An Electronic Magazine by Omar Villarreal and Marina Kirac ©
Year 5                Number 130            June 27th 2004
6350  SHARERS are reading this issue of SHARE this week
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being SHARED
Wow! This has been a busy week. Well, it still is: it´s Sunday 10:30 p.m. ( Yes, p.m.!) and we are finishing this issue of SHARE. So we´ll kep this introduction short and sweet. Straight to the point, then:
1.- Omar and I are on the Organizing Committee of the INSPT-UTN 30th Anniversary Conference together with a bunch of talented and hard-working lecturers  from the institution and the support of all the other lecturers, students (present and past) and quite a number of graduates that we have already established contact with. This leads to numbers two and three.
2.- If you are a graduate or past student (even if you never graduated) from INSPT-UTN or a former lecturer and you receive this issue of SHARE, please send us a mail to establish contact and receive “information for graduates and past students”. Our mail addresses:  and
3.- If you are NOT a graduate or past student from INSPT-UTN and you have received this issue of SHARE and you know a graduate or past student or former lecturer from INSPT –UTN who does not receive SHARE , please let him know about this Conference and ask him or her to send us a mail  to establish contact and receive “information for graduates and past students”. Or send us his or her postal address or telephone number and we will contact him or her.
4.- All graduates or past students as well as past lecturers are welcomed whether they live in Argentina or abroad.
Omar and Marina
In SHARE 130
1.-    Teaching Receptive Skills to Young Learners.
2.-    Margaret Drabble on Speaking in Public and the Contemporary Writer. 
3.-    Drama for Pronunciation Practice (2nd Round).
4.-    30th Anniversary of INSPT –UTN Conference.
5.-    XVIII ARTESOL Convention  .
6.-    Winter Course: Expanding your Horizons.
7.-    Dr. David Embick in Buenos Aires.
8.-    Omar in Paraguay for the PARATESOL Convention.
9.-    Immersion Course in San Luis.   
10.-   English – Argentina : A new e-group.
11.-   The Tell- Tale Heart Cracks up!
12.-   Second ELT Fair in the West.
13.-   Licenciatura en la Enseñanza del Inglés.
14.-   Primeras Jornadas de Cultura y Literatura en Lengua Inglesa.
Our dear SHARER Costas Gabrielatos has sent us this article that he generously wants to SHARE with all of us. 
Receptive Skills with Young Learners*
By Costas Gabrielatos
In this article I argue for the benefits of receptive skills development (i.e. reading and listening) with children (aged 7-11) at beginner/ elementary levels who are able to recognise words in print, outline the objectives of the teaching programme, and discuss text and task selection.
My survey of EFL coursebooks, as well as my observations of lessons and discussions with teachers, indicate that courses for children at beginner/elementary levels usually concentrate on vocabulary and grammar teaching. Texts are normally used as vehicles for the presentation of new language, whereas systematic receptive skills development is reserved for intermediate levels. Teaching materials may involve some ‘comprehension’ tasks (usually questions), but this alone hardly seems to constitute systematic skills development.
True, texts can be used for the presentation of language items, but it is not helpful to equate all text-based lessons with language work (see also McDonough & Shaw, 1993: 103-105; Underwood, 1989: 23). The main objective of a receptive skills programme is not the teaching of more grammar and vocabulary, but the development of the learners’ ability to understand/interpret texts using their existing language knowledge. Of course, receptive skills development can be combined with language input in the same lesson, but the procedures need to be staged in such a way so that the ‘language’ component does not cancel out the ‘skills’ one. For example, explaining all unknown lexis before learners read or listen to a text will cancel out training in inferring the meaning of lexis in the text (see also Gabrielatos, 1995a).
Avoiding later problems
When systematic receptive skills development starts at low intermediate levels, the learners’ reading/ listening behaviour is usually problematic. This is hardly surprising, as learners are somehow thrown in at the deep end: they are asked to read or listen to much longer and more complex texts and perform novel tasks such as reading selectively, extracting the gist, locating specific information and disregarding or inferring the meaning of unknown lexis.
Following is an outline of those problematic areas which can be avoided by systematic receptive skills development from an early stage on (adapted from Gabrielatos, 1995a&b).
Learners read/listen for the words and not for the meaning.
Learners get easily discouraged by unknown lexis.
Learners do not make conscious use of their background knowledge and experience.
The main source of these problems seems to be the habit of explaining all unknown lexis and/or translating texts. Research findings have suggested that “children are very sensitive observers of teacher behaviour patterns in the classroom” (Weinstein, 1989 in Williams & Burden, 1997: 98); therefore, teachers “need to be aware ... that their words, their actions and their interactions form part of every individual learner’s own construction of knowledge” (Williams & Burden, 1997: 53). Based on such observations, learners (being already awestruck by the amount of lexis there is to learn) may be led to reason along the following lines:
Since my teacher always goes to the trouble of explaining/translating all the words, then the meaning of the text is the combination of the meanings of the words. So we cannot understand the text if we don’t understand all the words.
What is more, if learners think that the meaning is strictly in the words, then they may not see the need to utilise their background knowledge (for a discussion of the role of background knowledge in comprehension see Brown & Yule, 1983a: 233-256; Carrell & Eisterhold, 1988: 75-81; Just & Carpenter, 1987: 170-176, 241-245).
Learners do not read/listen selectively.
The reason may lie in teachers’ habit of asking questions which are not of equal importance (e.g. questions asking for important information in the same group with ones asking for minor/unnecessary details), or simply asking learners to show total comprehension at all times (e.g. always re-telling in detail stories presented in class). What can compound the problem is the use of reading aloud as a means of developing reading skills. I would like to clarify here that I don’t think this technique is problematic per se, as it can help beginners understand the relation between spelling and sound. Nevertheless, its misuse/overuse can communicate the wrong idea about the nature of reading (see Gabrielatos, 1996).
Learners read/listen in an unstructured way.
Learners find it difficult to locate clues to meaning.
There is more to a text than words and structures; there are equally important and interrelated factors: type, layout and organisation. Awareness of the layout and organisation of different text-types can help readers extract information more effectively. To illustrate the point, let me use the metaphor of a ‘mechanically-challenged’ and a mechanically-minded driver examining a car engine: the first will be looking at a shapeless blob of metal unable to even consider where to start; the second will be recognising specific parts, functionally connected to each other. An experienced reader with limited time, for instance, will get the main points of a newspaper article reporting a crime by reading the first and last paragraph.
Possible reasons for the last two problems are: experience of a limited type of texts (usually comic strips and dialogues), lack of awareness of the nature and organisation of different text-types, and use of short, (over)simplified texts only. As a result, learners cannot navigate successfully through the text when reading (e.g. they only read from the beginning towards the end). Similarly, they may not break the text down into smaller, more manageable chunks to facilitate understanding, but depend on a rather vague global impression only, and may be unable to locate the place where clues to meaning are given.
When listening, they have problems identifying familiar lexis.
During listening they may not take account of the phonological clues available.
Possible reasons are: lack of systematic ear training in recognising individual sounds or clusters, stress patterns and tone of voice, and the practice of always giving learners the text to read while listening (for examples of transcript-based work on listening see Gabrielatos, 1995b, 1996).
Grammar, Vocabulary & Pronunciation
Receptive skills training brings additional benefits. If learners are not intimidated by unknown lexis, and know how to find their way in a text, then discovery techniques (i.e. when the teacher provides learners with language data and guides them to discover the ‘rule’) will be more successful and as a result grammar and vocabulary learning will be enhanced (see also Devine, 1988: 269-270). Similarly, awareness of features of connected speech, and ability to identify words in the stream of speech will help learners improve their pronunciation.
Characteristics of Young Learners
It would be wise to avoid over-reliance on influential theories about the abilities and limitations of children in different age groups. This can result in the formation of rigid pre-conceptions, which may not reflect the group of learners at hand, which in turn will limit the effectiveness of teaching. Relevant to our discussion is Piaget’s theory of specific stages of intellectual development (Gross, 1996: 629-640; McNally, 1977: 12-55), which has been criticised for limitations regarding methodology, clarity and applicability (see for example Gross, 1996: 640-641; Shorrocks, 1991: 263-265; Williams & Burden, 1997: 22-24).
Experimental evidence indicates that “children may not have radically different capacities from those of adults and in some ways, when they have appropriate experience, their performance can be superior” (Shorrocks, 1991: 268). An example is the ease with which some children understand computer operation, which baffles quite a few adults.  It seems more effective then to examine the abilities of each learner individually. A matter of central importance is that the learners’ limited language knowledge is not mistaken for equally limited cognitive abilities (Eysenck & Keane, 1990: 362; see also Holt, 1982: 189).
Fortunately, there seem to be some non-controversial characteristics that are relevant to our discussion (Brewster, 1991: 6-8; Scott & Ytreberg, 1990: 1-5; Williams, 1991: 207-210).
·     Children can justify choices and opinions.
·     They need to be supported in their understanding of the propositional content of a message by moving from the concrete to the abstract.
·     Their attention span is limited. Therefore, tasks should be short, varied, motivating and interesting, and should offer “concrete perceptual support” (Brewster, 1991: 6).
It would be helpful to keep in mind that “training does produce improvement in performance which can be considerable, long-lasting and pervasive” (Meadows, 1988 in Gross, 1996: 641). Research suggests that “even quite high level thinking and cognitive skills can be taught” (Shorrocks, 1991: 268; see also Gross, 1996: 640-641; Williams & Burden, 1997: 22-24).
