It's St.George's Day on 23rd April, the patron
saint of England, & unlike other countries' Saint Day,
I would be surprised if a great many people in England actually
know it is celebrated next week. Not a reason for not looking
at this in class though & it could also be an interesting
point of contrast with your students' attitude to their
own Saint Day. (Why is there this difference - contrast
with St.Patrick's Day).
So here is some material to use in class.
The first is a general description about the day & the
second is a reduced version of the George & the Dragon
story. Later there are a couple of ideas for younger learner
classes & a couple of links to dragon-related websites.
An appropriate way to use this first text
might be to cut up every section & ask students in pairs/small
groups to put it in a logical order. Beforehand briefly
look at how a text has coherence through the cohesive devices
& logical links. Or leave this till after, eliciting
the things that helped them decide on the order, collating
the class ideas on the board & adding in a few of your
own if they are missed out. When completed, the students
could compare ideas & then compare with the original
Then you could move to the content of the
text by asking if there is any information in the text that
they knew about beforehand etc...
George's Day - April 23: History
As with most saints, myth and legend
surrounds St George and of how a Roman soldier came
to be regarded as the essence of England.
He is most famously known as the brave
slayer of the dragon and saviour of the maiden but,
although this story exists in a number of different
medieval texts and art, it has no historical basis.
There is very little information about
the life St George, but it is known that he was not
He is thought to have been an early
Christian martyr from the area of modern day Turkey,
who was executed in Palestine in the third century.
Legends about his valorous deeds as
a soldier-saint began in the 6th century and by the
12th century the famous story about his rescuing a
king's daughter and slaying a dragon had become widespread.
Some experts think the tale is based
on the Greek myth of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from
a sea monster.
St George was popularised in England
by Crusaders, Christian knights returning from religious
wars in the Middle East.
He was supposed to have appeared to
the Knights dressed in white robes decorated with
a red cross during the 11th century siege of Antioch.
He became the official patron saint
of England in 1425 after Henry V's victory at the
Battle of Agincourt.
The Red Cross of St George is England's
national flag and it also forms part of Britain's
However, the English are not the only
people to stake a claim in St George.
In the Middle East, Christians invoke
his powers to help exorcise demons.
In many countries St George is associated
with fertility and his day marks the very beginning
In Lithuania he is revered as
the guardian of animals and in parts of Spain St George's
day is celebrated with feasts and gift giving.
This next short text is an excerpt from
the Catholic Encyclopaedia & could be used as a basis
1. Elicit - know any stories about dragons?
2. Pre-teach vocab & give key words:
dragon, appeased, sheep, failed, children, King's daughter,
sacrifice, George, spear, girdle, town, beheaded.
3. Stds then try to work out a coherent
story - in pairs?
4. Stds mingle telling each other their
stories >> vote on the best.
5. Handout/put on OHP the excerpt - stds
compare to see who had the most similar story.
6. The stds could then use their imagination
to provide different endings for the story - pairs >>
7. Discuss as a class - any similar stories
to George & the Dragon in your country/ies?
Alternatively, you could use the text
as the basis for a 'dictoglosss' activity. See the
Teaching Tip High Speed Dictations.
the town of Silene, in Libya, there was a dragon, who
was appeased by being fed two sheep a day; when these
failed, the townsfolk offered by lot one of their young
people. One day the lot fell on the King's daughter,
who was led out to the sacrifice, dressed in her wedding
gown. George appeared and transfixed the dragon with
his spear and then using the Princess's girdle led the
bemused dragon into the town, where it was beheaded."
Dragons are a fun vehicle for younger
learner lessons so here are a few ideas:
In 'Drama With Children' by Sarah Philips
(OUP) there is a lovely activity about a Dragon Hunt (from
the classic Bear Hunt story). As you tell the story the
youngsters do the actions & repeat sections & lots
of fun is had by all. A bit of space is needed. A very good
younger learner book all round which you
can buy through:
Then there is the Dragon with a cold story.
A boiled down version is that the fearsome Dragon is miserable
because his cold is spoiling his fun - he can't burn down
houses, fight with knights or generally get up to mischief.
So he goes to see a wizard who says he can cure him with
a special potion (frogs legs, maggots - lots of horrible
things) only if he promises to turn over a new leaf &
put his fire-breathing to good use. He is so miserable he
reluctantly agrees & now instead of people running away
from him they smile & greet him, he helps with their
fires, cooking & heating & with his huge weight,
carries lots of things for them. And they live happily ever
The Monster vocabulary idea could be used
with a dragon - the dragon can breath the words out. See
Past Tips 44
A couple of dragon website links:
'This site is dedicated to Dragons; the ruler of the past
and who know, ruler of the present even if they hide in
shadow. Who has never felt a fascination for that most breathtaking
of creatures, the dragon? It is hard to believe that these
creatures have never existed when they are so present in
the people mind, in the past of the human history, from
the America to the Asia passing through Europe, all culture
have someday describe a creature that can, today, be identified
to a same living thing: a dragon. '
Your online dragon resource for everything you want to know
about dragons: Dragon history, dragon tattoos, dragon art,
pictures of dragons, as well as dragon links to find gifts,
collectables and figurines for the dragon lover in your
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The other day I came over the website DHMO.org
& a newspaper article about the site. DHMO stands for
'Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division' & the site warns
of all the dangers that dihydrogen monoxide poses. The introduction
to the web site for the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research
Division (DMRD), currently located in Newark, Delaware.
