
House Certificate in Online Tutoring which, at the time of
writing, is being run for the fifth time. So far, it has trained
over 50 experienced English / Modern Languages teachers and
trainers to transfer their face-to-face skills to an online
environment. ‘Experienced’ here means two years in a
classroom; it needs this kind of background to enable
comparison and reflection on learning and teaching techniques.
So far, the people who have taken the course have varied from
school directors to Directors of Studies to co-ordinators to
teacher trainers to teachers, some with just two years of
classroom experience but some with many years of teaching,
training and management behind them. It really does suit all
sorts, as long as you have an interest in (or an open mind about)
the possibilities of teaching and learning online, whether for the
purposes of student education or teacher education. Shaun
Wilden, a teacher trainer from Prague, who took the course in
2005, was quite sceptical about the whole thing until he took
the course and realised the potential: “As I said in week one, I
was a complete cynic as to the value and effect of online
learning. From a practical application this course has changed
my view completely on this – the tasks not only introduced me
to skills needed to be an online tutor but also helped me learn
how to use a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) and how to
adapt tasks from face-to-face. I also enjoyed doing them.”
Like the best teacher training
courses, it’s experiential.
Participants don’t actually teach
guinea-pig students on the
course but rather they take part
as learners in a Virtual Learning
courses for online use just as they create courses for classroom
use. What COLT provides are the teachers to run whatever
courses they or their schools create for online delivery, and that
can open up a very big market indeed if exploited well.
OK, so if you’ve read this far, I’ve probably got your interest.
Let me tell you more about what you do on the course. Like
the best teacher training courses, it’s experiential. Participants
don’t actually teach guinea-pig students on the course but
rather they take part as learners in a Virtual Learning
Environment (VLE). Alex Tilbury from Katowice, a participant on
COLT 2, said at the end of week 1, “The real value so far has
definitely been experiential, learning what it’s like to study in an
environment like this, the application required, the potential
pitfalls, the importance of getting to know one’s colleagues.”
Some key information about the course:
It’s flexible in the schedule of delivery, but so far the
courses IHWO have run have taken around 5 weeks with a
little extra-time afterwards for writing a reflection task.
In those 5 weeks, it is expected participants will be online
for an average of 1-2 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, around
10 hours a week in total (although it is possible to get
carried away with all the possible links and spend much
more time on it).
The course is delivered entirely online; there is no face-toface component and people can participate from all over
the globe, all on the one course. Most of the interaction is
asynchronous and although some participants like to
arrange synchronous meetings in the chat room, it is never
actually necessary to be online at the same time as other
people, nor at any specific times of the day / week.
All participants need, other than the experience and
interest suggested above, is good access to the Internet
on a regular, preferably daily, basis.
There is no assessment on the course but to get the
certificate, participants have to complete a set number of
tasks (a minimum of 20 out of 24, some of which are
compulsory) plus the post-course reflection and feedback.
These tasks vary in approximate length from 10 to 60
Just as in a face-to-face training environment, participants
work collaboratively to develop their skills, in this case,
transferring them from one context to another and comparing
the differing (and similar) requirements of the two media. They
learn about VLEs through using one and visiting and analysing
others. Part of the course examines learning styles and how
online learning can cater for different types. Above all, the
course aims to practise and develop the skills necessary for
managing online learners’ work and facilitating their interaction
with each other including moderating discussions, providing
support, climate setting, encouraging involvement, setting up
and closing activities, and managing learner problems. Tony
Duffy from San Sebastian, a participant on COLT 4 has this to
say: “I thought the IHCOLT course was certainly useful and well
worth doing. It wasn't just for the way in which you get right
into the heart of online learning issues from the very outset but
also that the interaction with other course participants gives you
invaluable insights into how people with a different mindset to
your own perceive the whole business of using the Internet for
The course also deals with other possible misconceptions.
For example, Alex Tilbury noted in a subsequent reflection, “It's
been brought home to me how important people skills are
when tutoring online, perhaps even more so than face-to-face”;
this is an observation which may come as a surprise to many
before they actually take the course but it is something which
most come to consider.
What does it lead to? Good question! The course opens
doors for participants and their schools to explore new
markets. IHWO is in the process of writing teacher-focused
courses which are designed for both face-to-face and online
delivery; so far, other than COLT itself, only the One-to-One
Methodology Course has actually been run online, significantly
run by the sceptical tutor referred to above! Other courses will
follow, but clearly IHWO does not have a pool of online jobs for
successful participants to jump into. Schools have to create
This is not the only online course on the market, although it
is one of the few which specialise in online learning in the
language teaching / training context. The course I originally
took considered online education on a much broader scale
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
which was less helpful to me in my specific context, although
valuable in many ways. The insights provided by others were
often not directly relevant to me at face value, but often
triggered off chains of thought which were useful to me, even in
my face-to-face training. Like many people, I felt a little lost in
the early days, but the course builds a sense of community
quickly both professionally and socially. It’s certainly true to say
with COLT that most people, if not everyone who has taken the
course so far, including the tutors, has learned from the online
interaction as well as from the input and links provided. As a
tutor on the two most recent courses, I can say that not only
have I learned a lot from the participants, but have also
established a similar rapport to that in face-to-face contexts
and have genuinely enjoyed the interaction between people
working in completely different places, in completely different
time-zones and all with a lot to offer.
Tasks are available in a separate index.
Finally, let me take you through some of what happens on
Participants have to log on to the VLE (Blackboard) where
they are presented with a welcome page with the latest
And then on the Module Materials:
For the input, simply click on the course documents.
And answers are posted on the Discussion Board.
Participants then give feedback to each other or start a
‘Discussion Thread’ which the tutor can either contribute to as
it progresses, or can weave or summarise as it reaches a
courses scheduled to be run by IHWO in 2007, although
individual International House schools can buy the course on
CD-ROM and run it themselves, assuming they have at least
one person who has already taken the course!
If you are interested in the course, then please contact me at
the address below for details of dates and costs. There are four
Details and application
Mike Cattlin is currently a Teacher Trainer with IH Budapest, having previously worked as
a Director of Studies in Poland and Indonesia, and as a Trainer in Poland, England, Spain,
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Italy. He also works on the IH
Distance Diploma in Educational Management (ELT).
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Talking to Engineers at Parties: In Defence of
TESOL as a 'Proper Job'
am a professional ESOL teacher. My partner is a professional
engineer. Notice how 'professional engineer' sounds strange, a
tautology, while 'professional' and 'ESOL' collocate only weakly.
We are qualified in our respective fields (me more than him,
actually), and we both earn decent money (him more than me, of
course). We both have upwards of ten years' experience in various
specialist areas within our field (he: marine engineering, diesel
engines, hydraulics; me: teacher training, publishing, school
management), and we both work longish hours. But our
professions are not created equal. When we go to parties, and I
talk to his engineering friends, a variation of the following
conversation can be expected:
Step One: Talk up your extreme experiences (we
have incredible, enviable lives)
As ESOL teachers, we get into some pretty amazing
situations. These are great, extreme experiences, for which
engineers would have to pay adventure travel companies a lot
of money, and yet we live these stories for free. You could tell
these (true) tales, although you likely have a war chest of your
own incredible stories to substitute.
He (or, rarely, she): So, what do you do?
I taught Peruvian army cadets, and watched them go away to
a border skirmish with Ecuador and, mostly, come back
I taught veiled Gulf women, was invited to their houses and
weddings, and learned about how they deceive their
chaperones and meet boyfriends anyway.
I taught the Warsaw forensic police, which included being
shown around the bomb disposal department. There, I was
handed a lunchbox-sized lump of Semtex, and had the
further. Here's how to talk to engineers (and others) at parties, and
convince them we are not overgrown backpackers or wannabe
'proper teachers', but educational professionals in our own.
Me: I'm a teacher.
He: What, in a high school? What do you teach?
Me: Well, I'm a teacher trainer, actually. I train English language
teachers. So I teach them about methodology and language
He: What in a university?
Me: Not really, it's a language school.
He: Oh, is that like TEFL? Oh yeah, I did that for a while…
Me: So, what could you blow up with this?
Bomb-man: Erm, Palace of Culture!
When we talk to engineers (and
others) at parties, let’s convince
them we are not overgrown
backpackers or wannabe 'proper
I attended a Chinese banquet at which the speciality dish was
a plate of shinbones. Everyone was solemnly handed a
surgical glove and a straw, to extract the bone marrow. Other
weird Chinese dishes I have been offered include: silk worms,
jellyfish, starfish, snake, pigs' faces and scorpions. The two
key questions at the interview for that job, managing a chain
of Chinese language schools, were: You're not vegetarian are
you? And: Can you drink?
Step Two: Talk up your professionalism (there are
proper jobs in TESOL)
teachers', but educational
I train on University of Cambridge CELTA courses, I used to work
for Oxford University Press and I train freelance on the University of
Sydney TESOL Masters course. I earn decent-ish money and I
have a non-contributory pension fund. I got Australian residence as
a skilled migrant on the basis of my TESOL experience, and I have
two degrees and a diploma after my name. Who says this isn’t a
professionals in our own right
As Thornbury points out (2001: 391-396), TESOL is widely
regarded as a "light" option: not a proper job, and certainly not a
profession. This is because TESOL is "permeable" by nonteachers (Maley, 1992: 98). It is still entirely possible for unqualified
native-English speakers to find work teaching English in many
TESOL markets around the world: sad, but true. We can lament
this soft underbelly of underqualified ‘teachers’ but, like it or not,
they will continue to find work as long as there are students who
believe in the "native speaker fallacy", that is, the mistaken notion
that native speakers, regardless in/ability to teach, make the best
teachers (Phillipson, 1992: 195). We may seek to change TESOL,
and to impose restrictions and rulings as to who can or cannot
teach, but in a market-driven industry we cannot effect change
except by changing students' minds about the type of teacher they
want. And that can be slow.
And my story is far from unique. We TESOL people are a
smart bunch (and this also means you meet great people in
TESOL). The industry may be permeable by unqualified
‘teachers’ at entry level, but go higher up and TESOL is
incredibly meritocratic. TESOL retains and promotes people
who have ability, not those who have only paper qualifications
or, God forbid, old school ties.
So here's your script. Talk up your qualifications, talk up your
experience. You teach, you're trained to do it, you do it well,
and that's what you do for a large proportion of your working
life. The paper-shuffling you do is minimal. At this point you
sympathise: engineers, like state school teachers, can only
dream of actually doing the job they are employed to do. Elicit
the things your new engineer friend spends his working life
doing, things other than engineering: he plays politics to get
funding for his department's projects, he sits in meetings and
he writes reports (reports which you, with your transferable
But we can start solving this problem and repairing our
professional self-esteem. When we meet other professionals, such
as engineers, let's resolve to defend TESOL, not denigrate it
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
language awareness skills, could proofread for him. Bless him,
he can't necessarily write or spell very well). Ask him why he
became an engineer: now compare this list to the things he
actually does all day. Watch him wince.
Step Three: Talk up the personal development
opportunities of your job (our skills are very
transferable, and we are confident in myriad
As part of my working life in TESOL, I've addressed a stadium full
of 2,000 schoolchildren, I've been on photo shoots and recording
sessions with models and actors (how do you think they get those
photos and voice recordings into course books?), I've cut ribbons
to open new schools and I've appeared on British TV (Countdown
have to get their lexicographers somewhere). Now imagine how
much a confidence-building course like that would cost, if you could
buy the type of confidence that comes from working in TESOL.
As your new friend the engineer levered himself out of bed this
morning before six, perhaps you dozed somewhat longer.
As he ironed a shirt today, maybe you decided which jeans to
wear to work (although if you were doing some freelance
editing or course book writing, or marking some exam papers,
you probably did it in your pyjamas).
When his boss annoys him, he scours the paper looking for
replacement jobs. When you get fed up with your job, you
need only ask around among TESOL contacts, or get online,
to find something new (and potentially something freelance,
maybe part time, perhaps involving a bit of travel: yours is a
portfolio lifestyle, with lots of things on the go at any one time).
If you tire of TESOL, you know you can always move
sideways: friends of yours have moved into marketing, HR,
management and other types of adult training, for example,
while others work in publishing or for exam boards.
The only thing remaining to tell your new-found engineer friend
now is that our biggest freedom, as TESOLers, is that although we
may choose to settle somewhere idyllic (and rare is the job that can
be carried out equally on the Greek islands as in harbour-side
Sydney) we can choose to work almost anywhere, and to move
around at will. Make sure he knows this. After all, if the
conversation has been going particularly well, and who knows,
things work out with him (or her), you might need to relocate to be
together. And, as a TESOLer, you can!
Talk this confidence up, adding the ability to talk to almost anyone
(you've taught some very varied students, haven't you?) about
almost anything (it's amazing what you learn from course books.
For the same reason, you're probably also pretty good at pub
quizzes). Your pièce de résistance is the technical, very transferable
ability to write well, to spell, to construct a text properly and, to boot,
your ability to convey this knowledge to someone else.
Plus, if you're a long-term TESOLer, you probably speak a
couple of other languages, so throw this in as well. At this point,
your engineer interlocutor should start looking a little envious, and
may offer to buy you a drink to prove his/her economic superiority.
At the bar, make sure you order something exotic, perhaps a
Wódka Zubrówka, or a Dos Equis (using the correct pronunciation
of course) and continue talking up TESOL. (And if you catch
yourself burning with economic envy, you might mention that
money comes and goes, but that time, once gone, is gone forever.)
*we also know how to use the word myriad.
Maley, A. (1992). An open letter to 'the profession'. ELT Journal,
Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford: Oxford
Step four: Talk up the freedom (we have flexible
Thornbury, S. (2001). The unbearable lightness of EFL. ELT
Journal, 55(4): 391
As you've been saying, we TESOLers have so many
Phiona Stanley has recently relocated to Adelaide to be with her engineer boyfriend. She
works freelance at the University of South Australia and Adelaide University, and offshore
for the University of Sydney in China.
Teaching and Training Sudanese Refugees
resettlement, I was interested in becoming involved in English
educational programs within Egypt that would help the refugees to
integrate more successfully into English speaking countries.
n June of 2005 I read an article in the ELnews entitled ‘Sudanese
Strain Oz Schools’, which highlighted the problem of absorbing
“over 11,000…Sudanese, half of which are less than nineteen
years old and in need of schooling.” The article went on to explain,
“…a further difficulty is that the Sudanese have very little
experience of traditional written learning in what Australians would
consider a school setting using desks, books and writing
materials.” Living in Egypt, which is home to 3 million migrant
Sudanese and at least 23,000 refugees who are seeking
I’d already had some experience in working with Sudanese
children at IH Heliopolis, where the director, Barbara Trimpi, and I
ran the IH Certificate in Teaching Young Learners (IHCYL) in 2005.
International House and British Council teachers participating on
the course taught two groups of Sudanese young learners. I’d
heard from other trainers that on past courses the children had
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
been similar to the ones mentioned in the ELnews article: they
found it difficult to sit in desks and to even hold a pencil. They were
often angry and could become volatile – a reflection of their
experiences living during difficult times in Sudan.
better educated Egyptian pre-teens could still be used successfully
with the Sudanese children. Their reading and writing skills were
much lower as well. Some children could write at the sentence
level with clear penmanship while others struggled with forming
letters. Some could read simple readers while others had difficulty
sounding out letters. Clearly, teaching literacy skills and dealing
with very mixed levels became more of an issue in this context.
Overall though, they were extremely eager to learn and, although
sometimes difficult to control, the trainee teachers found the
Sudanese children to be a refreshing break from more jaded
mainstream young learners.
By the time we ran our course, it was obvious that the children
were benefiting from services provided for refugees in Cairo.
Christian organizations such as St. Andrews church and legal
Overall they were extremely
After the IHCYL course ended, one of the trainee teachers,
Angelika Doebbelin, who has been involved in volunteer projects in
Egypt in conjunction with Pro Ethnos International, a Christian nonprofit group based in Germany, introduced me to the African Hope
Learning Center. This is a primary and secondary school founded
by the Maadi Community Church for Sudanese children in Cairo.
The teachers are all Sudanese refugees, the majority of whom had
got the job simply because they spoke English. Angelika saw a
need to offer training to all the teachers and asked Barbara and I
to become involved. We agreed to start by doing some
observation of classes to assess the training needs.
eager to learn and the trainee
teachers found the Sudanese
children to be a refreshing break
from more jaded mainstream
During these observations, Angelika expressed concerns over
the very teacher-centered approach implemented – having recently
come off of CELTA and IHCYL courses she was familiar with a
more communicative methodology. I agreed that workshops in
using engaging activities would be useful as well as ones on
classroom management. Teachers with no formal training
struggled with controlling the students. As anyone who has taught
young learners knows this must be dealt with before anything else.
Teachers also asked for help motivating their students. They said
that the students often came to class wound up by problems they
were having outside the class. Another reason the teachers
believed the students were not motivated was because the
advocate, AMERA, have been offering basic services, education
and legal help. The children were comfortable in a classroom
environment and they behaved similarly to young Egyptians in
class. Of course, there were still differences. The IHCYL
participants remarked that the students were not as sophisticated
as the Egyptian children they had been teaching. Topics and
games that were considered to be too young by more affluent and
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
to discuss problems the students faced in their daily lives. The
students were already distracted by these problems and the
teachers, being refugees themselves, were in a position to
understand, sympathize and perhaps help them.
children would be leaving shortly to resettle in other countries.
We met with the Dutch director of the school, Lineke
Buitendijk, to discuss running 4 initial workshops based on our
assessment. Lineke asked that we also include a workshop on
showing teachers how to teach reading skills lessons. It’s still
common practice for teachers in Egypt to ‘teach’ reading skills
by having each student read the same text aloud, which can eat
up hours of class time. After agreeing that this would be the
focus of the workshops, Lineke promised to rally the teachers
together for the training.
