Teaching

Review ~ Meaningful Action
Reviewed Sep 2013 by Stephen Case
Meaningful Action

Meaningful Action

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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How ELT Publishing Works
Reviewed Sep 2013 by Sepideh Mirzaei Fard
How ELT Publishing Works

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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Review ~ Spotlight on Learning Styles
Reviewed Aug 2013 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi
Spotlight on Learning Styles

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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Review ~ Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach
Reviewed Jul 2013 by Luke Lawrence
Messaging: Beyond a Lexical Approach

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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Review ~ Classroom Management Techniques
Reviewed May 2013 by James Taylor
Classroom Management Techniques

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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Review ~ The Roles of Language in CLIL
Reviewed Apr 2013 by Robert Lowe
The Roles of Language in CLIL

The Roles of Language in CLIL

Content and Language Integrated Learning (“CLIL” for short) is currently an area which is arousing much interest among ELT researchers and practitioners. Building on strong communicative approaches such as task-based language teaching, CLIL classes combine the teaching of content with the learning of a language with a focus either more on the former or the latter, depending on the context and course. As the amount of research into CLIL grows and as more teachers find themselves teaching using the method, a study into how language is manifested and can be exploited for learning opportunities in in the CLIL classroom would seem a timely addition to the professional literature. The Roles of Language in CLIL has been written to fill that position.
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Review ~ Teaching Speaking: A Holistic Approach
Reviewed Mar 2013 by Stephen Case
Teaching Speaking: A Holistic Approach

Teaching Speaking: A Holistic Approach

All English teachers are happy and proud when they get their students really talking. Engaging the students with a loud and lively conversation, discussion or debate is the goal of many an English language lesson. It can often be the most interesting part of the lesson, and, most importantly, can be exactly what an ESL/EFL student wants from their lesson.

Teaching Speaking: A Holistic Approach acknowledges this, but says that simply getting students to talk is not enough. The first two parts of the book give an overview of what fluent speaking means for a language learner, and the discourse and structure of speaking. The next two parts then show how to turn academic ideas into a functional framework for speaking activities, courses and assessments.

Parts one and two are a nice overview of research into speaking. There is information on psycholinguistic models of speech production, in-depth synopsis on learner speaking strategies, and information on what knowledge is needed to be a competent speaker of English. There are also detailed summaries of the features of pronunciation and intonation. This is then followed up with what facts conversation-analysis and corpus linguistics can tell us about how competent, fluent speakers communicate.
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Review ~ 400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards
Reviewed Feb 2013 by Matthew Turner
400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards

400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards

400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards is a practical resource book published by Macmillan Books for teachers as part of an accessible series edited by Adrian Underhill. This book follows other titles such as 500 Activities for the Primary Classroom and 700 Classroom Activities in providing an exhaustive set of ideas for the classroom. Written by Pete Sharma, Barney Barrett and Francis Jones, all of whom are established figures in the field computer-assisted language learning (CALL), 400 Ideas for Interactive Whiteboards is aimed at providing users of IWBs with a wider scope of activities than they may already be aware of, or for newcomers or buyers of the apparatus who may be looking for ways or reasons to introduce the technology into their schools or classes.

The core of the book is divided into four chapters, all dealing with different aspects of IWB usage. These chapters are preceded by a foreword by the authors and a brief introduction, which include a helpful assortment of explanations about the many IWB features there are as well as a page detailing the benefits of using IWBs. The authors also shed brief light on the challenges facing IWB users and some forecasts of their uses in the future. The four chapters of activities which follow are all preceded by a pair of case studies displaying firsthand experiences of IWB in action.
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Review ~ Thinking about Language Teaching
Reviewed Dec 2012 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi
Thinking about Language Teaching

Thinking about Language Teaching

Michael Swan is well known in both the teaching and applied linguistics field and has written numerous articles and books over the years. This book is a compilation of his most cited and well-known articles. It has a generic index which lists the title of each article and is followed by an interesting Introduction written by Swan. The book is then divided into 2 parts. Part 1 contains eighteen pedagogic and academic articles which were published between 1985 and 2011. Most of them include a short introduction to the article telling readers about the context in which he originally wrote them and at times includes a reflection and how he would write it differently. Part 2 contains seven satirical pieces on the world of language teaching.

