TEFL Newsletter – February



2020 was a leap year with 29 days in February, the final day being the traditional time when women can propose marriage, a tradition believed to have originated in 5th Century Ireland following a complaint by Saint Bridget to Saint Patrick. According to legend, Saint Patrick ordained that marriage-desirous women could propose on this one day in February during a leap year.

As for the Olympics, it is worth remembering when China revised its laws to protect women’s rights – “It is the first law in China specifically enacted to safeguard women’s legitimate rights and interests, to promote equality between men and women and to enable women to play an active role in society, and millions of women have benefited from it” (Prof. Wu Changzhan).

On both counts, the times they are a-changing.


A frequent source of frustration with students of phonetics is coping with the stress-related pronunciation of English, its seemingly arbitrary productive system defying the rules of oral engagement which often hallmark other world languages.

Good pronunciation stems from good listening, and there can be no finer source than the radio for models. Those students based in the UK could do worse than tune in regularly to Radio4 for a variety of accents and programmes; those abroad have the BBC World Service at their fingertips.

Whatever source you choose, let the sounds wash over you and be alive to the appropriate stresses in isolation and then contextualize them as the expression of prominent words.

Active listening is fast becoming a dying art, keen as we all are to make ourselves heard, but a keen ear for detail will soon produce the selective stresses that convey the true import of our words and feelings.


For Baron Lytton, “the pen is mightier than the sword”; for all writers the brain works faster than the hand, the consequence being that we do not always write down what we think we have written. The value of proof-reading is to compensate for this disparity when the mind’s concentration is focussed on reading and checking.

Worksheets that have not been spellchecked or have been written in haste will undoubtedly influence any marker, almost inevitably when the candidates are or hope to become practising teachers, who by the very nature of their work should insist their students re-read work before it is submitted.

Sauce for the goose …….


One of my leisure time pursuits is creative writing, in the execution of which I write football reports for the Durham City AFC web page.

A lesson packed with geographical and cultural awareness, pair/group dynamics, phonetics and pronunciation centres on the fixtures for the next round of Premiership football games.

Pairs/groups are required to plan the road journey for the away fans via or avoiding motorways as the case may be.

Once the routes have been established and agreed in plenary session, the spelling and phonetic transcription of the team names can be practised.

A review of the current League tables and a summary of the latest results can give practice in numerical expressions – the times of the goals, the attendance, the final score, League position – to facilitate both cardinal and ordinal number statements.

More advanced classes could describe the team colours, research the significance of the club nicknames and the origin of the grounds’ respective names and even the meaning of the Latin mottos (see Everton, Blackburn, Tottenham and Newcastle for examples).

Ken Milgate
Chief Examiner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *