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Help the aged

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 2:48 am    Post subject: Help the aged Reply with quote

Merry Xmas all, I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season, even if you are like poor F.Hamster in Japan and you get only one day off!

It is a time for family, so I wonder if you could help my old dad out. He recently quit teaching high school maths after 30 years, partly due to the horrible modern students, and is now teaching maths part-time to visiting Egyptian teachers in the local university. However, these Egyptians don't really have the language to cope, so they are going to ask him to do a bit of TEFL too.

He wants me to recommend him an "idiots guide to TEFL" but I don't really know of anything like that. Do you? Do you have any other advice?
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Andrew Patterson

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like he doesn't have a boss telling him how to do things. To some extent this is good. Too often bosses insist on being creative above all else, when what is needed most is focus. You can only really know how to suppliment when you have a better idea about what you are doing. Do it from the book until you know what you are doing. The lesson may be more boring, but at least it will be focused. Know that you are not only teaching grammar. Grammar is nothing without vocabulary. First lessons are often bookless avoid this at all costs if you are a beginner teacher.

Get a copy of Ready for First Certificate and work your way through it by yourself. That's what you are aiming for. (This is only true for British English. You will need different advice from US teachers.

Look at the way they do speaking. It's short and sweet, then you move on.

Arabic is a non IndoEuropean language therefore you may need to use a "beginner" book before moving on to elementary. Indoeuropean languages don't require this step. Use general English books to start. Use the Course book in class and leave the workbook for homework only unless a significant number of students are not keeping up with the workbook. ESP books will only confuse the beginner teacher and their students. The order of books is beginner -> elementary->pre-intermediate->intermediate->upper intermediate->FCE->Advanced->CAE->CPE. Never go directly from upper intermediate to advanced, always do FCE first even if they don't do the test.

Speaking of testing - that's where even a beginner teacher may need to suppliment if they haven't got it.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Twist my arm, hack it off and feed it through your woodchip machine why don't you, woodcutter! (BTW, if you read my "story" on Revel's "Quitting my job" thread on the ESL Management Forum, you'd probably realize that I don't have a job right now - which gives me time to answer your query here! Wink ).

Your pa could walk into any bookstore, randomly pick up any one of the general introductions (to the industry and its methodology) available, and more than likely it'd be an "idiots guide" - full of reams of patronizing drivel, false dichotomies, the odd thought-provoking point maddeningly phrased and soon lost. It is really difficult to get an idea of what is essential and central amid all the "concerns" and dodgy theories being bounced around (or not, as the case may be), so all that he might go away with is one or two ideas that'll keep him afloat for only a portion of a lesson at a time. Generally, a lot of these kind of books are full of "tricks", smoke and mirrors; they don't really tell you what the essence of real magic is (if you believe there might be such a thing), or how YOU YOURSELF (perhaps not "the best magician" around) could wow your audience and leave a lasting impression on them. I won't mention too many bad titles here, but the kind of books that bring me out in a nasty rash include ones like The Teaching Practice Handbook (Gowers et al).

Your dad could do worse than spend a day or so browsing especially the AL Forum and trying to identify the perennial concerns of teachers (and students!). It seems (especially recently) that we are intrigued by how description becomes prescription becomes activity, and what to do when our best-laid plans are scuppered by confused or obstructive students.

If you held a gun to my head I suppose I could direct you to books such as:

Pedagogy and Pedagogical Grammar (i.e. "How to teach grammar")
Lewis, M & Hill, J. Practical Techniques.
Richards, J.C. The Context of Language Teaching.
Bowen, T & Marks, J. Inside Teaching.
Howatt, A.P.R. A History of English Language Teaching (Second Edition).
Richards, J.C & Rodgers, T.S. Approaches in Language Teaching (Second Edition).

Lewis, M. The English Verb.
Bygate, M et al (eds). Grammar and the Language Teacher.
Yule, G. Explaining English Grammar.
Close, R.A. A Teachers’ Grammar.
Brazil, D. A Grammar of Speech.

