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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 2; Issue 5; September 2000


Welcome to the 5th issue of HLT in 2000, to the September issue.

The major new feature which you will find at the "end" of the magazine, after Readers Letters, is a demonstration showcase for an interactive vocabulary learning activity, Mindgame. We are able to offer you this feature thanks to Clarity, a software company in Hongkong < www. clarity.com.hk > The beauty of this game is that it makes learning boring things like irregular verbs and the dates of battles really quite fun.

In the future it may be used in the Japanese primary school to help children make the jump from the relatively easy hiragana syllabic script to the much more complex ideograms, kanji. It could be used to help first year medical students learn the Greek words for all the bones and muscles in the body, which is a horrible memory chore.

While Mindgame is much more than a language game, it is ideal for learning new vocabulary using the obvious way: converting the mother tongue word into the target language one and vice-versa.

Under Major article you have a classic piece by Andrew Wright on story telling and its powerful place on the language teacher's tool-rack. Story-telling is central because the language-carrying text comes out of the mouth of an emotionally relevant person, the teacher, not off a page or a screen or in some other cold medium. Read Andrew's piece and see for yourself.

Ana Robles completes her two part article on Teacher in search of a metaphor, concluding that teacher as gardener is a lot healthier than the idea she discussed in the July issue, Teacher as hero. To get full value you need to read the two pieces together. The really exciting part of Ana's thesis is that we teachers can walk straight, unburdened with guilt, if we accept the teacher as gardener metaphor. A gardener teacher does not have an Atlas carrying the weight of the world complex, like the hero teacher. The gardener accepts that late frosts can destroy young plants, and the gardener teacher accepts that some students are and will continue unmotivated. She accepts the students' responsibility in learning the language. Very obvious, you may say, but why do some teachers ruin their lives with guilt?

Simon Marshall in his one pager Awareness and Attention, speaks to us from the tantalising simplicity and great complexity of the Gurdjieff tradition. You will be reading more things from this tradition over the next few issues.

Have you come across the brilliant drama work of Augusto Boal? Ian Reade, from Brazil, introduces his work to Teflers in Creative Vocabulary Teaching. Read Ian and watch your students turn into statues!

Do you work in a university and sometimes despair at the dry smugness of some of your colleagues, happy, ever so happy, with whatever it is they do? If so, then have a look at what Franz Andres has to say about Humanising University Studies through Creative Writing.

And there are excellent people in all corners of education, including universities. This issue's old exercise, Five bloody good Meals, was learnt many moons ago from Ron White of Reading University.

The first five of the Lesson Outlines are aimed at the primary teaching readers of HLT while the second five, offered to you by Marcial Boo, are for upper intermediate and advanced students with the intellectual ability to swim happily in Wittgenstein waters. I can see some German teachers using these activities with a 13th year Leistungs Kurs

Under Publications you will find a long review of Crying for Help- the No Blame approach to Bullying. Sometimes the humanistic way of doing something is sort of common sense but at other times the common sense approach is decidedly unuseful. In the case of dealing with bullying the authors of this book ask you to think beyond the easy siding with the victim approach, asserting that the No Blame way is the most humane and effective. They make out a very strong, practical case for this method.

HLT's Growth

When we started this web'zine 18 months ago I in no way foresaw that within a year and a half we would be visited by over 1000 readers per week. In the second week of September HLT registered 1,145 reader sessions. I am over the moon. My editorial work would be worth doing to inform 500 people over a year. Five hundred people fill half a good sized theatre and bring together huge brain power. 50,000 people over a 12 month period is a hundred times that. Wow!. Amphitheatre size!

Our Sister Journal

If you work as a head of Department, a teacher trainer or a D.O.S you might like to have a careful look at The Teacher Trainer, our sister journal. Tessa Woodward has edited this journal since its inception, 14 years ago, and has built up a stable of writers who are central figures in the TT area of the profession. For information on The Teacher Trainer, please contact

    [ trainer@pilgrims.co.uk ] attn Tessa Wooward

    or ring 00-44-1227-762111

    or fax 00-44-1227- 459027

    or write to Tessa / Pilgrims/Orchard St/ Canterbury/ CT2 8BF/ UK.

The November Issue of HLT

The next issue of the 'zine is being prepared by a large school in Montevideo, and will draw on writing talent from all over the Southern Cone of South America. The November 99 Issue had a strong Baltic flavour as it was edited from Gdansk in Poland. The November 2000 issue will taste of the South Atlantic, the Andes and the plains of Brazil. Bon Courage, Gustavo and your Uruguayan Editorial Team!

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