Archive for December, 2007

Encouraging Understanding

December 25, 2007

Children do not progress in solitude. They need the encouragement of their
parents, teachers and peers to progress both socially and academically. All
youngsters have the right to quality education. Each pupil has his/her own
individual make-up, aptitude, and learning styles. The learner will have a good
chance to adjust emotionally where his/her temperamental traits fit in with the
values of society.

Students with social maladjustments or special needs require specialized
support services to help them through difficult learning experiences that could
otherwise lead them to lots of frustration and failure. Unfortunately, many of
today’s youth who have learning disabilities abandon their studies because they
experience countless hardships coping both socially and academically.

The proponents of inclusive education encourage integrating children with
special needs into a regular class setting so that they can learn together with
their peers. The idea is that when each child is given the opportunity to be
educated in a normal environment he/she will have the best chance to realize
his/her potential. Placement into a special class or a special school will only
be reserved for those whose needs cannot at all be met in a regular educational
context even with specialized services.

Norman Kunc, who wrote The Need to Belong: Rediscovering Maslow’s Hierarchy of
Needs, declares that integrating students with disabilities into regular
classes can be an important catalyst in designing the educational milieu where
all participants feel they have the right to belong. This would have a positive
effect on the entire student body.

According to Maslow’s psychological paradigm belonging is a vital human need
that must be fulfilled before one could achieve a feeling self-esteem. The most
fundamental physiological requirements are: food, water and shelter. When those
have been gratified, a person can focus on his/her needs for safety and
stability. Once the individual feels safe and secure, belonging or love emerge
as the next priority. Family, friendships, participation in community
organizations, etc. help one to achieve a sense of belonging. Once he/she feels
rooted within the community, he/she will yearn for acceptance from his/her
peers and will strive to establish friendships.

Inclusive education aims to provide opportunities for socially maladjusted
pupils to acquire the proper behaviour so that they can cultivate amicable
relationships with their fellow classmates. A child who cultivates friendly
relationships with his/her fellow classmates derives feelings of stability,
security, and belonging. The respect or recognition gained from these
friendships give rise to the unfolding of the learner’s self-esteem or feelings
of self-worth as a person. A student who has confidence feels motivated to
realize his/her potential.

Special needs children require lots of positive reinforcement to reinforce
their sense of belonging and to bolster their self-esteem. Integrating special
needs children into a regular classroom environment also allows them to benefit
from the influence of their more socially competent peers so that they would
eventually strive to emulate them. In the words of René Girard in his discourse
on mimetic desire, “We learn because we want to be like those from whom we

Individualized workshops are provided for pupils who are being mainstreamed to
provide them with the knowledge that they require to learn friendship-making
skills, skill alternatives to aggression such as how to stay out of fights,
ways to deal with stress, failure, group pressure, anger management, etc. Role
models, mentors, child care workers, the school psychologist, resource teacher,
etc. all play a significant part in fostering these students’ well-being and
development. All of the children learn in a manner in which the emphasis is on
team work and collaboration and which is mutually pleasing to all of the

Special needs children often harbour feelings of personal unworthiness and
hopelessness. Many quit school, where they feel uncomfortable, inferior and
inadequate. It is a tragedy when they no longer wish to attend classes because
they do not believe they have the potential to cope with the academic and
social pressures. The disaster occurs when they join gangs to feel more valued
and turn to a life of drugs and violence. Inclusive education aims to instil a
positive self-image into these youngsters and to provide programs for them
which are designed to help them ameliorate their behaviour and their academic
standing. Solutions to conflicts and to interpersonal problems are sought by
using empathy, cooperation, role-playing, group activities, etc. in a setting
where each pupil feels valued.

The regular classroom teacher who instructs in inclusive schools needs to
understand and believe in the reasoning behind mainstreaming. Although the
school psychologist, social worker, speech therapist, resource teacher, etc.
all have their own specialized duties to perform, the regular teacher must also
be conversant with the pedagogical approaches and techniques which are suitable
for the requirements of learners who exhibit emotional and/or behaviour
problems. He/She needs to be well versed in ways to tailor curriculum and
instruction for pupils with diverse levels of ability, learning modes and
exceptional requirements. It is essential that he/she be available to work
together with the families, other professionals, etc. in the educational

Inclusive education is not the answer for everyone but it should be available
to all pupils for whom it could be their window of opportunity for success.



