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Do a lot with a little

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English teaching around the world often takes place in under-resourced classrooms so how do teachers make the most of what they have?

Teaching in low-resource
classrooms: voices of experience
British Council, Eds: Richard Smith,
Amol Padwad and Deborah Bullock
ISBN: 978-0-86355-884-0

Throughout the world, the authors of this e-book write, English is often taught in classrooms with few resources.

However, they complain there are few training materials which emerge from – and which reflect – this reality.

So this book, an edited collection of work produced by 34 teachers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan, aims to fill this gap. The first half consists of eighteen ‘Stories of Success’ in which teachers and teacher-trainers share their own experiences during the first week of a Hornby Regional School event in Kathmandu.

Each story is presented briefly and followed by a few questions that invite the reader to reflect.

The 68-page ebook, which comes as a PDF (available at www.teachingenglish.org.uk/low-resource-classrooms) contains links to five-minute video clips in which the authors provide details of their teaching context.

They also talk about the methods they use to introduce different teaching techniques.

For example, we read and then view the video of Gulnaz Mondegarian from Karachi explaining why and how she introduced role-play to her English literature lessons with girls to encourage a higher degree of creativity. We are then invited to discuss how creating dialogues from texts gives learners a deeper understanding of literary characters.

It also looks at how the free writing activity at the start of the lesson helped the girls gain confidence to share their work.

Among the seventeen activities are those dealing with getting the whole group on task, making learning more meaningful and using technology to motivate learners.

The second half of the book reports on how participants led their own small-scale research projects, which they initially began at Hornby and then completed in their own institutions.

They each reflect on the value of such exploratory practice.

It looks at how, for example, Fehmina Qaiser in Pakstan and Mohammad Rejaul Karim in Bangladesh collaborated in order to provide various solutions to the perennial problem of correcting work in large classes.

They explain how they came up with their research questions, explain what they learned and what conclusions they reached.

Other examples in the second half of the book include managing multiple classes in one room without partitions, how to deal with students from diverse backgrounds and the use of learners’ own language(s) in EFL/ESL classrooms.

I would particularly recommend this title to teacher-educators working anywhere in the world as it underlines the value of teacher collaboration as a means of ongoing development.

This book clearly spells out how teachers can work together and introduce different teaching techniques in their lessons.

With any luck, it should lead to the emergence of more relevant locally produced materials in the near future.

Wayne Trotman is a teacher educator at Izmir Katip Çelebi University, Izmir, Turkey.