The controversy surrounding dihydrogen monoxide has
never been more widely debated, and the goal of this
site is to provide an unbiased data clearinghouse and
a forum for public discussion.
Explore our many Special Reports, including the DHMO
FAQ, a definitive primer on the subject, plus reports
on the environment, cancer, current research, and an
insider exposé about the use of DHMO in the dairy
The success of this
site depends on you, the citizen concerned about Dihydrogen
Monoxide. We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Without actually saying much,
the tone sounds a bit scary, no? An area that we should
be concerned about, it seems. Check out the site & then
read the article from the
Guardian Online below:
in the dihydrogen monoxide
Health-obsessed California's latest
environmental scare exposed dangerously high levels
of gullibility, reports Dan Glaister
Wednesday March 24, 2004
The city councillors of Aliso Viejo
in Orange County, California, are well-meaning, socially
responsible people. And when they came across the
huge threat posed to their constituents by dihydrogen
monoxide they did what any elected official should
do: they took steps to protect their community. A
motion due to go before the city legislature proposed
banning the potentially deadly substance from within
the city boundaries.
Researchers found that the presence of dihydrogen
monoxide in Aliso Viejo had reached startling levels:
it was present in its crude form, often spilling unmonitored
on to the city streets; it was found to be a crucial
ingredient in many common chemical compounds; its
presence was even detected in that most ubiquitous
of civilised artifacts, the styrofoam cup.
And it got worse: dihydrogen monoxide
is lethal if inhaled, causes severe burns in its gaseous
state, and is the major component in acid rain. Prolonged
exposure to solid dihydrogen monoxide can cause severe
tissue damage. It can, said the city council report,
"threaten human safety and health".
Fortunately for the concerned legislators,
the rat was smelt before it got as far as the debating
chamber. The perils of dihydrogen monoxide have been
ignored until now largely because it is better known
by its common name: water.
"It's embarrassing," said
city manager David Norman in an inspired act of buck-passing.
"We had a paralegal who did bad research."
The relieved styrofoam industry saw
it as a sign of environmental correctness run wild.
"The plastic industry has always been a favourite
target of environmentalists," Robert Krebs of
the American Plastics Council told the Los Angeles
Times. "But we dream about instances like this
when our opponents do something foolish."
So far, so amusing. But should this
bout of crankiness be filed under Crazy Californians
and their crazed correctness? Or is it another one
to pin on that old bogeyman, the internet?
Certainly, California is a cranky place,
cult centre of the universe, a self-made psychic at
every corner. And correctness of all shades - political,
environmental, whatever - can be exasperating and
not a little hypocritical: in Los Angeles there is
a surfeit of liquor stores yet the only thing anyone
seems to drink is sparkling dihydrogen monoxide, and
smokers are scared-looking furtive creatures, scurrying
about from pavement to pavement, avoiding the disapproving
stares of god-fearing, clean-living folk. LA is also
a city where total strangers have no qualms about
telling you just how you should be living your life,
in the friendliest, most unassuming way possible.
The dihydrogen monoxide hoax is the
result of a collaboration between the two prime suspects:
a zealously concerned paralegal faced with an authoritative-looking
spoof scientific website, dhmo.org, home to the Dihydrogen
Monoxide Research Division. The Californian proactive
social conscience - the social equivalent of current
US foreign policy - combined with the influence of
the internet was a recipe for confusion. The DHMO
website professes to offer "an unbiased data
clearing house and a forum for public discussion".
"The success of this site depends on you the
concerned citizen," says the introductory blurb.
It is, of course, absolute rubbish.
But it is convincing rubbish, plausible because it
feeds off and satisfies so many anxieties: about our
environment, about science, about the unknown, about
what we are doing to our bodies and ourselves. And
in California, the environment, the unknown and, above
all, the body - the, hairless, tummy-tucked body -
are what count.
Although not designed for an April Fool's
Day trick, it could fit nicely into a lesson this week as
it is 1st April, when according to tradition you can play
a trick on friends before 12.00 noon. In past years we have
had the following Tips:
Fool's Day Hoaxes - Lesson Plan
Stirring it up
Cognitive & Affective Confusion
So what to do with the DMHO material? Here's
1. As above, introduce the title of the site
& give out the introduction. Ask if anyone knows anything
about this. You may get the odd student who knows a bit
of chemistry - ask them to keep the secret!
2. Ask the students to draw up a list of questions
that they would like answers for - pairwork/small groups.
3. Handout the questions from the
FAQ page of the site - http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html
- the students check to see if they had any similar questions.
is Dihydrogen Monoxide?
Should I be concerned about Dihydrogen Monoxide?