(I also like the look of some of the books by Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman):*

Grammars, arranged in roughly 'easier' (foreign learner) to 'more advanced' (native teacher reference) order
Murphy's 'Grammar in Use' series.
Willis, D. Collins COBUILD Student's Grammar. (Similar format to Murphy's - a left-hand page of rules and explanations, and a right-hand page of practice exercises - though with fewer pictures overall).
Eastwood, J. The Oxford Guide to English Grammar.
Sinclair, J (ed). Collins COBUILD English Grammar.
Leech, G. Meaning and the English Verb (Third Edition).

Vocabulary (arranged by date of publication)
Carter, R & McCarthy, M (eds). Vocabulary and Language Teaching.
Schmitt, N & McCarthy, M (eds) Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy.
Schmitt, N. Vocabulary in Language Teaching.
(I seem to recall that in one or maybe both of Schmitt's books, there are details of research on Arabic learners of English being "vowel blind", and the steps taken to help them; pronunciation is touched upon in vocab books as one of the components involved in knowing a word or phrase).

General reference:
Chalker & Weiner's The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar. (Includes terms pertaining to 'grammar' in the widest sense of the word i.e. includes entries on phonetics, morphology, semantics etc. Sort of a dictionary of more "traditional" linguistics, then!).
Trask, L. The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar. (Has a similarly broad conception of the term 'grammar' as the Chalker and Weiner, and a bit chattier/less terse, though that does make the Trask a little less comprehensive as a result; the two books would thus complement one another very well).
Pearce, M. The Routledge Dictionary of English Language Studies.
Kennedy, G. Structure and Meaning in English. ('Using corpus research and data, Kennedy cuts to the heart of what is important in the teaching of English').

Generally, I think it is really hard to get an overview of what you need to know from any one book, but the above list's sections are arranged in what I believe is a rough central > more peripheral order. As Andrew said, grammar is important, but one should be aware of the dimensions of vocabulary too, and you could just as well take a lexical/lexicogrammatical/phrasal approach.

There are plenty of activity "recipe" books around, but some of the better ones around can be found in the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series:
Tessa Woodward's book on planning connected lessons has what seems to be some sound advice, that amounts to a discernible approach (unusual for a book in a recipe series):

I've said it so many times on Dave's you're probably all sick of hearing it, but I really do think there is a natural pedagogy to be discerned within the language itself, and pedagogy divorced from actual examples of language seems to me empty talk, like putting a horse before a non-existent or at best quite rickety cart. Tell your dad to bone up on the language and then worry about how to teach it, not the other way around!

Finally, thought you'd find browsing what's below another way to pass the time on Boxing Day etc (if you get too bored). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!


The first textbook I ever taught with was The New Cambridge English Course. I’d been hired by the school at which I’d trained to teach part-time, and being totally new to the job, I’d ended up asking one of my trainers which he’d pick out of the Cambridge or Blueprint Intermediate (yes, there was a choice!), if he were me. I’m glad he suggested that I choose the former: the Cambridge has a clear multi-syllabus, and the page per lesson, almost worksheet-like appearance made teaching easier for me, and seems, in Catherine Walter’s words, to offer learners more “concrete and realisable goals” (TEFL Farm Interview). The fact that it is co-written by Michael Swan (of Practical English Usage fame) also helped inspire confidence.

In my next, full-time job (as a Business English Teacher in Shanghai), there wasn’t usually a set classroom text; rather, I was expected to select, adapt and/or supplement from the range of available materials in order to meet specific customer needs (as revealed by a needs analysis). Needless to say, a lot of photocopying and general cobbling-together went on, but I managed to give my teaching some kind of shape with the help of the clear and concise grammar, wide range of functions, and amusing activities all contained within In At The Deep End (Hollett et al, Oxford University Press). Goodale’s The Language of Meetings (Language Teaching Publications), Blundell et al’s Function in English (Oxford University Press), and Richards’s Person to Person also proved useful, as did English-language newspapers and current affairs magazines. I wrote some materials of my own, too. For students who weren’t quite ready for the “deep end”, I recall using Side By Side and Expressways (both were available quite cheaply in Shanghai), as well as Survival English; there wasn’t really the time to use longer or more ambitious (and perhaps better) books, given the nature of the courses (short and functional). I sometimes set exercises from grammar practice books (such as Murphy’s Essential Grammar in Use) as homework, and gave a lot of written feedback (in Chinese) to individual students, when there was little time to do more.