Part 1 includes articles on a wide range of topics within the field of language teaching and theory. It covers topics such as English as a Lingua Franca, text-based teaching, grammar, language teaching versus teaching language, vocabulary, task-based instruction
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Review ~ CLIL Activities
Reviewed Nov 2012 by Adam Simpson
CLIL Activities

CLIL Activities

Ever since David Marsh and Anne Maljers ushered in the era of CLIL in 1994, this new methodology has remained a source of hot debate in ELT. While many teachers are suspicious of or indeed resistant to the very notion of Content and Language Integrated Learning, others view it as the future of language teaching. For those unfamiliar with the concept, CLIL is an approach which aims to marry the learning of content to the acquisition of an additional language, thus teaching both the subject and the language simultaneously. While several notable books have been written on this methodology, our profession has been crying out for a definitive guide to CLIL: it is with this mission in mind that Liz Dale and Rosie Tanner have created this book.

Turning to the content pages, it immediately becomes evident that CLIL Activities stands out when compared to other publications on the subject. This resource book has clearly been written by experienced CLIL practitioners. CLIL Activities is split into three parts; Background to CLIL; Subject pages, and; Practical activities. This no-nonsense layout serves to suck the reader in from the start: first you are told what this phenomenon is, you are then shown clearly how this might play out in your specific subject area, before finally you are given a large number of adaptable activities to help you in your teaching.
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Review ~ Pedagogy and Practice in Second Language Teaching
Reviewed Aug 2012 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi
The Cambridge Guide to Pedagogy and Practice in Second Language Teaching

The Cambridge Guide to Pedagogy and Practice in Second Language Teaching

Need a book that has a number of good articles covering the important issues and approaches in current language teaching? The Cambridge Guide to Pedagogy and Practice in Second Language Teaching could be what you are looking for. This book is a compilation of short up-to-date papers covering a wide range of topics in second language teaching. The book begins with a very informative Introduction written by the editors. Many people usually skip the introduction and dive straight into the content, but with this book it is highly recommended to read this part first as it is very interesting and extremely informative, giving an overview of the issues relevant to pedagogy and methodology today. It is written in a way that even readers new to the field can understand, tells you where to find the relevant articles, and ends with a list of additional references. Following the introduction, the book contains 30 papers or “chapters” which are divided into five sections. They are well-categorized, making it easy to jump around the book for chapters relevant to your interest. The editors have written brief useful introductions at the beginning of each section.
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Review ~ Digital Play
Reviewed Feb 2012 by James Taylor
Digital Play

Digital Play

Digital Play, written by Kyle Mawer and Graham Stanley, is the latest in Delta Publishing’s Teacher Development Series, an impressive strand that includes Nickly Hockly and Lindsay Clandfield’s guide to Teaching Online and Scott Thornbury and Luke Medding’s seminal Teaching Unplugged. This book concentrates on the use of computer games in language teaching.

The book is divided into three sections. The first looks at the wider place that video games occupy in society, how they are currently used in education and how they can be used with language learners. The second part includes a variety of activities, concentrating on all four language skills and the full spectrum of technical scenarios. The final part highlights the ways that video games can be incorporated into a syllabus and offers suggestions for how they help teachers to develop.
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Review ~ ReCALL
Reviewed May 2011 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi
ReCALL

