Don’t argue: how advertising gave us a sporting term


A 2017 article on the AFL Grand Final noted that the don’t argue was ‘one of Dustin Martin’s signature moves, so expect to see the “don’t argue” in full force when Richmond takes on Adelaide’. (Melbourne Herald Sun, 25 September 2017) For those who don’t follow Aussie Rules, Rugby League, or Rugby Union, the classic don’t argue is a straight-arm shove, often to an opponent’s face or head, by the player with the ball. The name of the move expresses its intention perfectly: ‘Get out of my way—and don’t argue!’ But what is the origin of this term?

The Herald Sun notes that the term has its origin in print-media advertisements for Hutton’s ham and bacon that ran for decades. A former employee explains the brand’s ‘logo and labels showed a person shoving his hand into the face of another person, with the expression “don’t argue”’. Some readers may know the image: a smiling man with a hat, bowtie, and cane pushes his hand at arm’s length into the face of a bearded man with an illfitting coat and umbrella. They look like vaudeville figures, and the caption reads: Don’t argue! Hutton’s ham is the best. Over the years the caption varies, but the words ‘don’t argue’ remain.

Further research has revealed more of the story. Hutton’s image and slogan is first found in newspaper advertisements in 1911. The company was probably using it the year before (perhaps as a poster), since independent references to its popularity appear in It gained wide public recognition at the time. Newspaper items alluded to it in many contexts, such as surf lifesaving, banking, boxing, horseracing, politics, and religion. A musical quartet and a lawn tennis team both took the name ‘The Don’t Argues’.

There is early evidence of its sporting use: ‘… two bulky opponents were struggling together at a critical moment near the line, when a big, stentorian voice alongside me on the hill roared out: “Get the “don’t argue” on to him!”’ (Sydney Sunday Times, 16 July 1911) It’s unclear if this means a straight-arm shove, but later evidence is plainer: ‘There is no doubt that Harry Caples has the best ‘don’t argue’ fend in Sydney… .’ (Sydney Sportsman, 9 July 1919) The don’t argue became established in the Australian sporting lexicon around this time.

The image of physical confrontation in the advertisement undoubtedly influenced the adoption of the slogan don’t argue as a name for the straight-arm shove. But the image and slogan have an older story—the Hutton company were not the first to use them.

In 1903 and 1904 a London society entertainer, Mel B. Spurr, toured Australia with a one-man show of comic monologues and songs. It was a huge success. One of his advertising handbills, reproduced here, shows a smiling man with his hand in the face of another man. The caption reads: Don’t argue! Go and see Mel. B. Spurr. There is no record of when the handbill was used, but circumstantial evidence suggests it was here in Australia: Harry Spurr’s memoir of his brother includes it in a chapter on the Australian tour, and a copy of the handbill exists in the State Library of Victoria. The image is unmistakably the same as Hutton’s.

Spurr died in 1904; Hutton’s don’t argue advertisements appeared around 1910. There’s no doubt Hutton used Spurr’s image, and this shows in the Hutton artist’s crude copying of the elegant handbill, down to the style of lettering. The origin of the image as a handbill for a variety theatre act explains its vaudevillian style.

Why did Spurr use the caption don’t argue? As far as we can tell, it is not a catchphrase associated with Spurr, his act, or his published songs and monologues. If the handbill was designed to attract an Australian audience, did don’t argue have a meaning for local audiences? It doesn’t seem so. Spurr first performed in Melbourne, but nothing suggests a Melbourne connection with the term—not even in Melbourne’s love of football. At this time don’t argue doesn’t appear to be associated with any football code, except as advice to players not to argue with the referee.

The phrase does appear in some contemporary advertisements, and perhaps Spurr or the handbill artist knew this. In the years just prior to Spurr’s tour it occurs in Australian newspapers spruiking things such as soap (don’t argue with dirt) and cough mixture (don’t argue the point … but get a bottle). Whatever the inspiration, the handbill was a happy marriage of words and picture, creating an arresting image that, with Hutton’s help, has resonated across a century. According to contemporary reports, Mel B. Spurr died in Melbourne on 24 September 1904 after a short illness, and was buried in St Kilda Cemetery. A trace of him remains in the Australian lexicon.

This article was first published in the April edition of Ozwords.

With thanks to Dr Clay Djubal, an expert on Australian variety theatre, for his comments on Mel B. Spurr and for drawing my attention to the Spurr handbill, and to John Rice-Whetton for alerting us to the term.

Them’s fightin’ words – naming the enemy in wartime


When the Great War broke out in August 1914, the French were already familiar with their enemy. A strong heritage of hatred towards the Germans had existed since the beginning of the nineteenth century, with the Prussian and Austrian armies invading France after Napoleon’s defeat (1814–15), followed by the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). The French had words to call on to depict their enemy, such as the diminutive Prusco (from Prussian), or Teuton (Teutonic), both reminders of the brutality of Prussian troops.