I was then transferred to EF’s school for the public, where I taught more general and wide-ranging courses using their own series of books called Rapid English. Whilst these provided a rough structural “syllabus”, and a working concept of “level”, they were not really that good, or that appropriate for the Chinese market, so I found myself having to refer to other books, such as Interchange, Headway and Language in Use (even though these were arguably not wholly appropriate either). Audio material was scant, so we were sometimes forced to record the scripts ourselves; I myself preferred videos to sitting round and “looking at” (i.e. straining to not just hear but understand, given the lack of visuals!) a tape, however, and sometimes showed films like Groundhog Day. I am ashamed to admit that in my weaker moments, I subjected students to select episodes or edited highlights of the BBC comedy series Bottom (I didn’t get any complaints; most of them laughed a lot, anyway, so I guess the humour translated well!).

I had in addition taken quite a few activity and reference books with me to Shanghai (some of which EF ended up buying off me for their teachers’ library!) so I could research the language for myself, and was thus in a better position to evaluate the potential of published materials and, if necessary, to develop my own. Anyway, there is a list below of the reference and more general works that I own and find interesting and useful (NB: I’d been thinking of making such a list for a while – please don’t feel that you especially have to wade through it all!).

Since then, I have not had the chance to use well-known texts or materials so much, especially in my most recent job (as an AET on the JET Programme, 1999 – 2002). High schools in Japan only really use textbooks that are published in Japan and approved by Monbusho (the then Education Ministry). However, I have continued all along to spend a lot of time thinking about issues in TEFL and Applied Linguistics, so I now believe that identifying and using, or creating appropriate materials for whatever teaching context I next find myself in will not be a problem.

(NB: Books that I often refer to and make use of are marked with an asterisk *)

