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Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching
Humanising Language Teaching

Letter 1

Dear Hania

I was completely gutted when I read about Michael's death in your August issue. When I read the cover letter I thought at first that he had just decided to move on and work on something else. But then when I looked up Mojca's article, I was devastated.

The last time I saw Michael was years back in Harrogate, though it only seems like yesterday. There had been a time, when I was still at home in London, when we saw each other regularly. After I left Poland, I more or less lost touch with everyone including Michael. I had first met him at a conference in Cyprus and we became good buddies there. It wasn't until we got back to Heathrow from that trip and he had trouble shifting his luggage that I realized the severity of his heart problems. He seemed to be managing well but I realize in fact that everything must have been a struggle for him. What a fantastic person he was. What a great loss. After I read the article I kept thinking that I wanted to call him up or write to him, say goodbye and all that. What a shock. Poor Michael. I'm just coming to terms with the idea that I'll never see him again. When we're in someone's company and they're so alive, it's difficult to accept that they are no more. When you're there in the moment with someone, you don't ever imagine that fifteen years down the line death will happen - that's how long ago it was that I first met Michael, but I still see him so clearly.

(…) Yes, terribly sad. In his writing he was prolific and immensely imaginative. With people he was sensitive, spiritual, supportive and insightful. He engaged totally with those around him and he would be filled with remorse if he ever felt he had failed to reach someone. A major loss to us all professionally and on a very personal level. (…)

Janet Olearski

PS. It's not very polished. I just read the news and felt I had to write to you immediately.

Letter 2

Hi Hania,

How are you? I hope everything is going well. I wanted to share a new resource with you that I think will be an excellent companion to the resource I had shared with you previously. You can find the new resource here:

Online PhD Programs for English

This site features all the available English PhD programs in the U.S including the available scholarships that can help students finance their education. This information is very valuable to students and their families who can also access information on the costs of a competitive PhD program.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. It would be a huge honor to see the resource on your site, being shared and utilized by those who could benefit from it. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you

Victoria Baker

Letter 3

What does marriage mean to you?

Macmillan Dictionary's definition of marriage to include same-sex couples

Macmillan Dictionary’s new content update includes a revised definition of marriage, following recent legislative changes which allow same-sex couples to marry.

Editor-in-Chief Michael Rundell, who is due to appear as a studio guest in Stephen Fry’s radio show Fry’s English Delight, explains why Macmillan has made this change: “In broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, the dictionary is simply reflecting a change in the way the word is used”. He continues: “It’s important to recognise that there is more to updating a dictionary than adding new vocabulary – though we have plenty of that, too.”

Keeping up with language change also means revisiting established words to see if their definitions are still fit for purpose. Meetings, for example, always used to be face-to-face but it’s now common for colleagues to “meet” via conference calls or video. Macmillan’s new definition of meeting takes account of this, and similar changes have been made at camera, alarm clock, and calendar. Even the word dictionary itself needed a facelift: traditionally defined as a printed book, its new definition recognises that most dictionaries now exist in digital form too.

Other new words that have made it into Macmillan Dictionary – reflecting developments in technology – include cyberloafing, crowdfunding, discoverability, infographic, Li-Fi, video conference, and MOOC. Meanwhile, the ever-expanding world of social networking continues to generate new vocabulary (such as YOLO, tweetheart, BFF, and IRL) – some of which is now crossing over into mainstream language, as people use words like hashtag or ROFL in everyday conversation.

Last November, Macmillan Dictionaries announced that it would abandon the print medium and publish in digital formats only, with several new updates every year. From September, Macmillan Dictionary will also introduce mobile optimised versions of their sites to accommodate for smaller screens such as smartphones and tablets.

Notes to Editors

Macmillan Dictionary is a free online dictionary and thesaurus and offers language resources for learners of English, including games, videos and lesson plans.

The Macmillan Dictionary Blog is a multi-authored blog discussing a wide range of topics related to English as it is used around the world. For more information about our new content update, please read Michael Rundell’s blog post:

Michael Rundell is Editor-in-Chief of Macmillan Dictionary and a director of Lexicography MasterClass. He is the co-author of the Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography (2008). Michael will be a studio guest in Stephen Fry’s radio programme Fry’s English Delight, to discuss the ever-expanding vocabulary of English. The programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 9 September at 09:00 AM (UK: 92-95 FM, 103-105 FM).

For more information, please contact

Saskia Iseard | PR, Graded Readers and Dictionaries | Macmillan Education Tel: +44 (0)1865 405 903 | |

Letter 4

Dear Hania

When you are teaching Business English it can be difficult to find reading texts that are both relevant to your students’ purpose in learning English and of an appropriate level of language. At the same time, you want the text to be thought provoking so it can generate a stimulating class discussion or follow up activities, and you don’t want it to insult your students’ existing level of knowledge or intelligence. .

Then there is another issue. You would like your students to come away from your class feeling that they have gained something more important in life than a degree of familiarity with the third conditional. For education is not only about acquiring knowledge and skills, it embraces social improvement, respect for others, the promotion of well-being, truth, fairness and equality.

