Volume I - October 1, 2003

Welcome to the E-Comp! - a complimentary monthly newsletter brought to you by Prolinguistica.com.


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New Publication from Prolinguistica!!!

A Second Language Classroom that Works! By Joan Christopherson

Joan Christopherson, retired French teacher, and TPR consultant, has produced a wonderful guide to creating a comprehension-based language program that really works, not just for the top students, but for everyone. This book is a template for a TPR program, FULL of great information and powerful teaching strategies.

Table of Contents:

Why Do We Learn Our Native Language So Easiy And How Can We Approximate That Process In The Classroom? Looks at listening-comprehension, comprehensible input, getting started with TPR, using manipulatives and realia, expanding on commands, error correction, translation vs. meaning, participation.

Fine, But When Do They Start To Speak The New Language? The natural progression, using the roll call to move into speaking, teach syntax, grammatical structures, idiomatic expressions, you name it!

Vocabulary, Vocabulary, Vocabulary! Numerous ways to build vocabulary with games, “flash” cards that actually work and are fun for students, story telling…

Games And Activities That Enhance Learning A number of highly effective games for the classroom

Imagination And The Power Of Pictures Using pictures to build vocabulary and transition to reading, how drawing can be used to teach, to review and to assess, the power of your students’ imagination

Moving Students From Listening And Speaking To Reading And Writing When and how to start, meaning vs. completing the assignment, reading activities and games that engage students, transitioning to writing, more uses for pictures and drawings, students writing stories.

“But, What About Grammar?” They Wail Getting away from direct grammar instruction, teaching tenses and syntax without stress.

A Second Language Classroom That Works! will be available from Prolinguistica starting November 15, 2003. Pre-order via email now (accounts@prolinguistica.com) and receive the book for the introductory price of $16.95 (plus shipping and handling) through December 31, 2003.


Update on 2004 TPR and ELL Workshops - Not lookin' good yet...

To date, we don’t have 4-day workshops scheduled for summer of 2004. You all know why ­ financial pressures on schools and school districts mean that staff development funding is in some areas frozen, and in many others, very restricted. We’re keeping an eye on the economy, just like all of you, and are hoping for the “recovery” to extend into the education community! Cross your fingers. Meanwhile, we are working hard on other possibilities, possibly for the coming spring. We’ll keep you posted!


Interested in an e-mail exchange for your students?

IECC is a free teaching.com service to help teachers link with partners in other cultures and countries for email classroom pen-pal and other project exchanges. Approximately 21,000 teachers from 82 different countries have used this tremendous service over the past 10 years. The IECC service has successfully fulfilled over 220,000 classroom project introductions. At last count more than 7650 teachers were participating in one or more of the IECC lists

The existing IECC service primarily operates using email Listserve technologies. This was the ideal technology for operating the IECC service when it was founded in 1992. Today 85 percent of all IECC members use the website to post, search and discuss ideas for projects. The remaining 15 percent are performing these functions via email. A large number of IECC members are receiving email digests containing the entire list of project postings. I’ve used IECC myself. My students loved having e-pals, and their writing improved dramatically! Though the kids have moved on, and I’m no longer in the classroom, my very first IECC partner in Barcelona, Spain still stays in touch with me ­ a lasting and very gratifying relationship!

For more information and to sign up go to: http://www.iecc.org/

The IECC lists:

For teachers in primary and secondary classrooms who are seeking partner schools.

For teachers in higher education who are seeking partner schools.

For teachers and 50+ aged volunteers seeking intergenerational exchanges.

IECC-Discussion Forums
General discussion about issues related to the use of email in intercultural classroom connections.

For students and teachers looking to gather information and opinions from a global audience.


Resources you might be interested in….

MIT List of Radio Stations on the Internet
Address: URL: http://wmbr.mit.edu/stations/list.html
Description: Organized geographically, this page allows you to search for national and international radio stations the broadcast live on the Internet.
Grade levels: 6-8, 9-12, 13-16 Type of entity: instructional materials web site
Topic(s): curriculum materials, second language acquisition
Language(s): All

You can also find international radio stations on the internet at http://www.comfm.com/

Address: URL: No Web site
Description: ESPAN-L is a list for teachers and speakers of Spanish. Discussion includes a wide range of topics from cultural notes to grammatical points.
To subscribe: send the message SUBSCRIBE ESPAN-L YOURFIRSTNAME YOURLASTNAME to listserv@vm.tau.ac.il
Grade levels: PreK, K-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13-16
Type of entity: listserv