The Australians, however, had no history with the German empire. Furthermore, Australia had a strong German migrant community: by the mid-nineteenth century, Germans were the largest non-British group in Victoria (1861: 10,000). Nevertheless, the Australian volunteers who fought alongside the British Army were quick to use the lexicon of the European Allies, as shown by a study of the trench journal Aussie: the Australian Soldiers’ Magazine.

In 1915, as military operations stabilised in the trenches, multiple unit papers were created by all the national armies. These magazines were produced under the most difficult front-line circumstances, sometimes literally ‘in the trenches’. Many of these trench journals published a limited number of issues of only a few pages, handwritten or typed, and duplicated by makeshift means. Entertainment was their primary aim, in order to engage the bored soldiers during their unoccupied time. These trench publications were regarded benevolently by the French military authorities. Although there was an official Bulletin des armées de la République, this bulletin was considered propaganda. The Poilus (French soldiers) aspired therefore to more authentic and sincere newspapers, written by soldiers for soldiers, produced entirely for consumption by soldiers on active service, and taking into account their state of mind.

Australian troops arrived on the Western Front in 1916, two years after the French had begun fighting there. Soldiers had produced magazines on board troopships, and continued the practice in Europe. Many publications, some very ephemeral, were produced. Aussie: the Australian Soldiers’ Magazine, born on 18 January 1918, was one of the most significant of these trench publications and continued on into the immediate postwar years.

Graham Seal has studied the multiple functions of trench newspapers and noted that ‘these publications sometimes acted as a means of monitoring morale for the officers and as a safety-valve for the gripes and whinges of the ordinary soldier.’ While these trench publications provide an unequalled insight into everyday life and death during the Great War, they are also an invaluable resource for linguists wanting to research language in a time of war. They were seen to capture the real language of the soldiers, as observed by Aussie editor (and former journalist) Phillip Harris: ‘the success of Aussie […] belongs to the Diggers. Aussie was not a paper done for the Diggers, but by them. That’s why it reflects their spirit.’ Harris was particularly adamant about the sincerity and originality of the texts he published in Aussie, as argued in the third issue of the magazine:

AUSSIE is a product of the battlefield, and he wants every item in him to be the work of his cobbers in the field and those in the field only. Should matter that is not original sneak in, it decreases the value of the work of those who go to the trouble to supply the dinkum goods. Therefore, he asks those to whom this is addressed to do the fair thing and send in their own work or none at all. (March 1918)

In my research, the thirteen issues of Aussie printed in France in 1918–19, first in Flêtre, then in Fauquembergues, were explored in order to look at the kinds of words used to describe the enemy. Naming the enemy was a challenging exercise for these amateur journalists, as they had to maintain a fine balance between hate and respect, reality and propaganda, especially in a journal that aimed to be humorous and entertaining.

As indicated by Amanda Laugesen in Diggerspeak: The Language of Australians at War (2005), Fritz was the word most commonly used by the diggers in naming the Germans. Fritz was ‘first recorded in 1915, and in wide usage especially in the early years of the First World War among English-speaking troops, including the Australians. It was a diminutive of the common German male name Friedrich.’ Friedrich was also one of the favorite names of the Hohenzollern dynasty, the emperors of Prussia. ‘Fritz and Co.’, the German enemy, we are told in Aussie, are ‘Purveyors of Blighties to the British Army’ (January 1918). Blighty was military slang for ‘a wound suffered sufficiently serious to cause a soldier to be returned home to Britain or kept away from the front line’. The word Fritz could also be used as part of a collective: Hans and Fritz, as a counterpart to Bill and Jim, an affectionate name for Australian soldiers. Variants included Fritzah: ‘The Billjims had something very painful to pay to the Fritzahs, a hostile tribe’ (March 1918).

Hun was the second most commonly used word for Germans. While Fritz was a term more often used specifically to refer to German soldiers, Hun often referred to the German people collectively. The Huns were, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘a warlike Asiatic nomadic group of people who, under their king Attila, invaded and ravaged large parts of Europe in the late 4th and 5th centuries.’ According to Laugesen, ‘during the First World War, British, Australian, and other newspapers played directly on this, drawing a likeness between the Huns who invaded the Roman Empire and the Germans invading Belgium and France and, allegedly, destroying historic buildings.’ In addition, we find in Aussie expressions using this short evocative name in compounds such as Hun-hunter and Hun Plonker: ‘That clamorous and voracious animal, the Hun Plonker’ (March 1918).

The diggers were quick to naturalise a new word used by the French, Boche. Boche is the most common word used by French soldiers in their journals, displacing the commonly used words Prussien and Prussco. As early as August 1914, the word Boche was used in daily newspapers such as Le Matin and Le Figaro. This word was felt by the Germans to be strongly pejorative, as illustrated by the story of twenty-year-old Gabrielle Barthel, from Rombas in Mosel, who was condemned to five months’ jail in June 1915 for having used the word boche.

