Essential Teacher Knowledge provides almost everything a language teacher needs in 110 two-page units, providing of course that the language to be taught is English (even though many of the ideas are valid for language teaching in general). Each of the tasty nuggets of essential teaching knowledge is clearly presented, with up-to-the-minute illustrations and excellent use of highlighting and colour to guide you through the book.
To see what I mean, you can download a couple of sample sections from the Pearson ELT Facebook page. This also gives you an outline of the book, mapping it on to the Cambridge TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test). You can also see a two-minute presentation of the book by the author, Jeremy Harmer, explaining the philosophy of the book. I suppose my main regret is that he makes it all seem so easy – experienced teachers who have worked so hard to learn their trade will undoubtedly regret that this manual did not exist when they were starting out.
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Practice Teaching, A Reflective Approach is a practical guide for a teacher about to start their student teaching experience. It gives any novice teacher insight into this often daunting rite of passage for all teachers. This would be an excellent guide to anyone entering his or her teacher training course and could easily be used as a textbook for such a course.
This book is well laid out and speaks directly to the student teacher with detailed advice on how to approach the student teaching classroom. It examines the student teaching experience and asks the teacher to reflect on how this experience will form them as a teacher. This book reads like a playbook for teachers, giving advice on what to expect when being evaluated, how to plan a lesson and what to do when you are finally in your own classroom.
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The TKT Course: KAL Module
The TKT Course: KAL Module from Cambridge is a book containing official preparation material for the Knowledge About Language test, written by an actual test item writer.
Although not as well known as the CELTA or some other four week TEFL courses (including by myself when I received this book), Cambridge’s range of TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test) exams are becoming increasingly popular as preparation for longer and higher level courses, as an alternative to or qualification to take out of online courses, or a (more or less) internationally-recognized qualification for those who do not have the time or language level to get a CELTA or equivalent. The format and related jargon is a bit confusing because TKT KAL is not part
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A Course in English Language Teaching
This book is a completely revised and updated edition of A Course in Language Teaching by Penny Ur (first published in 1996) and focuses on English Language Teaching rather than language teaching in general. Although it contains many extracts from the previous book it has been extensively rewritten in the light of research, experience and feedback from teachers and trainers.
This book is ideal for use on an initial teacher training course, such as CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL, for either self-study or as a course book for trainees, or by trainers who wish to supplement the core material. It is also a great book for the experienced teacher to dip in and out of when looking for ideas or just for the sheer pleasure of an interesting read.
There are twenty chapters and a three page glossary. The individual chapters are independent of each other, and the author suggests in the short Using this Book section that the reader look through the contents page to find a topic of interest.
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Materials Development in Language Teaching
In 1998 I was giving teacher training courses in Bosnia. In those past and almost forgotten days, the whole country was trying to recuperate from a long and bloody war. So in one of my sessions, I came across a teacher who had no books and students who could hardly attend classes. I still remember her telling me the huge amount of materials she had made herself and asking for old-fashioned books that could be sent over there. This is very much the situation of many teachers across the world who rely on their own efforts to create materials. It could be because they are in countries where teaching materials are hard to get or just because the teaching materials do not fulfill their needs, as happens with many ESP teachers. In short, finding the appropriate teaching materials changes dramatically depending on a number of factors, and in not few occasions teachers need to create their own specific ones. This updated version of the classic title Materials Development in Language Teaching is aimed at all those kinds of people.
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The title of this book is encouraging because it suggests that you can learn how to teach. It also suggests that it is an ongoing process. Jim Scrivener is a very reassuring writer, and an experienced teacher, with many excellent ideas about teaching and his style is very readable and unthreatening for the novice or student teacher. The bonus with the third edition is a DVD showing many of the techniques and strategies described in the book. The drawback of the DVD is that all the classes are filmed at a private language school in Cambridge, with very small groups. It would have been far better (but undoubtedly much more complicated and expensive) to have filmed many different classroom types, varying the level, age, size, sector, etc. However, even though all the classes are on the same model, it is still very useful to see exactly how certain strategies can be used in the classroom.