Internet Activities for Foreign Language Classes
Address: URL: http://www.clta.net/lessons/
Description: Internet Activities for Foreign Language Classes offers suggestions for using the Web in foreign language classes. The site provides information on writing activities, reading strategies, Internet options in the classroom, and a comprehensive list of favorite URLs.
Grade levels: 6-8, 9-12, 13-16
Type of entity: instructional materials web site
Topic(s): curriculum materials, less commonly taught languages, second language acquisition, technology
Language(s): French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish

Lesson Plans and Resources for ESL, Bilingual, and Foreign Language Teachers
Address: URL: http://www.csun.edu/~hcedu013/eslindex.html
Description: Lesson Plans and Resources for ESL, Bilingual and Foreign Language Teachers provides links to lesson plans, job announcements, professional associations, and educational standards and frameworks.
Grade levels: 9-12
Type of entity: instructional materials web site
Topic(s): bilingual education, curriculum materials, FLES
Language(s): all


For your reading pleasure….

Accents in the News! - How often have you fretted over your own accent or the mangled accents your students produce? Here are a couple of articles on accents. Not directly applicable to the classroom, they both nonetheless provide a little perspective…

Accents have advantages
A foreign tongue can be easier to understand in the mouth of a non-native.
Found at
: http://www.nature.com/nsu/030901/030901-12.html 8
September 2003
Philip Ball

People speaking English as a second language find each other just as intelligible as they do native English speakers, US linguists have found. The effect works regardless of the speaker's mother tongue.

It isn't hard to see why a Korean, say, might find another Korean's English easier to follow than an English person's. The two share a phonetic vocabulary lacking some of the vocal effects that render the language alien in a native's mouth. A foreign accent hinders a native but helps a fellow non-native.

But what about speakers with different first languages? One might suspect that only some languages, like Korean and Chinese, or Spanish and Italian, share sounds that help their mutual intelligibility. But that doesn't seem to be so.

Instead, there may be features of the target language that all non-natives omit, suggest Tessa Bent and Ann Bradlow from Northwestern University in Illinois1. American English speakers often fail to sound consonants at the ends of words clearly, for example, making it hard for non-natives to tell one word from another.

Received pronunciation
It is often claimed that two non-natives communicate more easily in a second language than either would with someone born speaking that language. That's to say, Romanians might find Romanian-accented English more intelligible than native English.

But there's been little hard evidence to support this. What's more, little is known about what happens when non-native talkers have different first languages, says Bent and Bradlow.

The duo assembled a veritable Babel from students at an American summer school for learning English. Their subjects included Chinese, Koreans, Bengalis, Hindi speakers, Japanese, Romanians, Slovakians, Spaniards and Thais, as well as American English speakers.

Participants took turns speaking and listening. They were recorded saying simple English phrases such as 'The dog came back', and assessed for their intelligibility.

As long as the proficiency of the speakers was not too low, non-natives found each other at least as intelligible as native English speakers, regardless of whether they shared a first language, Bent and Bradlow found. Natives found each other more intelligible than non-natives, just as one would suspect.

1. Bent, T. & Bradlow, A. R. The interlanguage speech intelligibility benefit. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114, 1600 - 1610, (2003).
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003


Bloody Sticky Wicket: Americans in Britain Often Blow the Accent
Found at: http://online.wsj.comarticle0,,SB106487086393455400,00.html?mod=home%5Fpage%5Fone%5Fus

LONDON -- For years, Loyd Grossman appeared on a popular TV game show with Sir David Frost. He married the daughter of "Chariots of Fire" film producer Lord David Puttnam. And as a celebrity chef, he has a big-selling line of spaghetti sauces. Mr. Grossman, undeniably, is a British success story. Except when he opens his mouth.

"It's like, 'Hi, my accent is really mangled and I don't know where I am, it's like I'm in the middle of the Atlantic,' " says Suzanne Levy, a British TV producer. Adds Paul Foulkes, a professor of linguistics at University of York, "Oh, God yes. Horrendous."

Mr. Grossman, an American who grew up in Massachusetts, has, to many British ears, a fake British accent. He's not the only one, either. After buying a home in London and marrying British film director Guy Ritchie, Madonna went British, too, at least over here. So have many less-notable Americans.

Some attempt a complete linguistic makeover. Others merely start saying "bloody," "cheers" and "indeed" a lot -- often to the amusement of Britons. "Sometimes an American will be speaking completely in an American accent and they'll say 'when I went and had a bahth,' " says Ms. Levy. "What?"

The irony, says Khalid Aziz, a British communications specialist, is that "the British actually quite like American accents and find it quite highly associated with success in business." His company, Aziz Corp., recently completed a survey that found that 47% of British business directors interviewed considered executives with an American accent more successful than those from many British regions.