The very productive suffix –oche was frequently used in French slang (and still is). According to the Trésor de la Langue Française, boche is a portmanteau word blending Allemand (German) and Caboche (slang for ‘head’). This short word, with its evocative tone, provided a pretext for numerous wordplays, such as boche/bouche (mouth), boche/poche (pocket), etc. This is seen in the titles and subtitles of many French trench journals: Le Mouchoir de boche (227th infantry regiment; deformation of ‘pocket handkerchief’); Bochophage (68th infantry regiment; ‘German eater’); and Rigolboche (10th division; ‘laughing about Germans’).

The diggers also adopted the word Teuton (three occurrences) and domesticated the French Allemand into Alleyman by composing a phonetically similar word based on the English terms alley and man.

The enemy could also be alluded to through reference to figures who played an important part in triggering the war. Wilhelm II, Queen Victoria’s grandson, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, is found in both French and Australian trench journals, as Wilhelm Hohenzollern (advertisement, 1918) or more often the Kaiser. The German royal family is likewise often mentioned, in particular Rupprecht, Kronprinz of Bavaria (as Crown Prince, May 1918), also called ‘prince Rupert, the kaiser’s nephew’ (May 1919).

Other figures were taken to embody the German enemy, such as Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg (‘an unpopular person named Hindenburg’, December 1918) or Bertha Krupp (‘I dreamt we’d really won the war and finished Bertha Krupp’, March 1918), the proprietor of the Krupp industrial empire, famous for its production of artillery. Bertha also gave her name to the big gun that fired on the Allied troops, Big Bertha.

It has to be noted that despite the threat that these names could epitomise, the tone used by the Australian diggers is always humorous and the content kept at a distance. This was not always the case in French trench journals. Designated as the man primarily responsible for the war, Wilhelm crystallised the hatred of the French soldiers, whose loathing of the enemy was combined with a violent disenchantment with the elites. The Crown Prince (Kronprinz) was the subject of many puns in French – Kron being spelled con, a swear word meaning ‘stupid’. Furthermore, cartoons representing the Kaiser as a laughable puppet and a bloodthirsty monster, or Germania, the allegory of Germany, as a pitiless deity, considerably darkened the tone.

However, as previously mentioned, entertainment was the primary goal of trench journals during the Great War. Key words and phrases of German propaganda were parodied, such as ‘Deutschland uber Allies’ for ‘Deutschland über Alles’ (‘Germany above all else’, Aussie, January 1918). The peculiar German accent is strongly mocked: ‘Ach, mine friendts. You can never sometimes tell vot you least expect der most—aint it?’ (June 1918). German taste for music—‘Ach-der-schumannisch-der-musikalgessellschaft!’ (June 1918)—is also made fun of, as shown by this allusion to the German patriotic anthem, ‘Die Wacht am Rhein’, by Max Schneckenburger: ‘As Fritz, in his trenches, singeths the Wacht am Rhein, a Mill’s bomb hitteth him on his sauerkraut receptacle.’ (September 1918)

An ‘appetite for words’ seems to be the distinctive feature of Australian amateur journalists, as demonstrated in this call for ‘language rations’ in the third issue of Aussie:

[AUSSIE’S] appetite for words has increased with his growth, and he now does the Oliver Twist and comes up for more. He likes best those laughable trench incidents of which all battalion messes have a good stock. […] It is not necessary to be an experienced manufacturer of literary food to do this. Just send along the ingredients to him and he will do his best to make them into a palatable dish for general consumption. (March 1918)

The diggers on the Western Front excelled in blending new words into their slanguage, be it for the depiction of the enemy, or for the description of the world around them.

A republished version of the article, Naming the enemy in French and Australian trench journals of the Great War, first published in the April edition of Ozwords.

Lee Walker appointed President of the Australian Publishers Association

In Conversation with Lee Walker, newly appointed President of the Australian Publishers Association

How did you start your career in publishing?

I studied to be a secondary educator, but while I was completing my Diploma of Education, I started working in educational publishing as a freelance photo researcher. That was 26 years ago and I have never looked back. I was passionate about teaching and desperately wanted to teach, but the world of publishing opened up to me and provided a different view for how I could contribute to education.

I was offered a full-time position as an Editorial Assistant and went on to work my way up to become a Publishing Manager over the course of a decade. I then moved to Oxford University Press, accepting a role as Director of the Primary Education Division. I am now Schools Publishing Director and work with a wonderful team of publishers and editors developing the very best print and digital content for Australian primary and secondary schools.

Tell me about your experience at OUP Australia?

I have been at OUP for 11 years and I absolutely love it. The Press’ focus on its mission is a great motivator for me. During the best times, and also when it gets a little tough, the mission is a strong reminder of why we do what we do and the positive difference we are making to the lives of learners around the world.

How has publishing changed since you entered the industry?

When I started out in publishing, I didn’t have a computer – I had an electric typewriter. And there was no Internet and email – only typed memos!

You have explained the dramatic changes in publishing – has education also changed since you were studying to be a teacher?