Our initial training program sparked off other ideas. Choosing a
new course book suitable for the students’ level for next year was
definitely a priority. Lineke continues to support her teachers,
encouraging teamwork as well as individual responsibility. This is a
challenge in itself, as the Sudanese teachers are also waiting to
emigrate, which results in a frequently changing staffroom. To deal
with the extreme mixed ability in the classrooms, Angelica is
starting a new program this fall. It will take the children with limited
educational background and weak literacy skills out of the
classrooms and give them specific help so that they can catch up
with their peers.
Running the workshops was interesting and presented some
challenges as well. The participants had varying degrees of English
proficiency. Some of the teachers were reluctant to plan
supplementary material and adamantly supported using a course
book that was too difficult for the students (and often too difficult
for the teachers, as Barbara discovered during her reading skills
lesson where she used a text from the course book that the
teachers had difficulty understanding). However, they were open to
new ideas and after a workshop on involving students in
communicative activities, they were spotted using these activities
in their classes. I also brought up the idea of teachers personalizing
their classes more, even to the extent of using the first part of class
So slowly, but with commitment from volunteers, religious
organizations and the motivated Sudanese teachers and students,
progress is being made. Hopefully these programs will enable the
refugees to be better equipped now to set up
new lives in English speaking countries.
Adrienne Radcliffe is a freelance teacher trainer currently based in Egypt.
Beside Ourselves (Reflecting on TP Feedback)
educator ‘directs’ and the student ‘does as she is told’. The teacher
educator sets the parameters – she decides the reason for the
intervention and the points to work on. She comments on these
points, based on observation, the student may or may not have
some input and a discussion may or may not ensue.
In February last year, I started training to be a CELTA tutor. This
involved observing and shadowing experienced tutors on CELTA
courses. In all I watched six tutors: marking assignments, grading
lessons, writing reports, giving input sessions, tutorials and TP
(teaching practice) feedback. Each tutor was uniform in terms of
grading lessons and assignments and what was covered in
tutorials and reports. They differed slightly in their teaching styles,
but where the difference was most apparent was in their approach
to giving feedback.
The nondirective approach is a process by which the student’s
need for ‘self-agency’ is protected and in which the educator
maintains a productive role in the process. The relationship
between student and educator must be such that the student is
able to work through the teaching practice experience, without
input or direction, and be allowed to come to her own conclusions
and solutions. It must also enable the educator to play a part in the
process, to contribute from knowledge and experience but not to
direct the student to a particular conclusion or solution.
Most tutors were quite humanistic and ‘touchy feely’ and
seemed to have an amazing ability to very quickly pick up on the
personalities and learning styles of the trainees. They seemed
almost immediately to know who would be open to feedback, who
might be more resistant, who might struggle as a result of past
learning and ideas and experience of teaching etc. A few seemed
very direct and brusque, others appeared a little vague, a little too
‘nice’. I found myself trying to imagine how I would feel in the
trainees’ shoes. How would each style affect me?
The role of the educator in the alternatives approach is to pick
an action point from the practice teaching and look at it with the
student. The student chooses or rejects the three or four
alternatives offered by the educator. The two will then enter into a
discussion as to why the student has made certain choices.
Gebhard (1990) refers to feedback as supervision; he looks at
6 models of supervision adding collaborative, creative and selfhelp explorative to directive, nondirective and alternatives. The
latter three are for all intents and purposes the same as those
described by Freeman (outlined above); the former three need
looking at in more detail.
I was impressed at how standardised the CELTA was in all
aspects: that anyone taking part in a CELTA in any part of the world
would be assessed and graded in the same way. However, I kept
coming back to this difference in approach to giving TP feedback.
Aware that I had to develop my own style, I became interested in
what approaches there were available to me. I was also keen to
discover why tutors chose these approaches. What had
experience taught them?
Collaborative: The main aim of the collaborative approach is
sharing: the aim is for the educator and the student to work
together. The educator participates but does not direct the
student; she works alongside the student addressing problems
and sharing ideas. Together they identify action points and look at
strategies to provide a solution. The educator is above all positive,
interested and non-judgemental.
Freeman (1990) refers to feedback as ‘intervention’; his three
models of intervention are: directive, nondirective and alternatives.
In directive intervention the roles are clearly defined – the teacher
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Creative: Gebhard points out that working solely from one model
of supervision can have its limitations. At times we need to draw
on a combination of different models, depending on the situation.
Firstly, it can be seen that a supervisor can begin a pre-service
course giving very directive feedback; as the students become
more aware of their own teaching, and more able to reflect on it,
she can try an alternatives or nondirective approach.
colleagues C, D, E and F and myself.
Ethically there were some considerations. The tutors, not myself,
approached the trainees. Together the tutors discussed who
would be open to the idea and most able to ‘cope’ with it. It was
explained to the trainees (again by the tutors) that it was entirely
their choice and it had no bearing on the course. There was no
discussion between the staff at the school and myself, regarding
results or any data gathered, until after UCLES had approved the
grades of the trainees.
Self-help explorative: The self- help model of supervision is an
extension of the creative method. This model sees the supervisor
not as a ‘helper’ but as another teacher (possibly more
experienced) who is interested in looking at ways of developing their
own teaching and in this way inspires others to do the same. The
Both tutors appeared to have a similar approach to giving feedback.
T1 sees her approach as ‘..very gentle, touchy feely’. She stressed
that she varies her approach depending on the candidate: II had
one trainee who was very resistant to checking instructions ...
had just never done any checking ... this was becoming a
recurring action point and coming up in every feedback. So I said
to him for the final lesson, “Listen sunshine, you are going to do
some checking of instructions in the next lesson so help me …”
and he loved it and it worked … .but I knew that approach would
work with him … .You learn who you can take the piss out of and
who you can never take the piss out of.
To my mind these various
theories of intervention, all
seemed rather neat. I wondered
whether, in reality, a
What is vital she feels, is trying to find out what is making it go
wrong… some people are scared of a technique, others don’t
know what is meant by a certain criteria. She feels also that her
approach has changed over time. Based on past experience, she
is now much more careful about my language, more explicit …
I once described a lesson as ‘nice’ but the grading was ‘weak
pass’ and the candidate, obviously, was thrown by this and my
‘nice’. She points out that this and the fact that tutors have only 40
minutes to feedback to three teachers has made her much more
‘direct’. She feels her approach is also affected by candidate
request: what they want, what they need … many candidates
appreciate ‘just tell me’.
teacher/educator would stick
rigidly to one approach
idea is that through observing others we gain self-knowledge and
we produce alternatives for ourselves based on what we have seen.
To my mind these various theories of intervention,
supervision, call it what you will, all seemed rather neat. I
wondered whether, in reality, a teacher/educator would stick
rigidly to one approach regardless
T2’s approach depends on the candidates … varies `(from) person
to person on how receptive (they are) and what their learning style is.
What they are seeing and not seeing. For someone who is perceptive
she believes she is merely a resource, they can see it for themselves,
it’s there in the evaluation; but for those who don’t listen or disagree
you have to be more combative, you need data to back you up. She
feels strongly that, Trainees need to leave with a strategy, a what to
do next, to get towards a solution… . And if they are resistant you
need them to tell you back what they are going to do.
The data was collected during an intensive 4-week CELTA course.
I interviewed, and observed, the two tutors running the course,
and two trainees taking part. My aim was to look at the different
approaches to TP feedback, why tutors chose to give feedback in
a certain way and what affect this had on trainees.
Both trainees, however, had very different reactions to the process.
When asked how she feels about TP feedback, Trainee A stated,
How do I feel? I actually get bored to be honest, everyone says the
same thing. I looked around today and everyone is just staring at their
feet ... me too … heard it all before. She feels that if she has had a
bad lesson and everyone gives only positive feedback it is of no use
to her. People say I am hard on myself but I want some
recommendations … recommendations are more important than
praise. She does not mind giving or receiving ‘recommendations’ or
constructive criticism in front of her peers. She does acknowledge
that it varies from person to person … (Trainee C) doesn’t really
listen … . (Trainee E) gets upset and confused by criticism … so
I make sure I sum up with positives.
Semi-structured interviews were carried out (separately) with the
two tutors responsible for running the CELTA course and two
trainees (together) taking part in the CELTA. The CELTA had 12
trainees – divided into two TP (teaching practice) groups of 6
trainees. Trainees were A, B, C, D, E, F - with A, B and C teaching
on the same day and receiving feedback the following day. Tutors
would move between TP groups, spending approximately a week
with each before changing. All in all trainees would have each tutor
twice during the course, observing and giving feedback on both
the higher and lower levels.
Tutor 1 (T1) and Tutor 2 (T2) are both highly experienced CELTA
tutors. Trainees A and B are both in their early twenties, with no
prior teaching experience. Both tutors were interviewed shortly
after the course was finished – due to pressures on their time
during the course. The trainees, A and B, were interviewed at the
end of week 2 and the end of week 4 (their last day on the course).
Questions were written before the interviews but these were used
in a flexible rather than rigid way. All these interviews were taped.
Trainee B stated It’s o.k. if you’ve had a good lesson but if you’re
upset and know it was bad. If you’ve had a shit lesson the last
thing you want to hear is for people to be going mmm could’ve
been better … You don’t want everyone to say it was great but
you don’t want the focus on you for ages. I want to move on.’
Trainees A and B were observed and taped receiving feedback
from T1 in week 2, after teaching the lower level. This was repeated
in week 3, with T2, after teaching the higher level. Therefore,
present in the room were the tutor, trainees A and B, their
T1 saw her approach to teaching practice feedback as ... very
gentle, touchy feely. This was definitively reflected in her manner
during feedback; she was very softly spoken and praised the
trainees: “You have to admit though you remained calm. You must
— 10 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
have been thinking ‘Oh God where is the place?’ I don’t think the
students initially realised there was a problem. You stayed calm; a
real strength.” She also stated that she changes her approach,
based on the candidate and it can be noted that she was more
direct with Trainee A and used more praise with Trainee B, who
was less sure of her own teaching and felt uncomfortable with the
In this article I have looked at the literature available on the different
approaches to TP feedback and seen that a number of
approaches are available to tutors: directive, nondirective,
alternatives, collaborative, creative and self-help explorative. I have
seen a number of these approaches ‘in action’, namely:
collaborative, directive and creative. Although they appear to fit
very neatly into boxes, it is not realistic to expect a tutor to choose
one approach and stick to it. In fact, this is what I have observed,
having seen all three of these approaches in one feedback session.
Indeed, tutors themselves feel that their approach changes
depending on the circumstances: trainees’ needs, reactions,
personalities, stage of the course etc.
In interview, T2 stated also that her approach depends on the
candidates… varies (from) person to person on how receptive
(they are) and what their learning style is. What they are seeing
and not seeing. This was evident in feedback: she encouraged A to
try and separate the experience out for her and the learners. She was,
also, very aware when a trainee was not receptive to what is being said:
on a couple of occasions she double-checked trainees were taking in
what she was saying, either by repeating herself in a slightly different
way or by directly checking: but listen to what I am saying here …
In terms of effects on trainees, it can be seen that different
approaches and styles provoke different responses, with some
trainees being more affected than others. What impresses me
most, is what struck me when I was a tutor-in-training. The real skill
is in being able to change your approach to suit the trainee. The
tutors I most admired were those who were perceptive enough to
very quickly pick up on the personalities and learning styles of each
trainee. No small accomplishment, which I suspect (and hope) can
improve with experience.
Both tutors worked alongside the trainees, together they identified
action points and looked at strategies to provide solutions: a
collaborative approach. Although at times they did direct the trainees
to certain action points that had not been picked up on. It would
seem therefore, that a mixture of approaches is being used: the
creative approach. As Gebhard (1990) stated a ‘supervisor’ might
begin a pre-service course giving directive feedback, but as trainees
become more able to reflect on their teaching, she can try different
approaches. This, he believed, is why the creative method works so
well as the teacher educator can be aware that what works for one
trainee may not be appropriate for another.
Freeman, D. (2002) ‘The hidden side of the work: teacher
knowledge and learning to teach. In Language Teacher 35.pp. 113. CUP
However, both tutors pointed out that it cannot be forgotten that
they are also the assessor, working with set criteria, as well as the
tutor, this tallies with Freeman’s idea of a directive approach in which
the teacher educator sets the parameters and decides the reason
for ‘intervention’ and the points to work on.
Freeman, D. (1990) ‘Intervening in practice teaching.’ In Richards,
J.C. and Nunan. D. (Eds) Second Language Teacher Education.
pp. 103-117. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gebhard, J.G. (1990) ‘Models of supervision: choices.’ In
Richards, J.C. and Nunan. D. (Eds) Second Language Teacher
Education. pp. 156-166. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
It does appear that my previous conclusion, in the review of
literature, is sound: these various theories of intervention,
supervision, call it what you will, are too neat. In reality the tutors did
not stick rigidly to one approach.
Rachel is a teacher and teacher trainer. She has worked for IH in Poland, the Basque
Country and Newcastle. She has recently completed an MA in Applied Linguistics. She is
also an actress, hence the mugshot.
Language Philosophy and Language Teaching
e EFL teachers are accustomed to finding our big
ideas about language in the work of applied linguists
such as Scott Thornbury and Henry Widdowson. But
there are other sources of big ideas about language, including
language philosophy, the subject of this article. Whereas
linguists are primarily interested in language as such, language
philosophers are interested in wider questions such as how
language relates to reality, language and the mind, and
language and truth. This article discusses the ideas of four
philosophers who have made important contributions to our
understanding of language, and whose ideas have influenced
language teaching theory and practice. They are Ludwig
Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Paul Grice and John Searle.
wars, barbaric despotism and the decline of traditional religion:
passionate, ruthless, driven and utterly original. To appreciate
his philosophy, it is helpful to know something of his
background. Ludwig Wittgenstein was born in 1889, the
youngest son of a wealthy Viennese industrialist. The family
mansion was an intellectual and artistic centre of Viennese
society: Brahms’ clarinet quintet received its first performance
at a musical soiree there: Freud, Mahler, Bruno Walter,
Kokoschka and Klimt were frequent guests. There were seven
grand pianos scattered round the mansion. This was the milieu
in which the young Wittgenstein grew up, and which deeply
influenced his philosophical development.
Originally, Ludwig was set to follow his father in the family
business. After technical studies in Linz and Berlin, he went to
Manchester University in England to study aeronautical
Wittgenstein is, for many, the iconic philosopher of the 20th
century, shoring up philosophy against the battering of world
— 11 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
engineering. But while there, he developed a passionate interest
in mathematics and logic, and heard about the work of Bertrand
Russell. In 1911, he called on Russell in his rooms in Cambridge.
Wittgensein abandoned philosophy in the 1920s. He
worked as a gardener in a monastery, as a village primary
school teacher, and as an architect. He was eventually
persuaded to return to philosophy in 1929 by his Cambridge
friends Bertrand Russell, the economist John Maynard Keynes
and the mathematician Frank Ramsey. Back in Cambridge,
Wittgenstein soon repudiated his first philosophy, and
embarked on the development of a new set of ideas. They
represent the most radical revolution in philosophy since Kant.
They form the heart of this article.
Russell was then a leading figure in the international
movement to make philosophy more scientific and to clear
away the clouds of Hegelian metaphysics which had
dominated European philosophy for the previous 100 years.
Russell believed this Hegelian philosophy to be pernicious
nonsense. He and his friend and colleague Alfred North
Whitehead had recently completed their monumental Principia
Mathematica, which demonstrated the logical and scientific
foundations of mathematics. Russell was working on his new
philosophy of Logical Atomism, which sought no less than to
describe the logical and scientific foundations of the world. He
was looking for a gifted collaborator to work with him
Two of Wittgenstein’s innovations have particular relevance
to language teaching: (1) a new philosophy of language in
which meaning is interpreted as ‘use’, rather than conformity
to an abstract system (as in the Tractatus) and (2) a new
conception of philosophy as a means of disentangling
conceptual confusions caused by language muddles. Let us
look at these innovations in more detail.
Russell was immediately impressed by Wittgenstein’s
intellectual ability. He had found his collaborator. Wittgenstein
abandoned his engineering studies and settled in Cambridge
as Russell’s student. He quite soon started work on his first
masterpiece: the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. He
continued to work on it while on long holidays in Norway, and
then while serving in the Austrian army in the First World War.
He completed it while on active service fighting the Russians
on the Galicia front. His traumatic war experience deeply
influenced the final form of the Tractatus: what had started as
a treatise on logic evolved into a kind of poem on life’s deepest
truths. At the end of the war, Wittgenstein was taken prisoner
by the Italian army, but he was able to smuggle the text of the
Tractatus out to friends in Vienna and Cambridge. The book
was finally published in German in 1921 and in an English
translation (with a forward by Russell) in 1922.
1. The repudiation of his earlier concept of philosophical
analysis. In the old system, language was conceived as a system
founded on a calculus of strict rules. The propositions generated
by these rules were thought to reveal (Wittgenstein) or to describe
(Russell) the most general features of reality. The task of
philosophy was to classify these propositions through analysis,
thus laying bare the logical structure of the world. In
Wittgenstein’s new philosophy of language, the meaning of a
word is its use, not what it denotes. Language not only describes
things: it also does things. Language is a toolbox which enables
us to act in the world: it is not just a device for describing things.
Language can also be interpreted, in a favourite analogy of
Wittgenstein’s, as a collection of games. Games have rules. We
do not follow the rules of chess when playing draughts, or soccer
when playing cricket or rugby. To play language games, we need
to know and follow the appropriate rules. These rules stem from
life, and the use of language is inter-woven with the life of
language-users. We master a language when we are closely
involved with the life that underpins that language. Language
training presupposes shared realities and shared ways of
behaving within a language community.
