Principled Eclecticism

September 3rd, 2015

According to Michael Swan, when teaching grammar,

we should reject nothing on doctrinaire grounds:

* deductive teaching through explanations and examples,
* inductive discovery activities,
* rule-learning,
* peer-teaching,
* decontextualised practice,
* communicative practice,
* incidental focus on form during communicative tasks,
* teacher correction and recasts,
* grammar games,
* corpus analysis,
* learning rules and examples by heart
— all of these and many other traditional and
non-traditional activities have their place, depending on the point being taught, the learner and the context.

Source: TEACHING GRAMMAR – DOES GRAMMAR TEACHING WORK? (Modern English Teacher 15/2, 2006)

The Cambridge Scale – Convert Cambridge Exam Results into IELTS band scores and backwards

July 2nd, 2015

Protected: 1001 ELT CASE STUDIES * CASE 2 – My students just won’t use all these linking words or new vocab when answering discussion questions … What shall I do? – Use them yourself. Respond to the questions first. Be a good model answer provider.

June 27th, 2015

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June 23rd, 2015

a NY T article

Protected: 1001 ELT CASE STUDIES * CASE 1 – How to think of a good warm-up activity to start all my lessons over the next term in ONE HOUR or LESS? – Use threads.

June 20th, 2015

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10 Grammar Rules Revisited – they are sometimes OK to break

August 17th, 2014

There are several grammarians and linguists that are always exciting to read and listen to, and Steven Pinker is definitely one of them. His article in the Guardian revisits 10 most important grammar rules. It is surely worth reading

Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style: the Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century is published next month (Allen Lane, £16.99). To order it for £13.59 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to

The Nile ELT Glossary of ELT Terms

July 10th, 2014

Lots of ELT Terms are explained thoroughly and clearly at

Writing & Punctuation – 10 Common Mistakes

April 7th, 2014

Pronunciation Insights – Aunt, adult, pajamas: Why can’t we agree how to pronounce common words?

February 12th, 2014

QUOTE  Aunt, adult, pajamas: Why can’t we agree how to pronounce common words?

Call it the problem of toilet-paper-roll words

By James Harbeck | February 10, 2014
How do you pronounce each of the following words? And is there another correct way to pronounce them?

adult, address, almond, amen, arctic, aunt, banal, Caribbean, diabetes, either, envelope, harassment, herb, homage, mayonnaise, neither, niche, nuclear, pajama, potato, produce (as in produce department), schedule, tomato, Uranus

Read more – URL

IELTS past papers, book 9 – where do the practice texts come from?

February 11th, 2014

Those who are studying for IELTS frequently wonder where most of the practice tests originally come from. That is a rather easy question to answer if you have the time to read all the fine print and acknowledgements.

Let us examine Book 9, for instance:

Some of texts there come from newspapers and magazines, such as

  • the Guardian
  • Focus Magazine
  • the Times

Yet, quite a few are adaptations from books, for example:


IELTS 9 adapts some texts from the 2nd Edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language by David Crystal (the link above will take you to the page where the 3rd edition is available – I guess that if someone wants to acquire a copy of a book like this, they should go for the most recent edition available). In the same way, I was not able to trace the right edition of the Energy Outlook, but I imagine that if the aim is to learn some vocabulary on the topic, it does not really matter which edition of this type of publication it is.

It is also interesting to note that some texts, including the one about Marie Curie, are adapted from the renowned Encyclopedia Britannica. It can be argued, therefore, that drawing on this fundamental body of knowledge might well be a good idea when exploring such topics as “distinguished scholars and scientists”.

Although it is difficult to argue that reading off paper usually feels greater than doing this off the screen, my recommendation is to get yourself some Britannica Software if the purpose is to use this encyclopedia as a point of reference:

Some of the texts referred to in the Acknowledgements section seem to be unavailable via , so it might be a good idea to explore similar titles.  IELTS Book 9 features an adaptation from a United Nations report about some of the youngest and oldest countries for 2000 and 2050 . The broader focus of the text must be on “population statistics” , so an encyclopedia covering such a topic may well serve as a source of extra reading assignments:

Not all texts are from books and the news media, some are from regular websites that feature quality content.  As a case in point, texts discussing dress codes and other employment issues are originally from such internet sites as

  • (dress codes)
  •  (benefits)
  • (educational credential evaluation)

It should also be noted that the topics of Space Exploration and Robotics are getting more and more attention in IELTS Preparation Materials. There is a text adapted from Ray P. Norris’s “Is there anybody out there?” in one of the academic tests, and the text itself is originally from the October 1993 edition of the Current Affairs Bulletin published by Australia Telescope National Facility .

Regrettably, I have not been able to trace anything remotely similar to Norris’s text, but I have stumbled upon a most interesting read about Planetary Defense (!) by the same publisher. I am not sure it could be very useful for IELTS , but I would definitely want to read it for personal development for the title is most engaging and reminds of all kinds of sci-fi films , such as “Star Wars”.