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Teaching Tips 159

Advancing 2
Email myths


Advancing 2

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 following:

  • 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 may be over-reliant on communication strategies leading to fossilisation ie. the students can cope with the language they have by working round unknown language & as a result there is no need to push forward to learn new things. This leads to stagnation in their learning, sometimes called 'fossilisation'. Working with advanced learners is helping them expand their language & skills accuracy, rather than relying on what they already have. The very fact that they come to class means that fossilisation is reduced.
  • 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.
    Another way of helping them see this is to take a Test-Teach-Test approach. With a given language area, give the students a discussion or roleplay in which they could use the language area - the first Test, see how they get on, get them to reflect on how they did, review & expand the language area together with some controlled practice the Teach bit, & then give them a similar discussion or roleplay for them to use the newly expanded language - the second Test stage. This way they can see how the language focus in the middle is very relevant to their needs.
  • 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.
    During speaking tasks, train the students to take notes on things that they would have liked to have said better. In the feedback after, elicit these instances & help them out with newer, more sophisticated language.
  • 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, sometimes called an 'individualised lesson', is very much welcomed as the students appreciate your efforts to really help them develop.
    Help them outside of the class by recommending resources such as web pages, grammar books, specialised material for 'meetings', presentations etc.
    Mini-presentations work well with advanced students. Get them to think of an area that they know lots about eg. designing a web page, how a mobile phone works, how a car engine works - I find that it works better if they are connected to a hobby rather than work, but let them choose. When they have chosen an area, they then prepare a short 5-10 minute presentation to the other members of the class. This means doing some research & preparation at home. They can bring in their work-in-progress for you to help them out & give them direction. Then, once a week, a student gives a presentation, followed by a question time stage. This way the students teach each other not only about real world knowledge but the English that goes with it.
  • Get them reading in English outside of class. Recommend readers or novels & start a project where they periodically swap books & summaries. Careful about what you recommend as the material shouldn't be too challenging as it will simply put them off.
    Set up an online place to meet - Moodle is great for this - contact us if you would like to do this with your students. There you can post a variety of links & materials for the students to follow up in their own time.

Advanced teaching is a challenge but is very rewarding for all when efforts are directed towards helping the learner progressing rather than simply maintaining their level.

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World Cup logo '10

World Football

The World Cup in South Africa is in full swing & it's hard to ignore so why not join in. I've got Serbia in the sweepstake (dark horses maybe) but I'm going to be rooting for Spain who have an incredible team.
A good place to begin for material is the official Fifa website:

This time round watching the tournament has become much more digital. Here are some websites to explore for yourself & for material for your classes:

17 Best Websites To Watch FIFA World Cup 2010 Live Online For Free

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa: The Ultimate Guide To Digital Delight

How to make the most of the World Cup: Apps, Web sites, podcasts and more!

Did Twitter exist four years ago?
Collated tweets about the world Cup - click on a flag to limit the tweets.

'World Cup 2010 Twitter replay - Follow our high-speed replay of the World Cup and find out how Twitter reacted to every game.'

As a project, it would be interesting to explore the sites mentioned above & the students work out which are the best sites for watching the games, staying informed.
If you have computers in your classroom, do it during the class. If not set homework tasks based on this.

Some other sites:

A few lesson ideas:

- general vocab: team, pitch, referee, linesmen, club, stadium, player (goalkeeper, defender/back, mid-field, attacker/forward/striker, winger), captain, manager, penalty, score a goal, win, lose, draw, free/penalty/goal kick, full/extra/half time, sub, to book someone, to/a tackle, to/a foul, pass/kick/head/cross/save the ball, a header, a throw in, a corner, offside.
Golossary of terms:

- with cuisenaire rods, teach the positions putting out different colours for the different schemes - 4-4-2, 5-4-1 - then the students decide on their favourite national selection in pairs, each with a selection of rods. On deciding, they show other pairs their decision & justify their choice of players. Do the same for their dream team.

- comparisons of the strengths & weaknesses of the different teams >> predictions on which will make it through to the semis, final & win - language of probability.

- discuss highlights of each match with the short videos from Fifa:
Combine with present simple for commentaries, teach & then students write their own dream commentary, read out for all in style of an exciting match.

- World Cup stats - put the groups & matches on the wall & fill in each lesson, all commenting on how they feel it went.

- reading scores - England 2, Spain 6 - rising on first part & falling on the second.

- posters - make for their favourite team. This idea of students providing a 'product' at the end of discussions encourages their original discussions to be of better quality. As the students know their colleagues will view their results, they will work harder in producing the poster.

- An introductory text to be used as a straightforward dictation or a dictogloss by way of leading into the theme. Use all or part to suit:

The FIFA World Cup, also called the Football World Cup or the Soccer World Cup, but usually referred to simply as the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the first tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not contested because of World War II.

The current format of the tournament involves 32 teams competing for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about a month – this phase is often called the World Cup Finals. A qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, is used to determine which teams qualify for the tournament together with the host nation(s).

During the 18 tournaments that have been held, seven national teams have won the title. Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. Italy, the current champions, have won four titles, and Germany are next with three titles. The other former champions are Uruguay, winners of the inaugural tournament, and Argentina, with two titles each, and England and France, with one title each.

For dictogloss/high speed dictations, see:

- Anti-World Cup - ideas on alternative things to do while everyone is glued to the TV. Debates on value of the WC - for & against.