At one level, the philosophy of the Tractatus can be
interpreted as a form of Logical Atomism. At this level, the aim
of philosophy is to reveal scientific truths about the world of the
most general kind. Ordinary language being inadequate to
express such truths, it is necessary to develop a logically pure
language in order to describe the world accurately and
faithfully. Such a language generates a network of logically
consistent propositions which mirror the logical structure of the
world. The Tractatus presents a blueprint for such a logical
language. At another level, the Tractatus is a meditation on the
mystical. It is quite unlike most other works of philosophy. It is
written in a series of aphorisms: ‘the world is what is the case’,
‘ethics and aesthetics are one’, ‘death is not an event in life’,
‘whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’. The
book was enormously influential. It inspired much of the work
of the scientific philosophers of the Vienna Circle in the 1920s
and 1930s, for instance Rudolf Carnap’s The Logical Structure
of Reality and A.J.Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic. The
Tractatus became a bible for the scientific spirit in philosophy.
Wittgenstein wrote: ‘if a lion could speak, we would not
understand him’: not because his growls are unclear, but
because his whole world is so different from ours that we
cannot understand it. Russell made a similar point when he
said: “if I could teach my dog to speak, he would never learn
to say: ‘my father was poor but honest’ Dogs don’t think this
way – they have no conception of honesty. Similar reasoning
can perhaps sort out today’s muddled thinking about
chimpanzee ‘language’ – to what extent do chimpanzees
‘really’ understand human language? Wittgenstein’s new
ideas, originally developed in the 1930s, later played a crucial
part in the evolution of communicative language teaching and
its theoretical support in the 1960s and 1970s.
Wittgenstein’s philosophy has
2. A new view of the purpose of philosophy. The purpose of
philosophy is no longer to present sublime visions of ultimate
truth and goodness, as in the work of Plato or Spinoza. It is
simply to clarify our thinking. It is a handmaiden of
understanding, rather than a creator of new truths. For
Wittgenstein, many so-called philosophical problems are the
result of language muddles: the relation of mind and body, the
paradoxes of free will and determinism, and the nature of the
soul – all these problems can be resolved by analysing how
confusions in language cause confusions in our minds.
Confusion usually arises when we try to use language that is
appropriate for one kind of situation in a different situation for
which it is not adapted. Once we see the confusions, all
becomes clear. We have, to use Wittgenstein’s vivid image, let
the fly out of the bottle.
much to offer language teaching. If
language is like a collection of
games, we should teach our
students to score linguistic goals
and generally get the ball over the
language tennis net
— 12 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Wittgenstein’s philosophy has much to offer language
teaching. If language is a toolbox for doing things, we should
focus on helping our students to use the tools effectively, with
lots of practice at doing things with words. If language is like a
collection of games, we should teach our students to score
linguistic goals and hit language centuries and win language
chess games and generally get the ball over the language tennis
net. We should give our students plenty of practice at playing
these language games, because no-one ever learned to score
centuries or score goals without practice.
bequeath my second best bed to my wife’ (leaving things to
others in a will). The generic term ‘performative’ stands for all
such functional expressions. Austin’s term ‘illocutionary force’
refers to the various kinds of performance, eg promising,
warning, obeying, threatening etc. His term ‘perlocutionary
force’ refers to the effect of the performance on other people.
Thus, when I say ‘I do’ in the wedding ceremony, the
illocutionary force is ‘promising to marry’, and the perlocutionary
force is the effect of my words on the woman I marry.
Austin divided performatives into five categories, as follows
And if language can sort out conceptual problems, let us
apply philosophical analysis to unresolved issues in our field.
Do we acquire language or do we learn language? What real
mental processes, if any, do these words stand for? What, if
any, is the relation between the two processes? Wittgenstein
believed that the right procedure, when confronted with a
puzzle like this, is to examine the ‘problem’ language as it is
used in ordinary life. Ordinary language reflects centuries of
experience and has survived, in a Darwinian manner, a great
deal of criticism and tough use – it has proved its fitness. So
how is the word acquisition used in ordinary language? In
ordinary language there is usually a sense of getting something
for nothing – something a bit disreputable - about acquiring
things. ‘Have you heard? George has just acquired a nice new
young wife…. The old devil....’ The term does not comfortably
fit the process of mastering a language, and distorts our
understanding of that process, causing intellectual cramp.
Wittgenstein would surely have agreed with Michael Halliday,
who advises us to avoid the loaded terms acquisition and
learning, and to use the neutral term mastery instead.
1. Verdictives: judging, pronouncing, estimating, convicting,
2. Exercitives: I appoint, dismiss, excommunicate, order,
urge, recommend, demand
3. Commissives: I promise, intend, plan, agree, disagree,
oppose, swear, undertake
4. Behabatives: I apologise, thank, compliment,
commiserate, bless, challenge, vote
5. Expositives: I mean, affirm, deny, state, identify, tell,
ensure, object to, repudiate
How to Do Things with Words was a seminal influence in the
development of functional/notional language teaching theory
and practice. It is also a rich source of excellent recipes for
functional language lessons, containing many dishes not
included in our normal fare. This little book can help us to
teach not only how to request, apologise, thank and offer
(common fare), but also how to convict and acquit, condemn
and release, appoint and dismiss, oppose and undertake, to
compliment and to complement, to ensure and insure, and to
interpret and to query (less common fare). It is not only a major
work of philosophy, but it is also full of imaginative and
practical ideas which can enrich our classroom practice.
What about conscious and unconscious learning? The
debate rests on confusions in the use of these words, which
lead to muddles in our understanding of what happens when
we learn things, and a confused theory of how the mind
actually works. The same is true of innate versus learned
grammar, and deep and surface structures. In Wittgenstein’s
philosophy, the troublesome words are analysed until the
presuppositions underlying the words are exposed and sorted
out, thus revealing the truth. His philosophy examines
scientifically what really happens, and not what the distorting
language leads us to suppose happens. In Wittgenstein’s
philosophy, we discover the truth, we are not bewitched by
beguiling words, and we avoid intellectual cramp. This kind of
philosophy is as relevant to language learning theory and
practice as it is to every other academic discipline.
Let us now turn to Paul Grice. Grice was a Fellow and Tutor
at St John’s College, Oxford from 1938 to 1967. He them
moved to the USA, where he was Professor of Philosophy at
Berkeley, University of California, until his death in 1988 at the
age of 75. He made many important contributions to
philosophy, including his famous analysis of what he called ‘the
logic of conversation’.
Logic and Conversation is a key text for language teaching.
When we take part in a conversation, Grice maintained, we
follow certain principles. The over-arching one is the
Cooperative Principle. We agree to make such
conversational contributions as are required by the accepted
purpose of the talk exchange in which we are engaged. This
cooperative principle may be subdivided into four subcategories: quantity, quality, relation and manner.
Wittgenstein first formulated these ideas. They were later
developed by Austin, Grice and Searle, among many others.
Let us look now at the philosophy of J. L Austin.
How to Do Things with Words is a
The category of Quantity generates the following maxims:
rich source of excellent recipes for
functional language lessons,
Make your contribution as informative as required
Do not make your contribution more informative than is
The category of Quality generates the following maxims:
containing many dishes not
included in our normal fare
Say only what you believe to be true
Do not say that for which you lack evidence
The category of Relation generates simply:
The category of Manner generates:
Austin was a leading Oxford philosopher and his most
significant contribution to language philosophy was the notion of
‘performatives’, or expressions which do things rather than
describing things. Here are three examples of performatives. ‘I
name this ship the Queen Elizabeth’ (naming); ‘I do’, said in
answer to the wedding ceremony question ‘do you take this
woman to be your lawful wedded wife?’ (marrying); and ‘I
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
money’. In other words, ought can be derived from is. Searle’s
explanation for what looks at first like sleight of hand – just a
trivial trick – is that ethical judgements relate exclusively to
human affairs – to human inventions and human institutions
and organizations: to money and its obligations, to marriage,
to government, to sport and to clubs and societies, for
instance. The world of ethics is the world of people, not things
or animals. The problem of is and ought derives from a
confusion between the language proper to human affairs and
the language proper to things. If this view is accepted, many
philosophical problems are resolved.
These principles and maxims were designed to explain how
human conversation works. Some people found the
explanation clear and enlightening, but others criticised it on
the grounds that the maxims did not correspond with reality.
Few people, they pointed out, conduct conversations in this
admirably organized manner – perhaps they should, but they
don’t. Critics pointed to the plays of Harold Pinter and Samuel
Beckett, with their so-realistic dialogues full of non-sequiturs.
These plays, they claimed, are a more accurate reflection of
real conversation than Grice’s elegant model. Grice replied to
these criticisms in an Epilogue written in 1986. The principles,
he wrote, applied to ideal conversations, not to most real
conversations as they are actually conducted. They are
intended to supply a framework for understanding
conversation and how it is linked to its context. The principles
of conversation are also an example of Grice’s view of
language as embedded in the flow of human life. These
principles can help language teachers, because they provide a
principled framework for teaching our students how to
converse – not only in ordinary conversation, but also in
business meetings and formal encounters like diplomatic
negotiations. Grice’s theory of logic and conversation has also
been influential in the development of the speaking
examinations of the University of Cambridge examinations in
English – a further point of intersection between language
philosophy and language teaching.
For instance, this theory explains why many apparent
statements of fact have the illocutionary force of commands.
Consider the following example, forever etched on my
memory. When I was engaged to my future wife some years
ago, we visited her Italian family, who lived in a small town near
Verona. On Sunday morning, my fiancée, who was very
advanced and liberal in her thinking, announced that she was
not going to church. Her outraged father stood up and
declared: ‘Domenica, la donna va in chiesa’. (On Sunday,
women go to church). My fiancée went to church. A
philosopher might have been puzzled by her action: no
command was given, and my future father-in-law had only
made a statement. However, my fiancée understood very well
that her father’s statement had the force of a command, and,
as a properly brought up Italian girl, she obeyed her father and
went to church.
Searle explains all this by saying that the full meaning of her
father’s words can only be rightly interpreted in the context of
the society in which he and his daughter lived. In that society,
at that time, women went to church and obeyed their fathers,
whatever may or may not have happened in Britain, America
or other societies. In that society, her father’s statement had
the illocutionary force of a command: his is had the effect of an
ought, or rather a must. And the same principle is true, claims
Searle, of all ethical statements. Ethical propositions have the
force of commands within the system where they belong,
whether they are formulated as statements or orders. They are
also as true in their own way as scientific descriptions are in
their different way: they are true within the context of the
society to which they belong. This analysis offers a coherent
and satisfying treatment of ethical expressions, unlike that of
the Logical Positivists and the Vienna Circle, who declared all
ethical statements to be merely expressions of feelings and
devoid of scientific truth. Searle’s treatment of this topic has
deeply influenced language teaching practice: we happily
teach statements as commands, and logical inference as
moral imperative. We teach language as it is actually used in
society, not according to some preconceived theory that does
not fit the facts.
Grice gives us a framework for
teaching the language of
conversations and professional
Grice’s work is highly relevant to language teaching. He
gives us a framework for teaching the language of
conversations and professional meetings – we can modify the
framework to reflect messy and Pinterian reality, but Grice
gives us a starting point. He shows in detail how language links
into the flow of life, and how to interpret the implications of
what people say, as well as their surface meanings.
Let us finally turn to the work of John Searle. An American,
he studied with J.L Austin in Oxford, and then returned to
America as Professor of Philosophy at Berkeley (with Grice),
where he helped to disseminate the ideas of his teacher. He
has made many important contributions to language
philosophy, starting with his brilliant Speech Acts of 1969.
Other key texts include: The Rediscovery of the Mind (1994),
Consciousness and Language (2003) and The Mind (2004). He
is still active today.
Searle has deeply influenced
Two aspects of Searle’s work are of particular importance
to language teaching: (1) his analysis of ethical propositions,
and (2) his theory of mind, which provides a coherent and
scientific framework for his theories of language. Let us
consider these in turn.
language teaching practice: we
teach language as it is actually
used in society, not according to
1. Ethical propositions. In traditional philosophy, it was
thought to be impossible to derive ought from is, because the
worlds of fact and value are different. Searle famously
demonstrates not only that ought can be derived from is, but
that in practice we do it all the time. Consider the statement: ‘I
promise to refund you this money’. This entails the proposition:
‘there is an obligation on me to refund you this money.’ This
entails the further proposition: ‘I ought to refund you this
some preconceived theory that
does not fit the facts
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
2. Searle’s Theory of Mind. Searle provides an account of how
the brain works that gives principled theoretical and scientific
support for communicative language teaching methods. The
subject is vast and complex and cannot be easily summarised.
Let two references tell the essence of the story.
how language works. Together with his analysis of speech acts
and functional language, and his account of ethical
statements, Searle’s theory of mind provides a scientific
foundation for our work in teaching languages.
Let us conclude. What does the philosophy of language offer
to language teachers? It offers many things, including: a broad
vision of the place of language in human affairs; principled
support for the fundamentals of communicative language
teaching and learning; fresh insights into language games,
language rules, meaning and functions; deeper understanding
of the language of conversation and professional meetings;
new insight into old ideas; the stimulus of scintillating minds and a deeper understanding of how language really works.
In The Rediscovery of the Mind, Searle writes: ‘In our skulls
there is just the brain with all its intricacy, and consciousness
with all its colour and variety. The brain produces the conscious
states that are occurring in you and me right now, and it has
the capacity to produce many others that are not now
occurring. But that is it. Where the mind is concerned, that is
the end of the story. There are brute, blind neurophysiological
processes and there is consciousness, but there is nothing
else. If we are looking for phenomena that are mental but
inaccessible in principle to consciousness, there is nothing
there: no rules, no rule following, no mental information
processing, no unconscious inferences, no mental models…
no LAD, and no universal or innate grammar’. To sum up,
Searle paints a rigorously scientific picture of the mind, with no
reliance on metaphysical entities.
Searle has deeply influenced language teaching practice: we
teach language as it is actually used in society, not according to
some preconceived theory that does not fit the facts
Suggested further reading:
Austin,J.L How to Do Things with Words (OUP1962)
Searle’s view of language and the mind is incompatible with
the picture that Chomsky paints. Language philosophy has
many criticisms of Chomsky’s theory of mind, with its innate
and universal grammar, deep structures and so on. In 2002,
Searle published The End of the Revolution, a review of
Chomsky’s most recent book New Horizons in the Study of
Language and Mind. The review is sympathetic but highly
critical. Many of the arguments used by Searle are similar to
those which Wittgenstein employed to criticise his own
Tractatus in the 1930s. ‘There is no logical structure underlying
language’, ‘there is no ghost in the machine’, ‘grammar was
made by man, not by God’ (Wittgenstein). ‘There is no
universal grammar common to all languages; there is no
Language Acquisition Device in the brain; grammar is not
innate but mastered through experience of language and life;
there are no deep structures in the brain; language has many
functions other than describing things’ (Searle). Searle’s review
provides additional insight into his theory of mind, and is also a
notable contribution to critical thinking about Chomsky’s
theories. (Searle is not the only philosopher to have doubts
about Chomsky’s theories. Professor Norman Malcolm, a
protégé of Wittgenstein, once wrote: Chomsky and his
followers are a new tribe of philosophical savages….’)
Ayer, J. Language, Truth and Logic (OUP 1936)
Grice, Paul. Studies in the Way of Words (Harvard University
Hacker, P.M.S. Wittgenstein’s Place in 20th Century Analytical
Philosophy (Blackwell 1996)
Monk, Ray. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius (Cape
Searle, John. Speech Acts (CUP 1969)
Searle. The Rediscovery of the Mind (MIT Press 1994)
Searle. The End of the Revolution (Harvard Review of Books
Searle. Consciousness and Language (CUP 2003)
Searle. The Mind (CUP 2004)
Wittgenstein. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (RKP, 1922)
Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell, 1953).
This is an abridged version of an article originally published in
Modern English Teacher (MET)
Searle’s theory of mind is important for language teachers
because it provides a coherent and verifiable explanation for
Mark Lowe has studied philosophy at Cambridge University, worked for the British
Council in Iran and Argentina, written EFL materials for Longman and has been DoS in
more countries than most of us have visited. He is currently DoS at IH Tbilisi, Georgia.
Reflective Practice during Teacher Training
opportunities to reflect on their practice. In order to illustrate how
this might come about on training courses such as Certificate of
English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) Certificate of
English Language Teaching to Young Learners (CELTYL) and
Diploma of English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA) and
why reflection is intrinsic to professional development, an account
of various types of training formats is needed.
The opportunities for trainees to reflect on their teaching practice
during any assessed training course are, unfortunately, few and far
between. This is due to the pressures that trainees face on a daily
basis. Post lesson evaluation sheets (PLES) not only provide a
written record of trainees’ growing awareness of their developing
teaching skills but can also provide trainees with essential
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Models of Education
Schön identifies only two types of reflection, RIA and ROA.
Teaching, however, is an anomalous profession in that
considerable reflection occurs before practice during planning
stages. Wallace (1991: 56) recognises this third type of reflection
which occurs before action and it has been labelled by Greenwood
(in Wilkinson 1999: 38) as “reflection before action” and by Van
Manen as “anticipatory reflection” (1995: 34). This period of
reflection is not accounted for in Schön’s works and is discussed
here as reflection pre-action (RPA).
The Craft Model (CM), or Competency Based Teacher Education CBTE (Roberts 1998: 16), views teaching as a “learned behaviour”
(Willen et al. 2000: 3), achievable via observation and imitation.
