Learning and Teaching English / Learning to Teach English

Learning and Teaching English: A course for teachers Authors: Cora Lindsay & Paul Knight Publisher: Oxford University Press Components: Teachers’ Resource Book with Audio CD Learning to Teach English: A practical introduction for new teachers Author: Peter Watkins Publisher: Delta Publishing Components: Teachers’ Resource Book Summary: Two more teaching books fight to make themselves heard […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Darren Elliott

Learning and Teaching English: A course for teachers
Authors: Cora Lindsay & Paul Knight
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Components: Teachers’ Resource Book with Audio CD

Learning to Teach English: A practical introduction for new teachers
Author
: Peter Watkins
Publisher:
Delta Publishing
Components:
Teachers’ Resource Book
Summary:
Two more teaching books fight to make themselves heard in a crowded niche of the market.

Review
Every publishing house (or at least the best known ones) currently in the ELT market needs to have its introductory guide for teachers, aimed at CELTA participants or those at a similar level of experience. The books are usually described as “a training course”, or some such, suitable for use with a trainer or as self-study. For the authors and publishers, the struggle is to separate oneself from the herd and produce something extra. For the teacher, the goal is to find the most appropriate book for their own needs. This review is a comparative analysis of two relatively recently published guides, and I hope to highlight the strengths of each for anyone seeking a primer of this nature.

Watkins’ book is aimed squarely at the pre-service teacher, with each step laid out in painstaking simplicity. After the introductory chapter, the author looks at teachers’ and learners’ roles and classroom management. This is followed by eight chapters on specific elements of language and the four skills. This leads to introductions to concepts of learner autonomy and variation, and the book closes with useful discussions related to teaching contexts and future professional development. Altogether there are eighteen chapters, none more than a few pages long. Each chapter is followed by a commentary – a kind of extended footnote which summarizes, explains terminology and answers questions posed in the course of its preceding chapter. This is an effective layout, and should help the reader engage with the material. The appendices, too, are useful; there are many more experienced teachers of English who might benefit from the concise verb form tables and grammar glossary.

Lindsay and Knight appear to have pitched their book at a slightly more advanced audience, although the blurb claims the text would be suitable for TKT candidates and up. There are only nine chapters in this book, although each is longer and several of the topics which Watkins separates are grouped together (language, for example, is one chapter here). It is a denser book in layout, although the language is still jargon free and clearly written. Unlike Watkins’ more holistic treatment, Lindsay and Knight focus solely on the act of teaching itself. There is more analysis of actual activities in this book, and a chapter devoted to testing and assessment which is missing from Watkins’s work. The addition of an audio CD, containing activities, speech samples, classroom language and case study interviews with working teachers (re-recorded with voice actors) is something of a selling point with this one, especially for non-native speaker teachers who are looking for language models.

The Watkins book is perhaps more suitable for native speakers embarking on a CELTA or TESOL course, or perhaps moving abroad to start teaching with limited training (as I once did!). The Lindsay and Knight book may find its audience in teachers who have some experience but are newer to “communicative” mainstream ELT teaching and need to brush up their language skills. However, both are solid introductions and worth looking at if you are in the early stages of a teaching career or need a refresher.

Reviewed for Teflnet by Darren Elliott
March 2009 | Filed under Teaching
Darren Elliott, Nanzan University, Nagoya

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