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Email myths

Everyone has received lots of email spam for some time now & spam filters are getting better at catching them so we don't actually have to read them most of the time. I personally use GMail & it seems to do a good job. You can train it to catch spam the next time a similar email comes in.
The Independent newspaper published ten well known email stories this Sunday. Here are the titles - have you heard of them?

a. McDonald's Ball Pit Death

b. Did you drop this?

c. Hotel key card security risk

d. Mentos + Coke = Death

e. Teresa Fidalgo

f. Don't flash your lights

g. Kidney Thieves

h. The greatest gift

i. Cookie Monster

j. Killer texts

Now match them with the brief descriptions:

Read this or die! Dispelling some
classic email myths


Warning: Hotel key cards retain personal information such as your name, address, room number and credit card details. The hotel only removes the data when the card is next used so employees could have access to your details.


A women and two men take a car trip to the mountains in Portugal. One of them is recording the trip on a camera and they spot a hitchhiker and pick her up. She states that she hasn't been the same since her accident...and points out a spot on the road where she says she died. She then screams at the camera, but her face is now scarred and bloodied, and the car crashes.


This is the story of a mother and daughter who eat cookies at a Neiman Marcus store, and then ask for the recipe. The waitress tells them they can have it for 'two-fifty.' Later, when she sees the charge on her card, she realizes that she has been charged $250, but the customer-service representative refuses to refund her money, because the company's recipe is so valuable that it cannot be distributed cheaply. So, to get her revenge she emails out the recipe.


Warnings circulating in Egypt claimed that people have suffered fatal brain haemorrhages after receiving a 'killer' mobile phone text message from 'unknown foreign quarters' containing a special combination of numbers.


Messages circulated warning Facebook users not to join the group titled 'becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life' because it is operated by a group of paedophiles attempting to access your photographs.


A warning was emailed informing women that a serial killer was asking women (who had just got into their car after purchasing something in a shop) if they dropped a five-pound note, to gain access into their cars.


The message warns drivers not to flash their lights if they see a car driving a night without theirs on. It is claimed that a new gang member is driving the car operating without lights as part of an initiation ceremony and those who signal the driver will be followed and shot at by the gang member to complete their initiation.


The email forward claims that 3-year-old Kevin Archer died after being pricked by a heroin filled hypodermic needle left in a McDonald's ball pit, after the mother demanded the pit to be examined and rotten food, several hypodermic needles: some full, some used; knives, half-eaten candy, diapers, and the stench of urine were found.


The email claims that children have died after consuming Diet Coke and Mentos together, including photographs of the violent reaction that occurs when Diet Coke and Mentos are combined.


A popular urban-scare, the email claims that medically trained criminals are stealing kidneys from living victims to sell on the black market. It generally stated that someone has a drink with a stranger, goes back with them somewhere and wakes up in a tub full of ice, minus one or both kidneys.

Here are the answers:

1. c - 2. e - 3. i - 4. j - 5. h
6. b - 7. f - 8. a - 9. d - 10. g

Do you think any are true stories?

All false of course. Here is some extra information on each:

1. This myth has been doing the rounds for years and has seen a recent resurgence. In modern hotels they don't actually keep personal information on key cards.

2. This is sent around claiming it's the anniversary of her death and she will pay a visit unless you pass it on.

3. Apparently the store doesn't have that recipe, and the story has been circulating since the 1940s; there is another version for the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, featuring a recipe for a Red Velvet Cake.

4. There were also rumours in 2007 in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where a hoax message that warned mobile phone users that receiving calls from certain numbers could lead to fatal brain haemorrhages due to 'very high wave length and frequency'.
Authorities in both countries again moved quickly to dismiss the rumours and four men were subsequently arrested for starting the hoax.

5. There isn't actually a Facebook group like this though, only similar groups to mock the prank.

6. The original version began when a real murderer in Louisiana was arrested in 2003, but there was never any proof to suggest he had used this tactic.

7. Police have however reassured the public that no such crimes have been reported in London.

8. This message is a hoax that has been circulating for more than a decade as there are no credible reports that confirm this actually happened.

9. Although the reaction is real, there aren't any valid reports of deaths occurring because of it.

10. According to America's National Kidney Foundation, no credible reports of such incidents have ever been recorded.

This would make for some interesting class material. The language is fairly straightforward - edit it to suit different levels. It would also provide lots of speaking practice, (as well as helping out the more gullible of the group!).
You could treat the text just as the above - discuss & predict from the headings > match to the description > possibly look at some language in the texts > discuss whether true or false > onto the discussion questions below.
Or the different stories could be handed out, one or two to each student, they read & work on them, & then into a jigsaw task with all mingling & sharing their stories to find the most interesting, most unbelievable etc - a communicative purpose to the information exchange.
And then onto looking at writing emails. Choose a topic that would suit the students, eg. writing about personal news to a friend, give them a model to analyse & then onto them writing their own emails.
It might be a logical continuation for the students to have some fun & write their own tongue-in-cheek spam email. Spam is such a nuisance that some, myself included, might find it a bit of overkill & rather silly, but so long as all understood what a bane it is, then it could be fun.

A few discussion questions:

1. Do you know of any other spam emails like this?

2. How many emails do you send each day? each week?

3. Do you like receiving & sending emails?

4. Do you ever read spam emails, even though you know it is spam?

5. Are you a member of a social network such as Facebook or Tuenti?

6. If yes, how long do you spend on it each day? each week?

7. What else do you use the internet for?

8. In total, how long do you spend on the internet each week?

9. How would you feel if you didn't have access to the internet?

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