During the first stages of receptive skills development the learners’ reading/listening ability may initially deteriorate instead of improving; this does not necessarily indicate a problem with the method. A study on children’s problem-solving (reported in Shorrocks, 1991: 269) showed an initial decline of performance before final improvement. The decline was attributed to the children’s experimenting with new strategies before finally mastering them.
Identifying and using elements of context
Learners should be able to use their knowledge of context (see Biber, 1988: 28-33; Brown & Yule, 1983a: 35-46) to understand the text. In addition they should be able to use available clues (title, visuals, key lexis etc.) to identify elements of context.
Identifying elements of text
Learners should be able to:
·       Recognise different text-types relevant to their experience (story, letter, advertisement, encyclopedic entry, article, radio news, etc.).
·       Identify possible sources of the text (magazine, newspaper, encyclopedia etc.).
·       Understand some types of organisation (time order, order of importance, from general to specific etc.), as well as the way this organisation is realised in the division of texts into sections;
·       Understand the function of basic discourse markers (and, or, but, then, etc.).
Identifying and using phonological clues
Learners should be able to:
·       Recognise and distinguish between sounds which may sound similar to them (e.g. between long and short vowels).
·       Be aware of the importance of stress for meaning and listen mainly for the stressed elements.
·       Be aware of, and recognise, the ‘meaning’ carried by tone of voice.
(See also Brown, 1990: 59-60, 161-163).
Identifying elements of content
Learners should be able to:
·       Understand main ideas / facts;
·       Identify specific information, stated explicitly and located in one place in the text;
·       Recognise feelings (e.g. happiness, anger) and attitude (e.g. friendliness, hostility) using phonological/lexical clues.
Text Selection
Texts that seem linguistically complex or long should not necessarily be rejected for use with low levels; the teacher can determine the difficulty of the lesson by manipulating the level of the task (see Nunan, 1989: 141-143, 196-198, 200-201). What is more, learners can cope better with a complex text if the topic is familiar to them (Anderson & Lynch, 1988: 49).
It would be beneficial if texts were longer than the ones used to present new language. Successfully tackling longer texts will boost the learners’ confidence.
Language & organisation
In order to present appropriate challenge, texts need to be more complex than presentation’ ones in terms of language, speed of delivery, phonological features and organisation. Texts for native speakers of the same age may be too demanding, but simplified pedagogical texts should at least try to simulate them (for a discussion see Davies, 1988; Parker & Parker, 1991; Wallace, 1992: 76-81; Widdowson, 1978: 88-93). What is more, the learners’ low linguistic level can be compensated for by the use of strategies (for a discussion on the interaction between language competence and reading ability see Alderson, 1984; Clarke, 1988; Devine, 1988; Eskey, 1988; Hudson, 1988).
It is important that texts mimic the layout of real-life text types and are accompanied by visual materials (see Anderson & Lynch, 1988: 58; Brown & Yule, 1983b: 85-86). Authentic-looking layout will help learners recognise different text types, and visuals will provide clear and helpful contextual support.
Apart from the obvious fact that texts need to be relevant to the learners’ age and interests, there are other factors to consider.
·       Content may be familiar so that learners can feel secure and utilise their background knowledge.
·       Texts may offer new facts to learn; a process that simulates children’s real-life experience.
·       Content may be striking and/or fun to create interest and motivation.
Task Types
Creating expectations
These tasks types help learners approach texts actively. Learners
·       Predict elements of context/content by using visuals, title, key lexis etc.
·       Predict the continuation of a story.
Responding to open-ended questions
It is important that the question cannot be answered without real comprehension (e.g. merely through use of grammar/ syntax).
Questions asking for facts
·       Oral answer. According to the competence of individual learners the answer may be a sentence/ phrase, key lexis, or even an L1 response.
·       Underline the answer in the text.
·       Identify the section where clues can be found.
Questions asking for feelings/attitude
·       Oral answer (key lexis or L1).
·       Learners’ use of facial expressions/gestures.
·       Learners’ choice of teacher’s alternative facial expressions/gestures.
Filling in grids
Learners complete grids with information about:
·       People, animals, places or objects mentioned in the text(s)
·       Facts or feelings regarding characters involved in a story
Grids can be used flexibly to cater for mixed ability classes. Let us take the example of a number of small texts giving information about three different animals. Grid A is more challenging as it requires a linguistic response; Grid B is less challenging as learners respond with only þ or ý.
grid a
food etc.
animal 1
animal 2
animal 3
grid b
colour etc.
Grey etc.
animal 1
animal 2
animal 3
Following instructions
Learners use the instructions or clues offered in the text to
·       Make a simple object (e.g. a paper hat).
·       Draw a shape, object, route on a map etc.
·       Add missing elements in a given picture.
·       Solve a mathematical problem or a logic quiz (Phillips, 1993: 54-56).
Key lexis recognition
This type of task aims to reinforce selective reading/listening.
·       Learners are asked to indicate the lexical items they think are more important by underlining when reading, or tapping on their desks when listening (see also Feedback below).
·       The teacher tells a short story in which some of the original key words have been replaced by ones, which do not make sense in the context; learners have to identify those words (adapted from Brewster, 1991: 168).
Here learners are not asked to respond using language or gestures, but to select among given options. The most common task types are Multiple Choice, True/False and Odd one out. Difficulty can be manipulated by changing the number of options given. It is important that the incorrect options are not distracting, and that the choice of the correct option clearly indicates comprehension, or hints at the nature of the learners’ problems. (For a general discussion and examples see Nuttall, 1996: 194-200).
Options can be:
·       Sentences, phrases or lexis expressing facts or feelings/attitude.
·       Visuals depicting shapes, objects, animals, people, facts, feelings, attitude.
·       Alternative titles, text-types, sources of texts, or contextual elements.
·       Words exemplifying different sounds or stress patterns.
Learners are given one or more texts and asked to match …
·       Ingredients to recipes (Phillips, 1993: 60-62);
·       Feelings/attitude to characters;
·       Objects/animals to their owners etc.;
·       Texts to text-types;
·       Words in the text to other given words, according to specific sounds (ear training).
Re-ordering / sequencing
This type is suited to raising and/or checking awareness of text organisation. Learners can be given:
·       Jumbled sentences/ paragraphs to create a text.
·       Visuals depicting a story to put in order before and/or while reading or listening to the story.
Counting & repeating
Elements of content/context: learners are helped to read/listen selectively.   
·       Learners count the people, animals, objects or places mentioned.
Phonological aspects: learners see that words are not always pronounced clearly and that they are usually ‘squashed’ into each other (adapted from Ur, 1984: 42-43).
·       Play (or say) a short phrase and ask learners to count how many words they have heard.
·       Stop the tape and ask learners to repeat the last phrase. First ask for the phrase in 'ideal' form (i.e. pronounced very clearly), and then ask them to repeat it as it was pronounced by the speaker. 
During feedback there needs to be constant reference to the text. This may seem difficult with listening texts, but there are techniques, which make it possible.
·       Teacher as cassette recorder (adapted from Phillips, 1993: 34-35): learners can ask the teacher to ‘stop’, ‘rewind’ or ‘fast forward’ so that they gain time to think, or listen again to specific parts.
·       Tapping: learners tap their pens on the desk when they hear the information needed or helpful clues; the tape is stopped and learners discuss clues and strategies. In case of disagreement the problematic section can be repeated.
Such techniques do not only hand the control over to the learners, but also give the teacher helpful insights into the learners’ abilities and problems (see also Underwood, 1989: 17).
Since the main aim or reading/listening lessons is skills development (not language input/practice) learner responses which demonstrate comprehension and use of effective strategies should be considered satisfactory even if they are not accurate. For example, during ear training the objective is accurate perception of sounds, stress and intonation, not their production. There may be cases when even L1 responses are deemed acceptable.
Only providing the correct ‘answer’ for them will not be of much help to learners. It would be unreasonable to expect that learners (of any age) will automatically pinpoint problems and perform the abstractions needed in order to draw conclusions. In order to become aware of and adopt/develop appropriate strategies learners need tangible clues and guidance. The main objective of feedback is elicitation of the source of problems, as well as the strategies used, and then provision of guidance in the form of tips and examples (see also Rost, 1990: 153-156; Shorrocks, 1991: 270-272; Williams & Burden, 1997: 49-51 & 73).
Alderson, J. C. 1984. ‘Reading in a foreign language: a reading problem or a language problem?’ In Alderson, J.C. & Urquhart., A.H.
Alderson, J.C. & Urquhart, A.H. (eds.) 1984. Reading in a Foreign Language. Longman.
Anderson, A. & Lynch, T. 1988. Listening. Oxford University Press.
Biber, D. 1988. Variation Across Speech and Writing. Cambridge University Press.
Brewster, J. 1991. ‘Listening and the young learner.’ In Brumfit, C. et al.
Brown, G. 1990 (2nd ed.) Listening to Spoken English. Longman.
Brown, G. & Yule, G. 1983a. Discourse Analysis. Cambridge University Press.
Brown, G. & Yule, G. 1983b. Teaching the Spoken Language. Cambridge University Press.
Brumfit, C., Moon, T. & Tongue, R. 1991. Teaching English to Children. Collins ELT.
Carrell, P.L. & Eisterhold, J.C. 1988. ‘Schema theory and ESL reading pedagogy’. In Carrell P. L. et al.
