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Teaching Tips 68

A Place To Call Home


There's so much of it that is necessary that vocabulary should be at the top of our teaching lists. And as there is so much, it is very difficult to deal with each lexical item as comprehensibly as we want to. To deal well with each word depends on a series of considerations. Here is a short checklist:

Production or reception - is the word for productive use or simply for reception? If the latter, there won't be a need to look at the pronunciation, for example.

Written or spoken - is the item found mainly in written form, in mainly spoken or both? Determines the way you might practice it.


• how to get the meaning across?
• literal meaning v non-literal?
• multiple meaning?
• translation - a false friend?
• connotations? culturally defined?
• synonyms/antonyms?
• appropriacy: style & register?
• appropriate guide to meaning?


• part of speech? Different parts of speech will have their own considerations eg. multi-word verbs - transitive/intransitive - both, type number 1-4, un/separable...
• spelling?
• collocation?
• regular or irregular?


• number of syllables?
• main stress placement?
• secondary stress important?
• word stress rule worth pointing out?
• word family & stress shift?
• sound problems for the L1 of students?
• consonant clusters, silent letters, schwa...?
• easy or difficult to say = amount of pron. practice?

Written record - when will the students make a note of the vocabulary? Will you give a handout? Could this be in the form of a worksheet to make it more memorable & useful? And what information will they be recording?

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World Refugee Day 2004 poster





It's World Refugee Day on June 20th. Wherever you live these days the plight of refugees is an issue. Here's what the UN says:

'A place to call home: Rebuilding lives in safety and dignity - In 2004, World Refugee Day will focus on the search for, and implementation of, durable solutions for refugees. Based on the theme, "A place to call home: Rebuilding lives in safety and dignity", UNHCR will look at the challenges and hopes that accompany refugees in their search for a new home through voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement.'

'I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage & contributions of refugees past & present.'
Kofi Annan - United Nations Secretary General`

For the following activities you will need to get the material at these two links:

a. The 2004 World Refugee Day 2 page Leaflet - pdf download

b. And the Amnesty International Refugee roleplay - the rolecards are below

A procedure:

1. Introduce the idea of World Refugee Day on June 20th through the introduction from the UN about & the Kofi Annan quote. You could do this as a dictogloss activity for higher levels. Elicit local attitudes to refugees.

2. Brainstorm the lexical area, building up a spidergram on the board, getting the students to explain the words they offer.

Refugee, displaced person, exile, asylum seeker, refugee camp, boat people, asylum, transit camp……..

Get all to copy the spidergram down & clarify any problems.

3. Handout the leaflet, explaining it is about the 2004 Day. Looking just at the headings:

New Land, New Life
The solution for durable Solutions
Rebuilding Lives in Safety & Dignity
Coming Back
Putting Down Roots

Students discuss how these headings are related to the plight of refugees.

4. Students read quickly to see if their ideas are in the leaflet.

5. Comprehension task - get the students to write 6-8 questions about the content of the leaflet (this is only a Tip, after all) - give them an example if needed. Go round & help out, correcting any errors in their questions - they could do this in pairs.

6. Students swap questions for each other to answer - feedback to each other to check.

7. Discussion - any points they dis/agree with? Eg what do they think of the idea of encouraging refugees to return home as one of the durable solutions?

8. Roleplay - See the material in the Amnesty roleplay.

Set the roles, giving out the ideas' cards & in groups they think of more arguments they could use. See the roleplay for alternative ideas - it is written for native English speakers so have a think about what kind of language your students will need to carry out the roleplay.

The situation
"It is a dark, cold and wet night on the border between X and Y. A column of refugees has arrived, fleeing from the war in X. They want to cross into Y. They are hungry, tired and cold. They have no money, and no documents except their passports. The immigration officials from country Y have different points of view - some want to allow the refugees to cross, but others don't. The refugees are desperate, and use several arguments to try to persuade the immigration officials."

Monitor & take notes for feedback on language used.

Immigration officers' arguments and options:

You can use these arguments and any others you can think of:

  • They are desperate, we can't send them back.
  • If we will send them back we will be responsible if they are arrested, tortured or killed.
  • We have legal obligations to accept refugees.
  • They have no money, and will need state support. Our country cannot afford that.
  • Can they prove that they are genuine refugees? Maybe they are just here to look for a better standard of living?
  • Our country is a military and business partner of country X. We can't be seen to be protecting them.
  • Maybe they have skills which we need?
  • There are enough refugees in our country. We need to take care of our own people. They should go to the richer countries.
  • If we let them in, others will also demand entry.
  • They don't speak our language, they have a different religion and they eat different food. They won't integrate.
  • They will bring political trouble.