Why haven't I heard about Dihydrogen Monoxide before?
What are some of the dangers associated with DHMO?
What are some uses of Dihydrogen Monoxide?
What is the link between Dihydrogen Monoxide and school
How does Dihydrogen Monoxide toxicity affect kidney
Are there groups that oppose a ban on Dihydrogen Monoxide?
Has the press ignored this web site and the Dihydrogen
Is it true that using DHMO improves athletic performance?
Can using Dihydrogen Monoxide improve my sex life?
What are the symptoms of accidental Dihydrogen Monoxide
What is a chemical analysis of Dihydrogen Monoxide?
What can I do to minimize the risks?
How can I find out more about Dihydrogen Monoxide?
4. As the FAQ page is quite long I should limit the sections
you use. Ask the students to match up the questions to the
Good question. Historically, the dangers of DHMO, for
the most part, have been considered minor and manageable.
While the more significant dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide
are currently addressed by a number of agencies including
FDA, FEMA and CDC, public awareness of the real and
daily dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide is lower than some
think it should be.
Critics of government often cite the fact that many
politicians and others in public office do not consider
Dihydrogen Monoxide to be a "politically beneficial"
cause to get behind, and so the public suffers from
a lack of reliable information on just what DHMO is
and why they should be concerned.
Part of the blame lies with the public and society at
large. Many do not take the time to understand Dihydrogen
Monoxide, and what it means to their lives and the lives
of their families.
Unfortunately, the dangers of DHMO have increased as
world population has increased, a fact that the raw
numbers and careful research both bear out. Now more
than ever, it is important to be aware of just what
the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide are and how we can
all reduce the risks faced by ourselves and our families.
Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless
chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen
Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or
simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the unstable radical
Hydroxide, the components of which are found in a
number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds
such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.
Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative
component in many thousands of deaths and is a major
contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in
damage to property and the environment. Some of the
known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are: Death due
to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
- Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO
causes severe tissue damage.
- Excessive ingestion produces a number
of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening
- DHMO is a major component of acid
- Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
- Contributes to soil erosion.
- Leads to corrosion and oxidation
of many metals.
- Contamination of electrical systems
often causes short-circuits.
- Exposure decreases effectiveness
of automobile brakes.
- Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous
tumors and lesions.
- Often associated with killer cyclones
in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere.
- Thermal variations in DHMO
are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather
you should be concerned about DHMO! Although the U.S.
Government and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
do not classify Dihydrogen Monoxide as a toxic or carcinogenic
substance (as it does with better known chemicals such
as hydrochloric acid and saccharine), DHMO is a constituent
of many known toxic substances, diseases and disease-causing
agents, environmental hazards and can even be lethal
to humans in quantities as small as a thimbleful.
Research conducted by award-winning U.S. scientist Nathan
Zohner concluded that roughly 86 percent of the population
supports a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Although his
results are preliminary, Zohner believes people need
to pay closer attention to the information presented
to them regarding Dihydrogen Monoxide. He adds that
if more people knew the truth about DHMO then studies
like the one he conducted would not be necessary.
|1. Why haven't I heard about
Dihydrogen Monoxide before?
|2. What is Dihydrogen Monoxide?
|3. What are some of the
dangers associated with DHMO?
|4.Should I be concerned
about Dihydrogen Monoxide?
5. You could then go on to analyse the genre
of the text - a citizen's awareness campaign. Ask the students
to look for clues to the genre.
6. Listening - read aloud the article from
the Guardian to the students - with the students listening
to see if any of the questions are being answered. Students
compare >> feedback - by now they should realise it
is a joke.
7. Second listening - this time the students
take notes on main points. Students compare >> feedback.
8. Follow up work - students design their
own scare campaign about an everyday substance or object.
Refer back to features discovered in stage 5.
9. Students put up their work on the walls
for all to view. All decide on the most convincing.
The above is clearly for the more advanced
learner but it all could be easily graded for lower levels.
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It used to be thought that the
difference between teaching advanced students & other
lower levels is the sprinkling of idioms into the lesson.
Nowadays a more sophisticated view might include some of the
More of an emphasis on
accuracy in all skills. Advanced students are quite
fluent , orally they can have a conversation with ease
but there are still lots of inaccuracies which need
sorting out. The same applies to the other skills.
- Advanced students need to be helped to see
their weak areas through the taping of activities &
playing back for analysis, & through their written work
with individualised comments.
- They need more sophisticated ways of saying
the things that they can already express. Rather than relying
on their stock language & strategies they need to be
motivated to incorporate new language. Areas such as intonation,
figurative language, coping in a wider range of genres &
the more obscure grammar area all need attending to.
- Lessons need to be more individualised, focussed
on helping individuals as advanced students are going to
have more disparate individual needs. This can be more time-consuming
but taking in different work for different individuals in
the group is very much welcomed as the students appreciate
your efforts to really help them develop.
Advanced teaching is a challenge but can
be very rewarding for all if efforts are directed towards
helping the learner progressing rather than simply maintaining
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the Past Teaching Tips