For me, the most noticeable change has been the ever growing focus on assessment and accountability, from federal to state to local levels, and down to individual teacher level, and how the magic of teaching learning to transform young people’s lives can sometimes be lost. At OUP, we are constantly focussing on how we can enhance teaching and learning experiences, and keep the magic alive.

Congratulations on your appointment as President of the Australian Publishers Association. What will your priorities be in the role?

As President, I will continue to work very closely with a very experienced, passionate and committed Board of Directors, at a time when there is a lot going on in the publishing industry.

Our priorities over the coming months will be:

  • advocacy – to continue to strengthen our engagement with government at federal, state and local levels to ensure open and constructive dialogue key issues, including copyright
  • promotion – to continue to support trade and educational events such as the Australian Book Industry Awards ( and the Educational Publishing Awards Australia (, which recognise excellence in publishing and celebrate Australian creators, as well as the Australian Reading Hour ( and Love Your Bookshop Day ( to promote the benefits of and a love of reading
  • capability – ongoing work on important initiatives such as Title Page ( to ensure industry-best access to print and e-book title information for publishers, libraries, booksellers and distributors.

What does the future of publishing look like?

Roles within the publishing industry will continue to change as technology continues to influence what and how we publish. For example, the role of an editor is very different to what it was even five years ago. While an editor’s role includes more traditional editing duties such as copyediting and proofreading, in the educational publishing sector they are sometimes also tasked with populating data spreadsheets for digital uploads, as well as helping authors develop wireframes for digital interactive content.

There continues to be great value in print publishing – print is a beautiful piece of technology and still makes best sense in many learning situations. When a child is learning to read, understanding how a physical book works is important – how to hold it, how to turn a page, how to read from left to right. However, digital technology offers different, and sometimes better, ways of learning, and so it is a critical feature of the future of publishing.

How early childhood educators can advocate for a play-based approach in the early years

At first, play might seem contrary to ‘serious’ education. But play is not nearly as frivolous as it sounds. On the contrary, play is recognised as a context for children’s learning (Department of Education, Training and Workplace Relations [DEEWR], 2009) and research reports the benefits of play to children’s relationship development and the development of their self-regulation, resilience and autonomy.

When children are provided with opportunities to be immersed in meaningful contexts and are empowered to make choices, learning happens (Singer, Golinkoff & Hirsh-Pasek, 2006) and it is play that provides this context. Children’s educational trajectories can be positively influenced when they are met with experiences that encourage their natural inclination to learn through play.

However, despite research and policy frameworks advocating for play-based approaches in the early years, educators often feel many pressures in their school or centre to take a more formalised approach.

In an educational climate when the need to demonstrate evidence-based practice has led to an increase in testing and, in some cases, the introduction of approaches such as direct instruction, it can be a challenge for early years educators to maintain quality practice by advocating for the benefits of play. Here are some suggestions for how early childhood educators can advocate for play in their own schools or centres:

  • Be knowledgeable about your own practice. There is an array of research literature that explains the value of play to children’s lives and learning. (Several chapters in Learning Through Play address the value of play for children from birth to eight years of age.) As an educator, you need to be articulate the value and the evidence base behind your practice.
  • Construct and regularly review your shared philosophy on early years education and care. This is key to creating a united voice for early childhood and crucial if positive change is to occur.
  • Communicate the value of your play-based practice to colleagues. You could do this by sharing information about how a play-based approach in the early years is most appropriate and leads to developing skills in autonomy, inquiry, risk-taking and resilience, which assist children in later years.
  • Communicate the value of your play-based practice to families. Use posters in areas that parents/care givers congregate; put up information cards in the various play spaces of your room to advocate the skills learnt in that particular area when children play. You could also add a section on play in your weekly newsletter or blog.


Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR]. (2009). Belonging, Being & Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.

Singer, D.G., Golinkoff, R.M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (Eds). (2006). Play = learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from <>.


Learning Through Play

Oxford recognised for excellence in textbook design in awards longlist

Book design plays an important role in the effectiveness of a textbook. Good design captures the attention of the reader and ensures content is presented in a way that is clear, meaningful and memorable.

The quality of design used in Oxford University Press textbooks has been acknowledged in the 66th Annual Australian Book Design Awards, with four OUP Australia books appearing in the longlist.

The books that appeared in the Best Designed Educational Tertiary Book category are:

Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice


Community and Human Services

Community and services

Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement

Diversity inclusion

 Youth & Society 

Youth and society

OUP Australia Design Manager Sue Dani said design was crucial to the success of a textbook.

“Effective educational design encourages students to want to explore and learn more,” she said.

Graphic designer Nina Heryanto was behind the eye-catching design of Marketing: Theory, Evidence, Practice. She said she and a team of designers had worked over two years to perfect the look and functionality of the textbook.

“The designers started by developing a mood board to determine the look and feel of the book, then produced cover design concepts, from which a few were chosen for further developments and considerations by the rest of the team.

“We created a logo, which we used in illustrations of everyday products,” she said.

The design is closely aligned with the content of the textbook, ensuring the information is relevant and memorable for the reader.

