Developing Teachers.com
A web site for the developing language teacher

April 2006 - issue 4/06

DEVELOPINGTEACHERS.COM NEWSLETTER

Welcome to the April Newsletter.

The following came up on the BBC in March:

Teachers' diary from a Sudan refugee camp

Wendy Packer and David Morgan spent a week in Sudan teaching in the capital's camps for displaced people. ack in the UK, their pupils from the Blue Coat School in Birmingham and Bancroft's School in Woodford Green, Essex raised money for Sudanese people.

Alongside another six teachers, they travelled to Khartoum with the charity Education Action. Here, Wendy and David, who are both English department heads, report on their experiences.

Sunday 12 February

It's 4.10 am and Khartoum Airport is surprisingly busy. We are embarking on a journey into the heart of Sudan to witness teaching in the most difficult of circumstances. We will be visiting schools in camps around Khartoum, home to two million people displaced mainly from southern Sudan by 21 years of civil
war.

Sharing experience with local teachers, learning about education and poverty issues in Sudan is soon to become a reality for us all. After months of planning and fund-raising, we are relieved to have finally made it here. The thrill of arrival overcomes any tiredness from the journey.

Monday 13 February

We are on our way to Soba Aradi Camp on the outskirts of Khartoum, home to 700,000 internally displaced people. The city gives way to a vast, flat desert with endless rows of mud houses. Gusts of wind blow sand across the barren landscape. We never expected to see sights like this. Arriving at the Displaced
People's International school things change - a sea of beaming faces greets us. Hundreds of children in brightly coloured uniforms emerge from straw-and-mud classrooms. Their welcome is overwhelming.

In the afternoon, we visit a women's self-help group, Al Asala, and the Mayo School for disabled children. The community-based organisations that run these schools are making sure that all sections of these communities get a chance to learn.

What we are seeing here is truly inspiring. The enthusiasm, the energy and the desire to learn amidst the poverty of the makeshift camps is incredible.

Tuesday 14 February

Today we meet our partner teachers and observe their lessons. We will be splitting up to work in two schools for the next three days.

KIMU Charitable School in Soba Camp provides primary education for 600 children. A labyrinth of dusty tracks leads to a lively, friendly hub of learning. The classrooms are crammed with children, squeezed together on simple metal benches, all eager to learn. Being on the edge of the city means there is no protection from the wind - sand gets blown constantly into the open classrooms making it difficult to see or breathe.

Students from Kinnetti Secondary School. (Picture: Education Action) In contrast, Kinnetti Secondary School is an oasis of calm in the heart of the bustling capital. Birds sing in the trees as young men stand chatting quietly in their tribal groups, waiting for lessons to start. Head teacher Jackson Kambala Omi explains that the young men in his charge, most of whom are ex child-soldiers, have been through unimaginable horrors. In each bulging classroom one hundred students aged between 15 and 35 hang on their teacher's every word.

Wednesday 15 February

This afternoon we plan our joint lessons with our Sudanese colleagues for tomorrow. The exchange of ideas is lively, constructive and hugely enjoyable; but things are not easy. We hear about a severe lack of resources and low salaries for teachers in Sudan that won't even cover the cost of their accommodation. Most of those teaching in the camps are working voluntarily and take home tutoring jobs in the evenings to earn money.

We are awed by the sacrifices they are making in their lives to ensure the future of the next generation of their people. In addition, the teachers at Kinnetti must use great sensitivity and gentle handling to help the students cope with their terrible experiences. In all the schools we visit, many of the teachers only have a secondary education and are crying out for proper training. It is this that Education Action is committed to providing, but more funds are desperately needed.

Thursday16 February

So now we must teach! At KIMU School the morning parade is just beginning: Well-drilled children sing their National Anthem with gusto. When lessons start, topics range from "Ten Green Bottles" to Jane Eyre. In Kinnetti lessons on the speed of sound, the present passive continuous (eek!) and Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday all play a part.

We are faced with 100 students in a cramped classroom with nothing but a blackboard, chalk and our imaginations to help. For us, these are real lessons in classroom management in the most difficult of circumstances. It's a very humbling but fulfilling experience. In return, we hope we have given an insight to the teachers here into more interactive, child-friendly styles of teaching.

Our new-found friendships are really touching and we are very sad to say goodbye to both schools. The sense of a shared purpose as teachers underpins everything we have done.

Friday 17 February

Education Action have provided desks and benches but with 100 children in each classroom, there are not enough to go round and some children use their knees. This morning we meet with the co-ordinators of the community-based organisations that have set up these schools. Their umbrella group SENAD, supported by Education Action for the last 10 years, is the driving force behind
education in the displacement camps. It stands for empowerment through education and together they reach over 12,000 students each year. It is moving to talk to such a dedicated and dignified group of people.

