noun [C or U]
great worry caused by a difficult situation, or something
which causes this condition:
People under a lot of stress may experience headaches,
minor pains and sleeping difficulties.
Yoga is a very effective technique for combating stress.
the stresses and strains of the job
(out) adjective [after verb]
worried and anxious:
She's been feeling very stressed since she started her
I was really stressed out before the exam.
the Cambridge Advanced Learners' Dictionary)
week, on the 10th October, World Mental Health Day is celebrated
& to acknowledge this, on a very different level, here
is a brief look at combating stress. Teachers have some unique
challenges to deal with & often find themselves under
great stress. Usually these stressful situations are resolved
but when they are not, stress becomes a serious danger. Here
are a few reasons why we might sometimes find it difficult
- unruly younger learners
- difficult individual students & groups
- difficult timetable
- insufficient financial reward
- excessive number of teaching hours
- job insecurity
- no sense of control over own job - no participation in decision-making
- conflict with management
- conflict amongst staff
- below standard working conditions
- lack of experience
- a class observation by a supervisor
- lack of resources
- insufficient knowledge on how to use technology
- insufficient training for a particular teaching environment
react to stress differently, some people being better than
others at dealing with it. Here are some straightforward primary
actions to take:
Talk, talk & talk more with colleagues & supervisors.
Prepare - timetable lessons well in advance so that
on day all you have to do is think through the lesson
& get your materials together.
Prioritise what you have to do each day, take one thing
at a time, you can't do everything.
Recognise the successes in your classes &
give yourself a pat on the back, & tell colleagues
about them, the students & the things you do with
Develop - each day do something new or differently &
in the longer-term take teacher development courses.
Forget the classroom when you go home, do completely
Eat healthily & do regular exercise.
has been set up at the Teaching Forum:
is a lot more to dealing with stress than this so do get along
to the Forums & let us know how you deal with the stresses
of a teaching life.
Mental Health Day http://www.wmhday.net/
'The theme for World Mental Health Day 2003, the World Federation
for Mental Healths global mental health education project,
will focus worldwide attention and concern on the identification,
treatment, and prevention of emotional and behavioural disorders
in children and adolescents.' There is a very complete pdf
download at the site.
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teaching it is sometimes the case that we can be our own worst
enemy by getting in the way of the students in the classroom.
For example, while they are doing an oral fluency activity,
we go up close to listen & correct. When they have finished
copying down a language point, we get on to the practice activity.
Just a couple of activities that have alternatives that might
provide more 'space' for the students. Here are some different
kinds of space that you can provide in the classroom.
Space to move around & feel comfortable - try to make
the learning environment as comfortable as possible. Get rid
of all the books & things you don't need from the desks.
If you can move the desks, try out different organisations
with different activities - vary it. Encourage the students
to move to different parts of the room, or even outside the
room, when they are doing a lengthy activity such as a reading
task. Plan into the lesson an activity which requires the
students to stand up, move about & mingle - a break in
Space to think - give the students time to respond when
you ask a question. See the Tip on
'Wait time'. If they are completing a task sheet, give
them sufficient time to think things through.
Space to work at their own pace - within a group it can
be frustrating for slower writers or weaker students to keep
up with the others in the group. Slow the pace of the class
& take everyone along with you together.
Space to reflect - give the students time to sit &
reflect on the language you have just presented. Give them
two minutes to look at their notes. At the end of a skills
activity, let the students reflect on how they carried out
the activity & the language of skills they used, sharing
their ideas with each other.
Space to be themselves - if they have had a bad day then
allow them to get it off their chests. Try not to call on
students who have just arrived late to class - let them take
their time to sink into the class.
Space to follow up interests - be flexible with your plan
& allow students to take you off on tangents. Now &
again this is a good thing & can provide welcome changes
Space to express themselves - let them talk about the
topic of the text you have just been looking at. Let them
say what they want to say without constantly correcting them
- there's a time & a place for correction.
means an exhaustive list but a few areas to think about.
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Day of Languages
linguistic diversity, plurilingualism, lifelong language
Day of Languages is celebrated this week on the 26th September.