So finding a text that fulfills all of these criteria is quite a challenging task. This is where the Disabled Access Friendly campaign can help you.

This voluntary campaign focuses on issues of mobility disability and paves the way to changes being made both in attitude and infrastructure so that people with mobility disability are less isolated, have better access to the world, and are empowered to live more independent lives. The campaign’s EFL website,, provides teachers with free online lesson plans and reading texts. These can be used as additional material, for project work or examination practice. At the same time they provide students with the information necessary to allow them to put themselves in the shoes of someone with a mobility disability and stimulate them to understand others and to think how others feel.

It may be helpful at this stage to have a look at some of these texts in more detail, so you can see how you could use these with your students.

“Wheelchairs and the workplace” is a personal account of a wheelchair user who graduated from university and entered the workforce. Her internal check list when considering employment opportunities, such as training, career development, location and salary, also had to include the equally important subjects of lifts, ramps, and accessible toilets. She was determined not to accept a job solely because of the ease of accessibility. Just like everyone else, she was looking for a job to fulfill her desires, interests, and goals. The text raises the issues of accessibility, and motivation for employers to make accommodations for people with mobility disability.

Ethical business issues are introduced in a text entitled “Segregated community of people with disabilities”. This text is based on a newspaper report on a community of dwarves who charge an admission fee for visitors to come and look at them. Since they are unable to find employment, this is how they sustain themselves. This will surely provoke an animated class discussion.

“A fresh approach to disability employment” is again based on a newspaper article recommending businesses to consider the disability market. It suggests that in order for companies to embrace the idea of employing people with disabilities, they should first recognise their potential as customers. The article recommends companies change their way of thinking and understand that morally it is acceptable to make a profit from disability; customers with disabilities will be delighted to find products and services available on which to spend their money. Again, this is a topic that will stimulate interest.

The best teachers have always done more than just prepare students for tests. They raise awareness of the world in which we live and try to make it a better place. We invite you to visit our site for material to help you be one of those teachers

Katie Quartano

Letter 5

Next Move shortlisted for British Book Design and Production Awards

Macmillan Education is delighted that one of its key American English primary courses has been shortlisted in the British Book Design and Production Awards.

Next Move has been nominated in the category ‘Best Use of Cross-Media’, aimed at publications that utilise cross-media and technology to complement and enhance the printed book.

The annual Awards, held in November, recognise and celebrate quality British book design and production.

Becki Bradshaw, AMELT Primary Publisher at Macmillan Education, is thrilled about the nomination: “We are excited about Next Move being shortlisted for the British Book Design and Production Awards as it recognises Macmillan’s endeavour to bring digital into every area of the learning environment.”

Next Move can be used in the classroom with the Interactive Classroom DVD-Rom, at home with the Student’s DVD-Rom, and during the teacher’s preparation time with the Teacher’s Website.

“The course has excellent content and design, with a strong identity and clear navigation”, says Tim Friers, Head of Design. “Maintaining consistency of brand with a finely tuned design, we’ve created a journey of discovery for our students.”

Next Move’s strong design unites the various media, making the course easy to navigate and fun to use for both students and teachers”, adds Claire Chad, Schools Marketing Manager. “We are confident that this course will do well in the international market.”

The winners of the British Book Design and Production Awards will be announced on Monday 4 November 2013 at the Grange St Paul's Hotel in London.

About Next Move

Next Move is the new edition of Next Stop and is a 7-level American English course for primary children between the ages of 5 and 12. Next Move takes children on a language-learning and cultural journey to build not only their language awareness, but also their cross-cultural awareness. For more information, please visit

Letter 6

Dear Teacher,

The school year is about to begin – I hope you all feel refreshed after the summer break.

The all-new Tune Into English Roadshow is currently in preparation, and I would be delighted to visit your school to present it to your students. A letter with full details has been mailed to Italian schools – this is online here. You can watch a 45-second video of the Secondary show here, a longer version here, as well as a presentation of the Primary show.

It will come as no surprise at all that the first of this month’s additions to the Downloadable Worksheets section of the Teachers’ Area of will feature in this year’s Roadshow: Get Lucky by Daft Punk has been dominant on radio playlists for the last few months. Mena Bianco from Naples has prepared a low level worksheet, ideal for the beginning of the school year.

Wish You Were Here is an expression commonly used on holiday postcards, but is also one of Pink Floyd’s best known songs. Pedro Urbano, from Manaus, Brazil has contributed a phonetic activity based on the 1975 classic.

The beginning of the new academic year is always difficult, so the third addition is the optimistic Have A Nice Day by Bon Jovi, who toured Europe this summer. Contributed by Maria Gulczynska, Ancona, this focuses on opposites and listening for specific words.

Thank you to all teachers who have contributed to the website – I look forward to receiving your future worksheets.

Tune Into English also works with schools in the UK and Ireland to promote study tours and teacher refresher courses there. Further details are here - note that the these can be funded through the Comenius/Grundtvig scheme.

I look forward to meeting you and your students in the coming months,

Best wishes, and indeed Buon Lavoro!

Fergal Kavanagh
Tune Into English


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