“It reflects the emphasis on fast-moving consumer goods – everyday purchases and items that are familiar and accessible.”

The textbook features original illustrations both on its cover and the chapter pages throughout.

“Illustrations really suited the subject, given that marketing is a creative industry,” Nina said.

The winners of the Australian Book Design Awards will be announced on 25 May.



Our favourite children’s books

To celebrate International Children’s Book Day on April 2, we asked the OUP Australia staff to name their favourite children’s books.

There were books that made us laugh and made us cry, but can you guess the only book that was mentioned by two staff members?


My favourite book as a child was Elizabeth Honey’s 45 + 47 Stella Street and everything that happened. The characters’ adventures taking place in Australian suburbia made me feel like I could see myself in the book, and as if everyday life had a lot more mystery!


I’ll go for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It’s about a boy who has the worst day ever – nothing seems to go right. And at the end of the day, when he’s feeling very dejected, his mum just tells him, ‘Some days are like that.’ It’s a good thing to remember, even when you’re an adult!


I loved The Tiger Who Came to Tea – this story it used to make me laugh so much that a tiger was sitting down to eat tea and cake! And I loved the illustrations, I can remember my year 1 teacher reading me this in quiet time and I loved it so much I went home and asked for it for my birthday! I read it to my children now and they love it to and laugh at the same parts that I did.


I remember loving Unbelievable by Paul Jennings. I’m pretty sure I borrowed it from the school library many times. I also loved the books by June Factor (Unreal Banana Peel, Far Out, Brussel Sprout!, All Right, Vegemite! And Real Keen Baked Bean) because I found the poems funny and cheeky. I read and re-read these books many times. I also enjoyed the spooky Goosebumps books.


My daughter and I loved The Tiger Who Came to Tea, a quirky English classic I think, you never really do find out just why the tiger came or where it went afterwards. At a recent ‘Book Day Dress-up’ parade at my daughter’s school, one of the preppies arrived in a tiger suit holding a teapot. I think my daughter and I were the only other people there who knew who that character was!


I loved (well, still do love) Magic Beach by Alison Lester. My family has a beach house, and this book always reminds me of spending holidays there with all of my cousins. Sometimes we would read it while there, and we would all choose a different character from the book to be.


I was part of the generation who got to grow up alongside the Harry Potter kids, and I treasured every one of those books. Of course, part of the joy is in the fantastical adventures. But, I also loved how important it was that the characters learned new things along the way – about magic, but also about each other, and about themselves.

When in doubt, go to the library.


One of my favourite books to have read aloud to me as a child was The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover from ‘The Little Golden Books’ series. It’s a great interactive book that breaks the fourth wall by having Grover (from Sesame Street) try to prevent the reader from turning the pages of the book for fear of a monster at the end. Spoiler, the monster is him.


My favourite books were: Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel, The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss and Water Wings by Morris Gleitzman.


I only just discovered The Giving Tree when my daughter received it for her birthday. I can’t decide whether it warms my heart or makes me feel sad – let’s just say that it is bittersweet. It is about the relationship between a tree and a child, and how that changes as the child grows up. I also loved The Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go – another book that is hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time. As I got older, I loved Bridge to Terabithia and Came Back to Show You I Could Fly.


My favourite children’s book is Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner. This is a magnificent piece of Australian storytelling describing the turbulent life of a family with seven children who live in early outback Australia. The seven children are an entertaining cast of characters and at times prove to be sources of frustration for their father, the very strict, Captain Woolcot, and his new young wife, not much older than his oldest daughter. My favourite character was the lively Judy who always found herself displeasing her father by finding herself at the centre of some sort of mischievous and troublesome activity. In the book we are introduced to (or reminded of) the growing pains children and young adults are confronted with, many of which are relevant and resonate with modern readers.


I remember The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Allan Ahlberg being the most coveted book in the school library – the reserve list was insane! The reason it was so popular was because it was interactive (letters in envelopes) – a new feat in the early 90s. Very much worth the wait time.

One year for my birthday my Godparents bought me the audio book (in cassette-form) of Josie Smith by Magdalen Nabb. It was read by George Layton whose voice was so charismatic and diverse that it was incredibly easy to imagine Josie’s world in a small British town.

The series that made me fall in love with reading was Baby-sitters Little Sister by Ann M. Martin. It was a spinoff of The Baby-sitters Club for a slightly younger audience. The protagonist Karen Brewer was imaginative, assertive, sassy and my first literary role model.


When my kids were little, we loved reading a book called Dog In, Cat Out by Gillian Rubinstein and Ann James. The story perfectly captures domestic life with small kids and animals. There are four words in the book: cat, dog, in, out; but the detail in the pictures makes it fun to read over and over.


As a tiny tot I was obsessed with the illustrations of different types of families in The Baby’s Catalogue by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. In kindergarten I moved on to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, even though it spooked me a bit. In Primary School I loved anything by Roald Dahl, but particularly Boy and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Answer: The Tiger Who Came to Tea was Amanda and Emma’s favourite.