Carrell, P.L., Devine, J. & Eskey, D.E. (eds.). 1988. Interactive Approaches to Second Language Reading.  Cambridge University Press.
Clarke, M.A. 1988. ‘The short circuit hypothesis of ESL reading- or when language competence interferes with         reading performance.’ In Carrell P. L. et al.
Davies, A. 1988. ‘Simple, simplified, and simplification: what is authentic?’ In Alderson, J. C. & A. H. Urquhart.
Devine, J. 1988. ‘The relationship between general language competence and second language reading proficiency: implications for teaching.’ In Carrell P. L. et al.
Eskey, D. E. 1988. ‘Holding in the bottom: an interactive approach to the language problems of second language readers’. In Carrell P. L. et al.
Eysenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. 1995 (3rd ed.) Cognitive Psychology. Psychology Press.
Gabrielatos, C. 1995a. ‘Two Birds with one Stone: Reading skills development using testing materials.’ Current Issues 4-5 (double issue).
Gabrielatos, C. 1995b. ‘Two Birds with one Stone 2: Listening skills development using testing materials.’ Current Issues  6.
Gabrielatos, C. 1996. ‘Reading Allowed (?): Reading Aloud in TEFL.’ Current Issues  8 & 9.  (Revised version available online:
Gross, R. D. 1996 (3rd ed.) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. Hodder & Stoughton.
Holt, J. 1982 (rev. ed.) How Children Fail. Penguin Books.
Hudson, T. 1988. ‘The effects of induced schemata on the “short circuit” in L2 reading: non-decoding factors in L2 reading performance.’ In Carrell, P. L. et al.
Just, M.A. & Carpenter, P.A. 1987. The Psychology of Reading and Language Comprehension. Allyn & Bacon.
McDonough, J. & Shaw, C. 1993. Materials and Methods in ELT. Blackwell.
McNally, D.W. 1973/1977. Piaget, Education & Teaching. The Harvester Press.
Nunan, D. 1989. Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. Cambridge University Press.
Nuttall, C. 1996 (2nd ed.) Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language. Heinemann.
Parker, R. & Parker, R. 1991. ‘Real reading needs real books.’ In Brumfit C. et al.
Phillips, S. 1993. Young Learners. Oxford University Press.
Rost, M. 1990. Listening in Language Learning. Longman.
Scott, W. A. & Ytreberg, L.H. 1990. Teaching English to Children. Longman.
Shorrocks, D. 1991 ‘The development of children’s thinking and understanding.’ In Brumfit C. et al.
Underwood, M. 1989. Teaching Listening. Longman.
Ur, P. 1984. Teaching Listening Comprehension. Cambridge University Press.
Wallace, C. 1992. Reading. Oxford University Press.
Widdowson, H. 1978. Teaching Language as Communication. Oxford University Press.
Williams, M. 1991. ‘A framework for teaching English to young learners. In Brumfit, C. et al.
Williams, M. & Burden, R. 1997. Psychology for Language Teachers. Cambridge University Press.
(*) This article was published in Gika, A.S. & Berwick, D. (eds.) 1998. Working with Young Learners: A Way Ahead. Whitstable, Kent: IATEFL, 52-60.  It is based on my seminar ‘Receptive Skills Development with Mixed-Ability Young Learners’, which I conducted for Greek state school teachers of English, September 1997 (organised by the Greek Ministry of Education and the British Council, Athens), and my paper ‘Receptive Skills Development with Young Learners’, given at the 2nd IATEFL Greece Symposium, Athens, March 1998.
Public Speech and Public Silence
By Margaret Drabble
This lecture was delivered on October 18, 2001, in the Gulbenkian Lecture Hall in Oxford, at the invitation of the Oxford English Faculty.
© Margaret Drabble
This lecture could begin in many places. It could begin with a quotation from Nietzche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, about the shepherd with the serpent hanging from his throat. Or it could begin with the unexpected trials of King George the Sixth. (A royal anecdote still has much to recommend it in any public lecture.) Or it could begin with the story of the first Writers' Conference at the sixteenth Edinburgh Festival in the summer of 1962. With deference to the fact that this lecture is by a writer, and sponsored by the English Faculty of Oxford, it seems best to begin with the writers in Edinburgh. For that is my most literary opening, and that is where much of the trouble began.
One of my themes this evening is the changing status of the writer during the past four decades, and, coincidentally, during my own writing and publishing career. Most of you here will have observed the way in which, during this period, writers have been transformed into public performers. They appear at festivals, in bookshops, on book tours, on radio and TV programmes, in schools and universities. They complain if their publicists urge them to appear, and they complain if their publicists fail to urge them to appear. (That very word, publicist, is new - we didn't have them when I began to publish.) The press regularly carries items about older writers – often but not always male - deploring the proliferation of photogenic and histrionic younger writers - usually but not always female. We have become accustomed to this kind of rivalry, which the media and the publishing industries promote for their own ends. But not many of us are old enough to cast our minds back to the quiet world before this situation arose. Let us, briefly, look backwards into the recent past, before returning to Edinburgh.
In the nineteenth century and the first half of this century, many successful and much-admired authors were unknown to the general public and to their readers - unknown in the sense that their appearance, their personalities, their habits, and their private lives were indeed private. Some, like Jane Austen and the Bront's, lived towards the extremity of privacy, anonymity, or pseudonymity, both geographical and personal, and others, like George Eliot and Thomas Hardy and Tennyson, might have been recognised in the streets of London, but did not actively seek a public platform with a public face. Henry James, Somerset Maugham, Arnold Bennett, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf, T.S.Eliot and Graham Greene were not household faces, though ironically Woolf was posthumously to become one of the icons of our age. There were, of course, exceptions to this rule, which will be springing irritably into your minds even as I speak - I do know that Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw were all great showmen, all of whom knew how to play the lecture circuit. An excessive love of performance was more or less the death of Dickens, and Wilde, fatally, could not resist public speech in the form of repartee. Nevertheless, the general statement stands. The reasons are not far to seek - the age of mass communication and mechanical reproduction was dawning, but slowly, and it was still easy for the shy, retiring, fastidious or superior writer to avoid the masses.
Time here for a quick aside about that dawning age. In the short stories of Edith Wharton we find a characteristically shrewd analysis of the trend as heralded in America, the land of advertising. In ‘Expiation' (1903) novice novelist Paula Fetherel, having been mildly chastised and faintly praised by reviewers, shoots to fame as a result of being denounced from the pulpit by her uncle the bishop: when she sees her ‘New Edition with Author's Portrait (Hundred and Fiftieth Thousand)' emblazoned on the station bookstall she cries out that ‘they've no right to use my picture as a poster!'. But it is too late to return to private life now. And in ‘The Descent of Man' entomologist Professor Linyard of Hillbridge University is wryly astonished when his own production, ‘The Vital Thing', becomes a huge commercial success, snapped up eagerly by readers who do not notice that its intention is satiric. For him, the ultimate accolade and/or disgrace will be the boxed set of "the ‘Vital Thing' series", and the appearance of his face upon a hundred and fifty thousand biscuit tins.
The biscuit tin as a means of publication and publicity preceded the Edinburgh Festival by some sixty years. At the first Writers' Conference in 1962, organised by publisher John Calder and George Orwell's widow Sonia Orwell, a glittering array of writers appeared. Henry Miller, Norman Mailer, Lawrence Durrell, Kingsley Amis, Mary McCarthy, Muriel Spark, Rebecca West, Stephen Spender, Alexander Trocchi and Angus Wilson were all there, along with many others from Europe and further afield. The ringmaster of the circus was Malcolm Muggeridge: Neal Ascherson reported upon it, and interviews based on it were broadcast on the Third Programme. The atmosphere was heady. Heroin and homosexuality were widely and very publicly debated, and Rebecca West wept at finding herself sharing the platform with a pornographer. This was the beginning of the 1960s, and the end of the dull post-war rationed sober claustrophobic insular fifties. Writers, buttoned up through the war, and harnessed to patriotic causes, were sniffing the air for new freedoms - the end of censorship, sexual freedom, homosexual law reform, flower power, cheap air travel, and invitations to literary festivals all over the world. (Feminism was not yet on the agenda, but that is another issue.) Writers were beginning to enjoy themselves, and to flaunt themselves in public before audiences of thousands. Edinburgh then or now would not have been George Orwell's scene at all, and elder statesman J.B.Priestley, though by no means averse to publicity on his own terms, had given the whole affair a wide berth, and congratulated himself on having done so.
The success of this Edinburgh literary event was followed by other Edinburgh literary occasions, at one of which a naked lady was wheeled across the stage in a wheelbarrow - an event considered shocking in its day as Puppetry of the Penis was the year before last - and by the proliferation of festivals round the land and the world - in Cheltenham, Hay-on-Wye, Toronto, Adelaide, Ewell and Ilkley. (Cheltenham in fact pre-dated Edinburgh, but began as a more genteel and smaller scale affair.) Performance poetry, pioneered in this country by the entrepreneurial Oxford-educated poet Michael Horovitz, achieved mass recognition at the celebrated occasion in June 1965 when poets and their listeners filled the Albert Hall to capacity. Underground poets, jazz poets, Liverpool poets, and protest poets were swept along on a powerful tide of publicity in the wake of the Beatles. Some poets demurred - Philip Larkin, for reasons we may explore later, preferred the silence and shelter of the library to the public arena - but most seized avidly upon the chance of expanding income, sales and territory. Poets were tired of staying politely at home in discreet unmoving Movement bedsitting rooms and basement flats. They wanted a bit of the action, and so they created it for themselves. By the 1970s, poetry readings were no longer inward-looking, minority, semi-private occasions - they had become part of the job of being a poet. Poets were expected by their publishers to tour, and most of them hit the trail with enthusiasm. They developed public personae and public performance skills. They chanted and wailed and intoned, and eventually they took to dread, beat and blood. They wrote poems for incantation, they got to know their audiences, they played to the gallery. And where poets went, the novelists were soon to follow.
