TEFL Book Reviews
Reviews of books (and occasionally other resources such as software and games) of special interest to English teachers, edited by Alex Case.
Key Words for the Oil and Gas Industry
This title is a self-study vocabulary book with accompanying audio CD designed for students who want to master the English of the oil and gas industry, whether for study or work purposes. It is part of a series of similar books aimed at different branches of engineering, insurance, retail, finance, accounting and hospitality.
The book contains the 500 most useful words for the field, and is designed to help students acquire a good working vocabulary as efficiently as possible. Each entry has a headword, pronunciation, variant forms and abbreviations, subject area (linked to thematic word lists), word forms, word class, a definition, sample sentences, synonyms and collocations.
The book starts with a very clear two-page spread to explain the layout of the entries, then there is a one-page guide to the pronunciation symbols
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Earl Stevick’s influence on language teaching is undeniable. Whether you have read any of his books or not, making sure activities or teaching points are as meaningful as possible to students is a familiar concept. We have Earl Stevick’s influence to thank for that.
Stevick’s work is mentioned throughout, but this book is not a biography of the man, or a summary of his work. Rather, this is a book that details the way and ways educators have taken his ideas and used, adapted and pushed them in their teaching. It is not an entry level book on the subject though. It is a book for someone who believes in the importance of affect in teaching and wants to take it further.
The book is divided into three parts with each part containing several articles. Part A focuses on interaction between students. Part B looks at creating meaningful and effective classrooms activities. The final part gives us ideas about how meaningful action can change the dynamics of classrooms and institutions, and how to manage that change.
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English for Academic Study: Writing
The entire ELT industry seems to go through sudden enthusiasms for particular kinds of book, and after the VYL (very young learner) and ESP (English for Specific Purposes) booms it now seems to be the turn of EAP (English for Academic Purposes). Garnet Education can hardly be seen to be jumping on this bandwagon, however, as EAP has always been their speciality. In fact, they have also been pioneers in the more specialist field of ESAP (English for Specific Academic Purposes) and many of their books are already on their second editions.
This new edition of English for Academic Study: Writing is at first glance the most conventional of all Garnet’s titles, being an undergraduate-level
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How ELT Publishing Works
How ELT Publishing Works is an ebook from the ELT Teacher 2 Writer series. This training course is a comprehensive introductory ebook for teachers and other ELT professionals who want to start a new career as an ELT writer.
This training course for ELT teachers starts with an introduction from the author, who is an experienced editor and has known many ELT writers. She can thus provide beginners in the field with sufficient and adequate information on how to write ELT materials. At the end of the introduction, a task is provided to challenge the reader’s knowledge of ELT writing and the process of producing it, then by reading the whole ebook you can get answers to each of the questions section by section.
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English for Football
English for Football is published by Oxford University Press and is offered as part of its Express Series – a wide range of titles that target short-term practical English training and business skills development. With a personal endorsement from legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, this slim 96-page volume cites as the grounds for its existence the increasingly global nature of the sport and the growing need for effective English communication on and off the field of play between players, coaching staff, agents, medics, administrators and supporters.
Geared for intensive language courses, English for Football can function as either a main or supplementary text and is equally suited to self-study. It is primarily intended for learners at CEFR levels A1, A2 and B1
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Spotlight on Learning Styles
The light bulb goes on in your head; you finally had an idea and have an awesome lesson planned for your language class. The activity is foolproof and fun! You teach the class in excitement only to find that not all students are as enthusiastic as you and you feel let down and a little confused. How did the lesson you put so much time and effort into flop? If this has happened to you then Spotlight on Learning Styles is the perfect book for you. It is a great new book in Delta’s Teacher Development Series. Just the title made me feel optimistic and I was not disappointed when I opened the book.
Every language teacher has struggled to motivate and get students participating eagerly in the classroom. Often it is not the teacher’s fault.
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Cambridge English Exams The First Hundred Years
This book is an official Cambridge publication marking 100 years of ESOL qualifications like FCE, IELTS and CELTA from the very first CPE (Cambridge Proficiency in English) test in 1913.
I have to state straightaway that it is difficult to imagine any school or teacher actually paying money to buy this book, and I’m saying that as someone who is rather obsessed with industry trivia. However, the book does have some fascinating information, some of which I’ve shared below. I also imagine there’ll be lots of copies given away by Cambridge to celebrate their centenary, in which case it is certainly worth a look.
The book traces the development of Cambridge ESOL qualifications from CPE in 1913, what was to become FCE in 1939, PET and what was to become IELTS
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I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to correct the pronunciation of my students – even the good ones with a great ear for music need all the help they can get, so this book is a bit of a gift.
Somehow, that “listen and repeat” routine just doesn’t do it for so many students. They need something more – something more tangible, some oral mechanics or technology, some help to isolate the alien sounds of English in order to access both aural recognition and oral production. The Book of Pronunciation aims to assist us in giving them just that.