Celebrating Earth Hour – How we can help improve the health of coastal landscapes

In the lead-up to Earth Hour on 24 March 2018, it is important to explore the ways that young people can help care for their environment.

This excerpt from Oxford Big Ideas Geography 8 provides an inspiring insight into how damaged coastal landscapes and fauna are being rejuvenated, and how young people can get involved through organisations and programs such as Coastcare, Teach Wild and Ocean Care Australia.

Caring for coastal landscapes

Many human activities are changing coastal landscapes in negative ways.  Some of these changes (such as the building of new ports or holiday resorts) are deliberate, but many are accidental. A line of litter (such as fishing nets, plastic bottles and household rubbish) can be seen along the high tide mark of some beaches. The fragile vegetation on sand dunes is sometimes trampled and destroyed by thoughtless beach-goers; without the small bushes and trees that hold the dunes together, the wind blows sand further inland. Beaches are eroding, water quality is declining because of pollution and, in many places, coastal animals and plants are endangered by human activities.

Recognising that these threats exist, many people and organisations are working to preserve and protect our coastlines: from large global programs to individual volunteers who donate their time and energy. One such organisation is Coastcare, whose 60,000 volunteer members identify environmental problems in local coastal regions and work to solve those problems. Coastcare volunteers remove invasive weeds, litter and trampled plants from dune areas, and they plant new vegetation to anchor the dunes and keep the sand from blowing away.

Another organisation, Ocean Care Australia, is part of a global network that helps school and community groups to clean litter from coasts as part of an ‘adopt-a-beach’ program. Many schools, particularly those in coastal areas, have become involved in initiatives such as this.

Governments and large organisations have recognised the vital role that schools can play in educating young people about coastal issues. The Teach Wild program is just one of these. A partnership between the Australian Government (through CSIRO), Shell and Earthwatch Australia, this program enlists the help of school students to monitor the health of coastal ecosystems. As part of this program, school students collect and map debris (such as bottles, nets and other litter) found along the coast.

Case study: saving the Fairy Tern

Many plants and animals that live in the coastal environment are under threat from human activities. One bird that is considered to be at risk of extinction in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia is the Fairy Tern. There are about 5000 Fairy Terns in Australia. About half of these live in Western Australia; the rest are found in a few smaller colonies, primarily in South Australia, Victoria and southern New South Wales. Fairy Terns lay their eggs and raise their chicks in open nests in sand dunes, without cover from grasses and bushes. This makes them especially vulnerable to attack from introduced predators, such as wild foxes and domestic cats and dogs. The other major threat comes from four-wheel-drive vehicles, which disturb nesting pairs and destroy nests by driving straight over them.

Those The terns that nest in national parks, however, have a helping hand. The managers of national parks can make and enforce clear rules about visitor behaviour. Restrictions on where people can go, and what they can and cannot do, are designed to protect the environment and to make the area safe for terns. In Coffin Bay National Park in South Australia, for example, Fairy Tern nesting sites have been fenced off and all vehicles are banned from these areas. Dogs are forbidden and fox numbers are kept under control through the use of poison baits. The numbers of birds are monitored by park rangers and by volunteer groups, such as Friends of Parks. These measures have seen the numbers of Fairy Terns in Coffin Bay stabilise. Rangers hope they will soon increase.


Earth Hour 2018: The real cost of your mobile phone

The advantages and disadvantages of mobile phones on the health of users is often discussed and debated. In some ways, they have improved our lives and health, while in others, they have caused new social problems.

However, according to Oxford Insight Geography 5, mobile phones also make an impact on the environment.

When exploring the ways in which the environment is changing, it is important to look not only at the effects of these changes but also their causes. For example, when investigating declines in fish populations, geographers look for causes such as increases in world population, pollution levels and changing consumption patterns. Similarly, when looking at the environmental changes brought about by industry and mining around the world, geographers need to explore a range of possible causes. One of the main factors driving the growth in mining and production is increased demand for electronic consumer goods such as mobile phones. Current estimates put the number of mobile phone subscribers around the world at about seven billion. This number has increased significantly over the past decade. The raw materials used in the production of mobile phones come from different locations around the world. Dramatic increases in demand for these materials have created serious environmental problems in a number of locations.


Plastics are a by-product of refining oil. Oil is usually found in the earth’s crust and is accessed by drilling into the crust, either on land or on the seabed. There are significant environmental risks associated with mining and using oil. These range from the potential for oil spills at the mine site to the greenhouse gases produced when oil is used for fuel. Many plastics are hard to dispose of and take thousands of years to break down. Since the 1950s, more than a billion tonnes of plastic have been discarded around the world.



Because copper conducts electrical signals, it is used a great deal in electronic devices. Copper is mined in many places around the world. Chile’s Escondida copper mine is the world’s largest. The mine is essentially two giant pits dug into the desert floor. Waste rock is left in piles called tailings and copper is transported in pipes 180 kilometres to the coast. Like many large mines, Escondida is located in the desert. This creates problems for the mining operators who need water for their mining operation and their workers. A desalination plant is being built on the coast to provide this water. The water will be piped to the mine.