I blame my hero Angus Wilson for what happened next. He had been a willing and enthusiastic part of the Edinburgh circus, flamboyantly dressed in striped shirt and turquoise tie, and he began to see all sorts of opportunities for writers in a wider world than that of the British Museum Reading Room where he had begun his own literary career - though he had managed to make himself quite noticeable there. (For a librarian, he had been very noisy: he did not seem to consider that the Rule of Silence in the Reading Room applied to him.) In 1968 he became Chair of the Literature Panel of the Arts Council, and the following year, at the suggestion of panellist, novelist, playwright and wit Julian Mitchell, he initiated the scheme of Writers' Tours, which took small groups of mixed writers to the regions, where they entertained local audiences and one another with public readings and discussions.
This, as far as I can recall, was the first organised attempt to put prose writers on the road, and I amongst others welcomed it as I embarked on the first tour to icy North Wales in March 1969. Such a tour paid one a small and very welcome fee, it took one out of the house for five days, it provided agreeable intellectual company for five days (and in my case introduced me to a true and lifelong friend). It gave one a chance to see a new part of the country, it introduced one to potential readers and new material, and it gave one a snapshot of the educational structure of a whole region. Some writers hated these excursions - Shiva Naipaul for one was appalled by life in the provinces and what seems to have been his first encounter with suburbia - but most found them revealing and convivial.
The Writers' Tour was not, one should emphasise, a marketing exercise. These tours were not primarily intended to sell books. Writers did not travel with boxes of books, and tours were not tied to the promotion of new titles. Those were innocent days, when we believed in education and cultural diffusion. And, significantly, these tours had, as I remember, a group spirit, a sense of group commitment. Writers were not vying then, as they tend to do now, for centre stage, or for top billing. There was no star system in operation - indeed, one of the original intentions was to compose a travelling group of varied and complementary rather than of conflicting or rival talents.
It was not Angus's fault that his laudable desire to provide contact points between reader and writer should have encouraged the development of the travelling salesman approach to literature and literary festivals. But, ironically, I believe it did.
Angus Wilson himself was renowned as a witty speaker both off stage and on stage. He was a brilliant lecturer, with, as one of his admirers on a British Council tour of India exclaimed, ‘the true gift of the gab'. Listening to him when I was younger, I always thought that the wit was effortless. He preferred to lecture from notes rather than from a written text, and would risk this even in high profile occasions with vast audiences - in 1961 he had given the Northcliffe lectures, a series of four lectures on the subject of ‘Evil in the Novel' at London University, to immense acclaim and an overflowing auditorium, and when asked by his publisher Fred Warburg for a typescript, with a view to book publication, he replied ‘What typescript? I have no typescript'. Which was true. (He had already run into difficulties with the text of his largely autobiographical and ground-breaking Ewing lectures, delivered with panache in California in October 1960 - he was dismayed to learn that these had to be published, and it took him some time to produce the text of The Wild Garden, eventually published in 1963.)
I had thought, as I said, that Angus Wilson enjoyed lecturing, and I think, at times, he did. But I learned, when writing his biography, that he also found it intensely stressful and exhausting. Friends tended to make fun of him when he said that he found public speaking and being entertaining to strangers very tiring, but he was speaking no less than the truth. One of the saddest notes in his life came towards the end, when he and his partner Tony Garrett were living at St Rémy in the South of France; Angus, now in his seventies, and with insufficient financial security to retire comfortably, was suffering from hydrocephalus and other disabling disorders. Tony says that Angus would sometimes start up from his bed at night and collect a pile of papers, saying he had to ‘go to give a lecture'. Tony would reassure him that there was no need, that there was no lecture waiting to be delivered, and Angus would eventually settle back to sleep.
This story has haunted me, and must affect all of those who lecture and have lecture nightmares - and can there be any who lecture who do not? I could even say that this story of Tony's accounts for why this will be my last lecture. I cannot go on living with these recurrent nightmares in which I arrive in a university town, usually in the USA, to be told I am billed to lecture on something quite unexpected - The Electra Syndrome in the Novels of Jane Austen was one of the more recent of these, and I had, in my sleep, composed several stirring, desperate and almost applicable sentences before I woke from my horror, and remembered that my real title was Jane Austen and My father: Paternal Authority in the Novels of Jane Austen, and that I had already written it, and that it wasn't too bad. After this final address, I hope to sleep more peacefully.
This edges me towards the next aspect of my theme: and this is the challenge of public speaking and giving public readings for those who have speech - or indeed, I am told, hearing - difficulties. I do realise that I am jumbling up here many aspects of speaking under the general heading of ‘Public Speech' - poetry readings, prose readings, and bookshop readings are a very different matter from the delivering of the Northcliffe lectures, or the Romanes lectures, or the Gifford lectures, or the Reith lectures, and make very different demands on the speaker. And I realise that no writer is obliged to do any public speaking at all - indeed, is lucky ever to be asked. I do know that. Nevertheless, the ability to speak fluently is a great asset in a literary career, and one much prized by publishers and publicists. Nevertheless, many of us find ourselves pressured or flattered or cajoled into making speeches against our better judgement, and may have found ourselves in the position of Iris Murdoch, who said to me once that she wished she'd never agreed to give the Gifford lectures - she was at that time trying to write them and she said she had found she had absolutely nothing new to say. No doubt she triumphantly overcome this mood of despondency, but I believe we all know that mood. And if we do not, maybe we are the less for it.
One of the problems connected with the growth of the literary circuit and the expansion of the book tour is that writers have become disorientated, like the protagonists of recent novels by Amis and Ishiguro. We no longer know where we are or what is expected of us. Are we intellectuals, jesters, stand-up comics, artists, artistes? Are we meant to be giving an update on the reputation of Derrida, or to be making people laugh? (Only the most brilliant, like the late Malcom Bradbury, could do both at once.) Such random invitations come our way - we may find ourselves sandwiched between a sports star and a duchess at a literary lunch, or stranded alone behind a podium in a three-quarters empty auditorium , or speaking to a select audience of three ladies and a dog in a friendly bookshop. We are offered fees ranging from ‘zero and bring your own refreshments', through fifty pounds and five hundred pounds to five thousand pounds and more - no wonder most of us hate letters of invitation saying ‘State your Fee'. We are not Mrs Thatcher nor Bill Clinton, nor Nick Leason, nor were meant to be. We do not know what we owe our publishers, and are frightened to say no. For some, the circus element has replaced the central activity - in a fleeting visit to one of the best funded creative writing schools in the world I met young people who seriously discussed how they would stand up to the stress of a book tour before they had even written a book, let alone had one accepted for publication. In Canada this spring - yes, at a festival - I met a successful young writer who had been completely confused by the demands of her publicist. Her first novel involved an undertaker, and she had been asked to pose as a corpse in a coffin. Should she have said no? Was it demeaning to agree to go for the photo opportunity? As I tried to assure her in my elder statesman way that she had the right to say no, I recalled that a press photographer once long ago asked me to jump off the top of a heaped pile of copies of the Oxford Companion to English Literature. And I did it. Moreover, it was rather a good photo - I was laughing wildly as I jumped, and the expression on my face summed up the happy relief of having finished - at least temporarily - with that demanding volume.
Speaking is worse than being photographed. I was not cut out by my natural talents to be a lecturer or a public speaker. From an early age – the age of three, I am told - I suffered from a stammer, at times severe, though now very episodic and temperamental. So I could take the line that both Arnold Bennett and Somerset Maugham took when asked to speak in public, at after-dinner gatherings, or to literary societies. Both were severe stammerers, and both insisted that they didn't speak, they wrote. I could argue, though disingenuously, that my objections to the modern commercial literary circus spring from the fact that I entered it with a handicap, and that I feel that, as a writer, that I am being expected to display skills or abilities that I do not possess.
This is where King George the Sixth comes back into the story. He, as you know, inherited the throne in 1936 because of the abdication of his older brother Edward - just as, coincidentally, King Charles the First, another royal stammerer, became king through the death of his older brother Henry. George the Sixth was not born to the crown, he had the crown and the burden of public broadcasting unexpectedly thrust upon him. Bertie, as George the Sixth was known, is recorded to have stammered from the age of six, and his biographer Robert Lacey relates that ‘His brothers and sister were allowed to make fun of his stammer, ragging him without mercy after the style set by his father's quarter-deck chaff, and he withdrew still more tightly into himself.' (Centuries earlier Prince Henry, we are told, had mocked his little brother Prince Charles.) As a child Bertie was prone to bouts of self-pity and fits of explosive rage: he was also bottom of the class. And he was naturally left handed - what is known as ‘a misplaced sinister' - was this, some speculated, according to a current theory, the cause of his problem? Unlike a writer, he was not allowed to choose public silence. He had to speak. He struggled bravely, but, despite the help of an Australian-born speech therapist called Lionel Logue, he never overcame his dislike of public speaking, and especially of broadcasting. He rehearsed everything with Logue and dreaded last minute alterations to his text: the Sovereign's Speech afforded him an added difficulty as it had to be delivered sitting, not standing. Occasionally, he was able to be pleased with his efforts: in 1940, his diary records that his he was very pleased with the way he delivered his speech on Empire Day - ‘it was easily my best effort. How I hate broadcasting.'