ReCALL

The world of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is an area which is growing in momentum at a very quick pace. There are numerous books available to instruct EFL/ ESL teachers in the basics of CALL, but what may be of even greater assistance are journals, especially if you are interested in CALL itself and not just setting tasks for your students to do in word processing! If you are like me and relatively new to the wonders of CALL, then I advise you to look at as many research articles as you can and journals are a great place to find ideas. ReCALL (The Journal of EUROCALL [European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning]) is one of the most well-known and esteemed international CALL journals whose self-stated aim is to include “…the use of technologies for language learning and teaching, including all relevant aspects of research and development”. It is a refereed journal published by Cambridge and it is released three times a year in January, May and September, with the May issue containing papers from the EUROCALL conference.
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Review ~ Learning One-to-One
Reviewed Apr 2011 by Alison Susans

When I heard that Cambridge was bringing out a new book in their Handbooks for Language Teachers series entitled Learning One-to-One I was keen to get my hands on a copy. The series is a favourite of mine and over the past few years I’ve found an increasing number of one-to-one lessons on my timetable. I prefer teaching groups as I find one-to-one teaching less dynamic and more tiring, so I was hoping that Ingrid Wisniewska’s book would give me some new ideas and stop one-to-one lessons being such a chore.
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Perspectives on Language Learning Materials Development

Perspectives on Language Learning Materials Development

One of the most interesting things about this book is the breadth of its scope. It is divided into three sections: Materials Development and Naturally Occurring Discourse (four chapters); Technology and Materials Development (two chapters); and Tailoring Materials for Learner Groups (four chapters). Six of the ten chapters were originally given as papers at the MATSDA (Materials Development Association) conference held in Ireland in 2008. The second section is entirely composed of new articles (one by the co-editor of the book) and there is one new article in each of the other two sections. The authors work in many different environments, with learners from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, using many different types of material, and in countries as far apart as Japan, Pakistan, Tunisia and Venezuela.

One of the postulates here is that every language teacher is a materials developer, and it is for this reason that the book is a must-read for those of us who want to take things just that little bit further. Naturally occurring discourse is far more readily available now, in the age of internet, than it was in the past. The problem now is one of knowing how best to use the vast quantities of material available. The first chapter shows how the authors McCarthy and McCarten, well-known in the field of ELT publishing, used the Cambridge International Corpus to build a conversation management syllabus. The four macro-functions identified are: organising your own talk; taking account of the other speaker(s); listenership; and managing the conversation as a whole. Part of the problem of using a corpus of naturally occurring speech is that such conversations rarely fit the ideal textbook format of 50-word snippets. The authors suggest strategies for overcoming these problems, illustrating them with examples taken from their Touchstone series.
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Review ~ Using Corpora in the Language Classroom
Reviewed Mar 2011 by Carmela Chateau
Using Corpora in the Language Classroom

Using Corpora in the Language Classroom

From the same collection as From Corpus to Classroom, Reppen’s book is the perfect introduction to corpus linguistics from the classroom viewpoint. One possible quibble could be that the book is quite short, but even that can be seen as an advantage: it leaves the reader hungry for more.

The book follows the popular American textbook format: there are grey “Your turn” boxes at regular intervals to encourage active reading; and each chapter starts with an outline in the form of questions and ends with a brief recap of what has been learnt. This makes navigation easy, and the index is also quite useful, although sometimes frustrating: Word Pilot sounds fascinating but, alas, the only mention of it is to be found in the index, whereas Voice Walker is mentioned in the text, but is absent from both the index and the software list in Appendix B.

The book is divided into five chapters. The first provides a rapid review of what a corpus is, and what different types of corpora there are. From the beginning, the text is easy to read and abundantly illustrated, with examples of word frequency lists, KWIC (key word in context) concordance lines, screen shots of online corpora, and concrete examples of exercises based on corpus data or using corpora.
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English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice

English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice

English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice is a very useful book for all teachers of English as a foreign language, and especially for experienced teachers looking for more specialised help with lesson planning or understanding course content. In addition, it is a great tool for those involved with (or considering involvement with) materials writing. The teaching materials covered in the book are wide-ranging and not just limited to textbooks. Of course, textbooks are covered, but so are realia, worksheets, specific exercises, and the methodology for using these materials. The book also covers the production and publication of materials.