Educational Websites

December 25, 2007


hot issues to debate

All  (for English Practice)
Grammar skills sharpening

skills sharpening

snoopy comic

cool sites

Scientific American

National Geographic

health concerns


food for thought

World Magazines

World Newspapers


Encyclopedia Britannica

atomic time

Your Reading Journal

December 25, 2007

Some Ideas to Include in Your Journal1. Before reading your article try to predict what it is about.

…(a)Is there anything about the title? the front cover? the back cover? the topic?

the print on the inside of the jacket?…(b)Are there any pictures? charts? graphs? headings? words in bold-faced print?

2. Skim through your selection with an eye for interesting or significant details.

…(a)Notice the vocabulary and the images that are conveyed. Are the words well chosen and effective to suit the author’s purpose?

…(b)Is the language appropriate for the reader that it is intended for?

…(c)What is the article’s main idea or purpose?

…(d)Are the points coherently expressed and organized? Is proper use made of paragraphing? sequencing?

…(e)What important concepts or patterns are to be learned?

…(f)Evaluate the quality of the author’s ideas and topics.

3. Review your entry and explain your purpose for including it in your journal. What does it reveal about (a) your reading progress? (b)your learning goals (c) etc.

4. Under what heading could your reading selection be classified? (eg. fiction, nonfiction, business section, sports, etc.)

5. Where did you find this passage to read? (if in the newspaper, tell what section, what page; was it near the front or way at the end?) Was it properly situated according to its degree of importance and relevance to the other stories. Comment.

6. Are you left at the end with any questions (such as why? how? who? etc.) If so, does this leave you feeling dissatisfied or rather curious to delve more deeply into the subject. Comment.

7. Anything else you would like to add.

The Modal Auxiliaries

December 25, 2007

Here the modal auxiliaries can, could, may, might, should, will, would, and must are explained.

can: (physical or mental ability) Eg. Mary can swim very well.

could: (past tense of can) Eg. Ms. Hunter could not travel last year.

………..(possibility) Eg. For $80,000 you could buy a condominium. ………..(50% chance) Eg. It’s getting cloudy. It could rain later on.may and might usually have the same meaning. They usually express a 50% chance. Eg. It could rain later so you might need an umbrella and you may need your raincoat.

Might can suggest a slimmer possibility than may. Consider: “Mr. Urban may be at the office. His client might even be there too.”

Should is for expressing advice as in: “We could go out to the discos or we could go to a movie, but if we want to pass the exam, we really should stay at home and study.

With must there is a strong obligation as when an order or a command is given. “Drivers must obey the traffic lights.” Or, “You must eat in order to live.” With must the implication is that one has no choice.

Must is also used to express strong certainty as when you draw a logical conclusion. If when you look outside and see people carrying unbrellas you could conclude that it must be raining. If when you look outside you see that it is only cloudy but everything is dry everywhere and no one has an umbrella then you could say it can’t be raining.

Must not means prohibition. It is prohibited to park in front of a driveway so you must not park in front of a driveway.

Have to means must. But, do not have to means do not need to as in the case where something is not necessary. For example, “I don’t have to work on Sunday because it is a holiday.

To respond to the question: “Do you have to go to bed early tonight?” It is possible to reply, “Yes, I have to because I have an early appointment in the morning.” This would mean that I must because I have no choice. A negative answer could be: “I don’t have to because tomorrow is a holiday.” (meaning that there is no necessity)

After if were is used more frequently than was. When speaking formally were is considered to be more correct. The structure ….if I were you is said ofter for making suggestions as in, “If I were you, I would go to the dance.” When referring to situations that are impossible or just imaginary the past tense of the verb and would are used. Let me illustrate this with, “If I had a million dollars I would travel around the world.” This is said by someone who does not have a million dollars but who is dreaming about having it.