Why did he find it easier to speak standing than sitting? Why do some situations make stammerers worse? Why do more men stammer than women? Why does anyone stammer at all? Why does nobody know the answers to these questions?
I don't think anyone has ever done a study of speech difficulties specific to writers, though I do have a correspondent who collects books by writers who stammer, and about characters who stammer. The list of orally challenged writers is distinguished and includes, arguably, Demosthenes and Virgil and Claudius and Caedmon, and with more verification, Camille Desmoulins, Charles Lamb, Henry James, Somerset Maugham, Arnold Bennett, Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Larkin, and John Updike. Several interesting questions arise, at least to my mind. Did any of these take to texte because of their difficulties with parole? Was their literary style affected by the nature of their impediment? Why did or do some of them avoid public situations, while others seek them? Do writers stammer more when they speak in bad faith, or when they speak with sincerity, and does the self-knowledge imparted by these warning signals affect what they write and how they write it? Or what they think, and how they think it? Are you more or less likely to think in the words you cannot speak?
Doris Lessing's protagonist Anna Wulf, in The Golden Notebook, gives up lecturing on art for the Communist Party because she finds herself in bad faith: her set lecture takes a Marxist line about the individual and group consciousness, and she says ‘About three months ago, in the middle of this lecture, I began to stammer and couldn't finish. I have not given any more lectures. I know what that stammer means.' (The Blue Notebook, p. 299 ) Real-life habitual stammerers may be less clear about what their stammer means, in general, or in its specific manifestations. John Updike has written in his Memoirs (Self-Consciousness: Memoirs, 1989: Chapter iii, ‘Getting the Words Out') with much feeling about his own impediment, to which he bravely adopts the ‘blessing-in-disguise' attitude - it has saved him, he says, from many unwanted public engagements. But not from all - ‘It happens when I feel myself in a false position. My worst recent public collapse, that I can bear to remember, came at a May meeting of the august American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, when I tried to read a number of award citations - hefty and bloated, as citations tend to be - that I had not written. I could scarcely push and batter my way through the politic words, and a woman in the audience loudly laughed, as if I were doing ‘an act'.
This incident might seem to endorse Anna Wulf's ‘Bad Faith' self - interpretation, but Updike also offers apparently contradictory interpretations - he says that fear, even of an electrician on the telephone, activates the defect in his speech, but that anger tends to cancel it. He says ‘some hasty wish to please' often betrays his flow of speech - yet claims that his speech eases ‘when I feel I am already somewhat known and forgiven.' ‘I stutter', he says, ‘when I am "in the wrong"' - but he puts the phrase "in the wrong" in inverted commas. Conclusively, he claims that ‘The paralysis of stuttering stems from the dead center of one's being, a deep doubt there.'
Fear, bad faith, doubt, a sense of social inferiority? All these he suggests as possible interpretations.
Billy Budd was killed not by insincerity or uncertainty but by a fatal inborn hesitation, followed by a fatal impulse.
Speaking for myself, on a more frivolous level, I know that my broadcasting and lecturing style, if not my prose style, has been curiously affected by my choice of vocabulary. Like most stammerers, I know that there are some words with which I am almost certain to have difficulty. On innumerable occasions I have substituted the phrase ‘US' for ‘America' or ‘TV' for ‘television'. This is clumsy and inelegant, but not disastrous. More problematic is the need to say ‘lady' instead of ‘woman' - this understandably causes offence and lands one in a pit of political incorrectness. Then there is the problem, when broadcasting - to confess to one's producer, or not to confess? To conceal and to remain in denial, or to tell all in advance? When doing Desert Island Discs recently, Sue Lawley was trying to corner me into saying that I had been introduced listening to my chosen Brahms serenade while in Venice, as she knew perfectly well from her researcher's notes that I had, but I simply couldn't get that beautiful word out. Circumlocution followed circumlocution-‘ in Italy, by the canal, in the home of the Doges, in the Bruges of the South, in Toni Ballerin's great aunt's flat' - these substitute phrases all sprang to mind and to my lips - and of course in reality it didn't matter what a mess I made of the word, because the BBC can always edit the tape, cut off the hesitations and stumblings, and make it sound fine. As the BBC could have done, now, on most occasions, for George the Sixth. (Though there is a moral dilemma here - is it right to adjust and mechanically to perfect one's defective speech? Is it an act of denial, an act of betrayal? Is it worse than airbrushing out one's wrinkles?)
Henry James was a master of circumlocution and elaboration and paraphrase. Did his baroque speech infect his prose, or was it the other way round? I don't know the answer to that.
Live speaking on or off the air is different from broadcasting from a studio with a technical safety net. One might assume, from what I have been saying, that people like myself should avoid live public speech at all costs - but this brings me to one of the most surprising aspects of this whole tangled speech business. And this is the fact that many people who stammer seem actively drawn to public speech, and some of them are very good at it. When I first started planning this lecture, many months ago, I think I was going to try to take a self-pitying line, so that you would all feel sorry for me and let me go - ‘how long have I struggled, and how bravely', this would have been my line. But last summer I met someone who undermined the possibility of this feeble approach. In June, I taught for two weeks on the island of Skyros, in a holistic health and holiday centre established twenty years ago by Dina Glouberman, whom I met there for the first time. Dina also stammers, and had clearly, as a therapist, thought deeply about the issue. In July, she sent me an email full of interesting suggestions, which contained this key passage: ‘Stammerers tend to have high expectations and do jobs that require them to speak in public, which you would have thought they'd have avoided - also they tend to have a strong Hurry Up driver inside .I remember a description of a stammerer driving, and getting nervous about the person in the back and wanting to go faster, and so getting in a mess and finally causing an accident.'
Yes, I thought, yes. Dina Glouberman is right. We are not all passive victims who have public speaking thrust upon us by a maniacally fluent Angus Wilson hero figure - some of us actively and somewhat perversely seek situations which we know will create difficulties for us. There are some powerful illustrations of this. Hilary Mantel, in her fine novel of the French revolution, A Place of Greater Safety, gives an impressive portrait of the journalist, orator and demagogue, Camille Desmoulins, who, according to her suggestion, may have needed to reach a certain pitch of excitement before he became fluent. His handicap spurred him on - to his death, you could argue. In this passage, Danton reflects on his friend Camille's speech pattern; ‘In the old days, [Camille] claimed that his stutter was a complete obstacle to successful pleading. Of course, when one is used to it, it might discomfit, irritate or embarrass. But Hérault has pointed out that Camille has wrung some extraordinary verdicts from distraught judges. Certainly I have observed that Camille's stutter comes and goes. It goes when he is angry or wishes forcibly to make a point; it comes when he feels put upon, and when he wishes to show people that he is in fact a nice person who is really not quite able to cope...''(p.402) And here is Camille himself, at the Jacobins: ‘When the time come he will make his way slowly towards the tribune, because patriots will step out of their places to embrace him, and from the dark parts of the gallery where the sansculottes gather there will be applause and coarse shouts of encouragement. Then silence; and as he begins, thinking carefully ahead so that he can control any tendency to stutter, so that he can circumvent words and pluck them out and slot in others, he will be thinking, no wonder this business is such a bloody mess, no one ever knows what anyone else is saying. No one knew at Versailles; no one knows now; when we are dead and a few years have passed they will grow tired of trying to hear us, they will say, what does it matter? We have elected our own place in the silences of history, with out weak lungs and our speech impediments and our rooms that were designed for something else.' (p.651-2)
Nearer home, and less dramatically, the novelist Elizabeth Bowen, (who could not pronounce the word ‘Mother', her own mother having died when she was thirteen), nevertheless loved the telephone, which many stammerers avoid, and enjoyed lecturing for the British Council and the BBC on milder subjects such as landscape and literature. The British Council in an internal memo (1950) described her as ‘a most successful lecturer with a most successful stammer' ‘not at all disturbing…endearing rather than distracting' (V. Glendinning, 1977). Those were gentle days.
A more energetic example of wilful speaking may be found in the form of Jonathan Miller, one of the best, most fluent, wittiest and most sought after public speakers of our time. He is a dazzling performer, after the Cambridge manner - he tends to end each lecture not with a conclusion but with a query or even with an unfinished sentence, as Dr Leavis used to do. His technique is superb, but how much of his eloquence springs from avoidance? When a bad word looms, find twenty other better ones to take its place - that seems to be his highly successful solution. Yet even he can get into difficulties. He admits to being forced on occasion to omit from certain discourses names or titles which would illustrate his point because they begin, inconveniently, with impossible consonants. You can't improvise or substitute a name - or only up to a point. (Jonathan, I might add, is, like me, a co-patron of the British Stammering Association, which is represented here this evening.) Interestingly, Jonathan Miller seems to be much happier with parole than with text - he has published a fair amount of text in his time, but most of it is image or speech related, and his books tend to be heavily illustrated.