The book is divided into chapters, in this case each written by a different author or group of authors. All the contributors to this work are practising teachers or academics from university departments, covering a range of English-speaking countries. Some names will also be familiar to those readers who often read research papers about EFL.

This last point is significant because the content of the book is very academic. The chapters are written more like journal articles than book chapters. Because of this, I would say that while the book is of use to all teachers of EFL, for those who are newer to the profession or those who do not have so much academic knowledge of language and language teaching, it may be quite heavy-going.

At the end of each chapter, there are points for discussion and other such tasks designed to enable the reader to reflect upon what they have just read and to give the reader a chance to put into practice the ideas and content of the chapter.
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Review ~ The TKT Course CLIL Module
Reviewed Feb 2011 by Janis Crolla
The TKT Course CLIL Module

The TKT Course CLIL Module

The TKT (the Teaching Knowledge Test) is a Cambridge ESOL test about teaching English to speakers of other languages and aims to provide teachers, both experienced and less experienced, with the tools and confidence to develop their knowledge and skills. No formal qualifications or preparation courses are required to take the test, but Cambridge recommend an intermediate or B1 (CEFR) level of English.

The TKT consists of three core modules, each of which is tested separately, on language and background to language learning and teaching (Module 1), planning lessons and use of resources for language teaching (Module 2) and managing the teaching and learning process (Module 3). In addition, there are three other optional modules, TKT Practical, TKT Knowledge About Language, and TKT Content And Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).
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Review ~ Learning One-to-One
Reviewed Jan 2011 by Kate Mastruserio Reynolds
Learning One-to-One

Learning One-to-One

My favorite kind of professional text is books of practical techniques that are full of thoughtful, creative and interactive language tasks and activities. These kinds of books can range greatly in quality and usefulness, however. The most notable exception is the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series, guided by Scott Thornbury. Like all the other valuable contributions to teachers’ professional libraries that Cambridge has produced, Wisniewska’s Learning One-to-One does not disappoint. As the title succinctly indicates, this is a book for ESL/EFL instructors who work individually with learners, in person or at a distance. It fills a gaping hole in the field today, as many teachers have been trained to teach classes of English language learners (ELLs) but are being asked to pull learners out of mainstream courses for one-on-one support or to teach an individual online. This text orients teachers to both of those two types of environments, as well as the intellectual shifts necessary to teach one individual well.

After a brief introduction to this instructional format and its challenges, the book has two large sections entitled “Basic Principles” and “Activities”. These are followed by references and a slightly annotated list of useful websites. The text also includes a CD-ROM of photocopiable worksheets.
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Review ~ Teaching English Language Learners through Technology
Reviewed Jan 2011 by Jesús García Laborda
Teaching English Language Learners through Technology

Teaching English Language Learners through Technology

The number of books on computer-assisted language learning or technology-based language learning has increased dramatically in the last two or three years. It seems like everyone now working in teaching methodology or preparing books for teachers has to complete or reshape the topic just a bit and “computerize” or “technologize” their titles. I have to say that by the time I received this book I had already reviewed many similar ones, at least in title and contents, so when I first opened this volume I was wondering whether I would really find anything new here. One heading that immediately caught my attention was “Not all ELLs [English Language Learners] are the same” (p. 32), about when and how to teach with technology. That was indeed new! In a way, I feel the same about the rest of this volume – it is not only another book on the topic, but also very versatile and adaptable to each individual’s needs.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first part (titled “Your English Language Learner”) consists of eight chapters, and each addresses different aspects of teaching needs or realities of different students such as the process of second language learning and teaching, the features of the best TESOL programs, how to orientate bilingual education, adjustment to different kinds of learners (one of my favorite parts of the book), technology-based language
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