On the other hand, in “If Martha answers correctly, she will receive a prize,” we see how the present tense in an if clause and will in the second one, refer to the future. Here we are talking about something that is possible and can have real results. In other words, there is a true possibilty expressed in the if-clause. That possiblity is also a condition. If that condition is met, it will produce a real result. Martha will receive a prize (result) if she answers correctly (condition).

REFERENCE: How English Works; A Grammar Practice Book; by Michael Swan & Catherine Walter; Oxford University Press; 1997.

The Present Perfect

December 25, 2007

To talk about how long something has lasted the rule is to use the present perfect tense. “Mr. Dingle speaks French for years,” is thus grammatically incorrect.

The present perfect takes the auxiliary have/has. It is used with the participle of the verb. “Mr. Dingle has spoken French for years,” therefore, follows the rule.

The present perfect joins the past with the present. Perhaps the action has finished but its results are important now. Take, “Mr. Webster’s baby has disappeared,” for example. The exact moment that the action happened is irrelevant, but its consequences are important now . The exact time when the action finished is not indicated in the present perfect. The adverbs: yesterday, last night, 2 days ago, refer to finished times and therefore, cannot be used in the present perfect.

Generally, we use the present perfect to speak about an action that continues to the present time. Since refers to the time when it began, whereas, for indicates the period of time that it has lasted. Expressions such as ” since May” and “for six months” illustrate this point. So far, up to now, until today are others that go with the present perfect.

Words such as already, yet, ever, recently, do not indicate the specific time of the action. They mean any time until this moment and this is why they are appropriate for the present perfect.

Expressions such as “several times this week,” or “most afternoons,” refer to actions that have been repeated up to the present. They do not refer to any one particular time and so they are used with the present perfect.

REFERENCE: How English Works; A Grammar Practice Book; by Michael Swan & Catherine Walter; Oxford University Press; 1997.

The Simple Past and Past Progressive

December 25, 2007

In the past we also have a progressive form and a simple one and the rules are similar. Again, when the action was only temporary the verb takes the past progressive. Consider, “When I came into class the teacher was telling a joke”. The teacher’s telling of the joke was only temporary. Note as well that the teacher was in the act of telling the joke or continuing the action. In other words, the past progressive, as with the present progressive, does not express a finished action.

We use the simple past to speak about an action that was completed. By examining again the above example it is becomes obvious that “to come” is in the simple past because it expresses an action that was finished.

In the following example it can be seen that the simple past can interrupt the action that was in progress. Take, “A taxi hit Mary while she was crossing the street”. As a result of being hit by the taxi, Mary never finished crossing the street.

Now for some of the exceptions: With some verbs there is no indication that there is any action at all. These are, therefore, non-progressive. Examples are: know, see, like, etc. Check you textbook for a more exhaustive list. In “Bradley knows the answer,” just because he knows it does not imply that he is doing anything at all.

Some verbs can have a progressive meaning and another one that is non-progressive. Consider, “Mr. Cash has a dictionary,” and “Miss Universe is having dinner now”. In the former sentence “have” means possess. This does not imply that Mr. Cash is doing any action what-so-ever. However, when have means to eat, it clear that there is an action intended.

Sometimes an action can occur repeatedly or habitually but can take the progressive tense. In such instances, the speaker is expressing strong emotion as in, “Your’re always interupting me”. In such cases something may have been done that was not intended to arouse the anger expressed or the situation was unplanned. “Mrs. Potter always meets her daughter up after school and takes her home,” is an example of a planned meeting. However, “Mrs. Potter is always meeting her daughter’s teacher at the supermarket,” is the case of an unplanned meeting.

REFERENCE: How English Works; A Grammar Practice Book; by Michael Swan & Catherine Walter; Oxford University Press; 1997.

The Simple Present and Present Progressive

December 25, 2007

An action can take place habitually or it can occur just temporarily. When you say you do something habitually you mean that you did it in the past, you do it now and that you expect to do it in the future as well. Consider for example, ” Mrs. Taylor’s husband goes fishing in July”. What is meant is that in the past in July, her husband went fishing, that he is going fishing now (if it is July now) and that it is expected that he will continue to go fishing in July in years to come as well. Grammatically speaking, we use the simple present to express actions that are habitual.