Coltan is a mineral ore, high in iron, that is used in mobile phones as well as video-game players and some computers. Australia is the world’s largest supplier of coltan. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in Africa is another large supplier. To reach the coltan in the DRC, miners have stripped away rainforest, including the rainforest in national parks. The roads they have cut through the rainforest to reach the mines are also used by local people to hunt wild animals for food. One of the animals hunted by locals for meat in the rainforest is the gorilla. The western lowland gorilla is now a critically endangered animal and has all but vanished from the rainforests of the DRC.


Insight Geography 5

5 ways to gain the confidence to teach technology in the primary classroom

Gone are the days of a blackboard at the front of a classroom and a noisy printer connected to a bulky computer up the back. In today’s classrooms, from the age of six, students are using robots to learn about problem-solving, coding and programming

But how do teachers cope with new technologies increasingly being used in the classroom?

Berwick Fields Primary School classroom and technology teacher Anita Green has embraced the use of robots and other new technologies at the school, providing students access to a range of technologies, from iPads and laptops to programmable robots. Younger students, from Foundation to Grade 2, can borrow Bee-Bots for coding, while other technologies used by students include Edison robots, Chromebooks and Lego Mindstorms.

However, Anita admits that one barrier to the introduction and optimal use of technology in the classroom can be a lack of confidence among teachers, who might not be familiar with the newest technologies or feel intimidated by the knowledge of the students.

Drawing on her own experience of ‘upskilling’ – from her role as a classroom teacher and maths specialist to a role teaching technology and robotics – Anita has the following tips for those looking to build their technology knowledge and skills:

  1. Sign up for professional development. I am enrolled in a two-day course later in the year and I’m definitely looking forward to it.
  2. Learn from your colleagues. I know there are various teachers in the school who know a lot about technology and are almost experts in robotics.  They have been amazing and shared their wealth of knowledge with me as well as forwarding on a range of documents and lessons to help me.
  3. Join a Digitech group. I have joined the local ‘Digitech’ group, which is a network of local schools that hosts meetings once or twice a term to talk about technology in their school.  Even if you can’t attend all the meetings, being on the mailing list is helpful.
  4. Do your research. I have purchased a few books on teaching technology that were recommended to me by others. I also use Google (or Pinterest!) to search for good ideas, and when I find a useful site (or I am recommended one). I tend to subscribe so I can get their emails and see any new resources that come up.
  5. Have a play. I definitely believe in hands-on learning.  Over the Christmas holidays, I took home some Edison robots, as well as one of the Lego Mindstorms and a Chrome book, and had a play. It is the best way to learn!  The Edison robots, which have been the focus of my work this term, have several books with series of lesson plans which are so easy to follow.  They have been great!  These are available on their website.

Green said that apart from some teething issues, such as charging devices or connection problems and teacher confidence and knowledge, technology could play a vital role in the classroom, engaging students and preparing them for a digital future.

“The benefits must outweigh the practical issues because we keep persevering! Given the size of our school, we have almost full-time tech support which is really handy. And a lot of teachers are willing to learn, which is great.

“I find the students are really engaged in digital technologies. I think digital technology is important for their future so it should be in the classroom each day in some way shape or form.”

Understanding the role of motivation for for learners with dyslexia in the ELT classroom

Research suggests that learning a foreign language is a demanding task for learners with dyslexia. The difficulties that might emerge are not restricted to reading and spelling in the foreign language; other skills can be affected, such as comprehension, vocabulary and grammar acquisition, speaking, and writing.

Although emotional feelings are not the cause of dyslexia, they can have a great impact on learners’ attitudes towards foreign language learning.

This extract from the award-winning Supporting Learners with Dyslexia in the ELT Classroom focuses a key factor that can cause difficulties for learners with dyslexia in the English language classroom at an emotional level: motivation.


Motivation has been defined as ‘some kind of internal drive which pushes someone to do things in order to achieve something’ (Harmer, 2001) and is thought to be responsible for ‘why people decide to do something, how long they are willing to sustain the activity and how hard they are going to pursue it’ (Dörnyei, 2001, p. 8).

English is obviously a very popular language with an international status, so one might think that students, perceiving its importance for their professional and social future, should be naturally motivated to learn it. However, motivational patterns are very personal and depend on a number of factors, such as the learners’ story of success or failure at school, their personality, their perceptions about the language, their potential, the usefulness of what is being taught, etc. As Balboni (2006) points out, motivation to learn another language can be based on three things: duty, need, and pleasure.


Students learn the language just because they have to, typically because it is a mandatory subject at school. This type of motivation does not lead to actual language acquisition but rather to short-term efforts to pass tests and exams; once the goal has been reached, the motivation to learn rapidly goes away (and so does what has been temporarily memorised just to pass the test or exam).