My final example of a writer who at least initially sought an apparently unsuitable occupation is that of Mrs Elizabeth Inchbald, novelist, playwright, translator, adapter and editor of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. She wanted to be an actress, and clearly had talent as well as beauty, but some kind of rather vaguely documented speech impediment (as well as some amorous complications) checked her professional advancement, and she took, instead, to a highly successful career as a lady of letters. Her good-natured comedies, in which the foolishly generous tend to redeem the mean, show a sweetness of spirit, and her novels are still in print and still readable. But what was it that drew her, in the first place, to the stage? Was it her beauty? Was it her wit? Was it simply a passionate desire to get out of Stanningfield in Suffolk, and to escape from the restrictions of her life as one of the many children of a farmer? She was something of an adventurer, before she settled down to a life of hard working and respectable author: she would make a good subject for a historical novelist.
And what made her stammer in the first place? What makes anyone stammer? Left-handedness falsely corrected, overweening ambition, muddled brain hemispheres, stress, or a weakness in the speech production mechanism? I repeat, nobody knows. Stammering has reasonably been called ‘the most complex disorganisation of functioning in the field of medicine and psychiatry'. When I asked an analyst for suggestions as to causes, she said that maybe it was a way of drawing attention to myself and to what I had to say. Oh yes, came my immediate (though silent) angry reaction - like a club foot, or a hare lip, or an unsightly birthmark are ways of drawing attention to one's appearance? The last thing a stammerer wants to do is to stammer, and Somerset Maugham quite legitimately, in Of Human Bondage, handicapped his hero Philip with a clubfoot instead of a stammer. (Though it has to be said that clubfeet are more romantic and Byronic than speech impediments.)
On cooler reflection, however, I very reluctantly concede that this analyst may have had some kind of a point. A stammer is not a physical disability, nor even a motor disfunction, and that is that. All those cruel experiments with vocal cords and the slitting of tongues and the binding of left hands were a total waste of time. The nice elocution lessons I went to as a child in Sheffield were largely a waste of time, though I did learn some good poetry through them. The problem – and it is a problem, not a blessing in disguise, for most of us - remains a mystery. Maybe there is, in some of us, a deep confusion between the need for attention, and the means of obtaining it. A birthmark is a physical accident, and we carry it from birth, and from before birth. But speech is learned, and we do not stammer in the womb.
I have mentioned the British Stammering Association, which campaigns to improve awareness of speech difficulties in schools and in the work place, and would like to conclude by drawing our attention to the current expectations of fluency in the National Curriculum - expectations which, if articulated, would certainly have made life even more taxing for a child like myself. Of course it is desirable for children to be able to express themselves with confidence and fluency, but, for some, this is simply not a realisable goal. Those who place ‘an unthinking emphasis on oracy' - I borrow that phrase from Cherry Hughes, the Education Officer of the BSA - simply do not know and cannot imagine what it is like to open your mouth, and not to know what, if any, sound will issue forth. One may long to be able to speak fluently - one may even long to be asked to read aloud in class - but one may not be able to do it. There are many horror stories of children in school being bullied not by fellow pupils only, but by teachers - ‘pull yourself together, speak clearly, don't mumble' are not very helpful injunctions to a small child, and they would not have been very helpful to the adult George the Sixth. Children suffer torments through their disability, and employ immense ingenuity in trying to outwit themselves. Some speak better standing, some sitting: some are more fluent if they slow down, whereas others need to get a running jump at words they dislike. Some achieve a measure of security by rehearsing endlessly, others are better if taken by surprise by words on the page.
Some substitute, some avoid, some deny, some improvise. All would be daunted the Key Stage Three speaking requirements of the National Curriculum, which are listed thus:
The teacher should ensure that pupils can speak fluently and appropriately in different contexts, adapting their talk for a range of purposes and audiences, including the more formal. To this end, pupils should be taught to
structure their talk clearly, using markers so that their listeners can follow the line of thought
use illustrations, evidence and anecdote to enrich and explain their ideas use gesture, tone, pace and rhetorical devices for emphasis use visual aids and images to enhance communication vary word choices, including technical vocabulary, and sentence structure for different audiences use spoken standard English fluently in different contexts evaluate the effectiveness of their speech and consider how to adapt it to a range of situations.
And all this, one is meant to achieve by the age of fourteen. This speaking by numbers or letters would have been beyond me then, and is beyond me now. I have been struggling for more than forty years to express myself, and I am secretly hoping that this public declaration of public silence will unlock my throat, so that, at least in private, I will be safe at last - but if it doesn't, who cares? I have nothing to lose. Never again will I have to worry about lecture titles, or interactive sound systems, or microphones, or missing aeroplanes, or missing audiences, or the lack of visual aids or literary jokes to enhance my argument.
I intend to end this lecture with a quotation - with a striking, portentous, pretentious, and somewhat mystifying quotation from Nietzsche. It is always a good idea to know how to end a lecture - unless, of course, one is Jonathan Miller. And a quotation makes a good ending. One of the ironies of my speaking life is that I actually speak better - as did Angus Wilson - from notes, without a text, but as I have grown older, the anxiety of doing this has increased, and has made me speak worse. Hence this text, and this concluding quotation.
I found this quotation in a very good little book from the BSA library, by the prolific writer David Compton, who says his attention was directed to it by a friend in Devon. I hand it on, in turn. (Stammering: Its Nature, History, Causes and Cures. 1993) Compton says that although Nietzsche presents this episode as a riddle - it seems to have been associated with the death of his father - any stammerer will know what he means by it. Here it is. It is from Thus Spake Zarathustra, in the translation by Alexander Tille:
And verily, the sight I saw, its like I had never seen. I saw a young Shepherd, writhing, choking, quivering, with face distorted, from whose mouth a black and heavy snake hung down.
Saw I ever so much loathing and wan horror in one face? My hand tore at the serpent and tore - in vain! I could not tear the serpent from his throat. Then a voice within me cried: Bite! Bite!
Bite off its head! Bite! - thus cried the voice of my horror, my hate, my loathing, my pity, all the good and evil in me cried out…
The Shepherd bit, as my cry counselled him: he bit with all his strength! He spat the snake's head far from him - then sprang up, no longer a shepherd, no longer a man, but one transfigured, light-encompassed, one that laughed!
Copyright Margaret Drabble, October 2001
Our dear SHARER Ken Wilson has sent us this letter with reference to the article “Using Drama for Pronunciation Practice” by Dr Gray Carkin that we published in SHARE 129.
Dear Omar and gang,
Thanks for another sparkling and interesting SHARE. I was interested to read Gray Carkin's piece about Drama for Pronunciation Practice, and even more interested to note that he has been using sketches from our book of English Teaching Theatre sketches “Off-Stage” as his base material.
In the article, he states correctly that “Off-Stage” is out of print. However, almost all (23 out of 25) the sketches from “Off-Stage” and the follow-up book “Further Off-Stage”, plus an additional nine sketches, are available in two more recent publications, “English Sketches” 1 and 2, published by Macmillan.
I would appreciate it if you could let your readers know about this.
Keep up the Good Work!
Best wishes,
Ken Wilson
Director - English Teaching Theatre
On Saturday 16th of October 2004, the Instituto Nacional Superior del Profesorado Técnico de la Universidad Tecnológica Nacional will celebrate its 30th Anniversary with a Professional Development Conference “30 Years Shaping the Future of ELT in Argentina”.
The Conference will consist of 50 workshops and 5 semi-plenary presentations organized according to the following schedule:
08:00 -  09:30          Registration.
09:30 -  10:00          Opening Cremony
10:00 -  11:00          Semi-plenary and 10 workshops.
11:00 -  11:30          Coffee Break
11:30 -  12:30          Semi-plenary and 10 workshops.
12:30 -  13:00          Commercial Presentations
13:00 -  14:30          Lunch Break
14:30 -  15:30          Semi-plenary and 10 workshops.
15:30 -  16:00          Coffee Break
16:00 -  17:00          Semi-plenary and 10 workshops.
17:00 -  17:30          Coffee Break
17:30 -  18:30          Semi-plenary and 10 workshops.
18:30 -  19:00          Certificates
19:00 –  21:00          Farewell Cocktail
A large number of National Universities as well as professional organizations and other institutions will sponsor the event. The commercial sponsors include the major publishers,
examination boards and other companies offering services allied to ELT.
The list of plenary speakers and workshop leaders includes some of the best well-known and liked names in ELT in our country. Notably, among them  Prof. Alfredo Jaeger, former Head of the English Section. The complete list will be published shortly.  
Fees: (first enrolment)
INSPT- UTN graduates: $ 15
INSPT- UTN students:  $ 10
All others: $ 20
For additional information, write to:
Our dear SHARER Mabel Gallo has an announcement to make:
Expanding our Professional Role
At Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires
Puan 470, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Friday, July 16 - Saturday, July 17,  2004
Friday, July 16
08.30                 Registration
09.00 - 10.15        Opening Plenary:         Martha Grace Low
Letting Your Precepts Guide Your Teaching
10.30  -  11.45      Concurrent Sessions. Demonstrations / Workshops
11.45 - 12.15        coffee break         
12.15 - 13.00        Commercial Presentations. Publishers            
13.00 - 14.15        lunch break         
14.30 - 15.45        Concurrent Sessions. Demonstrations / Workshops
15.45 - 16.30        Plenary Session:         The US Educational System
16.30 -  17.00       coffee break
17.00 -  18.15       Plenary Session:         Martha Grace Low
Basing Writing Rubrics on Actual Student Writing
Saturday, July 17
08.30                 Registration
09.00  - 10.15      Concurrent Sessions. Demonstrations / Workshops
10.15 - 10.45       coffee break
10.45 - 11.15       Plenary Session:         TESOL Matters
11.15 - 12.45       Plenary Session:        Martha Grace Low
Leadership Development for ESOL Professionals- Part 1
12.45 -  14.00      lunch break 
14.00 -  15.15      Plenary Session:        Martha Grace Low
Leadership Development for ESOL Professionals - Part 2
15.15 - 16.00        Conclusions / Closing                                
Registration fees:  Convention             $20
Convention + ARTESOL Membership       $ 25
Please e-mail:   or  Call (11) 5382-1554
Plenary Abstracts.