However, if the CM is a “tool kit of methods” (Roberts 1998: 17) a
change in the teaching context may render this “toolkit” useless. It
is also questionable whether the ‘master teachers’ are as informed
as practising teachers. Thus, it could be argued that experience of
craft does not equal knowledge of craft, an issue which the Applied
Science model (ASM) attempts to address.
The Theory Practice Divide
The ASM gains its status from the achievements of empirical
science (Wallace 1991: 8) and has been labelled “technical
rationality” (Schön 1987: 3) or the Transmission Model (Sotto 1994:
113). Schön proposes that over emphasis of this model has
distanced theory from practitioners where a hierarchy of “thinkers
and “doers” (Wallace 1991: 10) has evolved and a theory practice
gap has resulted. Expert practitioners tend to climb a hierarchical
ladder particularly educators of practitioners who, in essence, are
distancing themselves from practice. The reflective model attempts
to resolve this divide.
The RM relates to the andragogical process (Knowles 1996)
highlighting adult learners’ knowledge application as problem
centred-ness. Thus, the RM highlights the importance of craft and
the theory practice gap that the ASM has created. Ur (1996:4),
however, distinguishes between two types of theory: “espoused
theory” and “theory in use”. The former we can describe and claim
to believe in and may conflict with the latter which may be difficult
to articulate as it is based on personal belief systems.
This conflict can generate professional development as it may
trigger the willing disorientation which is essential to reflective
practice. This willing disorientation facilitates looking at our own
practice “in a new light” (Schön 1987: 26) and subsequently we can
glean insight from informed others. Thus, the RM attempts to enable
the doers to become thinkers and can be illustrated as a middle
point on a continuum of education models as illustrated in figure 1.
The reflective model (RM) is directly linked to Schön who saw the
need for an education model which replaced the ASM (Schön
1987: 8). He suggests a model that meets the needs of
practitioners working in “divergent” contexts and challenged the
convergent knowledge base by which practitioners are informed.
This, he puts forward, can transpire through reflection in action and
Reflection in action (RIA) is linked to knowing in action (Schön
1987: 28), a knowledge which is publicly observable by
phenomena that occurs during practice (Schön 1987: 25). During
RIA the practitioner encounters an event which is not categorical.
This occurrence results in a struggle to make sense of the event
where the practitioner, Schön suggests, must be open to
confusion. Gray (2004: 25) talks of conscious decision making
during “points of crisis” where routine is “unexpectedly interrupted”
or does not suffice in solving the issue and practitoners are jolted
out of their smooth routine. Hence, a deepening insight into the
nature of the profession can be achieved through RIA.
Fig. 1. Continuum of Education Models
This graph illustrates how novice practitioners may reflect on their
craft if involved in a CM of education and how those involved in an
ASM may reflect by projection on future craft. Hence, informal
reflection, the author argues, is an unavoidable spin-off of both polar
models of education. An attempt to link theory and practice is almost
certainly inevitable in either case. Hence, the “doers” question why
they do what they do while the “thinkers” project their knowledge to
their impending professional experience. Thus, the author argues
that this un-harnessed reflection, albeit to differing degrees based on
individuals’ ability, is an innate consequence of professional learning
which the reflective model has merely formalised.
Although Schön (1987, 1983) never explicitly sets out a model
whereby a practitioner might become more reflective, he does set
out a process which occurs during reflective practice (Schön 1987:
26-28) and has been reiterated in more schematic models (Wallace
1991: 15, Boud and Knights 1996, Driscoll and Teh 2001: 101).
Overlap occurs in these models and may be summarized as:
i. Experiencing an event.
ii. Returning to and reflecting on this experience.
iii. Learning from and re-evaluating this experience.
The Role of Experience
iv. Applying new knowledge in a new event.
Experience for adults has a defining feature in that adults have
been moulded by it. Any adult learning process must account
for experience as this focuses the new learning. However,
experience may not always be an aid to learning as Knowles
(1996: 60) suggests objectivity is required in order to free the
mind from preconceptions and liberate learners from possible
“learned helplessness” (Martinko 1981: 23) or what Dewy has
termed “miseducative” (1996: 246) experiences. Teacher
trainees have also been exposed to teaching as students for
numerous years which Kennedy (1990: 17) suggests is
“tremendously difficult to shake”, yet reflection may enable
trainees to overcome such models.
This overlap is recapped in constructivist psychology where “we
engage, grapple and seek to make sense” of an event (Conner et
al. 1996: 21) and can be likened to Gestalt therapy (Perls 1969) in
that repetitive cycles of a single event can be halted by “begetting
the ‘aha’ experience” (Woldt and Toman 2005: 158) whereby
discovery is experienced.
Reflection on action (ROA) is recognised by Schön as the
intellectual part of reflection where dialogue with oneself or others
is open and regards the action or more specifically the problem
solving process which occurred during the action. How this
dialogue evolves is crucial to effective ROA as it should enhance
future practice and not result as a retrospective understanding of
why something occurred and consequently, Loughran (2002: 42)
suggests, “forward practice may remain uninformed”.
Although experience is an important issue in adult learning, it is
not the defining part. The learner must also be open to new
approaches, examine their habits and biases and become more
critically reflective in order to evaluate and analyse their practice in
a manner which is conducive to professional growth. Thus,
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Feedback is deemed better as a group activity because on an
individual level, as Hunt (2001: 280) suggests, trainees may
“reinforce old habits and prejudices”. In these moments trainees
are required to comment on their lessons in an open manner in
the presence of peers and their tutor. However, tutors are also
assessors and thus an imbalance of power exists regardless of
the good intentions of all parties. It also assumes that group
dynamics are healthy. However, without a public arena such as
this how can trainees successfully harness their wheels to a
forward moving vehicle, a developing profession? The compilation
of PLES, the author suggests, are the only intimate reflective
moments trainees share with their practice and, consequently,
may harness reflection. PLES therefore need to be prioritised on
teacher training courses.
learners’ belief systems and perceptions may block the experience
of the learning. Hence, effective reflection depends to a
considerable degree on willing disorientation without which
coping strategies may come to the fore.
Ur (1996: 6) suggests that a “fully reflective model should make
room for external as well as personal input”. Trainees previous
experience cannot be considered as the sole source of reflection
as experience is dynamic, not a static phenomenon, especially on
teacher training courses due to inputs, feedback and informal peer
discussion relating to teaching practice. How these external
factors are internalised and related to action on a reflective level is
where we now turn our attention.
Reflection in Practice
Hatton and Smith (1995: 9) set out three types of ROA which
demonstrate deepening awareness of theoretical issues coming
from action. These types of reflection were:
Post lesson evaluation sheets (PLES) should act as frameworks
conducive to ROA by harnessing trainees’ natural tendency to
reflect whilst enabling them to avoid peripheral issues. PLES on
pre-service teacher training courses need to account for a number
of issues so that reflection takes place. During practice the “tool kit
of methods” (Roberts 1998: 17) may have failed trainees and not
having the right answer may result in confusion. Such
disorientation can only be useful if trainees are open to it. Hence,
willing disorientation needs to be created by attending to feelings
which relate to practice.
i. Descriptive reflection
ii. Dialogic reflection
iii. Critical reflection
In their study the dominant type of reflection was descriptive
reflection. It is not clear whether prior to verbalisation the
participants were not reflecting at deeper levels and resorted to
descriptive reflection as a summing up tactic during ROA. The
verbalising of ‘thought’ can alter knowledge and result in a
rationalisation of practice. This does not ensure that meaning is
drawn from the experience nor that “understanding” is enhanced so
that it impacts “on the development of one’s attitudes for reflection”
(Loughran 2002: 36). Competent performers may provide poor
accounts of their own performances, thus excellent RIA is not the
same as ROA where an ability to reflect on RIA is essential.
Previous experience although important needs to be viewed as
being more dynamic as it is informed by theory from external
sources on teacher training courses. This experience needs to be
explicitly related to the theory informing trainees’ evolving practice
in order to eradicate potentially flawed teaching models which
trainees may have been exposed to up to now.
Unexpected events during lesson planning, immediately prior to
teaching and during lessons, whereby on the spot decisions are
made, need to be accommodated on PLES. These events may
help to alter belief systems and grant opportunity for interruption of
routine practice to occur and thus, focus trainees on reflective
cycles involved in RPA and RIA. Ideally such sheets should be filled
in immediately after teaching by individual trainees and when
possible, the author proposes, trainers should put trainees at ease
regarding the ‘grade’ of the lesson prior to discussion so that
trainees’ minds are freed up for effective ROA to take place. The
risk of using one sheet consistently throughout a course is that the
compilation of the sheet becomes mechanical and thus, no
reflection whatsoever takes place. In order to avoid this the author
proposes that a variety of PLES need to be created and gradually
distributed during a course.
The competent practitioner is not necessarily the more reflective
one either, as an efficient practitioner can come to an appropriate
solution in fewer cycles of reflection. Gray (2004: 25) suggests that
over-reflection, in contrast, can result in “loss of fluency and
paralysis”. In addition to this, pedagogical tact, the personal style
or altruistic attitude “towards the good of the other” (Van Mannen
1995: 43), are not accounted for in the RM.
The reflective model is not easily conceptualised. Ways in which
reflection has been harnessed are documented with learning
journals (Hoban 2000:168, Boud and Knights 1996), teaching logs
(Thornbury 1991:140), learning partners, learning contracts (Boud
and Knights 1996), picture metaphors (Hoban 2000:172, 174) and
storytelling (Van Manen 1995: 39, Kubler La Boskey and Cline
2000, Langley and Senne 1997).
Reflection during teacher training courses
Although trainees on CELTA, CELTYL and DELTA courses may be
exposed to a reflective model of education, such exposure can
over emphasise practice upon which trainees are not equipped to
reflect. Issues of survival, well being with peers, meeting the
grading system and attempting to learn how to teach in an
effective manner can all undermine reflection. These issues need to
be formally addressed in order to fully promote reflection on
teacher training courses.
During training courses trainees tend to pass through three
stages of “fitting in, passing the test and exploring” (Calderhead
1988: 269) while the day to day concerns of trainees regard
‘passing’ their lessons. This far outweighs any other professional
concerns that they might have. This, coupled with the grading
system, can detract from the reflective process. In effect,
reflective practice can only truly take place once issues of survival
and coping have been solved.
Reflective moments may be harnessed by appropriately
designed post lesson evaluation sheets from which trainees
might see “what they most need to see” (Schön 1987: 17). A
reflective model of education must also account for external
input, trainees’ feelings about their evolving practice whilst
enabling them to question personal belief systems based on
experience as a dynamic phenomenon. Moments where trainees
reflect solo, as opposed to immediate group interaction, occur
during the compilation of post lesson evaluation sheets and,
consequently, cannot be overlooked as key moments for
effective reflection to emerge.
Reflection is problematic for trainees whose only reflective
thoughts can be that of practice observed as learners. In these
instances, RPA resorts to dipping into the toolkit which they are,
in effect being equipped with and building up and adopting
techniques to cope with lessons. Despite Dewey’s perplexity
regarding instant skill at the expense of the “power to go on
growing”, (in Roberts 1998: 212) such skill is necessary to free up
the mind for effective reflection. Cheating novice teachers out of
such skill, Van Manen (1995: 48) suggests, may effect negatively
on “curricular thoughtfulness that good teachers learn to display”.
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Lansing, Mich.: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning.
Willen, W, Ishler, M, Hutchison, J. and Kindsvatter, R. (2000).
Dynamics of Effective Teaching. U.S.A.: Addison Wesley
Knowles, M. (1996). Andragogy – An Emerging Technology for
Adult Learning in Boundaries of Adult Learning. Edwards, R.,
Hanson, A. and Raggart, P. (eds) London and New York:
Wilkinson, J. (1999). “Implementing reflective practice”. Nursing
Standard, 13 (21): 36-40.
Woldt, A. and Toman, S.M. (2005). Gestalt Therapy:
History, Theory, and Practice. CA.:
Sage Publications, Inc.
Kubler LaBoskey, V. and Cline, S. (2000). “Behind the Mirror:
inquiry-based storying in teacher education”. Reflective Practice 1
Margaret teaches adults, children, CELTA, DELTA and CELTYL courses at International House
in Rome. She also teaches ESP at the Law Faculty in LUISS University in Rome.
Embracing Change - the 11th IH Portugal
In March this year, IH Viseu hosted the 11th IH Portugal
Symposium. The theme for this year’s symposium, ‘Embracing
Change’, struck a chord with me, as I had attended a succession
of earlier symposiums as a teacher, but this would be my first as the
Journal editor. As usual, a fine array of speakers had been
assembled by chief organiser Gay Adamson, Director, IH Viseu,
ably assisted by her DoS, Carol Crombie. Some 36 sessions were
presented over the two days (Friday and Saturday) and they ran like
clockwork. There were also some household names (ELT
households at least) making guest appearances in the plenaries,
including Young Learner expert, Annie Hughes, from the University
of York, the evergreen Mario Rinvolucri, Mark Powell from Barcelona
(who proved that ELT Symposiums can indeed be the vehicle for a
stand up show) and IHWO Executive Director, Michael Carrier.
historical perspective on the IH Portugal Symposium, I turned to
Colin McMillan, Director, IH Lisbon.
Where did the idea for the Symposium originally
The first Symposium in Portugal was held in '87 to celebrate 25
years of IH teacher training, which like many things in the life of
the Organisation started in London in June 1962. The idea was
to celebrate the occasion in IH schools abroad as well as in
London and it seemed that an event dedicated to the teaching
of English with well-known guest speakers would be
As it was, we managed to get, as plenary
speakers, Louis Alexander, Robert O'Neil and Brian Abs, the
TEFL gurus of that time, and organised a number of workshops
which compared with later symposia was really quite modest.
I questioned some of the people involved in the symposium,
either actively or passively, to get their opinions. Firstly, to get an
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Where was the first event held?
How many people attended the Symposium this year
and from what differing backgrounds?
It was held in the Universidade Católica and attracted a fair
crowd. The idea was that the Symposium should be opened
by a dignitary and we invited Maria Barroso who was at that
time the First Lady and had, during the dark days of Mário
Soares's exile, been a student of ours. Unfortunately, affairs of
State prevented her from being at the Symposium in person but
she agreed to write an opening speech to be read in her name
at the beginning of the opening ceremony which was to be at 6
p.m. By twenty past six, no speech had arrived and people
were becoming restless, when finally the sound of sirens was
heard and in rushed a breathless motor cycle cop with the
speech in a folder embossed with the Portuguese coat of arms!
The most dramatic start to any of the 11 IH Portugal Symposia
which have now been held.
175 teachers attended, of which 35% were from International
House schools in Portugal, whilst IH Spain was represented by
three members of the IH Valladolid staff. 40% were teachers from
other language schools but surprisingly only 25% were state
school teachers. One reason for this may be the fact that the
APPI Conference takes place a month later in April, so there is
perhaps a case for moving the Symposium from mid-March to
November. (See below)
So for you, how successful was the Symposium?
As far as I am concerned, it was a great success. The majority of
the 36 workshops were given by DoSes and teachers from IH
Portugal. About 85 feedback forms were returned and all but 5
of them considered the standard of the workshops to be good or
excellent. Of course, it is also a social event and the dinner and
entertainment on Friday evening was also highly praised.
The first Symposium was very much based on the IH
philosophy of learning through trial and error, always assuming
that there would be an opportunity to repeat the experience and
show that we'd actually learnt something from the mistakes. As
it happened this first gathering of its kind in Portugal was a
success thanks in some ways to the fascinating plenaries and
the final debate organised for the three guest speakers, together
with John Haycraft, none of whom could agree on a single issue
and engaged in a veritable war of words which held the
I asked Michael Carrier how important he thought events of this
nature were for IHWO.
The IH Portugal Symposium was a very successful example of
what IH wants to be involved in - reaching out to teachers beyond
the IH group itself, and sharing ideas, new research and
experiences. IH is a network of schools, but above all a network of
teachers and teacher trainers who are passionate about raising
educational standards and introducing new and creative ideas into
the classroom. It's really important that teachers have the
opportunity to come together, network and share their dedication
and creativity with colleagues inside and outside the group in this
kind of event. It's especially helpful to meet with colleagues from
primary and secondary schools, and learn from them how to teach
in a very different kind of context from a language school.
The success of the first venture encouraged us in Lisbon to try
to make the IH Portugal Symposium (as it came to be called) an
annual event, feeling that it set us firmly apart from any other
language school including the British Council. Seen from a
purely marketing angle there was no visible spin-off in terms of
student numbers although it acts, we feel, in many ways like the
Teachers' Centre which attracts teachers who then often refer
students to IH when asked by parents or students themselves to
recommend a language school.
When did the other schools within the IH Portugal
network become involved?
What impressed you about this particular Symposium?
The people, the speakers, the content, the atmosphere - all were
excellent and made for a very enjoyable and productive event. It
was extremely well organised, with an innovative new design to
all the posters and programmes, and was located in a very
modern and well-equipped centre. Gay Adamson and her team
from IH Viseu did a marvellous job and we are all very grateful for
their hard work and dedication.
After a string of four consecutive Symposia in Lisbon it was felt
that the organisation of further events should pass to other
schools in the organisation here in Portugal and that they should
This was especially
be held biennially rather than annually.
important considering how these sessions had developed into
undertakings requiring enormous preparation and work by the
staff of a single school in order to set up an event with a minimum
of 4 plenary sessions and up to 40 workshops all in the space of
a day and a half.
Janet Sinclair is DoS at IH Braga, and as usual, she ran an
excellent workshop entitled Waking teens up to authentic material.
Gay Adamson has been the director of IH Viseu since its
inception in 1983 and this was her second experience of being
event organiser, the Symposium having previously been held in
Viseu, in 1994.