The Council of Europe designates this day to 'celebrating
linguistic diversity, plurilingualism, lifelong language learning'
- too good an opportunity to miss. If you are not in Europe
there's no reason why you shouldn't adopt the day & carry
out some of the activities below.
are some ideas to use on the Day or in lessons leading up
to the Day:
are two texts below taken from the Day
of Languages web site . The first shorter
text is a general introduction to the Day & could
be simply read out or used as the basis of a running
dictation or a dictogloss/high
text is a question & answer matching task which takes
the students further into the Day's celebrations. Use as it
stands, cut up the parts & give one to each student to
find their partner, predict the questions from the answers
before matching, predict the answers from the questions before
matching, give out a chart & in groups of seven each has
an answer & a chart with the questions & they mingle
& get a summary of each answer which they write in their
the resources offered on the site is a
guide on how to learn languages. It is a pdf download
in several European languages & basically looks at how
to become a successful learner. Why not give this out to your
students as part of the Day?
is another quite long text
about the celebration of linguistic diversity . You might
choose to use parts of this for a further reading & discussion.
younger learner, posters about the day or the same words in
a variety of languages offer ways of playing around with the
day & the different languages.
have a multilingual class, get them to teach each other something
in their native languages. An ideal way of celebrating the
on linguistic variety could begin with the paragraph from
the variety article on the site; 'Our planet has over six
billion people who speak between 6000 and 7000 different languages.
A few languages are spoken by hundreds of millions of speakers,
such as English or Chinese, but most are spoken by only a
few thousand, or just a handful of speakers. In fact, 96%
of the world's languages are spoken by just 4% of the people.'
This could lead on to discussion points about the dominance
of English, the need to keep alive the lesser spoken languages
taken from the Council of Europe's European Day of Languages
used to introduce the theme - through, for example, a running
dictation or a dictogloss activity.
European Year of Languages involves millions of people
across 45 countries in activities to celebrate linguistic
diversity and the benefits of being able to speak
Many people young and old are encouraged to take up
a language, or take special pride in their existing
Those responsible for providing access to language
learning are encouraged to make it easier for people
to learn a range of languages, and to support policy
initiatives to promote languages.
The Council of Europe has declared 26 September an
annual European Day of Languages.
text for the matching task
European Day of Languages: frequently asked questions
- match up the questions & the answers.
How can we celebrate `lifelong language learning'?
Why do we need a European Day of Languages?
What are the aims of the European Day of Languages?
How can we celebrate the European Day of Languages?
Who is responsible for organising the European Day of
Will the Day have its own logo?
What support is available?
It has been recommended that the Day should be celebrated
in a decentralised and flexible way. There are no organisational
guidelines at international level, though there are national
"relays" / contact persons in most countries.
The details of the "relays" are available on
To alert the public to the importance of language learning
To increase awareness and appreciation of ALL the languages
spoken in Europe
To encourage lifelong language learning
The Council of Europe web site offers examples, suggestions
and a data base to which you can add your events. A poster
was produced and made available in electronic form to
national authorities and possible partners for adaptation
to national, regional or local needs downloadable from
this website. Support at national level will vary according
to the priorities and resources of each country but financial
support will no longer be available in 2003.
While many people agree that everyone should be able to
speak another language, in many countries only about half
can do so.
There have never been more opportunities to work or study
in a different European country - but lack of language
competence prevents many people from taking advantage
Globalisation and patterns of business ownership mean
that citizens increasingly need foreign language skills
to work effectively within their own countries.
Europe is rich in languages - there are over 200 European
languages and many more spoken by citizens whose family
origin is from other continents. This is an important
resource to be recognised, used and cherished.
Language learning brings benefits to young and old - you
are never too old to learn a language and to enjoy the
opportunities it opens up.
Learning other peoples' languages is a way of helping
us to understand each other better and overcome our cultural
The logo for the Day is the same as that used for the
European Year of Languages. It can be obtained from the
address below and is downloadable from the website. Organisers
of events can use the image alone, or add the words `European
Day of Languages', as they wish, provided the objectives
are in keeping with those of the Day.
Lifelong language learning means language learning at
all stages of life both within and outside of the education
system. We can always improve our skills or take up a
It could be celebrated in schools, in workplaces or in
any public place, with activities involving old and young;
this can involve ALL languages, whether learnt in childhood
or taken up at a later age.
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the Past Teaching Tips