Speaker:         Grace Martha Low
Friday, July 16
Letting Your Precepts Drive Your Teaching
What drives the courses that we teach?
Our teaching can be transformed if we base it on the precepts that we really believe rather than simply working through the textbook. The presenter will give examples of such precepts and explain how they can be applied to any course.
Friday, July 16
Basing Writing Rubrics on Actual Student Writing
A writing placement rubric is most effective if based on features that appear in actual student work rather than on a teacher´s intuitions of such features. Creating such a rubric is a satisfying and sometimes surprising project. The distinctions along the continuum in given categories (development, vocabulary, grammar, general comprehensibility) sometimes run counter to intuition.
Saturday, July 17
Leadership Development for ESOL Professionals, Part One:
Discovering the Leader in You
Is it true that there is a hidden leader in everyone? How can you tap into your own unique qualities and discover your potential for leadership? The presenter will discuss principles of effective leadership, models of leadership, and applications that all participants can find useful and satisfying.
Saturday, July 17
Leadership Development for ESOL Professionals, Part Two:
The Busy Leader
Many of us would like to contribute more to our workplace and our profession, but we feel we just do not have the time. How can busy leaders manage our time, build teams, and bring out the best in others? This presentation will offer guidelines, models, and applications that everyone can use.
TOOLS FOR TEACHERS announces its winter course called Expanding your Horizons on July 19 and 20, 2004 as indicated below preceded by a one day meeting called Minding the Body, Minding the Soul. Details below:
Monday July 19
10:00 to 13:00 Correcting Errors: a different perspective
In this session we will quickly review how attitudes towards errors have changed over the past twenty years, fundamentally from a psycholinguistic point of view. We will then proceed to present a humanistic pespective which is applicable not only in language teaching/learning, but in the whole spectrum of education and in the art of living.
14:00 to 17:30 Visualize to Learn
Visualization can be put to good use not only to learn vocabulary items or grammatical structures, but also to provide opportunities for developing oral and writing skills. It can also be used to introduce reading texts and for review purposes. Over and above that, it can be used to assist students in setting outcomes and developing self-confidence. This practical session will tell you how.
Tuesday, July 20
10:00 to 13:00 Empowering students to become better learners
To empower someone means to enable him/her to achieve his objectives. We will touch upon the role of beliefs, language, and anchors, among others which limit or facilitate the blossoming of the students' talents.
14:00 to 17:00  Colloquial English as heard on TV sit coms
Short of actually living in a country where English is spoken and mixing with native speakers, sit coms (comedies) are an invaluable source for the study of colloquial and idiomatic English. We will review a number of lexical items usually heard on TV series and discuss their meanings and levels of style.
In this session Oriel will be assisted by a native speaker of English.
All sessions will be held at SBS, Coronel Diaz 1747, Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Vacancies are limited and are on first come, first served basis. Admission fee for each session is $20. Three sessions are $50 and all four sessions $60. To ensure a seat, register in advance at any of the SBS bookshops (addresses at
Sunday, July 18 from 10 to 17:00
Minding the Body, Minding the Soul, from 10:00 to 17:00
A unique opportunity to engage in personal growth through meditation, yoga assanas, chi kung exercises, meditation and touching as a way of healing.
For the yoga asanas, Oriel will be assisted by Sonia Dalio, certified yoga teacher.
Venue for this session to be announced. Admision fee: $ 30.
All sessions are given by Oriel E. Villagarcia, M.A. in Linguistics for English Language Teaching, University of Lancaster, Master Practitioner of NLP, Certificate of Completion, NLP University, Santa Cruz, California, Certified Administrator of the MBTI, Florida, Certified Practitioner of Breema, Oakland, California, Fulbright and British Council Scholar. Oriel has taught at the Catholic University of Salta, National University of Rio Cuarto and National University of Santiago del Estero and is co-founder of ASPI (Asocociación Salteña de Profesores de Inglés) and FAAPI (Federación Argentina de Asociaciones de Profesores de Inglés).
For further information, write to

Our dear SHARERS from Encuentro de Gramática Generativa write to us:
Estimados colegas,
Queremos informarles que el Dr. David Embick, University of Pennsylvania, dictará un seminario de doctorado en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UBA, los días 26, 27, 29, 30 de julio y 2, 3, 5, 6 de agosto de 2004, en el horario de 15 a 18 hs. El seminario "Morfología Distribuida" será dictado en inglés y tendrá una carga horaria de 25 horas.
Adjuntamos el programa con los contenidos y la bibliografía inicial.
Sugerimos realizar la inscripción antes del 1º de julio en el edificio de Posgrado de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (Puán 430). Cualquier información adicional pueden contactarse con esta dirección o con
Moira Alvarez
It is a pleasure for us to announce that Omar has been invited by the PARATESOL Committee to give two plenary presentations at the next PARATESOL Convention on July 22nd aan 23rd at the Centro Cultural Paraguayo-Norteamericano (CCPA) in Asunción del Paraguay:
Plenaries by Lic. Omar Villarreal – Universidad Tecnológica Nacional- Argentina
Let the Sun of Learning shine in !!
Let the enchanting words of a poem, the magic of your students' smiles as they put their English "on stage", the energy of movement and the bewitching effect of music bring a gust of fresh air into your classroom...Let the sun of learning shine in !
In this presentation, Professor Villarreal will share with you a bagful of ready-made activities you can use with your students (ages 9 through 15 ) as from the next Monday morning after PARATESOL to make your lessons enjoyable and memorable.
A Chicken without bones or the use of magic in ELT.
We all want our students to communicate. We all want our students to be flexible and fluent in their actual “use”  of the language but we often shy away from grammar, or we believe in the magic of “grammar boxes” and “grammar summaries” strategically placed at the end of the book. After all, we have been told once and again that “while we focus on communication, grammar will take care of itself”. But will it?  If it won´t, how much grammar should we teach and how? Should we start writing grammar with a capital “G” again? 
For more information on the PARATESOL Convention, contact:
Mr. Eduardo Olivieri
Telephone: 595-21-224-831 Ext. 124 - 595-21-224-772 Ext. 218
595-961-636-599 - Fax: 595-21-214-544
Our dear SHARER Laurie Sullivan from S & F has an invitation for all SHARERS: 
S & F Teaching Resources
6th, 7th and 8th of August 2004
Special Immersion Course for Teachers and Advanced Students of English
In response to many requests from teachers and institutes, we are organizing a special immersion course of 3 days for teachers and students of English in Merlo, San Luis.
The idea is to provide the opportunity not only to practise English at the advanced level which we need for our professional development, but also to examine the methodological approach needed for our students.
Every class or activity in this course, has these two aims in view, and the programme has been designed to provide you with the chance to develop linguistically and professionally, while enriching your cultural and academic attainment. 
Friday 6th August
8.30     Words of welcome, introduction, and organization of groups.
9.00     Keep on Talking.  Using contemporary texts from magazines, newspapers or internet we will be looking for meaning, and ways of expressing our ideas fluently and coherently.  Then, we will be asking ourselves how we can apply our difficulties and successes to the needs of our students at their different levels.
10.30  Break.
11.00  Is Writing Always Boring ?  While it certainly can be, both to teach and to learn.  In this class, we will be trying out our own writing skills, some new ideas, and inter-changing opinions.
12.30  Break.
13.00  Lunch.
14.00  Excursion in English.  Trip to the top of the mountains, passing through the tourist attractions of El Rincón, Mirador del Sol and Mirador de los Cóndores.  The language of this excursion is strictly English, both for you and for us.
15.30  Once we have arrived at the top and you have recovered your breath, we will be playing the first of the Great English Fun Games, with spectacular prizes for the winners.  Participation is certainly not optional.
17.30  Tea-time.  Chatting, conversation and comments.
19.00  Arrival in Merlo.
Saturday 7th August
9.00     The Whys, the Hows and the Whats of Grammar.  We will be running over the rather nastier parts of English grammar, brushing up your knowledge and looking at the methodology we need to do the same for our students. 
10.30  Break.
11.00  The Misabuse of English.  Learning grammar is one thing, learning the correct use of English is quite another.
12.30  Break.
13.00  Lunch.
14.00  Excursion in English.  Trip to the San Ignacio Waterfall.  The language of this excursion, once again, is strictly English, both for you and for us and you will be expected to prepare yourselves for the ...
15.30  Second of the Great English Fun Games , with more spectacular prizes for the winners.  Participation is certainly not optional but at least this time you won't be on your own !
17.00  Picnic Tea-time.  Chatting, conversation and comments, or profound silence if you prefer.
19.00  Arrival in Merlo.
Sunday 8th August
9.00     Are you listening?.  And, more important, are they listening?  Some listening comprehension exercises for you and a look at the methodology.