As DoS, why do you encourage your teachers to
attend the symposium?
It’s good timing - coming at the end of the 2nd term, it provides a
boost of enthusiasm. There’s a good range of workshops - some
practical and others more theoretical. It also provides a chance to
get an update on ELT trends & developments. Teachers get a buzz
from it - it really feels like an ELT ‘event’. There are not many
occasions for IH teachers to get an idea of IH as a worldwide
organisation (or even national for that matter), but attending
symposiums where there are speakers from IHWO, Pilgrims and
different UK institutions helps them to feel part of a bigger
organisation. It’s also a good opportunity for teachers to give
workshops to a wider audience than their peers within IH Portugal a great professional development opportunity for teachers,
especially those who for personal reasons are unlikely to move closer
to bigger teacher training centres like Lisbon. There’s always lots of
socialising with people you don't see very often and you also get the
opportunity to meet and talk to teachers who work in different
contexts and face different problems or have different priorities
Why is it so important for you to run an event of this kind?
The International House Portugal English Teaching
Symposium is an extremely important event for several
reasons. The only other event of its kind run in Portugal is the
APPI (Portuguese Association of English Teachers)
Conference, which tends to cater more for state school
teachers. The Symposium is traditionally very well organised
and is known for the workshops. It raises the profile of the
organisation, making it stand out from other language schools
and reinforces the idea that IH is a quality organisation. It is
also a tremendous morale booster not only for the organizing
school, but also for all IH Portugal teachers.
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What did you personally take away from this
Did the IH Symposium effect your teaching either
short or long term? If so, how?
Again, it’s the buzz and the boost of enthusiasm, despite the
best efforts of the weather to dampen our spirits! (It rained
incessantly and it was unseasonably cold!) I have to admire how
each symposium gets better and better in terms of organisation
and professionalism and with reference to the sessions
themselves there was an interesting review of YLs from Annie
Hughes, especially the pitfalls of unwittingly making YLs too
dependent on the teacher.
Yes, I believe so. Short term - there were practical ideas I used
in classes very soon after. Also a great abdominal workout if
fortunate enough to experience one of Mark Powell's sessions.
Long term - some of those ideas I continue to use. There were
also some seemingly basic issues raised in a couple of sessions
yet to which I ashamedly remained oblivious to prior to session.
These made me examine my own habits and teaching methods
and their effectiveness and usefulness. Overall, many an
opportunity to see just how much fun EFL can potentially be.
Joana Fernandes, IH Lisbon
As Gay told us above, in addition to the many IH Portugal
teaching staff that attend, symposiums also attract a large number
of teachers from the Portuguese state school system. Ana Paula
Carlão is a state school teacher from Viseu.
How important is it for you to meet up with other IH
people in contexts such as this?
How was the event useful for you?
I think it is very important. It’s always refreshing to learn about
new ideas and techniques. Nicole Booher, IH Lisbon
It was both important and useful, because I could see and check
how things effectively work using technology.
The 11th IH Symposium was considered a huge success from
all quarters and everyone is looking forward to November 2007,
when a special event will be staged to celebrate 40 years of IH in
Coimbra. IH Portugal is to join forces with APPI to promote the
symposium in an attempt to attract even more state school
teachers to the event. As Michael Carrier put it, reaching out to
teachers beyond the IH group itself.
Did you try any of the ideas you saw in sessions with
your own students?
Yes, I tried two or three ideas. I've created a ‘Podcast’ with my
students and I've worked with ‘Protopage’ with my 6th grade
students. They were ‘super’ interested. You can check their work
at www.anapcarlao.podomatic.com or
On the following pages are articles based on presentations given
in Viseu by Jenny Bartlett, DoS, IH Coimbra, and Martin Heslop, a
teacher at IH Braga.
Finally, I had two questions that I wanted to put to my fellow
teachers in the IH Portugal network.
All change, please!
hilst researching for the workshop I came across an
article by Sam Intrator in Education Leadership in
which he outlined research he has done by
shadowing teens in school (Intrator 2004). He found out that,
perhaps unsurprisingly, students, especially teenagers, often
spend their time in class doing everything but focus on what
is happening in the classroom. They are often disengaged and
off-task whilst appearing to study and used adjectives such as
‘monotonous’, ‘predictable’ and ‘dull’ to describe the time
they spent in the classroom. However, he did also observe
‘episodes of intense concentration’ which he describes as
‘engaged time’. In order to encourage more ‘engaged time’ I
feel we need to challenge students at all points in the lesson.
that students know much about each other. By personalising
activities as much as possible students are given the opportunity
to get to know the other members of the class, and their teacher,
better. The following activity from Creative Questions is a good
way to convert what is basically a drill into a more interesting task.
How long does it take?
1. Students make collective lists of everyday tasks. E.g. get
ready for school in the morning, check e-mail, do homework.
2. Elicit group contributions and make a list on the board.
3. Write How long does it take you to….? on the board.
4. Each student looks over the list of activities and notes down
how long it usually takes. Then ask each other in pairs.
Studies have demonstrated that a factor as seemingly minor
as seating affects classroom performance. Daley and Suite
(1981) found that whilst younger children were included
regardless of where they were sitting, with older children
teachers tended to focus their attention among students at the
front or middle of the classroom. Students sitting at the back of
the classroom were often excluded from discussion. An
interesting starting point for some classroom research would be
to ask an observer to record the interaction patterns in one of
your lessons and see how far this is true within your own
5. In groups of four students compare notes and ask for advice
from a student who seems to be particularly quick and
efficient at performing a certain task.
Getting students up and moving will help to energise the
classroom and allow them to interact with as many people in
the classroom as possible. The following ideas are aimed at
injecting some physical activity and an element of surprise into
the practice and checking stages of the lesson.
Bearing the above in mind, I focussed on presenting some
practical activities to use in the classroom.
Getting to know each other better
Preparation: Write out a number of questions and stick one under
each student’s chair or desk before the class. These could be
Simply spending time in a classroom does not necessarily mean
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
topic based or be aimed at practising a particular language area.
N.B. This is a good activity to do if you are preparing
students for a Cambridge exam.
1. Tell students there is a surprise under their chair / desk. They
should find their questions and check they understand them.
Sponges and Fillers
2. Students stand up and mingle. They ask each other their
questions, listen to answers, exchange slips of paper and
move onto the next partner.
Make sure students have open-ended activities / sponge
activities to do when you are collecting homework or taking the
register to ensure that students have something to do. This
could be a daily challenge on the board or on laminated cards
3. When they have sat down ask them to tell you about any
interesting information they found out or write down a few
sentences to share.
What if …?
Put one of the following in a speech bubble and give students
2-3 minutes to complete with as many ideas as possible.
This activity is a variation on a treasure hunt with the added
challenge of recalling the sentences.
What would happen if….
-schools did not exist?
Preparation: Prepare slips of paper with the words in context,
fold the paper in half and number them then stick around the
room before students come into class. Example:
- you didn’t have a name?
People usually complain about having to deal with too
- it never rained?
We’re all becoming increasingly health-conscious nowadays.
He looked a bit embarrassed when I asked him what he
Have a selection of activities on laminated cards ready for filling
or leading-in to activities. Once again you can aim to
personalise these as much as possible.
The Government will provide temporary accommodation
for up to three thousand people.
He didn’t expect an answer to his rhetorical question
Name as many things as you can that you can wear on your head.
Your diaphragm is a muscle between your lungs and your
Turn to your neighbour and tell him / her about an interesting
experience you have had.
We tried to manoeuvre the canoe closer to the river bank.
List all the places you can find sand.
You are going to have to forgive my pronunciation.
List the ten largest things you know.
Drugs can make you do all kinds of weird things.
- you never cleaned your bedroom?
Name as many teachers at this school as you can.
In short, if we aim to create the kind of classroom where
students are immersed in learning we need to take the
following factors into account when planning lessons.
a. Tell students you are going to give them a spelling test –
choose words that you have noticed they find difficulty with
or vocabulary that has come up recently in class.
b. Tell them to look around the room, find sentences and
check their spelling – set a time limit, say 5 minutes.
Pace – variety and adding an element of surprise and
challenge helps keep students awake and interested.
c. When they have sat down ask them to work with a partner
and try to remember the sentences.
d. You can then put the sentences up for them to check.
Creativity – give students the opportunity to express their
originality and encourage their involvement in their own
Variation: Ask students to make the sentences true for them
or write sentences about members of the class.
Energize your teaching – students respond better to
energetic & positive teaching.
Personalisation – let the students see you as a person, get to
know them and encourage them to get to know each other.
Listen to your students and value their opinions.
Preparation: Find pictures of people - you need enough for
one picture for each student.
a) Give every student in the class a picture, ask them to tell
their partner whether or not they like their picture.
Above all enjoy the challenges and rewards of teaching
b) Show the class your picture and tell them to find similarities
and differences between their picture and yours.
c) If necessary, write up some sentence starters on the board.
S.Intrator. (2004). The Engaged Classroom. Educational Leadership,
My picture...... whereas that one…..
Hess. N. & Pollard (1995). Creative Questions. Longman
d) Elicit comments from students.
Daley, John A & Amy Suite. Classroom Seating Choice and Teacher
Perceptions of Students. Journal of Experimental Education,50,
Winter 1981-82. pp64-69
Follow-up: Ask students to ‘be the character’ and write down
some information about their daily routine / what they did last
weekend etc depending on what language point you want
them to practise.
Gill. M. Open Classroom Communication: An
Argument for a Re-Evaluation of teaching
Strategies. Educational Leadership, ASCD,
September 2004. www.ascd.org
Or get them to role play a conversation between two / three
of the people.
Jenny has been working in Portugal since 1986, so is now celebrating her 20th year teaching. She
worked as a teacher then DoS at IH Aveiro and recently made the move to be DoS in IH Santa Clara.
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
whole text or a picture, whatever material the teacher
chooses. We have also noticed that the DP seems to exert a
certain control over the students, quite possibly because their
eyes are up, they are focused and our backs are not turned.
The objective of this article is to introduce and discuss the use of
laptops and data projectors (DPs) in the EFL classroom, as well as
to suggest some practical ways in which this equipment can be
used. The article is aimed at DoSes, Directors and teachers who
are either considering investing in this technology or already have
it and are looking for more ideas.
Firstly, I would like to outline why we decided to use a DP. At IH
Braga, like many IH schools, we are very keen on keeping up with
developments in technology. One of the latest is, of course, the
Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) and we did initially consider trying
one. However, we rejected the idea for the following reasons.
Firstly, good quality IWBs are extremely expensive, so we would
only be able to have one which would be fixed in one classroom.
Secondly, we were concerned about the relative lack of EFL
materials available for IWB use. It must be stressed that we have
not entirely dismissed IWBs but we have decided to wait and see
what developments occur in this area. Instead, we opted for a DP,
which seemed to be a suitable choice for our needs. In the
following section I will give a more specific description of the
necessary equipment, as well as an overview of the main
advantages and disadvantages of the DP.
MOTIVATION. Teachers have remarked that their learners
have shown higher levels of motivation when the DP is used.
Most of our learners are in the younger age group and are
enthusiastic about technology in general so it could be that
they respond positively to our use of it.
RECORD OF WORK. Any material created for use with the DP
can easily be saved on the laptop for future use and printed
as handouts for learners. All that is required is a clear filing
… and against
SETTING UP. As a portable item, the equipment must be
unpacked and set up and then dismantled and repacked at
the end of the lesson, and this does take time. However, with
a little practice it really only takes a few minutes.
POWERPOINT KNOWLEDGE. Not all teachers will be familiar
with this program but it is such a useful presentation tool that
I would urge everyone to develop their skills in this area. We
ran a brief workshop on the basics and now all our teachers
are at ease with using it.
FRAGILE. The equipment, particularly the bulb and lens of the
DP are, of course, very fragile so care must be taken. We
always try to arrange the DP and laptop so that it is impossible
(for either the teacher or the learners) to trip over the cable
connecting them, thus avoiding any possible damage or injury.
COST. The initial outlay for the equipment may seem to be a
significant slice of the budget, particularly if you do not already
have a laptop. Prices are coming down, however, and it is
possible to pick up a laptop (in Portugal) for €500 and a DP
for ¤ €700.
A simple click can reveal or hide a
word, a sentence, a whole text or a
picture, whatever material the
1. LAPTOP. Unless you have a PC in the classroom, a laptop
computer is necessary. Nowadays, many schools already have
one, as do individual teachers.
In the next section, some practical ideas for using the DP in
class, all of which have been used by IH Braga teachers, will be
2. DP. This is a relatively simple piece of kit, which connects to the
laptop and projects whatever is on the computer screen onto
the chosen projection surface. We use our whiteboards (around
1.5m x 1.0m). In an average classroom this is big enough and
we have not yet felt the need for a larger pull-down screen.
3. SPEAKERS. In smaller classrooms the laptop’s inbuilt speakers
are usually sufficient but in bigger rooms with larger classes we
use additional speakers that connect to the laptop via the
A. Using PowerPoint
1. Vocabulary development: positive and negative expressions.
4. INTERNET. A wireless internet connection is a convenient way
of making sure that the net can be accessed from any
“I’ve been here a week and my first impressions are not very
good. In fact they are terrible. The city is small and boring and
the buildings are modern and unattractive.” (Inside Out Pre-Int
The learners are shown the first paragraph of a text from their
coursebooks which describes a dreadful holiday. Here is an
CLARITY. Most of us will have witnessed a PowerPoint
presentation and it is hard to deny that slides present
information in an extremely clear manner. Like OHTs, however,
slides must be well-designed: this means that they should not
include too much text or colour and must use a font size that
is large enough to be visible to learners at the back of the
In pairs, the learners are encouraged to select the negative
vocabulary. Feedback is given on the DP : each sentence is
removed and then replaced with the negative vocabulary
When the paragraph is complete, the learners, change the
negative expressions to positive ones. Feedback is given on
the DP in a similar way to that described above. This time
each sentence is revealed with the positive vocabulary
CONTROL. The DP, especially when using PowerPoint, gives
the teacher total control over what material the learners focus
on. A simple click can reveal or hide a word, a sentence, a
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Now that the first paragraph has been done as an example,
the learners can change the rest of the text and the DP can
be used for feedback at the end.
Level: this particular activity is Pre-Int but this use can be
adapted for any level.
Advantages: PowerPoint can be used to give efficient
feedback and a very clear demonstration of how to do an
learners use PowerPoint to make their slide shows. I advise
grouping students according to their IT skills. Learners should
also be encouraged not to put too much text on their slides
as they should act as a basis for delivering a spoken
presentation. The slides should not just be read out.
The final stage is back in the classroom with the DP. In each
group the learners give their presentations, sharing the
speaking among them. A listening task for the other groups
should be devised.
2. Writing letters: formal and informal
PowerPoint is used here in combination with material from the
coursebook and with worksheets that the learners fill in and
keep as a written record.
As this is quite a challenging task, it has so far only been used
with Intermediate classes and above. However, if the
requirements were simplified, it could work at lower levels too.
Advantages: this is a creative task that hands over a greater
degree of control to the learners and also gives them the
opportunity to combine other skills with their language work.
PowerPoint is used to give clear instructions about what material
the learners should be looking at and what their tasks are.
It is also used to give clear feedback on the tasks. One of
these is to decide where the different elements of a formal
letter should be placed on the page (e.g. the date, the
sender’s address, yours faithfully/sincerely). The learners do
this task on a worksheet and then the DP is used for
feedback, revealing the answers one by one.
5. Vocabulary revision game
A selection of words (10-15) from the past few lessons are put
onto slides, one word or expression on each slide using a fairly
large font size with a variety of colours for backgrounds and
text. The slides are shown to the learners quickly, either by
clicking to move on or by using PowerPoint’s automatic timing
feature. The slides may be shown once or twice and the
learners are asked to recall as many items as they can. This
can be used at the start or at the end of the lesson or as a filler.
Level : any, depending on the items chosen.
Advantages : the slides are being used as flashcards really,
but the modern technological aspect seems to focus and
motivate the learners. This idea was developed on the basis
that the DP may as well be used once it has been set up in
the classroom. It is not intended to be used on its own but
rather as a quick game incidental to the main DP presentation.
The DP is also used in a similar way to activity 1: this time
PowerPoint is used to highlight examples of formal and
informal language in the sample letters.
This method is widely adaptable.
Advantages: clarity for instructions and feedback, particularly
important with written work. I am not entirely sure why but
when I did this, my teenage Pre-Int group stayed focused on
writing tasks for a whole hour!
3. Picture stories
The pictures are scanned and put on individual PowerPoint
slides. They are then shown one at a time to the learners.
6. Speed reading
The first time the pictures are shown the focus is on
brainstorming and noting down the necessary vocabulary.
The second time, the slides include questions as well as
pictures which aim to suggest the appropriate grammar (e.g.
“Where were they?”, “What were they doing?”). Learners
make a note of their answers.
The pictures are shown a third time to give an overview of the
whole story and the learners then write the story.
Level : we used this with YLs to give practice for the
Cambridge ‘Flyers’ exam, but it is an adaptable format.
Advantages : this method has two advantages over a paper
version in terms of control over the activity. Firstly, we were
able to show the pictures and deal with the vocabulary and
grammar one by one, and to focus on them as a class.
Secondly, even if the pictures were photocopied and
distributed individually, we felt that the focus on the language
brainstorming tasks would not be so great. Furthermore, it
would create a lot of paper that could get mixed up and lost.
Paragraphs of a text (in our case, a story) are put onto slides
and shown to the learners. At the end of each slide there is a
question asking the learners to predict what happens next. At
the end, a skeleton version is provided and the learners retell
Level: all, according to the text chosen.