ACE Spelling Dictionary (ACE = “Aurally Coded English” – find words by first vowel sound)
Ayto, J. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Euphemisms, Revised edition (useful for “hidden” meanings)
Bartram, M & Walton, R. Correction (topic that deserves - and here gets - a whole book)
* BBC English Dictionary (based on COBUILD 1st edition, with examples from World Service)
Blundell, J et al. Function in English (see “Chronological list”, above)
Bolitho, R & Tomlinson, B. Discover English (adopts a somewhat “scattergun” approach)
Bowen, T & Marks, J. Inside Teaching (encourages reflection of, at times, a quite subversive kind!)
Brazil, D. The Communicative Value of Intonation in English (I’ve just bought this; hope it’ll be useful)
Brown, G & Yule, G. Teaching the Spoken Language (still well worth a read)
Brumfit, C.J & Johnson, K. The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching (still highly relevant)
* Bygate, M et al (eds). Grammar and the Language Teacher (BAAL papers from leading authorities)
* Cambridge International Dictionary of English, with CD-ROM (lots of examples, feature-packed CD)
Carter, R. Vocabulary: Applied Linguistic Perspectives (interesting despite often impenetrable style)
Carter, R et al. Exploring Grammar in Context (perhaps too advanced/fussy look at native speech)
* Carter, R & McCarthy, M (eds). Vocabulary and Language Teaching (a seminal collection of papers)
Carter, R & Nunan, D (eds). The Cambridge Guide to TESOL (short, but still informative essays)
* Celce-Murcia, M & Larsen-Freeman, D. The Grammar Book, 2nd edition (“The” says it all really)
* Chalker, S & Weiner, E. The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar (quotes famous grammars)
Chambers Essential English Grammar and Usage (concise guidance, with many examples from BNC)
Close, R.A. A Teachers’ Grammar (the first I bought, with some quite sage advice for teaching)
Collins COBUILD Business Vocabulary in Practice (recent publication with many authentic examples)
Collins COBUILD English Dictionary for Advanced Learners (i.e. COBUILD 3rd edition)
* Collins COBUILD on CD-ROM (Dictionary, Thesaurus, Grammar, Usage and Wordbank!)
* Collins COBUILD Student’s Grammar (very functional and authentic practice material)
* Collins COBUILD Verbs: Patterns and Practice (expands tables and groupings of earlier Grammar)
Cook, V. Second Language Learning and Language Teaching (doesn’t assume teaching = learning)
* Council of Europe Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (major document)
* Cowie, A.P. Phraseology (the only book available to discuss European vs. Russian lexicography?)
Cresswell, J. The Penguin Dictionary of Cliches (many authentic examples from newspapers)
* Crystal, D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (fantastic book)
* Crystal, D. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (equally fantastic book)
DeFrancis, J. The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (dispels confusion re. Chinese writing system)
DeFrancis, J. Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing (underlines essential nature of all scripts)
Eco, U. The Search for the Perfect Language (natural language v. created systems: which are “better”?)
Encyclopedia Britannica Deluxe Millenium Edition (CD-ROMs like this and Encarta are amazing!)
Flavell, L & R. Dictionary of Proverbs (doesn’t have loads of proverbs you’ve never even heard of)
Gough, C. English Vocabulary Organizer (LTP offering similar to CUP’s Vocabulary in Use series)
Harmer, J. The Practice of English Language Teaching (set text on the CTEFLA course I did)
Hatch, E. Discourse and Language Education (better than, say, McCarthy’s book on discourse?)
Hatch, E & Brown, C. Vocabulary, Semantics and Language Education (complements Schmitt, below)
Hollet, V et al. In At The Deep End (see “Chronological list”, above)
* Howatt, A.P.R. A History of English Language Teaching (gives much-needed historical perspective)
Hughes, A. Testing for Language Teachers (DIY guide, now in a 2nd edition)
Hunston, S. Corpora in Applied Linguistics (especially informative on the applications of corpora)
Hurford, J.R. Grammar: A Student’s Guide (though by students H really meant trainee teachers!)
Kenworthy, J. Teaching English Pronunciation (got this mainly for Ch. 5, “Sounds and Spellings”)
* Landau, S. Dictionaries: The Art and Craft of Lexicography, 2nd edition (one of my favourite books)
Leech, G. Meaning and the English Verb, 2nd edition (a must for those obsessed with the verb phrase)
* Leech, G et al. Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English (based on British National Corpus)
Leech, G & Svartvik, J. A Communicative Grammar of English, 3rd edition (seems the same as 2nd!!)
Leech, G.N & Short, M.H. Style in Fiction (must’ve been an important book prior to COBUILD)
Lewis, M. The English Verb (fairly demanding, but makes some valuable recommendations)
Lewis, M. The Lexical Approach (interesting and influential, but not always entirely practical)
Lewis, M & Hill, J. Practical Techniques (slim volume, but full of sly advice)
Lightbrown, P.M & Spada, N. How Languages Are Learned, Revised edition (readable intro to SLA)
Longman Active Study Dictionary, English-Chinese edition (similar market to Oxford Wordpower, below)
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 3rd edition (didn’t really need revising, but 4th is welcome)
* Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, 4th edition, with CD-ROM (incl. 2nd edition of Activator!!)
Longman Essential Activator (conceptual rigour of larger original got a bit lost in the downsizing)
* Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (reasons for using passive finally well-explained!!)
Longman Idioms Dictionary (Oxford’s, below, is more comprehensive, but this has lively examples)
* Longman Language Activator (have both 1st and 2nd editions)
Longman Lexicon of Contemporary English, English-Chinese edition (superseded by Activator, perhaps)
* Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English (affordable version of LGSWE, above)
* Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Workbook (authentic excerpts to study)
Longman Wordwise Dictionary (need for simplicity pushes skill in defining to its limits)
LTP Dictionary of Selected Collocations (has been surpassed by Oxford’s new dictionary, below)
Lyons, J. Language and Linguistics (takes time to develop argument, but some sound conclusions)
* Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners of American English, with CD-ROM (kicks ass!!)
McArthur, T. The English Languages (looks at spread and evolution of English around the world)
* McArthur, T. The Oxford Companion to the English Language (almost rivals Crystal’s Encyclopedias)
McCarthy, M. Issues in Applied Linguistics (a challenging and somewhat demanding read)
McCarthy, M. Spoken Language and Applied Linguistics (discusses notion of “speech genres”)
McCarthy, M & O’Dell, F. English Idioms in Use (well-presented; needs wider range of exercises?)
McEnery, T & Wilson, A. Corpus Linguistics (early, detailed technical introduction to the subject)
McGuiness, D. Why Children Can’t Read (more scientific, comprehensive approach than phonics)
Merriam-Webster’s Concise Dictionary of English Usage (doubt if linguistic pedants READ such books!)
Murphy, R. Essential Grammar in Use (see “Chronological list”, above)
* Nation, I.S.P. Learning Vocabulary in Another Language (deskbreaker of a book, his magnum opus)
* Nattinger, J.R & DeCarrico, J.S. Lexical Phrases and Language Teaching (influenced Lewis, above)
* The New Oxford Dictionary of English [NODE] (logical treatment of meanings, core to extended)
* The New Oxford Thesaurus of English [NOTE] (surely the best thesaurus now available)
Nunan, D. Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom (addresses all the relevant factors)
Nunan, D. Language Teaching Methodology (in-depth and balanced overview; good on skills)
Ogden, C.K. The General Basic English Dictionary (shows advantages, and limitations, of his system)
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Sixth edition (lacks frequency information!?)
* Oxford Collocations Dictionary for Students of English (better than BBI or LTP; many real examples)
* Oxford Idioms Dictionary for Learners of English (more comprehensive than Longman’s, above)
* Oxford Phrasal Verbs Dictionary for Learners of English (very clear design)
* Oxford Pop-up English Language Reference Shelf (CD-ROM including NODE and NOTE, above)
Oxford/Z-kai Wordpower Fully-bilingual Dictionary (a complete Japanese translation of the entire text)
Panati, C. Words To Live By (origins of wise sayings)
* Parrot, M. Grammar for English Language Teachers (gentle guidance; would make a good first buy)
Richards, J.C. The Context of Language Teaching (some classic papers. A fave is on “present perfect”)
Richards, J.C & Schmidt, R. Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 3rd edition
* Richards, J.C & Rodgers, T.S. Approaches in Language Teaching, 2nd edition (required reading, really)
Schiffrin, D. Approaches to Discourse (one of the most comprehensive overviews of the field)
* Schmitt, N. Vocabulary in Language Teaching (an excellent introduction to the subject)
* Schmitt, N & McCarthy, M (eds) Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy (v. wide-ranging)
Sinclair, J. Corpus, Concordance, Collocation (not a favourite, but important nonetheless)
* Sinclair, J.M (ed). Looking Up (accounts from those involved with COBUILD early on)
Stubbs, M. Words and Phrases (lucid defence of corpus studies in final chapter)
* Swan, M. Practical English Usage (popular, dependable; sometimes seems a little prescriptive)
* Swan, M & Walter, C. How English Works (good exercises, that could be basis for class activities)
Swan, M & Walter, C. The New Cambridge English Course, Book 1 (see “Chronological list”, above)
Tomlinson, B (ed). Materials Development in Language Teaching (bit dry, but has cornered the market)
* Trask, R.L. Key Concepts in Language and Linguistics (succinct and not at all simplistic explanations)
* Tsui, A.B.M. English Conversation (highlight: she contests Quirk et al’s analysis of tags, and wins!)
T’ung, P.C & Pollard, D.E. Colloquial Chinese (an example of a pithy and playful self-study course)
Ur, P. Grammar Practice Activities (as per the title, for practice: won’t promote real communication)
Widdowson, H.G. Aspects of Language Teaching (a voice of reason in the communicative approach)
Wilberg, P. One to One (despite the title, Wilberg’s approach can help with larger classes too)
Willis, D. The Lexical Syllabus (still reading this! Managed to pick up a copy in Hong Kong in ’02!)
Willis, J & D. Challenge and Change in Language Teaching (alternatives to RSA’s “PPP” methodology)
Wright, J. Idioms Organizer (as good as CUP’s English Idioms in Use; boasts succinct review units)
Wright, T. Investigating English (more structured than Discover English, above, with authentic texts)
Yalden, J. Principle of Course Design for Language Teaching (well-written, with case studies)
* Yule, G. Explaining English Grammar (one of the best titles in the Oxford Handbooks series)