After one year of peace the desire amongst the people in the camps to return home to the south is growing ever stronger. Training teachers and educating children are everyone's priorities so that they can go back and rebuild their country. They have waited 20 years for this but progress in the south to generate jobs and build schools and hospitals is really slow. It could be years before they can return.

Saturday 18 February

As we leave the camps for the last time we take with us a sense of hope but also some understanding of the enormity of the task ahead. We have been inspired by our experiences, moved by our encounters. We have so much to take back to our own schools; we look forward to sharing everything we have learned in Sudan. Optimism is everywhere but education will be vital in shaping the country's future. Only with it will the hopes and dreams of these wonderful people be realised.

Back to school

Many teachers are volunteers which means they often don't turn up if they find other paid work in the city.

Now back in the UK, the contrast with the schools we saw last week is almost overwhelming. It is difficult now not to notice the thousands of things we take for granted in our regular teaching lives. We shall be talking to all the pupils we teach about the wonderfully rewarding experiences we had in the camps and encouraging them to support this valuable work.

To find out more about future teachers' visits or to make a donation, go to
www.education-action.org

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/features/4794564.stm

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This month Kendall Peet returns with a look at academic writing & Robert Ledbury joins us with an article about vocabulary notebooks, & there are the usual sections of links & Forum selection. Hope you find it all useful.

Online Development Courses - Due to demand, we are now offering our online courses either as the original full seven modules or as a choice of four of the seven modules. Check them out at: http://www.developingcourses.com/

More free Google GMail accounts to give away - if interested, get in touch.

Happy teaching!

Alistair

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INDEX

1. THE SITE
2. FORUMS
3. TEACHING LINKS
4. DAYS OF THE MONTH
5. BOOK REVIEW
6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS
7. PS - Internet/computer-related links
8. THE BIT AT THE END

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1. THE SITE

ONLINE DEVELOPMENT COURSES

The online courses are hosted at one of our sister sites, DevelopingCourses.com (http://www.developingcourses.com ). The individual, personalised courses develop with the experience, needs & interests of each participant at their own rate.

We use Moodle, an excellent course management system, each course having its own password so only the individual participant plus the trainer can gain access. The central focus on the courses within Moodle is the forum & where there may be three or four different threads going on at the same time. Attached to these are a variety of resources. All are very easy to operate in Moodle. Choose between the full, seven module course, & an elective four module course.

For more information, get in touch & check out http://www.developingcourses.com

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Vocabulary Notebooks - Ways to make them work by Robert Ledbury

Learner training and the development of study skills have become an important element of both syllabuses and commercially produced coursebooks. An important aim of this strand of the syllabus is to train students how to learn and store new vocabulary effectively. Students are encouraged to store new vocabulary in a vocabulary notebook in a variety of ways: under topics, under
collocations, with (or without) translations, with sample sentences. Topic based lists or spidergrams are often recommended because they aid memory and recall, and may easily be revised or added to.

This is all very sound advice for learners of English, based both on theories of learning and vocabulary acquisition. Why is it then, that despite all the good advice, the experience of many teachers suggests that students do not attach importance to organising their vocabulary learning systematically? This is certainly true of students in my own teaching situation. Why do students continue to regularly note the new vocabulary they encounter in the form of lists of words with a one-to-one translation, often in the back of their class notebook , and in no particular order? Two reasons may be the absence of a vocabulary strand in the curriculum that includes systematic training in the organisation of vocabulary learning, and a failure to set aside classroom time specifically devoted to training students in how to organise vocabulary learning.

This article will describe a set of underlying principles for learning vocabulary as well as draw on practical experiences of training students how to organise their vocabulary learning. A training programme for students, designed to promote the effective use of vocabulary notebooks that will both help students to expand their vocabulary and deepen their knowledge of how words work, will be presented.

Schmitt and Schmitt (1995) outline eleven principles that draw both on theories of memory and language learning, and which provide a framework for training students in the strategies necessary to learn the vocabulary they need.

To view the rest of the article

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Teaching Academic Writing by Kendall Peet

One of the increasingly voiced complaints of university professors today is that matriculating students lack the necessary academic writing skills that are considered to be a prerequisite for tertiary education. In regard to L1 students matriculating, it is clear in the majority of circumstances that students have acquired the necessary language- in that they possess a productive knowledge of the minimum level of vocabulary required at university level (1) and are grammatically fluent- but that they lack the necessary academic writing skills. In the case of L2 students, however, the situation is more complex, as it can neither be assumed that they have the necessary language, nor the necessary academic writing skills. This worrying trend in regard to L1 students should, therefore, indicate the mammoth nature of the task charged to English teachers teaching academic writing to L2 learners, for whatever difficulties there may be
facing L1 teachers, they will no doubt be compounded by the additional problems faced by L2 teachers. It is with this current situation in mind that I have chosen to write a paper on teaching academic writing skills, in regard to the common problem shared by both L1 and L2 students, being that of developing in the learner the ability to structure writing so to "ensure that student writing falls within...[the] range...of acceptable writing behaviours dictated by the academic community" (Horowitz, 1986b:789).

