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Reviews

ERF Awards 2016 – all the winners

Claudia Civinini reports on who picked up the prizes at this year’s Extensive Reading Foundation awards

The Extensive Reading Foundation (ERF) Language Learners Literature Awards 2016 were recently announced at the Vocab@Tokyo Conference.

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Enlightening, but not to be taken at bedtime

Wayne Trotman recommends small doses of this new work from a giant of language education

Educating Second
Language Teachers
Donald Freeman, Oxford Applied Linguistics;
978-0-1944-2756-2

The several key texts by this author on language teacher education over the last quarter of a century have perhaps had more effect on teachers and teacher educators around the world than those by anyone else currently involved in the profession. He admits, however, that undertaking this book project, which gathers and organises his ideas, was at times an arduous task. Curiously, its subtitle, ‘The Same Things Done Differently’, (an ongoing belief I’m sure many teacher educators with Freeman’s experience in ELT would concur with) hints at a healthy degree of scepticism.

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Reviews - August & September 2016

Cambridge Academic English – An integrated skills course for EAP, Upper Intermediate

Martin Hewings, CUP;

978-0-5211-6520-4

This book can be easily used as a stand-alone course for B2 students of all disciplines aiming to study at university. There are ten main chapters, five lecture skills units which provide practice in listening and note-taking, and an accompanying DVD. The topics are appropriate for the target group, and include language and communication, controversies, health and an excellent focus on Hofstede’s well-known dimensions of culture. The ‘research tip’ boxes are helpful, and the content is informed by the Cambridge Academic English Corpus. The book includes authentic academic texts and a useful wordlist of academic vocabulary. Highly recommended. 

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Book of the month - August & September 2016

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English through Drama – Creative activities for inclusive ELT classes

Susan Hillyard, Helbling Languages;

978-3-9904-5409-1

This book about teaching English through drama is aimed at teachers with challenging students. The introduction describes the benefits which drama can bring to vulnerable learners, and lists the varying needs of students with learning difficulties. Chapter one covers classroom management techniques, like giving clear instructions. The long central chapter contains over seventy activities, divided into four sections: ideas related to moving the body, voice development, group dynamics and fluency.

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Responding to change

Wayne Trotman looks at a volume of TT case studies

International Perspectives on English Language Teacher Education: Innovations from the Field

Edited by Thomas S.C. Farrell, Palgrave Macmillan;

978-1-1374-4005-1

In spite of the movement away from behaviourist to constructive models of teacher education over the last two decades, series editors Sue Garton and Keith Richards explain in their preface to this new publication that second language teacher education (SLTE) ‘is still failing to prepare novice teachers for what happens when they leave their programmes and embark on their new careers’. The dozen case studies here provide analyses of how teacher educators around the world have responded to changes and emerging needs in order to address such challenges on their SLTE programmes in innovative ways.

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A lexical approach

Wayne Trotman looks at a fascinating new text which sees language as ‘grammaticalised lexis’

Teaching Lexically: Principles and practice

Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley, Delta Publishing;

978-1-9097-8322-5

In their message to the reader the authors separately and frankly admit the influence of Michael Lewis, author of the highly regarded The Lexical Approach (1993). Curiously, both came to appreciate Lewis as a result of attempts early in their careers to learn a second language. What makes the title under review here different are the authors’ combined attempts to interpret Lewis’s work in order to make lexical teaching more accessible, especially to those not having completed a Celta or Delta. It is, however, as Andrew Walkley points out, a teacher resource for adopting a lexical approach rather than the lexical approach.

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Book of the month - July 2016

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The Cambridge Guide to Blended Learning for Language Teaching

Edited by Mike McCarthy, Cambridge University Press;

978-1-3165-0511-3

Blended learning (BL) is usually defined as a combination of face-to-face teaching and online study. There are many ways of implementing BL, and this timely 278-page guide is concerned with best practice. It contains contributions from over twenty authors. Each of the five sections contains three chapters. The book includes a detailed exploration of second language acquisition theory. There are fascinating accounts of the positive effects of asynchronous online communication on students’ oral production, ‘flipping’ the classroom so students receive language input before class, and mobile learning. The section on adaptive learning alerts us to future developments. This book successfully connects the worlds of research and practice. It concludes that pedagogy is the most important factor in designing a good course, not technology. Recommended.