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Clear Speech from the Start
Clear Speech from the Start is the second edition of a text that focuses on basic pronunciation and listening comprehension of North American English. The goals of the book include appealing to a lower-level ESL demographic than the original Clear Speech book, which caters to intermediate level ESL learners. It aims to aid students in understanding the relationship between speaking and listening in English, recognizing the rhythm and melody of English and it has been designed to be used in “a wide range of teaching situations”, allowing teachers to customize their lessons with the aid of this book. This is a review of the Student’s Book. The other components of Clear Speech from the Start include the Teacher’s Resource and Assessment Book, the class audio and assessment CDs, the electronic application (app) suitable for the iPhone etc, and the corresponding website.
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How Languages are Learned
The collaborative duo of Patsy M. Lightbown and Nina Spada is one of the most well-known and respected partnerships in the field of SLA. The two are highly prolific writers and researchers in their own right and have coauthored numerous articles and books ranging widely in subject including oral communication correction, developmental readiness in SLA and L2 learner awareness of L1 influence, to name just a few. Here, they come together again for the newest edition of the widely-used and highly-acclaimed book How Languages are Learned.
Now in its fourth edition, How Languages are Learned has been highly valued for the way it relates language acquisition theory to classroom teaching and learning and draws practical implications from the research for the language classroom. One of the strengths of all editions of this book is the emphasis on looking at relevant classroom research in which to analyze particular aspects of classroom dynamics and classroom instruction. Through looking at prior researchers’ studies, various SLA topics are examined such as the dynamics of pair work, learners talking to learners, oral and written corrective feedback and teacher’s questioning practices.
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Introducing Second Language Acquisition
Having written textbooks and scholarly articles for more than 40 years, Muriel Saville-Troike is an icon in the field of SLA. Coming primarily from a background in bilingual/multilingual education, she has examined an immense variety of SLA topics including contrasts in patterns of communication, achieving coherence in multilingual interaction, development of English language imagined communities and cross cultural communication in the classroom. In the second edition of Introducing Second Language Acquisition Saville-Troike shows again why she has been such an influential figure in SLA.
Aimed more at undergraduate students but practical as well for graduate students with little or no knowledge of linguistics, the second edition of this highly accessible book, like the previous edition, offers a clear and practical introduction to second language acquisition (SLA). Saville-Troike uses non-technical language to answer three key questions that the book investigates: how a second language is acquired, what the second language learner comes to know and why some learners are more successful than others. The book takes a step-by-step approach to
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Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach
In this interesting, if not exactly groundbreaking book, George Woolard draws heavily on his own experience of learning Spanish to introduce an approach to language learning that he terms “messaging”. In this, he aims to provide a “fast and efficient” way of acquiring language that falls back on traditional methods of language pedagogy such as translation and Contrastive Analysis, but uses modern technologies (podcasts, media players) to achieve this.
As the title suggests, Woolard takes the meaning-before-form viewpoint of Michael Lewis’ Lexical Approach and expands upon it to create what he terms a “message frame”. This is a semi-fixed example sentence, which is (very!) similar to a traditional grammar frame, except for the fact that it has at least one fixed noun or verb. This message frame is then “chunked” into common collocations and then finally personlised by substituting the appropriate noun or verb – Woolard encourages noun substitution as he argues it is the noun that carries the most meaning, as in the Lexical Approach. See below for an example of this. He likens this way of learning to the way a holiday phrasebook works, a metaphor he repeats many times at the beginning of the book, but appears to forget about as the theory progresses and becomes more complex.
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Everybody Up is a seven-level series for Young Learners (YLs) that ranges from young beginners (Starters) to older advanced students (Everybody Up 6). The course is comprised of a Student Book, Student Audio CD, Student Workbook, Picture Cards, Teacher’s Book, Class Audio CDs, CD-ROM with placement and practice tests, iTools computer software package and an interactive website.
As the range of components suggests, this is a very ambitious package that according to the authors, aims to “develop students’ speaking, listening, reading and writing skills through activities that build students’ independence and confidence, leading them to really use English”. They claim to achieve this through Linked Language Learning (connecting the classroom language to their own experiences and recycling the language that they already know) and CLIL (the cross-curricular learning of other school subjects through English) by adopting a Communicative Approach that uses “scaffolding” from the teacher as its central tenet.
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How to Write ESP Materials
How to Write ESP Materials is the first ebook book that I have ever reviewed, so the review will focus on the electronic reading experience as well as on the content of the book itself. As well as being readable on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, the mobi version can be read online, on a computer or tablet, using the freely downloadable Kindle app. The EPub version can be read on most other e-readers (except the Kindle), but also on a computer or tablet with the freely downloadable Adobe Digital Editions, or any other EPub app.
How to Write ESP Materials is part of a modular series from ELT Teacher 2 Writer, whose aim is to help ELT teachers become authors. However, as the author of this module points out on the ELT Teacher 2 Writer website, her first coursebook “like most ESP materials, is no money spinner.” So this is not intended as a get-rich-quick course, but rather a guide to the many facets of ESP materials writing. It starts with a pre-module task in which teachers reading the book are asked to think about the materials they use to teach ESP, and the rationale behind their design. There is also a series of relevant quotes to ponder, from key authors and researchers in the field of ESP.