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Tips for Teaching Culture
Texts on culture and intercultural communication topics tend to divide into too theoretical and research oriented or too superficial, treating culture as “food, flags and fun.” Tips for Teaching Culture by Wintergerst and McVeigh is one of the rare college textbooks that has been able to successfully bridge the theory, research and practice divide by integrating important concepts and research into chapters that offer teachers of adults and young adults activities to investigate cultural concepts and understandings in their English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The authors’ goal is to build the intercultural understanding of teachers while providing ways to raise English language learners’ (ELLs) intercultural understanding and awareness of cultural dynamics.
In eight chapters on the intersection of culture with language, non-verbal communication, identity, cross-cultural adjustment, education, sensitive issues, and social responsibility, Tips for Teaching Culture provides the basics of understanding ways to describe, view, compare and interrelate various cultural paradigms and the interactions of cultural participants. Including traditional perspectives and concepts of teaching culture (e.g. culture shock) and spanning into more contemporary approaches (e.g. identity and social responsibility), the text provides new insights for even the seasoned professional. I was happy to learn more than just the tired and stereotypical comparisons of “shy Japanese students” to “raucous American children”.
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Teach TEFL DVD - Teaching Vocabulary
This video is the first in a series “aimed at helping EFL and TEFL teachers around the globe improve their understanding of good teaching practice”. As such, it definitely corresponds to a real need, as observing is almost certainly a very good way of understanding what teaching is all about. The best way to learn is obviously through teaching practice itself, but unleashing unprepared trainees on students is a bit cruel (for both the students and the trainees). Video is a useful tool for teacher-training, but it is unusual to find a professionally filmed video of a classroom situation. The series will therefore fill a useful niche in an ever-developing market.
This vocabulary-based class is split up into short sections, each focusing on a separate part of the lesson. As the accompanying website www.teachtefl.co.uk indicates, the entire session lasted 90 minutes, but the overall runtime of the DVD is around 43 minutes. The parts of the lesson where the teacher is setting up the activities are presented in full, but the sections where the students interact have been abridged. The introduction (1.39 minutes) sets the scene. The teacher is female, and the voice-over commentary is male. There are nine adult students, four female and five male. It is a visibly multi-cultural, multi-lingual group (with students from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Italy and Mali, according to the website), which will obviously reduce student interaction to what they are able to say to each other to only things in English. Although this is a realistic TEFL situation, the other type where the students all share the same first language (which the TEFL teacher does not necessarily speak with any degree of fluency) is perhaps more common. The website indicates that other levels, learning situations, and age-groups will be addressed by the remaining videos in the series, and even invites teachers to contact the team with special requests.
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The TKT Course Training Activities CD-ROM
First a little background on the teaching qualification that this CD-ROM is intended to supplement. Unlike the better-known CELTA qualification, the Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) is intended for both pre- and in-service teachers and does not aim at teachers who specialise in a specific age group or teach in a particular context. There are no entry requirements, no compulsory taught course and no observations of lessons, although an intermediate level of English (equivalent to CEFR B1) is recommended and there is an optional practical module. Introduced in 2005, the aim was to create a test any teacher or prospective teacher can take to certify their level of theoretical knowledge, split into three stand-alone multiple choice exams which are marked in bands 1 to 4, and with no failing grade.
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In my experience as a teacher, head of ELT of some high school departments and teacher trainer, I have observed that there is a broad difference between English teachers in England and first language teachers anywhere in the world. In Spain, for instance, Spanish as a foreign language teachers are required to have a four year university degree which includes the language at advanced level (theory and practical language use, writing, listening and speaking), cultural issues and applied linguistics (for ESL, see also Virginia’s language educational policies, 2007). What is necessary in the United Kingdom? In order to find an answer, it may be better to look at the Cambridge University ESOL examinations website: “CELTA is a specialist qualification in the area of adult education”.
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