"What we advise Americans to do is not try to give up their American accent, but stick with it," he says.

The trouble for adult Americans in Britain, language experts say, is that because of changes in the brain, only young children can fully master a new accent. "If a kid moves to a new area after 14, that kid will never sound like he or she belongs to that area," says Jack Chambers, a professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto who for two years studied the accents of English-speaking Canadians who had moved to southern England. Experts call the phenomenon of adjusting one's accent to new surroundings "linguistic accommodation." Some of it occurs subconsciously, with people "just responding to what they hear around them," says Dr. Foulkes, who notes that vocabulary usually is the first to change since that's easier to do.

Whether one goes further, and begins to change the pronunciation of words, depends on a variety of hard-to-measure factors, especially attitude. Many Americans view British accents -- at least the ones they hear on television, in films and on the radio -- as more sophisticated, cultured and prestigious than theirs. That may be because, even though there actually are a multitude of different British accents, Americans are most familiar with "proper" accents such as the so-called Oxbridge variety, associated with Oxford and Cambridge universities and uttered by people such as actor Hugh Grant.

Upon moving to Britain, some Americans can't seem to resist the temptatio to adopt a British accent, even if they're doomed to failure. "They're sending out a signal of some kind," says Dr. Chambers. "It may be insecurity -- they want to fit in, they want to be part of the scene. It may be alienation from the homeland -- they're feeling a little down on the politics at home. It may be as simple as they want to sound like they're hosting 'Masterpiece Theater.'"

Still, there's also a whole camp of Americans here who do resist, some actively. Unlike Madonna, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who spends a lot of time in London, so far hasn't been overheard mimicking her boyfriend, singer Chris Martin, of the British rock band Coldplay. Brian Henderson, an American investment banker who has lived in London for three years, says he wouldn't think of switching. "The last thing you want to do is try to be pretentious and pick up a British accent," he says. "It's so obvious."

On the other extreme, there's writer and National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon, a native New Yorker. He confesses that he attempted to mimic a British accent even before he moved to Britain in the 1980s to go to Cambridge. "I find that it's very useful to have lived in Britain because it gives me a good excuse to have the same affected accent I had in the first place," he says, adding, "I think I had some notion that it was grand and aristocratic and since I was not going to distinguish myself athletically, I thought I would distinguish myself with my enunciation."

Mr. Solomon doesn't even purport to sound like a true Brit. "What I have really is a mid-Atlantic accent. I would say it hovers above Greenland, and so people in the U.S. always say, 'Oh, you're British,' and people in Britain say, 'Oh, you're American.' Nobody claims me as their own." But he says there's no going back. Even though at times he has thought to himself, "This really is silly. I should really sound more American," he says, "it would take such an enormous self-conscious effort to sound profoundly American again, then that seems affected." Besides, he adds, his speech isn't nearly as affected as Mr. Grossman's. Says Mr. Solomon: "His accent is so ridiculous, it makes me sound like a hardy stalwart from Brooklyn."

Mr. Grossman declined to comment for this article. Madonna -- who drew snickers two years ago when she announced the winners of the Turner Prize art competition in a distinct British accent -- also declined to comment.

But her spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, wrote in an e-mail, "She does naturally pick up on languages and sounds of people around her or a country she may be residing in for awhile. It's certainly not meant as an affect . ... When she's back in New York for awhile, she gets right into the New Yawk sound."

What about Britons who move to America? Do they want to sound American? "When I open my mouth, people say, 'Oh, my gosh. You're English. That's so nice,' " says Julie Kleyn, a Briton who lives in Concord, Mass. "So why should I change my accent?"

Her three sons, on the other hand, quickly adopted American accents when they moved to the U.S. three years ago, but only when speaking among their friends. "My parents said the same thing of me," says Mrs. Kleyn. "When I was in second grade in Florida, I would speak English at home and walk into the next room where there were friends and speak American to them." This is typical of children because they "don't want to be different," says Dr. Foulkes.

Ms. Levy, who recently moved from London to New York, says she has begun adopting some American expressions "because, frankly, I can't take that look of total incomprehension when I know that I speak the language better than anyone in this country."

She says "one of the biggest changes is if I'm in London and I'm trying to hail a taxi, I say, 'Excuse me! Excuse me!' Whereas here I have to say the really embarrassing, 'Yo!' "


Got a great teaching idea you’d like to share? Send it in to Laura's attention at e-comp@prolinguistica.com and we’ll publish it in the newsletter, giving you credit for your brilliance! YOU can make this a really outstanding newsletter!!


Please excuse any typos you find!!! Any volunteer proofreaders out there? Have a great month!


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