10.30  Break.
11.00  What?  Sorry!  Pardon!  Idiomatic and colloquial English or to put it in other words... a one-off chance to put some grease on the lingo of Sexy Will and get street-wise.
12.30  Break.
13.00  Lunch.
14.00  Last Excursion in English.  Your suffering is nearly over!  Trip to Loma Bola.  We don{t want to repeat ourselves, but the language of this excursion is strictly English, both for you and for us.  This is so true, than unless you speak English you get no scones, and your portion of chocolate cake goes to the organizers.
15.00  Great English Fun Games , - yes, again!, and again with more spectacular prizes for the winners.  We won't tell you about participation because by this time you should be brain-washed.
17.00  English Tea.  Presentation of Certificates.
19.30  Arrival in Merlo.
Despite the jocular tone of the programme, this course requires the linguistic skills of a trained teacher of English or a student in their final year of the Teacher's Training Course.
For this course you will be provided with:
* 9 hours of intensive class tuition taught by a native speaker.
* 10 hours of recreational activity in English.
* All material needed for the course.
* Certificate of attendance.
* Bed and Breakfast  (Residencial sharing double rooms).
* 3-course lunch served in the place of lectures.
* Excursion teas.
* Transport for 3 excursions with guide. 
 Total Cost: $ 210.-
For groups of 3 or more coming from the same institution there will be a discount of 10% for each person. There are also discounts for those travelling by Empresa Chevallier.
Inscription in the course can be made by reservation only, accompanied by the payment of $50.- for each person reserved. 
For further information and Registration, write to: Laurie Sullivan
Our dear SHARER and friend Douglas Andrew Town writes to us:
Dear Omar,

Could you let SHARE readers know about English Argentina? This is a Yahoo Group for people in Argentina wishing to buy, sell, lend, borrow, swap or find books, magazines, DVDs, etc. in English. Membership of this group is free. You can subscribe following this link:

Since you were one of the very first members of the group I thought you might want to invite your SHARERS to join us. I'm sure both teachers and students will find it useful.

Love to Marina and yourself

Our dear SHARER Alfred Hopkins writes to us:
These aren't times to talk about killing people, but after all it has been a favorite human sport since the dawn of history. In this case it's Poe's tale about a guy who can't stand the look in his companion's eye. So what does he do? He cuts him to pieces and shoves him under the rug. (How many things do we shove under the rug?) Then he has something like a panic attack. Or perhaps it was guilt. So his heart begins to pound so much that he thinks the poor victim is still alive...the rest of the story you can see on July 7th...Oh, just to have a bit more fun, this version takes a laugh at the whole idea. Black humor, you might say:
"What a Gag!
The Tell-Tale Heart Cracks up!"
adapted from "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe
Directed, acted and retold by Mr. Alfred Seymour Hopkins
7.00 p.m.  July 7th 2004 - Florida 141 2nd floor
Entrance fee: $ 5
(Any resemblance to reality is pure artistic coincidence!)

Our dear SHARER Cecilia Ramirez announces:
Hello everyone!
I am writing to you in order to inform you that the Second ELT Fair in the West will take place on Saturday , September 18th  from 9:30 to 17 hs in San Antonio de Padua.
The idea is to give teachers and trainees ready-to-use ideas which can be immediately applied in the classrooms.
Call for Presentations is now open until July 15th.
There will be several well- known presenters that will help you motivate yourself and keep up-dated with the latest techniques.
Closing Plenary: Games for a Reason.
The use of games, stories, music and game-like activities for the development of linguistic and communicative competence within a coherent and realistic EFL programme.
Lic. Omar Villarreal
Profesor de Inglés e Inglés Técnico –Instituto Nacional Superior del Profesorado Técnico de la UTN.
Licenciado en Ciencias de la Educación con especialización en Educación Formal – Facultad de Humanidades de la Universidad Católica de La Plata. 
Licenciado en Tecnología Educativa – FRA Universidad Tecnológica Nacional.
Registration is open.
Fee: $20 ( until July 30th) - $ 30 ( after July 30th)
Vacancies are limited. Don't miss this opportunity!!!
Contact me for further details.
Cecilia Ramirez de Ricci - CR ELT Services
TE: 0220 4859714

La Coordinación Académica de la Licenciatura en la Enseñanza del Inglés (Res.Min. 93/02) de la Universidad Católica de la Plata anuncia la apertura de la inscripción de una nueva cohorte por comenzar en el segundo cuatrimestre de 2004. Habrá una charla informativa gratuita el Sábado 7 de Agosto a las 10:30 en Facultad de Humanidades -UCALP- Calle 13 # 1227 - La Plata
Podrán realizar esta la carrera los profesores de Inglés con Títulos otorgados por
Universidades Nacionales, de Gestión Estatal o Privada.-Institutos de Enseñanza Superior no Universitaria, de carrera de cuatro años de duración.
Alcances profesionales de la Licenciatura
• Realizar tareas de investigación en el campo de la Enseñanza del Inglés.
• Realizar estudios y diagnósticos sobre distintos aspectos de la Enseñanza del Inglés y sus impactos en la realidad social y educativa.
• Desarrollar actividades de planificación y evaluación de proyectos y programas de Enseñanza del Inglés.
Articulación académica
El Título habilita para el ingreso directo a Especializaciones, Maestrías y Doctorados Universitarios y a la Carrera de Investigador.
Actividad Académica: Las clases serán dictadas los días Sábados de 8 a 18 hs
Primer cuatrimestre
1.1. Antropología Filosófica
1.2. Filosofía de la Educación
1.3. Metodología de la Investigación
1.4. Corrientes de la Literatura en Lengua Inglesa
1.5. Psicolingüística
1.6. Gramática Española
Segundo Cuatrimestre
2.1. Teología
2.2. Filosofía del Lenguaje
2.3. Análisis del Discurso
2.4. Literatura Inglesa I: Seminario
2.5. Estructuras Lingüísticas Comparadas: Español-Inglés
Tercer Cuatrimestre
3.1. Ética y Deontología
3.2. Investigación Educativa Aplicada
3.3. Enseñanza de la Lengua Inglesa para propósitos específicos
3.4. Literatura Inglesa II: Seminario
3.5. Diseño y Desarrollo de cursos aplicados a la Enseñanza del Inglés
Cuarto Cuatrimestre
4.1. Pasantías-Tutorías-Adscripciones en el nivel superior
4.2. Tesis
Licenciado en la Enseñanza del Inglés
Para Mayores Informes dirigirse a : Facultad de Humanidades -UCALP-
Calle 13 # 1227 - (1900) La Plata Tel. (0221) 422-7100 int.128
O escribir a la Coordinadora de la Carrera: Francisca Abdala 

Our dear SHARER Maria Daniela Lacosta has sent us this circular on behalf of the organizers:
Universidad Nacional de La Plata
Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educación
Departamento de Lenguas y Literaturas Modernas
Departamento de Letras
 Las cátedras de Literatura Inglesa, Literatura Norteamericana, Cultura Inglesa y Traducción Literaria tienen el agrado de invitar a las
Primeras Jornadas de Cultura y Literatura en Lengua Inglesa
Una larga tradición de estudios y enseñanza de la cultura en lengua inglesa, más específicamente de la literatura, constituye la motivación central de estas jornadas. El hecho de que esa cultura ha sido asimilada y enseñada también por medio de traducciones se refleja en la incorporación de temas relacionados con la traducción y los estudios culturales.
Fecha: 7, 8 y 9 de octubre
Lugar: Centro Cultural Islas Malvinas (calle 19 y 50 La Plata)
Las Jornadas contarán con conferencias plenarias y mesas de ponencias.
Literatura en lengua inglesa.
Literatura en lengua inglesa en la Argentina.
Estudios culturales.
Traducción de literatura en lengua inglesa.
Enseñanza de la literatura y de la traducción en lengua inglesa en el nivel superior.
Conferencias Plenarias
Han comprometido su participación los Dres. Cristina Elgue de Martini (UNC) y Rolando Costa Picazo (UBA)
Presentación de Trabajos
Los trabajos deben ser inéditos y no excederán las ocho páginas (tamaño A4 -Letra Times New Roman - punto 12, interlineado 1,5) en una sola cara incluyendo notas y bibliografía. Las notas irán numeradas correlativamente y colocadas al final. Las ponencias podrán ser presentadas en idioma español o inglés. El tiempo de lectura será estrictamente de 20 minutos.
En la próxima circular se darán los detalles del formato en el cual deberán enviarse los trabajos para su publicación en las Actas de las Jornadas y la fecha límite para la presentación de los trabajos.
Expositores: $ 50
Asistentes:  $ 25
Estudiantes: sin cargo
Correo electrónico: Gabriel Matelo
María Laura Spoturno
Dirección de correo postal:
Departamento de Lenguas y Literaturas Modernas
Calle 48 entre 6 y 7  4º piso - (1900) La Plata
Departamento de Letras
Calle 48 entre 6 y 7  5ºpiso – (1900) La Plata

We would like to finish this issue of SHARE with a super short quotation:
Nostalgia is like a grammar find the present tense and the past perfect.
Omar and Marina.
SHARE is distributed free of charge. All announcements in this electronic magazine are also absolutely free of charge. We do not endorse any of the services announced or the views expressed by the contributors.  For more information about the characteristics and readership of SHARE visit:
VISIT OUR WEBSITE : There you can read all past  issues of SHARE in the section SHARE ARCHIVES.