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Progressive Skills in English
I’m not usually keen on skills-based courses, as there can be a danger when focusing on individual skills that it takes away from the holistic approach to language learning that many students benefit from. However, these books from Garnet offer a variety of tasks, a crossover of language skills and engaging materials, and avoid feeling as forced or contrived as lessons can be when you try to isolate one particular skill.
The course is called Progressive Skills in English, and it’s fair to say the course title actually reflects the course. It is possible to make good, solid progress in language learning with this book. It is focused on working towards the IELTS Academic test or building university students’ academic English skills. However, I’ve also found this course book works very well with motivated General English small groups or individuals learning in a more intensive manner.
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On very few occasions during a teacher’s career will they find a book that is universally hailed by educators and learners alike as a fantastic, indispensable resource. When Macmillan first delivered Paul Emmerson’s Email English back in 2004, it found immediate success in tapping into a market that had been crying out for a title devoted to this still emerging form of communication. Now, almost a decade on, what changes have been made to this classic text, and, importantly, how has this book adapted itself to meet the current conventions of email communication?
Like its predecessor, this second edition of Email English is primarily for learners of Business English who need supplementary support in the fine tuning of their writing of effective emails, as well as developing their social media communication (although by no means is it limited to this niche; as it is equally useful for General English). Perhaps the clearest benefit of Email English is that it is based on countless real life examples, systematically presenting its users with key language for constructing effective and convincing emails, as well as developing an appropriate style for interacting on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. This feeling of working with authentic email communication is something that shone through in the first edition. This thankfully remains the case with this updated version.
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Compact First is a textbook for students preparing for the Cambridge: First exam, commonly known as the FCE. Compact First was my main text early in 2013 and, I think this is one of the best such texts that I’ve come across. Its clear and thorough approach makes it very easy to teach from but still allows teachers to adapt exercises.
The ten units are divided thematically, each tackling a separate grammar and vocabulary point as well as one or two parts of each paper in the FCE. In addition to this there is: a writing guide supplying model answers for each writing question; a speaking guide with tips, visual materials and useful phrases; a wordlist; a grammar reference; and the CD ROM. All these elements made my class feel they had a good understanding ofwhat was required in the exam.
One thing I really appreciated was the fact that no space is wasted in this book. Although the content of the units only make up about half the total space in the book, there is more than enough material to cover. Any pictures are either directly related to speaking tasks or can be adapted for this purpose.
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Classroom Management Techniques
One of my most informative early experiences as a teacher happened while I was doing my Cambridge CELTA course. Until this time, I’d happily been carrying on, teaching the way I thought was best, in my own quiet way. But then on the course I met all these teachers who could stand in front of a classroom and hold their attention, whose charisma and natural show(wo)manship immediately seem to lift the students’ mood and make them more engaged.
I could only stand back in awe, because as a naturally introverted person there was no way I could do that. I didn’t have access to these skills, and I never would. And that led me to think that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this teaching game. Maybe there was no space for someone reserved like me, and teaching belonged those who could treat the classroom as their stage.
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English for Academic Study: Vocabulary
Although I’m a fan of Academic Vocabulary in Use (which I reviewed here five years ago), I’ve long been looking for an alternative that is lower level, covers less stuff more thoroughly, and concentrates more on the language that I think the majority of my EAP students really need at this stage – perhaps even something I can recommend to IELTS students too (rather than warning them not to waste their time with it until they’ve passed).
Garnet Education’s English for Academic Study: Vocabulary Study Book takes a very different approach. Firstly, it’s purely for self-study. More importantly, it’s based directly on the General Service List of 2,000 frequently used word families (GSL) and (mainly) the first 300 word families from the Academic Word List (AWL). The AWL contains vocabulary which is common in academic writing but not in the GSL. The GSL words are used to introduce the concepts needed to learn vocabulary (multi-meaning words, word classes, word families, word parts, collocations and word grammar) in the first five units, then these aspects of the first five sublists of the AWL are explored in the last five units. (The AWL is arranged into sublists by frequency, making the first five sublists the most frequent examples of the AWL).
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This third edition of Objective First consists of a Student’s Book with CD-ROM (with or without answers), a Workbook with audio CD (with or without answers), and a Teacher’s Book with CD-ROM. This review focuses mainly on the Student’s Book with answers. All are for preparation for the high-Intermediate exam Cambridge: First (also known as FCE and Cambridge First Certificate).
Any book which aims to help students prepare for a standard test faces a major problem, since standard tests are designed to assess, with a fair amount of accuracy, the level of English that the candidate has reached. Any book helping students to pass a standard test without actually reaching the level of English certified by that test would undermine the credibility of the test itself. Teachers and editors alike therefore face a quandary, and CEFR level B2 is often a major hurdle. Level B1 is the first stage as “independent user”, and it is within the reach of most candidates. Level B2 demands greater depth of knowledge and much greater mastery of language. The Association of Language Testers of Europe (ALTE) recommends a certain number of guided teaching hours for each CEF level, indicating that it takes at least 100 guided teaching hours for a student to progress from level B1 to B2.
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