Students learn the language because they need it for some reason—for example, because they are immigrants, they need it for their job, or they are planning to move to a country where the language is spoken. This type of motivation typically applies to young adults and adults learning English for social or professional purposes. It can lead to the development of good language skills, but it does not appear to be long-lasting; once the need has been satisfied (or, at least, so thinks the learner) this type of motivation disappears.


Students learn the language because they associate it with a positive experience. Learning another language can stimulate different kinds of pleasure, such as having new experiences, socialising, discovering something new, undertaking a challenge, systematizing knowledge, etc. This type of motivation is the only ‘internally driven’ one, so it is likely to be long-lasting and lead to the best results in terms of skills and competence. Since English is a mandatory subject in school programs all over the world, it comes as no surprise that many learners—with and without dyslexia—study it because they have to. A key factor here is the quality of their school experience; the more English is presented in an engaging way, the more motivation based on pleasure can arise. In the case of learners with dyslexia, research shows that some can have a positive attitude towards foreign languages, which they see as a way of ‘getting their own back’ by learning a new language from scratch (Daloiso, 2012).

Others may display negative attitudes; they ‘get caught in a vicious circle because, due to their problems in language learning, they lose their motivation, which then might lead to experiencing further failures’ (Kormos & Csizér, 2010). Studies in the neurobiology of learning suggest that motivation is not just ‘rational willingness’. It is, rather, connected to—and influenced by—the emotional feelings that learners experience during classroom learning; thus, the environmental context plays a pivotal role in sustaining motivation. An influential approach in the field is the stimulus appraisal theory, which has also been applied to foreign language learning (Schumann, 1997; Schumann et al., 2004) and motivational patterns shown by learners with dyslexia (Daloiso, 2012). This theory argues that all learners make evaluations of learning situations along the following five main parameters.


Learners evaluate whether the stimulus is new or whether it has been experienced previously. Novelty can be evaluated positively or negatively, depending on its connection to the other parameters; for instance, surprise tests are, of course, novel, as they are unexpected, but they can be perceived as threatening and unpleasant by learners. In the teaching of foreign languages, novelty (for example, new activities/materials/videos) is generally considered a good strategy to attract learners’ attention. However, novelty without structure might lead some learners to become confused and demotivated. This is particularly true for learners with dyslexia, who benefit from clear presentations and direct instruction (Schneider & Crombie, 2003).


Learners evaluate whether the stimulus itself is pleasant. Pleasantness is a subjective criterion, since it depends on one’s learning preferences, aptitude, and beliefs about foreign language learning. Some learners with dyslexia typically associate English language learning with duty rather than pleasure, and this contributes to higher levels of anxiety resulting from an awareness of their learning difference. It is important not only to employ strategies to reduce such anxiety but also to know the students’ learning strengths and help them associate English with their personal interests. This is true for all learners, but it becomes essential for those who experience fragile motivation, as do some learners with dyslexia.

Goal/Need significance

Learners evaluate whether the stimulus will help or hinder them in achieving their goals or needs. Learners with dyslexia might have unrealistic expectations about language learning, either in a positive or in a negative way. Some might overestimate their capabilities and ask to do all the activities with no accommodation. For instance, they might ask to read aloud in class, which could be painful for them and also boring for their classmates. It is very important to build rapport with students and explain the reasons why some activities need to be done in a certain way in order to be useful to them. This does not imply that learners should be denied the opportunity of showing that they are making an effort—and maybe progress. In the case of reading aloud, you could ask them to record themselves as they are reading aloud at home and to bring you the file so you can listen to it and give appropriate personalized feedback. Other learners might underestimate their own capabilities, especially if they have had negative experiences in foreign language learning in the past. Teachers should get across to them that there is no such thing as a ‘foreign language learning disability’ (Sparks, 2006); that dyslexia can cause some difficulties, but with appropriate accommodations students can experience success in language learning.

Coping ability

‘Coping’ refers to learners’ assessment of whether or not they are capable of dealing with a situation, for example doing an activity, assignment, or a test. As mentioned above, learners tend to overestimate or underestimate their potential, but with learners with dyslexia, sometimes there are objective reasons for them to feel they cannot cope with tasks such as spelling tests or dictations. Teachers should identify activities that might cause frustration and come up with alternatives (for example, by adapting or replacing them). However, accommodations should be accompanied by ‘empowerment’ activities, for example the explicit teaching of learning strategies to help learners improve their coping abilities and learning autonomy.

Self-esteem and relationships

Learners evaluate how engaging in a situation might affect their self- and social image. As regards their relationship with the teacher, some learners with dyslexia might become very anxious because they feel they are always being tested, so it is essential to let them know when formal testing is taking place and when the activity proposed is just for practice. In terms of their relationship with classmates, they might be reluctant to do cooperative work or activities in front of the class because they feel that their learning difference is not understood or accepted. It is therefore important to take measures to raise class awareness of dyslexia.

Supporting Learners with Dyslexia in the ELT Classroom by Michele Daloiso was announced in February 2018 as the winner of the 2017 Ben Warren Prize, a biennial prize for language teaching titles.

ELT Dyslexia