Advantages: far easier to control than a paper version. All
learners get to see the text at the same time and the teacher
can control the reading time. Although it is true that all learners
need different amounts of time to read, the aim here is to
encourage all learners to read for essential information rather
than get stuck with unknown but potentially unimportant items.
B. Using DVDs, CD-ROMs etc.
Here, the DP is basically used as a cinema projector, giving a much
larger image than a TV. There is a huge variety of material available
in this area, not forgetting that many coursebooks now come with
a DVD or Multi-ROM, and all teachers will have their favourites.
Here is a brief selection of some of the material we have used :
4. Presentations by learners
In this activity the learners are given the opportunity to design
PowerPoint slide shows themselves. It consists of three
stages which can be done over the course of two or three
1. ‘Cinemania’ Clips Quiz (Pre-Int+)
The first stage is to introduce the idea and give the learners
time to plan their presentations. The topic we used was film
reviews: the learners had already encountered much of the
necessary vocabulary and seen examples of the genre as it
was the current coursebook topic.
‘Cinemania’ is sadly no longer made, but I believe a ’97 or ’98
version is still available. The clips have the advantage of being
short, motivating and challenging.
2. ‘Grumpy Old Men’ DVD (Advanced)
The next stage takes place in the computer room where the
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This has proved very popular with higher levels. Its authentic
and amusing nature has been a source of motivation. Subtitles
may be used at the second viewing for language work.
3. ‘Friends’: Phoebe tries to teach Joey French (Int+)
This was used to lead into a discussion about how to go
about language learning and teaching and how to be a more
successful language learner.
Essay preparation using Word. (Int+)
The teacher opens a pre-prepared Word document which
has an essay title at the top (e.g. “Sport is a waste of time,
effort and money. Discuss.”)
The learners are asked to discuss the topic in pairs.
Meanwhile the teacher circulates and listens for any good
points that are made and types them into the Word
document. This has a motivating effect on the learners as
they soon notice that the teacher is only typing sensible
points that are made in English.
The document can then be used as a basis for a process
writing task which may be done in the PC Lab.
D. Using the Internet
This option naturally requires a wireless internet connection, as
described above. The advantage is obvious: this is a way of
bringing the virtually limitless resources of the internet into every
classroom. It is a vast area that we have only begun to explore.
We have used texts, video and audio clips, pictures and
slideshows, picture stories and cartoons and games. Here is a
brief list of material and URLs :
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Texts: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/ then
click on ‘Words in the News’
Video and audio: http://www.bbc.co.uk/videonation/archive/ and
Pictures: http://www.zara.com. Many company sites advertising
their products have good pictures.
There is a choice of slideshows with commentaries and a useful
Games: http://www.ihworld.com/campus. Some of the IH
Campus games can be used with the whole class.
The DP has proved to be very popular with our learners,
increasing motivation and adding clarity and focus to their
learning. Although we have only had the equipment for a year it is
already becoming a regular feature of lessons and our aim now is
to integrate its use as fully as possible, so that we no longer talk
about ‘a DP lesson’ but think more of it in terms of just another
resource available to us.
Although this article carries my name, I would like to stress that
the development of the DP resource has been embraced by the
entire staff of IH Braga and I would like to thank
them for their efforts.
Martin Heslop taught in Turkey before joining IH in Poland. He then transferred to IH Braga
before moving to England to work at the University of Buckingham. He is now happy to be
back with International House in Braga.
Learning About Ukraine, Pre and Post
have had the privilege of working at International House
and teaching English to eight Ukrainian professionals
who have law degrees, or higher academic degrees in
aviation, physics, high math and biology. The names of my
students (in alphabetical order) are Ludmilla, Natasha,
Olena, Olga, Tamara, Tanya, Victoria and Vyacheslav (or
Slava, his name means ‘Glorious Forever’.) These eight
individuals have special insights into their own Ukrainian
history, their ancestor’s lives, the present Ukrainian
government, but especially information about the
Chernobyl accident, which happened twenty years ago
(April 26, 1986). Lessons are being learned by this
American teacher while talking around topics that come up
in our English course book.
group, had talked with an official who had been a part of the
evacuation process days after the nuclear accident had
happened. The hardest people to persuade to leave were
those villagers who had cattle to feed. These common
villagers had lived off the land for centuries and were not
part of the nuclear experiment but merely lived in the wrong
place at the wrong time, since Chernobyl nuclear power
plant was built in the early 1970s.
Those organizing the evacuation told residents in the
Chernobyl area that they would be gone only three days. They
were permitted to bring only luggage for that amount of time.
Each bag was measured according to the government’s
specifications and those things that were possibly
contaminated were thrown out. Many pictures and other
precious family heirlooms were left behind, which they were
never allowed to return for. Their hurried flight away from the
nuclear disaster meant giving up everything they owned. As
they soon learned, they had been lied to, as three days turned
into permanently relocating elsewhere.
Many of these adult students of English have visited the
actual site of the accident at Chernobyl because their job
deals with radioactive nuclear waste management. Ukraine
will be memorializing those who died during the Chernobyl
tragedy twenty years ago. Tanya, a student in my first
— 26 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Pripyat, a town close to Chernobyl, is also known now as
the ‘Dead City.’ What now looms on the silent horizon is a
huge carnival carousel that was to be inaugurated for the May
1st festivities, just days away from the disaster on April 26,
1986. No children ever enjoyed the rides at the Pripyat
amusement park and it stands sadly as a monument to this
Tanya’s grandparents had worked at a collective but they
never got a real salary. They said they were paid in sticks.
“What did that mean?” I asked. Simply that all the hours
they put in during a day meant there would be a hatch mark
next to their name in the record book. No matter how many
sticks they got, they were never paid. That is where the
expression, “working for sticks” came from, essentially
meaning to work for nothing.
The ‘Exclusion Zone’ is where people are prohibited to enter,
since not only are there still dangerous levels of radiation
remaining in the surrounding area, but there are also many
wolves that have created a problem for other territories close
to the Zone. A forest, at the time of the accident, had its pine
trees turn red because of the heat of the explosion and the
radiation. The newly created (at the time) city of Slavutich for
staff and families is a quiet town where there are also currently
scientists and nuclear engineers from all over the world
working on the different international projects implemented on
the site. They are also continuing to monitor the situation at
As far as expressions we talked about, Olga mentioned a
proverb that relates to all the misfortune that has hit
Ukrainians. “You can’t build your happiness on other
peoples’ unhappiness.” As westerners, we share in
expressions such as those Tamara recognized in our
textbook of “not making ends meet” or “having to tighten
your belt.” The Ukrainians have experienced poverty and
they know what it is like to do without.
Natasha said that most Ukrainians have been assimilated
and that the Russian language has become so integrated into
the Ukrainian way of life. However, Natasha says that no one
is capable of understanding the Russian mentality. It has huge
contrasts where there are very poor people and very rich
people. The area of Ukraine that had the most authentic
Ukrainian language, with official written Ukrainian, was the
Poltavska region. That is where the Holodomor (Forced
Famine of 1932-33) was particularly bad. According to
Tamara, many older people were hesitant to tell the truth to the
younger generation about what life was like before the
revolution of 1917, as they knew their lives had been better
than under communism. Tamara emphasized that there were
two sides of life, life at school and life at home.
What now looms on the silent
horizon is a huge carnival carousel
that was to be inaugurated for the
May 1st festivities, just days away
from the disaster on April 26, 1986
When talking about parenting, Olga had very firm opinions
about how to raise children based on her own past experience
being raised in a closed communist town where you needed
special permission to enter. She believed that no parent
should make their children feel under a heavy obligation about
sacrificing so much for them. She believes it is the parents’
duty to raise children and give them what is expected. In
Olga’s case, she felt forced to take music lessons against her
will. Her parents said that they could have bought a car in the
Soviet period with the money they spent on her for music.
Cars back in the day of communism were very expensive.
Olga deeply resented the music lessons then, but now regrets
that she didn’t pursue it more.
Chernobyl itself. Unfortunately Belarus, which borders
northern Ukraine, was hit by the winds that carried the fall out
north and west on those fateful days after the Chernobyl
tragedy. Many of the people I teach have a Belarusian
connection in some form or another.
Ludmilla, a student from my second group, told of old
traditions that used to exist in the villages. For example, how
people did not use locks on their doors. If her grandmother
left the house, she would put a very long stick propped up
against the door so the wind could not blow it open and the
animals would not come in. Ludmilla said it was generally
observed that the stick meant “Nobody is home.” All that
social tradition is gone now and people have 3-4 locks on
their doors, even in the villages.
About husbands, we could share some laughs because like
my husband, Tanya said hers tells the same joke over and over
again. Her father was the same way. Tanya’s husband is
obsessed with fishing too. Tamara’s husband is obsessed with
anything to do with Dynamo soccer but he will tell a story in
great detail only ONCE. When Tamara asks him to tell it a
second time, he says that once was enough.
Olga and Ludmilla stated that there were many good rules in
place before the Soviet system took over. People were afraid
NOT to follow those rules. You wanted to follow the rules so
as not to hurt the reputation or prestige of your family in the
village. There were good habits among family members but
they lamented that now, people have forgotten about that and
what it means to work for life. During the Soviet period, people
were given jobs with responsibilities that weren’t interesting to
them. Even if they had more responsibility, they were given the
same salary as those who didn’t do much work at all.
Ludmilla’s husband had said, “If one works more, one should
be getting more salary.”
I think as TEFL educators we need to catch our students’
stories the first time and document what our adult learners tell
us. These stories are gifts that should be unwrapped by other
reading audiences across the world. I have enjoyed my
teaching assignment with these eight individuals in Ukraine
who have gone through so much. They continue to give me
pleasure especially when we deviate a bit from our structured
English course book.
Kristina Gray is from Crookston, Minnesota (her hometown) where she spends her
summers. During the academic school year, she teaches Ukrainian students in a
westernized university in Kyiv, called Wisconsin International University-Ukraine. She also
teaches part time at International House, Kyiv.
— 27 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
The Long Wait (or The Approach without Method)
A salutary tale for those awaiting their DELTA results
performing a similar function to a barely heard weak form on a
non-contextualised, elementary-learner desktop. He regretted
kowtowing to the inductive: he needed straight, grammartranslation instruction, with none of that fancy cognitive guided
discovery that had teachers scraping together misguided
worksheets and pressing the photocopying machine’s green
button like there was never a rainforest to destroy in the first
place. Tell me what to do, he thought.
He must have twitched. He couldn’t put this down as 100%
certainty, thus the modal, but his powers of deduction led him
to believe that it had almost certainly happened, given the
sudden: “Don’t move!” Even though the pace was even and
marked (one tone unit or two?), he noticed the elision of the /t/
and thanked God he’d learnt phonology. For a moment, he
considered demaximising Grice and being flippant, but the
conditions were infelicitous enough.
“It’s the bleeding obvious you don’t need to state,” was what
he wanted to reply, cleft-sentence emphatically, but he’d
always found colloquialisms, not to say profanities, sounded
unnatural even with Advanced learners like himself. What was
he thinking? Why was he being so illogical? – a use of the past
continuous that exemplified the dangers of overgeneralising
rules about statives not being progressive, and had him
repeating ‘tendency’ more often than a closed-option ccq. L1
interference was obviously meddling with his capacity to
recognise himself as a native speaker, thereby putting another
nail in the coffin of the discredited Behaviourist Contrastive
Analysis Hypothesis. Anyway, he discourse-marked silently,
indicating that the digression was over even if the gun’s
menace wasn’t, he was good at listening for the attitude of the
speaker, so was fully aware of the fact that she was
threatening, not just pleading ‘Don’t move’ like a partner
(sensitively non-gender specific) telling him not to take up that
ADoS-ship in Mongolia.
“It’s just that...erm...well, you know...” she continued, using
redundancies so common to interactional, authentic
conversations that he hankered after the target-languagerepetitive perfection of coursebook recordings with all their
non-phatic dovetailed turn-taking.
“You see, the wait between finishing and getting the result is
driving me mad!” The gun began to lose its focus, as if she
were 35 minutes through an observed lesson.
Seeing her menace evaporate (he’d witnessed it from
beginning to end, thus the root form or bare infinitive), and
pleased with the participle clauses (non-finite of course) that
were beginning to occupy his thoughts, he suddenly felt the
humanistic urge to touch her shoulder. He would draw the line
at removing his brogues and puncturing a bean bag parked on
the floor with the keys stashed in his back pocket. But
touching – just for positive reinforcement’s sake. What was the
harm? Not to mention in saving his skin – the ellipsis dwelling
in his mind like ‘raining cats and dogs’ to a proud learner
anywhere in the world, before the grammar-deficient yet idiomknowing native-language teacher got her own back by saying
she’d never heard that expression uttered, except in jest, in her
ambulatory, peripatetic life!
“The wait is something up with which I cannot put!” she
blurted, dropping the gun and bursting into tears that spilt
homographically onto the tears in her jeans.
The moderator sat glumly, like a candidate who’d sloppily
guillotined in half her controlled (restrictive) practice exercise.
Her gun-toting PLE might have saved the day, if only she
hadn’t felt the need to mock the rule that prepositions can’t
e was sweating as the candidate’s finger hovered over
the trigger. Nor was it a discrete item – this trigger, the
Cambridge moderator reiterated in his mind, searching
in vain for a superordinate or near-synonym to give elegance to
his temporarily non-cohesive thoughts. Trigger. His cultural
schema summoned up Rogerian horses. And sit-coms and
stupidity, although he had the good grace to realise stupidity
was perhaps a lack of aptitude, and to couch his opinions in
such diplomatic expressions as ‘disappointed that candidates
consistently failed to identify the name of a life-long drinking
companion’. The exaphoric referencing was clouding his mind,
like a presentation on the contrastive use of present perfect
simple and continuous.
He wished he could noun-convert more autonomously this
frightful ‘trigger’, pondering over the transitiveness of ‘convert’
and its unlikely collocational coupling with ‘noun’ on the
spectrum of likelihood. But he needed to do so, instrumentally,
demonstratively referential, to trigger some kind of coherent
This was a validly, reliably testing
situation, and the sweat on his
forehead plastered his hair back
like negative backwash
thought. Yet one man’s coherence was another’s lack of
context – the context was alarming, which meant that he felt
alarmed, alarmed at the logic of these affixes.
Trigger! Not discrete at all. Nor discreet for that matter,
brandished as it was. He allowed himself a moment to
consider the homophone, and the pitfalls of computer
spellchecks. Trigger. Just a meronym, a part of a real-life, facevalid gun which he scanned and skimmed holistically. This was
a validly, reliably testing situation, and the sweat on his
forehead plastered his hair back like negative backwash. Even
if he had no experiential schematic knowledge to activate, the
illocutionary force behind the pointed barrel had him picture
brains splattered across his exam papers (not all respecting
the word limit), like a bad case of syntax.
Action was needed. He rued the fact he’s never relished
kinaesthetic activities – his visual-spatial preference only made
him see the reality of her rather beautiful gun, etched and
crafted intricately like an action-plan boardwork appendix. If
only he’d had more of an integrative motivation during running
dictations (enjoying something of a loud-mouthed renaissance
in the eclectic broad church of communicative methodology),
he might have been able to get to the open window and jump
to safety before she had time to utter a schwa. He’d never been
sensible, he mused, reflecting on his false friend. This was no
time to be thinking retrospectively – this was no perfect aspect!
His life flashed before him, like a once-only specificinformation CAE listening. But at least the lexical chunk
provided sequential justification for the next stage – chunks of
brain, right and left hemisphere, dripping down his files before
settling down into a blob of inconsequential learning-style
questionnaires, the red blood punctuating the whole like a
Cuisenaire rod stressed syllable, the glutinous milky slime
— 28 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
with the sentence plagiarised above; Goodith White’s parents
for the decision to continue with tradition and ring the changes
on English spelling; Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada for finally
putting vast Canada on the map; Earl Stevick for...for...sorry, I
can’t remember; David Nunan, whose seminal work on syllabus
planning cured my mid-winter insomnia;
and Steven Krashen, naturally
end a sentence, but to mock it in a way that had been done
before. If only, if only. If only she hadn’t plagiarised!
Acknowledgements are due to Michael Lewis for reminding
bibliographers of Brighton football club’s binomial pairing;
Mario Rinvolucri for being so established that my spellcheck
has no problems with his surname; Winston Churchill for his wit
Duncan is currently teaching at IH London having recently returned from Akcent IH Prague
where he took the DELTA and became a CELTA teacher trainer. The imminent arrival of a
first child is also occupying his thoughts!
Life After EFL - Cambridge Calling to the
For this issues’ ‘Life After’ we approached some of the multitalented staff of Cambridge University Press for our contributions
and I have to thank Karen Momber, a Commissioning Editor
(ELT), for coordinating the article. Angela
Lilley is the Publishing Director and is a
governor of the Bell Educational Trust,
Brendan Wightman the e-Learning Content
Manager, Daniel Stunell Market Research
Coordinator, and Roisin Vaughan the
Senior Marketing Manager. Here they give
you an account of how they crossed over
into the world of publishing.
dictionaries. I am lucky enough to travel extensively, working with our
other publishing and sales branches, and meeting authors, local
partners and EFL practitioners worldwide. I am responsible for
presenting our global publishing plans to the University Syndicate for
approval every year.
I enjoy both my EFL roles as Publishing Director and as a governor
of the Bell because I am able to utilise all the skills and knowledge
accumulated in 25 years of teaching, training, publishing and
management (nearly finished the MBA!) The best part, however, is
working with people who share those same values and beliefs that I
first discovered and adopted at IH all those years ago. It is a great
feeling to get paid for doing something you love and believe in. I
count myself a very lucky person!