Before the roleplay, think about the following options:

  • Will you let all of the refugees across the border?
  • Will you let some across the border?
  • Will you split them up by age, profession, wealth...?
  • Will you do something else instead?
Refugees' arguments and options:

You can use these arguments and any others you can think of:

  • It is our right to receive asylum.
  • Our children are hungry, you have a moral responsibility to help us.
  • We will be killed if we go back.
  • We have no money.
  • We can't go anywhere else.
  • I was a doctor in my home town.
  • We only want shelter until it is safe to return.
  • Other refugees have been allowed into your country.

Before the roleplay, think about the following options:

  • Will you split up if the immigration officers ask you to?
  • Will you go home if they try to send you back?

There's a lot of material around that a quick search on Google uncovers - a couple of links:

World Refugee Day 2004 Posters Campaign

Listen to Refugee Voices in Real Audio Read Testimonials from Refugees

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Copy & Paste

I came across a short article the other day about plagiarising work at
university & thought it would make for a useful focus for a lesson.
Plagiarism & 'cheating' in exams is an interesting topic as attitudes are
very different from country to country. And at this time of year in Europe
with students swamped in exams......

Here's the article:


Plagiarising student sues university for negligence

Thursday May 27, 2004

A student who admitted plagiarising material for essays throughout his three-year degree is hoping to sue his university for negligence after he was caught out on the day before his final exam.

The University of Kent at Canterbury informed Michael Gunn earlier this month that a routine review of his work for an English degree had "revealed extensive plagiarism from internet sources". He will now leave the university without a degree, but with £11,000 of debt.

Mr Gunn, 21, said he was not aware that cutting and pasting material from the internet without attribution constituted plagiarism and maintains that the university failed to give proper guidance on acceptable research techniques.
He told the Times Higher Education Supplement: "I hold my hands up. I did plagiarise. But I always used the internet - cutting and pasting stuff and matching it with my own points. It's a technique I've used since I started the course and I never dreamt it was a problem."

The final examiners' meeting for the English department is scheduled for next week and today the university declined to comment on his case. But a spokeswoman said all students were given information about what constituted plagiarism "from day one". This was set out in a handbook from the English department and also the faculty handbook. She added that students were also encouraged to attend study skills workshops where plagiarism was explained.

But the student and his family feel aggrieved. Mr Gunn's mother, Elaine, said the family was looking for a lawyer to take up the challenge of a potentially landmark test case. "The university was happy to take his tuition fees over the last three years and fill a place on the course, but what about their obligations? Why were they not pointing out the pitfalls and why was their head in the sand for so long?"

In a previous case, later settled out of court, a student argued a university had not done enough to explain what plagiarism was, but in higher education - unlike schools - students are expected to be adults and read the handbooks.

A possible procedure:

The text is suitable for upper intermediate learners but if you want to
use it with lower levels you could simply tell the story, simplified, giving listening practice. Then you could move to the activities towards the end of the procedure below.

1. Put the headline on the board, explaining any vocab.

2. Ask students to discuss possible content for the article.

3. Hand out the article - cut up so that the need to order the article
logically - individual work >> paris compare.

4. Feedback - get the students to justify their orders - why one after the

5. A comprehension task to check - individuals >> pairs compare >> general feedback

1. How long had Michael been plagiarising work?
2. Why is he suing for negligence?
3. What do the university think?
4. What does his mother think?
5. What was the result of a previous case like this?

6. Language focus

Reporting verbs
a. Ask students to underline all examples of reporting verbs
b. Feedback (admitted, informed, said, maintains, told, declined to
comment, added, argued)
c. In pairs students discuss whether any of the reporting statements might
be put into direct speech& what would the direct speech be. Also get the
students to put the direct speech in to reported speech.
d. Feedback - any other their examples feel better than the original
& emphasis the stylistic point behind reporting.

Vocabulary - from the context, students work out a definition - some might already have cropped up earlier.

he was caught out
I hold my hands up
feel aggrieved
a potentially landmark test case
why were they not pointing out the pitfalls
and why was their head in the sand
settled out of course

Feedback - check on context, having definitions ready yourself.

7. Follow-up activities - response to the text:

General discussion on plagiarism & cheating in exams.

- Do you consider it OK to copy & paste from the internet?
- Have you ever cheated in an exam?
- Do you think it is wrong to cheat in an exam?
- What happens in your country if you are caught cheating in an exam?
- Do you think Michael Gunn deserves to be awarded his degree? And compensation?

Roleplay - roles:

university representative
Michael's lawyer
Michael's mother
an English lecturer at the university
a fellow student

Writing - letter to the newspaper editor about the case
A simple model might be:

course of action

You could have a homemade tape of the the different individuals involved in the case - maybe by way of setting up the roleplay.

This lesson plan also links nicely into the plan 'The Truth Is Out'.

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