(The above was a companion piece to the essay that appears in the "Life and death and birthdays" thread - it's about halfway down the second page at this link):

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Thu Dec 30, 2010 7:09 pm; edited 11 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After my lengthy post above, it'll be interesting to see if anyone can wholeheartedly recommend a single "idiots guide", that touches upon everything and acts like a finger pointing to the moon. I suppose when push comes to shove old Jerry Harmer's The Practice of ELT (Third Edition) is alright/all right (and if you were really pressed for time you could take a look at his How to Teach English). Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What was I thinking, dammit! Forget the easy and assured certainties and "practicality" of your Harmers, the ONE book your father simply HAS to have is Bill Johnston's Values in ELT (LEA/Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah NJ 2003). LOL! Laughing

"This book makes a great contribution to the field of ELT. ... The author is convincing in his argument that moral values are an extremely important part of teaching even when we are not necessarily aware that we are acting on them. The subject is one that is rarely discussed in our field, and thus this thoughtful discussion is very welcome. ... There were many points where my reaction was 'Yes, of course, we in our profession DEFINITELY need to be talking about THAT issue!' "
-Stephanie Vandbrick, University of San Francisco

"Johnston focuses on central questions of morality/values, then clarifies and exemplifies them through authentic narratives with which a broad range of TESOL professionals will be able to identify."
-Julian Edge, Aston University

"It will prove especially valuable for teachers who work with students whose backgrounds are very different from their own."
-Pia Moriarty, New Song Literacy
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shocked Thanks! The thing is, I suspect my father will not take the assignment all that seriously since he is fairly unlikely to repeat the experience. He probably wants to read one book only and then go back to his numbers. So though it might be sound advice to tell him to "bone up on the language" he probably doesn't much want to hear it!

Fluffy mentions a general guide here only to attack it - I feel the same way about most of 'em. However, we have the practical suggestion of Jerry Harmer's books, and Andrew's suggestion of Ready for First Certificate. The former sound as if they might have some common sense advice on how to generally orient yourself. Anyone else read them?
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are serious, then, are you woodcutter? I'm afraid I thought you were pulling our legs on your first post here, and talking tongue-in-cheek.

The first, and still one of the most powerful, for me, books that I read upon becoming an English teacher was Michael Lewis' The English Verb. I'll agree with Fluffy that it's somewhat demanding, but then, that just makes it intellectually interesting. It's a slim volume, and gets right to the point. Verbs are often among the most befuddling aspects of English to speakers of other languages, so, although it might be somewhat myopic to focus entirely on verbs, I'd still suggest to Daddy that he try Lewis out. It might appeal to his probably logical mind.

Larry Latham
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, The TP Handbook could be okay for anyone happy to assume that the classroom will and should be pretty much like how it is described in such books, and that the methodology is the "best" and most "scientific" available etc. It might, in fact, be an ideal book for those wanting to align themselves with, and perhaps even fully integrate into the mainstream of teaching (i.e. make the best of their career "prospects", become a trainer, peddle the same terminology to the next "generation" of trainees etc). But I think it is a bit of a no-brainer, it is like the teacher can do no wrong and merely has to be ready to discipline any errant, naughty charges to have the perfect lesson go wholly according to plan.