Brendan Wightman, e-Learning Content Manager
This piece is called ‘Life after EFL’ yet I still feel very much involved
with the EFL world. I am privileged to work for one of the best and
oldest publishing and printing houses in the world with a team of
consummate ELT professionals creating EFL materials. I am also
honoured to be a governor of the Bell Educational Trust, one of the
world’s best EFL providers.
I left teaching in 2002 after seven years in the classroom (five in Poland
and two in Italy) to take up a new but related post developing software
for the ELT market. Although I made the decision to leave Italy in a
heart-breaking flash of a second, I had been edging towards a new
challenge for at least eighteen months – designing online materials for
my then employer, teaching myself web design and Flash programming
skills, and, importantly, studying for a postgraduate certificate in
Educational Technology through a distance learning programme.
When I was asked to write this profile, I realised with some surprise
that it was almost exactly 20 years ago that I joined IH London after
a few years teaching abroad and in the UK. IH was a thriving EFL
community at that time as it is today. The organization was led by
John and Brita Haycraft with Tony Duff in London and the experience
was to shape the rest of my career.
The desire for new professional stimulation combined with the
need to provide a solid financial platform for a young family meant
that when the opportunity came to move back to England to work
full-time on ELT software development, I jumped at it. The happy
lateral career move, however, was tempered by one of the most
difficult adjustment periods in my life: leaving the child-friendly and
dream-like medieval and renaissance townscapes of Italy for a tiny,
over-priced flat in England with its lager-fuelled, twenty-something
culture provided the rudest of cultural shocks.
It was a wonderful three years providing opportunities to meet and
teach a wide range of students and work with some highly talented
teacher/authors including Martin Parrott, John and Liz Soars, Gillian
Lazar, Sue Mohammed, Ruth Gairns and Richard Acklam. I learned
about teaching and learning, materials evaluation and creation and
eventually became a teacher trainer. The sense of belonging to an
exceptional community of practice with a deeply committed team of
teachers and trainers has stayed with me ever since that time.
The trade off looked a poor one at first, and - ironically - it wasn’t
until the small company that I was working for went bust after 18
months that I realised how far I had come. With two months’ notice
to find a new job and having just taken out a large mortgage, I sent
out a few job application forms haunted by the received wisdom that
lingered from University days: expect one job interview for every 25
application forms dispatched. In fact, I was invited to four interviews
immediately after having completed as many forms, and all with
prestigious organisations. It seems that the commixture of hands-on
experience with technology, my teaching background and the
postgraduate certificate (now finished) was enough to open a
number of very interesting doors.
After IH, I worked for Eurocentres where I was approached to
write a book for Oxford and then asked to join the editorial team
where I worked for a very happy 10 years. It was a chance to build
on my teaching experience and knowledge to create new EFL
books. I learned about market research, commercial publishing and
editorial processes from the ground up. It was fascinating to work in
a different but related profession and learn a whole new set of skills.
The educational and ELT values remained the same.
As Publishing Director for Cambridge ELT, I manage a team of 50+
staff all working towards creating new EFL materials ranging from
Kindergarten to Adult and including Electronic learning materials and
In the end I chose to take up a post with Cambridge-Hitachi, project
managing interactive whiteboard software CD-ROMs for the UK state
— 29 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
schools market. The engagement with cutting edge software in a
different education market provided a fantastic new experience and
learning curve; however, when the opportunity arose a year later to
move back into ELT with Cambridge University Press as the e-Learning
Content Manager, I couldn’t resist – particularly as the job description
seemed identical to what I had imagined would be my ideal job.
In 1995 I found myself in a situation many TEFLers can relate to back in the UK after a 4 year stint of teaching EFL abroad, finally
feeling ready to pursue a ‘career’, but with no clear idea of what
exactly to do, or how to transfer the specialist skills I felt I had gained
as a teacher into the more commercial world. After a series of
demotivating interviews with recruitment consultants, and armed
with my recently acquired DELTA from IH, I took the next logical step
- working as an ADoS, then DoS and teacher trainer in London.
Fifteen months into the job and I don’t think I could be happier – I
work across lists, advising on electronic content options, I commission
and collaborate on exciting new e-learning and multimedia projects, I
carry out research and attend and present at conferences all around
Europe, and I input directly into the long-term strategy for electronic
products at Cambridge ELT. Moreover, I work with other ex-ELT
professionals who are well-travelled, multilingual and – like me – have
bicultural families. It really is an exceptional work environment.
This time proved instrumental for my future career in marketing, as
I acquired invaluable management skills and gained experience of
working with a much greater range of nationalities than I had been
exposed to TEFLing in Italy and Spain: a familiarity, which is essential
when working in an international business context. During this time,
I also developed an increasing interest in the role of multimedia in
language learning which was just beginning to make its mark on the
UK ELT industry. So, when I saw an advert for an ELT expert to work
in a marketing role for a multi-media publisher, I leapt at the
opportunity, and spent the next couple of years learning all about the
content development of CD-ROMs for language learning and
acquiring basic marketing skills, while studying for yet another postgraduate diploma – this time in marketing.
Looking back now at my teaching days, I feel exceptionally
privileged to have lived and worked in Poland and Italy, enjoying the
close and meaningful relationships that are part of the teacher/student
dynamic in ELT. Being able to build on those experiences to launch
another rich and varied career has been quite incredible – I really do
feel like I’ve been able to have my cake and eat it.
My current role as Senior Marketing Manager for Cambridge
University Press, draws on all these skills and is a really challenging
career for anyone wanting to move out of the classroom but reluctant
to lose touch with the knowledge and skills gained as a teacher.
Marketing is all about communication and understanding trends, and
good marketers tend to be highly creative with a natural flair for writing
and a knowledge of what really appeals to teachers and learners and
how to communicate convincingly with them. Knowledge of different
geographic markets and sectors such as state or private language
schools or further and higher educational institutes gained through
teaching can be invaluable, as can an up-to-date understanding of the
issues facing the teaching profession in different countries.
It wasn’t actually me who found this job; a friend forwarded the
advert saying “looks like they’re looking for you”. The advert
specified “at least three years ELT teaching experience” and “a
knowledge of research methods”. That’s not a usual editors’ job
description, and although I’m working with editors every day, I no
longer have to wrestle with the intricacies of grammar, task
design, or pronunciation myself - or at least not directly. It’s my
job to support and advise editors who are designing or
conducting research, and also to make sure the right people
know what they need to know, when they need to know it. Unlike
editors, who often work on just a few projects in-depth for
months at a time, I often work on several in the course of a day,
perhaps ranging from primary ELT materials in the morning, to
applied linguistics in the afternoon.
So what does the job entail on a daily basis? I am involved in all
aspects of the development process, from inputting into ideas for
new publishing, attending focus groups with teachers/students,
dreaming up new titles and cover designs, to the nitty-gritty of
devising launch campaigns for new publishing which target
teachers, students and booksellers. In otherwords, the complete
marketing mix. Multi-tasking is essential as I am constantly juggling
multiple projects at any one time: copywriting and designing
brochures and websites; organising promotional photoshoots;
writing press releases and adverts; setting up scholarships; working
closely with authors on author promotions; conducting market
research - all with short timescales, the key benefit being that no two
projects will ever be the same. The challenge is remaining flexible
enough to balance the conflicting priorities of multiple deadlines.
What teaching skills do I use in the course of a day? Even though
it’s an ELT publishing job, and an understanding of teaching as a field
obviously comes in handy, it’s often the other skills I picked up while
teaching that really help; skills that when teaching you take for
granted, but are actually in high demand beyond the classroom.
We do business all around the world, so the experience of
teaching multinational classes in the UK is indispensable in terms of
cultural awareness and understanding. It’s a really important skill,
and I can’t even speak any foreign languages fluently (a year in
Portugal has permanently scrambled my French, while I can now
barely remember how to buy a coach ticket in Portuguese). There’s
the communication skills: the ability to listen, to present information
clearly, or to stand quite happily in front of a room of 15 adults and
not feel nervous. These were all particularly useful two years ago
when I went back to university to pick up that “knowledge of
research methods” in the course of an International Politics master’s
degree in Aberystwyth.
The skills I developed as a teacher are regularly called upon, for
example when I give talks at promotional events and conferences, or
run sales training sessions. My knowledge of trends affecting the ELT
industry feeds into content development and I work across the whole
spectrum of ELT subject areas. Good team working and networking
skills are indispensable in this role as I work closely with editors,
designers and sales teams around the world as well as liaising with
journalists, external suppliers and teachers on a regular basis.
TEFL has also given me great organisational skills (planning
materials a week, month, term or year ahead) along with the realworld knowledge that things are unlikely to ever follow the plan, and
a literal ability to think on my feet. I think it is the life experience that
I appreciate most from my time as a teacher; the people you meet
and the understanding you gain about different places and people is
a benefit in any job (or job interview) and gives you a very real, if hard
to define, advantage.
This is a job where I am constantly learning and adding to the
knowledge acquired through years in the classroom. My work helps
to put that knowledge into a wider perspective as I monitor issues
affecting teachers and learners worldwide, not just within one
institution or the country I happen to be resident in.
My languages are useful too. International travel is indisputably
one of the real pluses of this job and the fact that our sales teams
are almost exclusively ex-teachers draws me constantly back into
the teaching world but within a broader context – how often do you
find yourself working with teachers from a dozen different countries?
This is where cross-cultural awareness gained through teaching
multi-lingual classes really comes in handy.
Was it all planned? Not at all. I became a TEFL teacher because it
looked interesting and offered an opportunity to travel; and four years
later I did the Master’s degree because it looked like an interesting
change (and a year living by the sea really appealed too). As for this job
– well, thanks first to my friend (although why he saw it I still don’t know;
his job is very much as a political scientist). Again it’s a job that offered
a whole set of new challenges and experiences. I really enjoy it!
— 30 —
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
IH WORLD NEWS
Michael Carrier, Executive Director, IHWO
IH Teacher Training
At the end of 2006 IH London is moving out of its historic
premises at 106 Piccadilly, to a new school in Covent Garden
– you can find details on their website at www.ihlondon.com
IH World is also moving – as we can't fill up the whole
building in Piccadilly! IH World has bought an office near Tower
Bridge, in the 'new' part of central London that is rapidly
developing as the 21st century heart of London. The whole
area is being regenerated – the new City Hall is here – and we
have an office in a traditional 19th century warehouse,
complete with bare brick walls, that has been stylishly
converted to office space.
The new contact details will be sent out shortly, as we are
planning to move at the end of October. All the emails and web
addresses will remain the same, but the phone numbers will
change – watch out for the new details or download them from
Over the summer we launched two new teacher development
courses for Business English, both of which are now available
IH BET – the IH Certificate in Business English – is a parallel
course to the IHCYL and is designed to provide teachers with
the skills they need to teach Business English and prepares
them for the LCCI FTBE examination. It can be run in-school,
extensively or intensively, and we hope to provide an online
version as well. In addition, schools can become test centres
for LCCI – more info from IHWO.
IH 121 - the IH Certificate in 1-to-1 Teaching is now available
for schools to buy on CDROM and run independently. This has
been piloted in an online version as well and we hope to make
that available shortly as well.
The IH network continues to grow steadily as we identify new
high-quality schools around the world. We are on track to meet
our target of 140 schools by the end of 2006, and aim to have
150 schools by the end of 2007.
New schools joining the IH family this summer include
The IH COLT training course for teachers who want to teach
online is now being run regularly, and is available for schools
who want to run it with their own trainers. The next courses are
• Saturday October 21st to Sunday November 26th (plus a
week for the final reflective task).
• Saturday January 13th to Sunday February 18th (plus a
week for the final reflective task).
Turkey – IH Istanbul Spain – IH Valencia Mexico – IH Monterrey
There are many other new schools with whom we are in
discussion, and the network will continue to grow and bring
the benefits of IH educational quality to new locations. Please
help – if you hear about fantastic schools that friends have
discovered, in a new location where IH is not represented,
drop us a line and let us know about a potential new partner.
The cost of the course, per participant, is £275. For IH school
staff however it is reduced to £125. Information from
IH Study Abroad
The creativity of IH teachers is well-known, and each year
more of them contribute to the shared resources of IHWO,
made available to all schools, through our R&D projects. In the
last months, we have published several more packs for the
online Resource Bank.
Helping students worldwide decide which IH school to study
at is a major part of the job of IHWO.
We now have a new updated version of the popular IH Study
Abroad CDROM, which gives information and photo guides to
the schools teaching 16 languages intensively around the
world. You can get copies of this from the IHWO office – to give
free to your students – but you can also download it (less than
100MB) from the website.
After the success of English for Marketing and English for
Lawyers we hope to launch English for Vocational Training,
developed by teachers in IH Riga, in early 2007.
We are also preparing a Study Abroad DVD – a collection of
promotional videos from IH schools worldwide – more news on
We are looking for authors for other ESP topics – to cover
finance, accounting, aviation, tourism & hospitality, business
skills and other areas. If you would like to get involved, please
contact IHWO directly with your suggestions.
The new IHWO Video is available on CD and DVD, and is a
short video presentation introducing IHWO, for schools to use
in conjunction with their own video promotions.
Teachers have asked for a series of video examples of YL
lessons, so those with less YL experience can see examples
of best practice. Our creative colleagues at IH Huelva have
created a DVD of 2 full length lessons, one Elementary and one
Juniors, which show a whole lesson being set, started and
finished. The DVD can be obtained from the IHWO office, and
an order form will be sent to all DoSes.
Calendar of IH events 2006-2007
Don't forget that there are already 3 other YL videos, created
by IH Lisbon, showing extracts of YL and Pre-Primary lessons.
These were originally on video cassettes – and a few are still
available – but the set of 3 films are now available on one DVD
– again available from the IHWO office.
— 31 —
IH Modern Languages
November 2-4, 2006
IH YL Conference
November 23-25, 2006
IH DOS Conference 2007
Jan 3-5, 2007
IH Directors' Conference
May 5-8, 2007
IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2005
Get it, read it, play sad EFL games with it (i.e. which entry comes
before and after genre? gender and grammar, funnily enough - another
book perhaps?) and if all else fails, cut out the swirling, meandering
hills of the front cover and make a piece of artwork out of it, à la
An A-Z of ELT
Reviewed by Tamarzon Larner, IH Lisbon
he introduction to this, the
latest in the Macmillan
Books for Teachers series,
tells us -
Some books make us wish we had come across them at earlier times
in our lives. In the case of Scott Thornbury’s ‘An A-Z of ELT’, three
weeks would have been just perfect for me! Having just completed the
CELTA course, it took me back to the many occasions when any one
particular grammar book was too dense to give me (and other
trainees) the precise information I was looking for on, let’s say, the at
times oh so gruelling phrasal verbs. Then there were times when I just
couldn’t find a straightforward enough methodology, linguistics or
vocabulary manual on that new jargon we had just learnt in class that
day and were too tired to take in.
This is a book for teachers of
English as a foreign or second
language. It is for those who are
development, whether preservice or in-service, and
whether informal or part of a
certificated training course.
Divided into three main areas – language, learning and teaching
related topics – and with a series of subtopics with very nicely
organized cross-references, here we find just the right amount of
information we need for each term. At first, when reading through the
introduction, I wondered if, since it covers such a broad variety of
areas it would spread itself a little too thin. It doesn’t. In fact, it was
surprising to find that it manages to give us a great amount of detail on
each one, just enough that someone who is uncertain about a
particular term can be clear about its meaning, use, and examples.
With this in mind, we had a
CELTA trainee, a practicing teacher
and a teacher trainer review the
book. Below are their impressions.
Taxi drivers have got the A-Z of London to gain access to The
Knowledge. Now we have the A-Z of ELT to increase knowledge of our
patch – ELT. It’s a fine trade manual to complement the rather aridly
desiccated style of the Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied
Linguistics, (Richards and Platt, Longman, 1992). There are 376
entries, which is a pleasingly, arbitrarily random number.
Unsurprisingly, as with all A-Z formats, Z’s, Q’s, Y´s and X’s are a bit
thin on the ground but there are lorry loads of A’s and P’s. There must
be a book in that? The front cover is funky beyond; Laurence Llewelyn
Bowen colours and design, much better than that sterile blue of About
Thornbury’s choice of words is perfectly clear for any beginner like
myself, and when in doubt, the cross- references are always helpful.
Personally, the areas that attracted my attention the most - maybe
because these are the ones that stress me out - were grammar,
methodology, and particularly, function. This last one is very well
documented, which I found a great surprise in this type of book.
I’d say this is one of those texts you want to have with you late at
night while preparing for lessons during a CELTA course and pretty
much throughout the next few months. Even though I myself am setting
out as a first year teacher, I imagine ‘An A-Z of ELT’ could even be a
useful tool in providing students with various examples of language use.
I am now somewhere in the transition from jargon to terminology (see
Thornbury’s definitions) - things are slowly starting to make sense.
All the entries are cross-referenced by clear main headings of
language-related, learning- related or teaching- related topics and then
sub-divided into more precise categories. Finding your way around is
easy, something trainees always complain is not the case when
researching language areas in most grammar reference books, which
tend to be more labyrinthine and inscrutable than the minotaur’s maze.
Find me if you can?
Reviewed by Ana Calha, IH Lisbon
Having been in the trade for quite a while, I decided to give myself
a test. I looked in the index, wrote down all the terms I didn´t know
(more than would be wise to divulge) and then looked them up. I
started with dyadic circles and catenative verbs, as they sounded
quite fancy-schmancy and I´d never heard of them. Very illuminating,
pages 238 and 152 respectively, if you’re interested.
A quick glance through Thornbury’s recent backlog of titles, How to
Teach Vocabulary, Longman , 2002, Beyond the Sentence, Macmillan,
2005, Uncovering Grammar, Macmillan, 2005 and Conversation: From
Description to Pedagogy, with Diane Slade, Cambridge University
Press, 2006, left me in no doubt that nobody was better qualified to
compile this aptly named reference book. So that said, how useful is
this to an EFL teacher with 18 years experience?