This article will deal with the topic of teaching content (2) in academic writing in three parts. Part 1 will attempt to answer the question, "What is acceptable writing behaviour?" in specific regard to academic content. Part 2 will briefly examine some common problems learners face in attempting to produce acceptable content. Finally, Part 3 will present an approach to help learners produce acceptable content and a rationale to support the adoption of this approach by teachers teaching English for academic purposes.

To view the article at the site

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Thanks to Robert, & Kendall

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ARTICLES - If you've given a course or seminar or have a lesson plan & would like to give it a public airing, do get in touch.

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TO GET IN TOUCH

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2. FORUMS

A couple of recent posts:

mohsen643 would like some advice:
I'm about to start an ielts course with a group of intermediate and upper students I would appreciate any suggestions regarding the planning/material etc.in this respect. As you know there are so many ielts course and test books on the market, one can easily get lost which one to use. The available material to us include, Cambridge ielts 4, step up to ielts, insight to ielts & practice book-by thomson. I look forward to your replies
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=901

jamestrotta has an idea:
I've been teaching writing for years - until now. Now I teach SLA. So it figures my best idea for teaching writing would come at a time I can't use it. Anyway, how's this for an authentic writing task? There's a travel writing contest going until mid-May, giving out 1,000 dollars in prizes, and judging entries on content rather than form. Actually this is very close to fake writing contest lesson I did during my CELTA except this contest is real. Your student or class (collobarative writing) can really get the money. More authentic than a fake writing contest, no? By the way, it's my contest so I know the prize money is there Smile So my idea is to have students give advise to a traveller coming to their country. If you teach in Germany, have students write a German vacation plan. Actually this sort of thing is pretty old but usually the audience is the teacher and it seems a bit fake.
Here contest entries go online and are read by thousands of people. So the audience - people who read about travel online. The goal - convince them to come to your country by providing them with a great vacation itinerary. Anyway, if you want to use this, the contest information is at http://www.travel-plan-idea.com/archives/002931.html Oh and also, the students have models because they can read the previous entries online. Any feedback on my idea?
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=887

Lina would like some advice:
I think it's common knowledge that children love watching TV. Wanting to "take advantage" of this habit of theirs, I am looking for DVDs that can be used with young learners of English. There are some products available in the marked, but I think that DVDs originally made for native speakers of the language maybe more interesting, as long as they target to young learners. After all, all children of the world learn a language the same way, don't they? Please let me know of any DVDs that you think can help my students make their first steps in learning English and enjoy themselves as well!
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=878

Andie's looking for an answer:
I'm looking for clear examples to illustrate the difference between "have to" and "must". It is clear to me that you use"have to" when there's an obligation that is imposed from outside (laws-rules), whereas "must" expresses what the speaker thinks is necessary. But browsing through different books, I've found
examples such as, "In England you must drive on the left." Examples like these ruin my explanation contrasting the external- internal point. I wonder if anyone can help me.
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=891

loakley tells us:
I am the editor of the talent website: http://www.talent.ac.uk ,an online community of over 14,000 English, Literacy and Numeracy teachers. We have a searchable database of teacher training courses in London which might be of interest to users of this site: http://www.talent.ac.uk/courses.
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=919

Karen 98 has a lot of Korean jobs to offer:
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=934

joyETC has a lots of Korean jobs to offer:
http://forum.developingteachers.com/viewtopic.php?t=933

Lots of different Forums to choose from. Check them out. Post your jobs, your CV, your questions, finds on the net, ideas, activities, questions, grumbles, suggestions, your language courses, your training courses...they are there for you to use. http://forum.developingteachers.com/

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CONSULTANCY
At Developing Teachers.com we occasionally carry out consultancy work. The different projects have included tutoring DELTA candidates by email, offering advice on curriculum design & materials choice & short training courses in person & by email. If you would like us to help in any way, please do not hesitate
to get in touch.

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3. TEACHING LINKS

If you have visited a site that you think would be beneficial for
all or would like your site to appear here, please get in touch. Thanks.

http://www.education-action.org/index.htm
'Education Action International works with people affected by conflict in their home countries and countries of refuge. We aim to support children and adults to achieve their potential through literacy, life-skills and employment training.'

http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/0,,1735136,00.html?gusrc=rss Article about the winding up of the Oxford, Yale & Stanford combined online programmes.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.04/mandarin.html
The Mandarin Offensive - Wired article.

http://www.food-force.com/
UN World Food Programme - Food Force game

Back to the index
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4. DAYS OF THE MONTH

A few days to plan your lessons around in April:

1st - April Fool's Day
2nd - International Children's Book Day
7th- World Health Day
14th - Anniversary of Titanic sinking
International Moment of Laughter Day
18th - Crossword Puzzle Day
22nd - Earth Day
23rd - St. George's Day - England
Passover
Easter
Carnival time
London Marathon

To see the list of Days

Wikipedia's excellent focus on days of the year:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_anniversaries

http://www.holidayorigins.com/home.html
Some holiday origins.