Not all things that we do are habitual. We can also talk about the things we are doing only temporarily at the present time. The sentence “Miss Carpenter’s husband is visiting France this summer,” does not mean that he visited France in the past or that he will visit there in the future. Therefore, he is only there temporarily (just for this summer). We express such actions using the present progressive tense. In the example it is clear that he is not finished doing the action as well as the fact that he is doing the action now at this specific time.

If let us suppose Jane says, “Ms. Hill is reading a good book by Flaubert this year,” Jane does not necessarily mean that Ms. Hill is reading the book at that very moment while Jane is speaking. But she does mean that Ms. Hill is in the process of reading it or that she is not yet finished reading the book. It is also clear that Ms. Hill isreading it this particular year. These 2 conditions would call for the use of the present progressive.

The present simple is the tense to use to express actions that occur one after the other as when (a) a sports broadcaster reports the play by play action (b) a cook demonstrates how to follow a recipe (c) a sales representative demonstrates how to follow instructions for assemblying the parts of the product together or how to operate it (d) or even when someone gives directions to a passerby about how to arrive at a particular destination.

The following are illustrations of the above respectively: (a) Pete passes to Rogers, Rogers to Bobby, Richard intercepts, Richard to Ken, Ken shoots and he scores! (b) First, I put a teaspoonful of oil in a frying pan and turn on the stove, I set the dial to medium, then while the oil is heating up I dice an onion into……….. (c) You connect part “A” into part “B”. Or, you press “c” to turn it on……… (d) You walk to the traffic lights and then you turn left and go straight for three blocks………..

REFERENCE: How English Works; A Grammar Practice Book; by Michael Swan & Catherine Walter; Oxford University Press; 1997.

A little exercise in English

December 25, 2007

Essaie de fournir un bref profile de ta personalité. Trouve trois adjectifs en anglais qui decrivent:

  1. the taste or texture of your favourite snack
  2. the place that you like best to spend your free time
  3. the type of music that you like to listen to most
  4. the TV program that you enjoy the most
  5. an animal that you would like to own

Essaie d’identifier le pays d’origine de chacun des proverbes suivants:

  1. the poor worker blames his tools
  2. do not run after the wild boar and lose the pig at home
  3. nobody calls his own buttermilk sour
  4. he who ate the nuts must sweep away the shells
  5. the hungry will not fall asleep because someone else has enough to eat
  6. in war, you become ashes if you lose, and charcoal if you win
  7. gentle words open iron gates
  8. he got angry with the rat and set fire to the house
  9. a handful of friends is better than a wagonful of gold

Now explain the meaning of each of the above proverbs and illustrate with an example. Then choose one or two that you like the most, stating your reasons.

The ability to convey information about oneself effectively is essential in many different types of situations, be they for social or business purposes. Try to tell more about your feelings and attitudes by completing each of the following sentences. You may want to write a little paragraph for each one to round it out.

  1. I can confide in a person who………
  2. I can be very sociable with people who………..
  3. Concerning myself, I hope that………
  4. I feel pleased when…………
  5. I am disturbed when…………
  6. It is easy to get along with people when………
  7. To me a beautiful individual is one that………

Here are more quotations. Do you know who said each one? Do you know their meanings?

  1. Settle one difficulty and you keep a hundred away.
  2. He who does not tire, tires adversity.
  3. Firmness of purpose is one of the best instruments of success.

This page is dedicated to Esther who graduated as a teacher, from her Uncle B.S.O.

L’hiver en guerre

December 24, 2007
La température
A dégarni les arbres de leurs armures.
La nature,
Maintenant pure et dure
Mais sans cœur
Cesse de fournir ses fleurs.
Les ravages de cette saison :
Nids laissés à l’abandon,
Plus de cri-cri de grillons,
Des feuilles mortes, éparpillées sur le gazon
Sont enterrées par les flocons.
Un Soleil moribond
Qui s’enfuit sur l’horizon,
Manifeste un air sombre
Au-dessus les décombres.
B.S.O. (auteur)
Published in the Winter Newsletter (January – February) 2011 of

The Quebec
Provincial Association
of Retired School