Bearing in mind that this is a man who can get an hour long plenary
out of a tea-bag sachet, you would expect a certain versatility and
quirkiness in the examples he uses. I wasn´t disappointed. He uses, for
citations and examples, a vast array of authentic sources, including
New Zealand, Oscar Wilde and overheard conversations on buses. My
personal favourite is the example for substitution.
Well let me state to begin with that I think every language school
of any repute should have at least one copy of this book on its
resource book shelf! The first thing you notice is its clear A-Z format
(containing 376 entries) and Index (terms and people referred to but
not included as headwords) which make it very user friendly. As a
seasoned teacher, I was keen to check out a few ‘known’ areas and
to find a few entries that might especially interest me. I wasn’t
disappointed. Old favourites such as multiple intelligences and
neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) PSYCHOLOGY are both
there, as you would expect, as is Total Physical Response (TPR)
METHODOLOGY. These entries are clear and concise and include
cross references in bold to lead the reader to explore further.
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man
does. That’s his.
The best entry of all, to my mind, is the one for noticing where he
manages to include the immortal phrases, noticing the gap, being
aware of a gap, filling the gap, representing a gap and, finally and most
importantly, mind the gap, which brings us nicely back to London and
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
interest and continuing a conversation.
But for me of more interest was the wealth of recent
‘metalanguage’ or if you prefer ‘terminology’ (see entry p130
LINGUISTICS) or even ‘jargon’ (see Introduction). For example we
have Dogme ELT METHADOLOGY - a Thornbury inspired term, no
less. the name of a loose collective of teachers who challenge what
they consider to be an over-reliance on materials, including
published coursebooks, in current teaching. Then there’s
Fossilization SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION (SLA). A
fossilized error is one that has become a permanent feature of a
learner’s interlanguage. Which in turn led me to the entry for
Interlanguage SLA. the term used to describe the grammatical
system that a learner creates in the course of learning another
language. There’s a lovely conversation between two women talking
about weddings to illustrate the use of vague language
SOCIOLINGUISTICS - varieties of English (also called ‘nativized
varieties’) that are spoken in countries such as India, Nigeria and
Singapore, where, for historical reasons , English plays an important
second language role. Again, with this entry we have a useful crossreference to English as an international language.
I especially liked the ‘Help with Listening’ sections found as little
‘bite-sized chunks’ dotted all the way through the student’s book.
They encourage the student to ‘notice’ a certain phonological feature
from a listening text such as word stress, linking and weak forms and
the rules that apply to it. This then leads on to the students
identifying examples in the listening text.
I also found the reading and writing portfolio section of
the workbook to be excellent. It incorporates a lot of discourse
features, neglected by many course books, in an extremely
engaging way. A good example of when it works well is the
coverage of ellipsis using text messages. Students must sequence
a set of text messages in order to decipher what arrangement two
people have made. Students are then guided to ‘noticing’ what
words have been taken out. The lesson culminates in the students
writing their own text messages.
Yet another feature I liked is the CD ROM, which comes free with the
student’s book and includes mini video clips of some of the listening
activities as well as loads of self-study exercises and tests, listed
chapter by chapter, that students can complete in their own time.
So in answer to the question I set myself above, this book should
be of interest to anyone involved in ELT regardless of their qualification
or experience. I found it especially useful in terms of clarifying
terminology and I’m sure I will get a lot of use from my copy. The bitesized entries whet the appetite and the last page of the book is a
Further Reading list for those who are inspired to learn more.
Altogether, I’m hard pushed to say anything negative about this
book, though perhaps the listening texts sound slightly wooden, a
common failing for lower level listening materials.
To sum up, if you’re looking for a bright, pacey, modern, accessible
and relevant new course book then I certainly haven’t seen anything
Reviewed by Brian Rey
Reviewed by Sarah Williams
Chris Redston and
Cambridge University Press, 2005
here is an abundance
of course books on the
EFL market in all kinds
of shapes and sizes, with
more coming out all the time,
but there are not many that
stand out. For me, Face2face
Elementary did just that, in fact
it jumped out and grabbed
Face2face is based on the
communicative approach and
uses the guided discovery
method for its presentations
of lexis and grammar, which
I found the layout to be very
engaging and modern, with lots of photos, computer graphics and a
great use of colour. Each lesson is set out on a two-page spread which
in fact looks almost inviting. Another thing worth mentioning is that it has
not fallen into the trap of putting too much onto one page, which is an
instant recipe for putting off both students and teachers!
Incorporated into every chapter is a section called ‘Real World’,
which presents language in a way that can actually be used in a real
life situation. There are lots of listening activities and role plays here,
covering the usual topics such as shopping and giving directions but
also branching out into features of discourse such as showing
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
notably absent from the workbook.
On balance, the book’s appeal goes much deeper than its
superficial glossiness. It is easy to use for both students and teachers
and the series provides ample supplementary material, including a
website with level specific activities in case divine inspiration is lacking!
Natural English Pre-Intermediate
Ruth Gairns and Stuart Redman
Oxford University Press, 2005
Reviewed by Camilla Mayhew, IH Buenos Aires
he brilliantly blue sky and
dazzling sun on the cover
are enough to tempt
students and teachers alike to
dive into Natural English and
merrily skip off down that
celestial EFL path we all know
and love. And the visual delights
do not end there; angelic smiling
faces jump from nearly every
page of the student’s book along
with a generous helping of
photographs and various styles
Market Leader Advanced
Iwonna Dubicka and Margaret O'Keeffe
ll the staff gather around,
management lay on
c h a m p a g n e ,
a hush falls across the
But aside from pleasing
aesthetics, what can Natural English offer? The aim is to teach,
“language which is used naturally by native speakers…but also
sounds natural when used by foreign learners”. We’re truly over the
moon about that! (is not what my students said). But they did learn
hmm, just a moment, let me see…er. Fillers? Yeah, and how to sound
interested. Really? Wow! The natural English boxes are dotted
throughout the student’s book and usually address around four items,
which means the language can be considered properly without
becoming the sole focus of the lesson.
Retirement of a respected
colleague? MD's birthday?
No. The long-awaited arrival of
an advanced level business
English Course book! At long last
a publisher has produced a
Business English course book
which is not directly aimed at the
Surrounding this novel feature is the usual fare of topics (food and
drink, the weather, free time) and the language content is similar to that
of other pre-int course books. Some of the texts are not overly
engaging but my class very much enjoyed the touches of humour, in
those on disastrous relationships in units one and two. There is also
the occasional nod towards modern culture (speed dating, Friends
Reunited) which match the book’s fresh-faced look.
As you’d expect, the advanced
level of Market Leader is
everything you, well, expect from this highly successful series, though
written by a different team of authors. The layout and design is exactly
like the rest of the Market Leader books so there is a strong feeling of
series continuity from one book to the next. The images are
professional and either authentic or very convincing e.g. email or
website screen shots.
The colour-coded units make the student’s book easy to navigate
whilst the verb tables and grammar references make up the typical final
pages, where you might also expect the tape scripts to be lurking. Not
so. Students are provided with a listening booklet, which provides
additional vocabulary and pronunciation work and succeeds in making
the texts more accessible both in class and as self-study. This focus
on spoken English continues with the extended speaking sections,
which invite students to activate their newly acquired knowledge from
each unit in order to perform speaking tasks such as questionnaires,
story telling, surveys and role-plays. The don’t forget! boxes prompt
them to use some ‘Natural English’. Unfortunately, the decision to
prioritise listening and speaking has meant that writing, and to some
extent reading, skills have been squeezed out. The writing practice in
the student’s book is tagged on to the extended speaking activities and
does not feature at all in the workbook. I should mention that there is
a separate book for reading and writing skills to complement the
syllabus, but I can’t help feeling that this only confirms their exclusion.
Real interviews and images and authentic texts from the FT and the
Guardian contribute significantly to its content validity. A slight
criticism: there is a strong Spanish focus, presumably because the
authors are both based in Barcelona, which is fine if you look at an
individual chapter, but could have the cumulative effect of alienating
learners from other nations. Nevertheless, I have to admit that, being
in Madrid, this has not happened to me.
All the regular Market Leader features are there. The task-based case
studies are as popular with students as always (though students still
need to be forced into the writing parts). One of my favourite recurring
features is the opening quotation. I find, that especially at this level, they
generate lots of class discussion and it is especially nice to see them
integrated into some of the chapter exercises. The useful (functional)
language sections are appropriate for the topics skills and level.
I have a slight quibble with some of the chapter titles and topics some of which, although essential to Business English, do not inspire
or provoke enormous interest (finance and banking, project
management) but scratch the surface and there is some very
interesting material here. One chapter I didn't get on with was the
ubiquitous ‘doing business online’ simply because I feel e-commerce is
now taken as a given and is no longer a real issue for business people.
Learner autonomy is really encouraged and there are plenty of
opportunities for students to take the initiative and assess their
progress. Each unit begins with a list of its contents and concludes by
asking students to tick what they know and to do a short test on what
has been covered. The review pages which appear after every two
units provide useful recycling activities as does the workbook where
the think back! exercises reinforce what has been covered by the
student’s book and the expand your grammar/ vocabulary boxes
provide some extension work. The key is much easier to consult than
in many other workbooks as the answers are kept to one column per
unit. Some students may miss the familiar end of unit tests which are
All in all, definitely one for the set book list.
Reviewed by Christopher Holloway, IH Madrid
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
Unlocking Self-expression through NLP - Integrated skills
Judith Baker and Mario Rinvolucri,
Delta Publishing, 2005
A Concise Grammar for English Language Teachers
TP Publications, 2005
s some of us are starting
yet another academic year,
what kind of resource
books do we need to help us
survive the first term? Most
teachers will have a very busy first
term getting to know their
students, getting to know the
course book (if using one) and
trying to come to terms with the
fact that, no matter how hard we
work, it's difficult to get the right
balance between the demands of
the job and the demands of
having a life outside of work. So,
any book that claims to provide
'well over a hundred easy-to-use activities' in its blurb seems like a
real winner for a busy teacher. Personally, the added attraction in
looking at this book was that it claims that these are 'Integrated skills
activities' as I find multi-skills lessons, the kind of lessons that really
his new edition of A
Grammar Course for TEFL
Certificate is a basic,
concise and comprehensive A4
size grammar book that would fit
neatly into any trainee teacher’s
briefcase or school’s resource
library. The new title, altered
content, and layout aim to appeal
to a wider audience and, although
aimed at trainee English language
teachers, it will also prove to be
an invaluable reference tool for
practicing teachers, teaching
assistants and students. The
user-friendly layout and content
may also appeal to ELT trainers.
The short chapters are well designed and each relates to a specific
area of grammar such as ‘The simple sentence and its parts’, ‘Irregular
verbs’ and ‘Error analysis’. Each chapter provides succinct definitions,
clear timelines, and relevant extracts from popular EFL textbooks.
Relevant tasks, comprehensive tables and teaching notes are included
within the chapters. A key for the tasks is included at the back and a
good index makes the material easy to locate for lesson planning and
The book is divided into 5 sections: Warmers, The Five Skills,
Writing, Vocabulary and Exams. The section on The Five Skills is the
biggest and includes many useful activities divided into further sections
like, introduction, questionnaires, role-play, introspection and
storytelling. Some of the activities are really 'ready-to-go', require
little preparation and could be slotted into practically any course. I
particularly liked one of the questionnaires - 'On the Dot or Not?' where students are asked to reflect on the order in which they arrive in
class, speculate/discuss why people might arrive in this order and then
go on to discuss punctuality in general. A really useful activity for those
of us working in Portugal where students tend to have a very flexible
attitude to time, I thought! The writers have included another activity
under the storytelling section which deals with the same theme but
asks learners to sit in order of how punctual they usually are and then
go on to discuss the cultural implications of this. A third 'time' activity
under the introspection section asks students to complete sentence
stems such as 'Being early is...Time is like...Being on time makes me
feel...An example of a waste of time is...' Although the activities are all
on a very similar theme, no one teacher would choose to do them all
with one class and it's certainly useful to have a selection of different
activities round the same topic.
The activities are clearly explained and easy-to-use in the sense
that they require little or no preparation. The level they're aimed at
is identified and as the book is based on the principles of NLP
(although the writers wisely point out that teachers don't need indepth understanding of NLP to use the activities), they should cater
for a wide range of learning styles. Newly-qualified teachers may
find it difficult to estimate how long to spend on each activity and
whether all their learners in any one class will feel comfortable
discussing some of these themes or revealing so much potentially
personal information about themselves. But every teacher,
irrespective of level of experience and the context they teach in,
should be able to find a few activities here that will not only
stimulate the learners but inspire the teacher to think about
teaching and learning.
Reviewed by Paula de Nagy, IH Lisbon, Portugall
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IH Journal • Issue 21, Autumn 2006
layouts with an immediate hook to capture kids’ interest.
Of particular interest to trainee teachers will be the three chapters at
the start of the book dealing with the form and function of verb tenses.
These include focused sample teaching material and deductive ‘Tense
Situations’ which highlight contextualised grammar. The tables in
these chapters list uses and examples of the various tenses whilst
specific tasks test knowledge and clear sample timelines illustrate
problem tenses. Several useful Teaching notes are also included
which serve to provide tips and urge the reader to reflect on ways of
I looked at the Starter A, (1st year of Primary) and Book 1 (3rd year of
Primary) of the series. Both books follow a fairly traditional 8 unit layout,
interspersed with 4 review units. Each unit comprises 6 lessons. Both
books have extra festival lessons for Christmas and Easter.
English Adventure Starter A
In the Starter A book, each lesson is designed to provide 30-45
minutes work, although on a first look this seems to be slightly
ambitious, and plenty of supplementing would probably be needed.
Totalling up the material provided, the course seems to give about 35
to 50 hours of class, and as with some of its competitors, needs
padding out to use in a typical 60+ hour academic year course.
The grammar is based on British English usage but at times, also
provides examples of American English usage, although not
consistently throughout the book. The grammar is prescriptive rather
than descriptive. The correct forms are laid out and variations of actual
English language usage are pointed out either as errors where native
speakers break the grammar rules or as not widely accepted. It would
be useful to see a more focused look at the way English is changing,
including a table of variations in grammars based on British versus
American grammar (e.g. “you (pl)” versus “you guys/y’all”, “Have
you…” versus “Do you have…”, and offers such as “Would you like…”
versus “Do you want…”). Other additions could include the grammar
of formal versus informal English, and of spoken versus written English
such as uses of phrasal verbs, contractions, past participles etc.
The book covers areas such as my body, family, classroom, animals,
etc that are sure to interest this age group and the link to familiar Disney
characters is bound to draw them in. The level of the material seems
well judged. One thing I would have liked to see is a workbook page for
every lesson, as there are currently 4 for each 6-lesson unit, which
could sometimes leave you short of table-based activities.
Each unit consists of a recurring cycle of presentation, practice,
(with stickers to help consolidate) a song, a story and speaking
practice based on a model given by real English speaking children.
Evaluation is through listening and speaking based worksheets, plus
an on-going assessment sheet and stickers for students to indicate
their feelings about the unit, and Donald Duck certificates to give them
to take home.
In the appendix, there is a basic level guideline, covering beginner
to advanced levels, which highlights the grammatical content and a
few communicative functions of some popular EFL course books. It
varies somewhat from the level guideline in the Skills for Life ESOL
Core Curriculum, but remains a useful tool for those teaching in
private language schools.
The DVD is fun and introduces the painfully happy Ted and Lucy. It
is, however, useful and also includes nice sections with native-speaker
kids and catchy songs.
Overall this 124 page grammar book is a useful reference and
resource for practicing teachers and ELT trainers, and as a self-study
learning tool for trainees. Its size and content make it a welcome
addition to any ELT library.
The website covers the whole series and includes areas for
teachers, students and parents, although large parts of it are still being
made. There is a ‘Monthly Focus’ section, which this month was on
working with values, which adds a cross-curricular or values based
element to the course.
Reviewed by Angela Richmond
English Adventure Book 1
In English Adventure 1, the structure is the same, but the lessons are
designed to be a bit longer, 45-60 minutes. Here the activity book
exercises are part of the suggested lesson plans, rather than optional
extras as in the Starter A book.
A Worrall, Anne Worrall,
Cristiana Bruni, Izabella Hearn
Pearson Longman, 2005
There is a new section at the end of the book ‘My World’ to give a
socio-cultural focus, where students get a chance to see other
with English Adventure
Starter A and B which
corresponds to the first
cycle of Primary and English
Adventure 1-4 for the
second and third cycles.
Each unit uses the same presentation, practice and extension cycle
as Starter A. The pupil’s book includes nice mini-flashcards for each
student to use in communicative activities.
The DVD uses the same presenters and style as in Starter A, more
smiles from Ted and Lucy.
Evaluation in Book 1 adds reading and writing as well as listening
In conclusion, English Adventure is a colourful, attractively
presented course book with a sure-fire method of interesting the
pupils, through the use of Disney characters and films. The teacher is
provided with a comprehensive set of resources and clear lesson plans
in the teacher’s book. The only criticisms that could be made are that
the lessons may not take up the time indicated in the book and that
the activity book in the Starter A could include a page to correspond
to each lesson.
This book enters a
marketplace which contains
successful series such as
Oxford’s Story Magic and
Join In from Cambridge, so
it has its work cut out.
Longman’s USP (unique
selling point) for this series is the use of characters and clips from
Disney films to arouse interest. This makes for colourful, attractive
Reviewed by Alex Bishop, IH Madrid, Spain
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