Seeing as your dad is going to probably only do it for a short while, however, he can afford to be a bit more of a maverick (if he wants), and start off with less dry books such as LTP's Practical Techniques (I noticed that some of the questionnaires at the beginning of each chapter were used by my CTEFLA trainers, even though the set text - which they never used - was the Second Edition of Harmer's The Practice of ELT). I also really like any book that introduces some silly classroom "demonstration" of "real" language in use, such as Close, and Richards (in the chapter "Introducing the perfect" of his The Context of LT) offer in their books; seeing teachers make asses of themselves (without seeming to be aware they are) is very motivating, it makes us resolve to do better once we are aware of how NOT to do things (for what should('ve) be(en) obvious reasons, even at the very beginning of our careers. I wonder how any teacher could not have been aware of the ridiculousness of saying e.g. "Look, I'm opening the door! Now I'm shutting it. See, I've shut it. It's shut now!". It's not that Present Progressive etc isn't used to report ongoing actions-in-progress, but that these particular verbalizations require quite a stretch of the imagination regarding their possible function. I could accept a quasi-sarcastic use by a person, let's say Shaun of Shaun of the Dead to his uptight housemate, about Shaun always leaving the door open, but this is, of course, a lot of work to contextualize what is ultimately a "silly" example (not that more silliness would be unwelcome in po-faced, patronizing-in-a-bad-way RSA-style classes!)).

Then, as I mentioned above, there are also your Jeremy Harmer's, your Scrivener's, your Thornbury's, your Penny Ur's (her bulky A Course in Language Teaching), your Nunan's (I quite enjoyed reading his Language Teaching Methodology), and even your Teach Yourself guides! Some of these books will be quicker to read than others, especially if they have diagrams, textbook/activity samples, and teacher anecdotes/classroom data to break up the text.

One thing I can say about Harmer's How to Teach English is that the references are thorough and up to date, and will point your dad in the right direction if he does decide he wants to know more. Harmer is a clear and balanced writer, and not too boring with it.

I was thinking, though, Howatt's A History of ELT (Second Edition) really is a fantastic book, it includes history (the Huguenots, the British Empire etc), lexicography, philosophy (was it, Leibniz's universal language/scheme?), historical linguistics, "methods" pioneers (e.g. Berlitz), linguistics in the US and Europe and the development of AL (particularly the work of West, Hornby and Palmer), and CLT (Prabhu, TBLT etc), corpus linguistics (impact of COBUILD etc) etc etc. This volume has enough discussion of teacher talk and techniques AND (the) language, and many underlying issues, that it should result in a reader with a feel for how to prepare for the classroom, and what to do once in it.

Anyway, I hope your dad gets to read a digestible yet intelligent and thought-provoking introduction, lays his hands on a good grammar and dictionary, and perhaps even has the time and interest to reflect upon what he is doing before his "career" is over (by reading such books as Johnston's, or Bowen and Marks's).

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Mon Mar 06, 2006 12:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2004 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, not much on the learner's perspective in all the above, but HEY, who cares about them, right? Laughing

Stevick, E.W. 1989. Success with Foreign Languages: Seven Who Achieved It, and What Worked for Them. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall International.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2004 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again. So what did the Stevick seven have to say for themselves, by the way?

Mr.Powrie, I suspect you are better read than many a Phd holder.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2004 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm it's been a while since I read was just kind of breezy and anecdotal. The seven simply say "Get Stevick's book yerself!" (or, rob it from fluffy's deserted cage back in UK!).

Hmm PhDs, they're a lot of work (especially in linguistics proper), and writing is a lot harder than reading or often just browsing!

The list above is mainly composed of reference books, and as I said, was just to help anyone who's bored pass the time, compare notes or maybe earmark a few books they hadn't yet checked out. Wink
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