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5. BOOK REVIEW

Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers) by Julian Bamford & Richard R. Day (CUP). An excellent array of activities to start, support, maintain & exploit this vital activity.

To read the review

To buy the book at Amazon .com
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521016517/developingteac0b
To buy the book at Amazon .co.uk
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521016517/developingteache

BUYING BOOKS
If you're going to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk then please go through our Books page. You will pay the same & we will receive a few pennies to keep the site & newsletters free. Thanks.

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6. WEEKLY TEACHING TIPS

Free weekly practical teaching tips by e-mail.

Recent Tips have included:
- Spring Breaks - ideas for exploiting an article.
- Nice Verbs - auxiliary verbs examined.
- Unexpected Situations - another spontaneous roleplay.
- Product, process or genre - a brief look at approaching the writing skill.

To see the Past Tips

To sign up to receive them

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7. PS - Internet/computer-related links from SiteSkimmer.com

A few computer use rules of thumb:
- make copies of all-important files
- run scan disk & then defragment the hard drive
- use firewall software
- use a virus scan & update the files every week
- install security patches that software providers offer
- update your DirectX files regularly
- don't open attachments without scanning for viruses first
- don't respond to spam - just delete & forget
- don't send personal or bank information by email
- turn off your computer at night

http://www.virtualtourist.com/
'VirtualTourist Travel Guides are made by real travelers like you. 685,987 members have added 1,289,802 tips and 2,277,240 photos on over 22,000 locations. You can share your own tips and photos on any of 2.2 million locations quickly and easily.'

http://www.ashesandsnow.org/
Lovely photography & site - 'For the fully immersive experience of Ashes and Snow, we have created a web site which requires Flash Player 8, superior computer speed and a broadband connection. It is designed for a minimum screen resolution of 1024x768.'

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/28218/top_videos/
I want this toy.

http://www.madehow.com/
'How Products Are Made explains and details the manufacturing process of a wide variety of products, from daily household items to complicated electronic equipment and heavy machinery. The site provides step by step descriptions of the assembly and the manufacturing process (complemented with illustrations and diagrams) Each product also has related information such as the background, how the item works, who invented the product, raw materials that were used, product applications, by-products that are generated, possible future developments, quality control procedures, etc.'

http://www.megaupload.com/
Send up to 250mb files to friends for free.

http://www.nls.uk/broadsides/
'In the centuries before there were newspapers and 24-hour news channels, the general public had to rely on street literature to find out what was going on. The most popular form of this for nearly 300 years was 'broadsides' - the tabloids of their day. Sometimes pinned up on walls in houses and ale-houses, these single sheets carried public notices, news, speeches and songs that could be read (or sung) aloud. The National Library of Scotland's online collection of nearly 1,800 broadsides lets you see for yourself what 'the word on the street' was in Scotland between 1650 and 1910. Crime, politics, romance, emigration, humour, tragedy, royalty and superstitions - all these and more
are here.'

http://keepersoflists.org/index.php?lid=202
Greatest lines from TV.

http://www.theopencd.org/
'TheOpenCD is a collection of high quality Free and Open Source Software. The programs run in Windows and cover the most common tasks such as word processing, presentations, e-mail, web browsing, web design, and image manipulation. We include only the highest quality programs, which have been carefully tested for stability and which we consider appropriate for a wide audience.'

http://www.thatsironic.com/
News that's 'i-ron-ic Adj. Poignantly or darkly contrary to what one expects or intends. Often, but not always, humorous.'

http://www.retrofuture.com/
'The Retrofuture is a concept based on a simple question: what happened to all that futuristic stuff which was supposed to change our lives by the year 2000? Stuff like rocket belts, flying cars, food pills and inflatable homes.'

http://rollyo.com/index.html
Create your own personal search engine.

http://martindalecenter.com/
The Martindale Reference Desk.

http://www.tenement.org/folksongs/client/
'Folk Songs for the Five Points is a digital arts project that allows you to create your own "folk songs" by remixing and overlaying a range of sounds taken from New York's Lower East Side. The SoundMap features a visual representation of the Lower East Side, overlaid with a series of dots. Each dot represents an
audio sample recorded at that particular place. To select a sample, click and drag one of circles over the chosen dot. The sample will then automatically start playing.'

http://invention.smithsonian.org/home/
The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation.

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8. THE BIT AT THE END

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