Last month, I reviewed “How to Write Grammar Presentations and Practice” which can be read here. This was the first time that I had been introduced to the ELT Teacher 2 Writer series and I was pleasantly surprised by the invaluable advice provided in the first reviewed publication. In this post, I am pleased to share with you my second review of “How to Write EAP Materials” by the publishers ELT Teacher 2 Writer.Continue reading
I received a review copy of “How To Write Grammar Presentations and Practice” by Diane Hall and Graham Burton from ELT Teacher 2 Writer. This has been the first time that I have reviewed a book published by ELT Teacher 2 Writer and was very keen to share my thoughts and opinions. Looking at the blurb at the back of the book, it is aimed for teachers who wish to receive a theoretical overview of grammar, considerations towards good grammar presentations and practice, as well as practical tips for writing rules, explanations, and rubrics.Continue reading
The new norm for language teaching is conducted remotely. It has been thrust upon all practitioners due to circumstances beyond our control, but much of the field of remote teaching and learning has been underestimated prior to the pandemic. I remember a few years ago, I was discussing why online language teaching and learning was not included in the CELTA and one practitioner declared that it was more unregulated with many institutions based in China seeking to exploit language teachers and pay as little as possible.
While this might necessarily be true, to some extent, there has been a growing opportunity for professional tutors to deliver lessons and courses online, particularly through higher educational institutes and private language schools. However, there are many opportunities for freelance English teachers that wish to tutor English remotely, and with today’s blog post I shall be reviewing “Become an Online English Teacher: Essential tools, strategies and methodologies for building a successful business“.Continue reading
“Teaching English as a Lingua Franca: The journey from EFL to ELF”, published by DELTA Publishing, is the latest in their teacher development series and is authored by Marek Kiczkowiak and Robert Lowe. As you would expect with the DELTA teacher development series, this book follows the well-known and respected formula as with other books. If you have purchased this book for the first time, then you will notice that it is split into 3 parts: with Part A provides the description and background of English as a Lingua Franca (henceforth ELF), Part B offers teaching ideas and suggested material to assist with developing an ELF mindset and the skills required, while Part C suggests further consideration of ELF within particular contexts with supplementary reading.
I was kindly asked a few weeks ago by Alphabet Publishing to review a recent publication, ““, written by Walton Burns. After a few weeks of waiting, the book finally arrived along with a personalised letter from the publisher.
The publisher, Alphabet Publishing, is one of those small independent organisations which specialise with practical ideas for teaching and lesson ideas. The first book that I reviewed for them was “” as a video book review. You can watch the video below or find out a bit more from a previous blog post.
It is the first time that I have attempted to do a book review via video before and I decided the lucky book would be “50 Activities for the First Day of School” by Walton Burns. Watch the video below to find out more about the book and whether it would be useful for teachers.
Again, please let me know what book reviews I should do in the future. Again, a huge thanks to everyone who has been supporting my YouTube Channel – I now have over 42,000 minutes of watch time and over 12,000 views on my Channel. So a huge thank you to everyone.
I jumped at the chance, having been asked to review a new series of eBooks by Nik Peachey, as I have followed his blog (Nik’s Learning Technology Blog) for a while now. Nik’s award winning eBook, “Digital Video – A Manual for Language Teachers“, is such an invaluable publication for those teachers who wish to develop their technical skills related to video with their language lessons. It has recently won the ELTons 2016 for Innovation in Teacher Resources, so you know you can’t go wrong with this book. Nevertheless, let’s look at the publication in more detail and see what you get for purchasing this eBook.
The first chapter is a short introduction and history to digital video within the language classroom. Within the introduction, Nik highlights the reasons for authoring and the aims of the eBook. After this initial short chapter, there is short contents list of what is included within the following ten chapters as well as a navigation towards particular chapters. For example, if you want to learn a bit more about editing videos the reader is guided towards chapter 3. However, should you want to learn more about getting students to creating video with their mobile phones then the reader is recommended to read chapter 7 to learn more about student created videos and chapter 8 for activity ideas. The second chapter, ‘Video & Task Design’, is focused on selecting video clips to supplement lessons. There are three parts connected to this chapter: Choosing a Task, Task Design and Culture in Video. The first part, Choosing a Task, recommends useful criteria to consider when choosing a video clip such as selecting interesting content, keeping clips short, cultural references or overall quality to name just a few with some reasoning behind this. The second part, Task Design, looks in great detail at in creating some highly engaging tasks related to the video clip. It is incredibly useful for teachers wishing to incorporate and create their own personal lessons with online video clips. The third part, Culture in Video, obviously focuses on video clips and how they can make students more aware of culture.
The next chapter, ‘Video Tutorials‘, focuses on basic tutorials for the reader with seven key parts included. These seven parts include Hosting Video Online, Downloading Video, Embedding Video, Muting Audio, Subtitles and Annotations, Creating QR Codes as well as Video Slideshows. Each tutorial includes a link or QR code – which can be scanned – to a video tutorial. Each of the seven tutorials include a rationale and things to consider. This chapter supports the reader every step of the way and by watching each video tutorial, the reader would feel more confident while dealing with video clips. Chapter 4, ‘Approaches to Learning’, focuses on the integration between technology and video clips and online learning. There are four parts to this chapter and these include Video & Blended Learning, Video & Flipped Learning, Video in Task Based Learning as well as Video in CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). There is a substantial focus on Blended Learning with much information for readers to consider. However, with each section, the reader is provided with additional background detail.
The next chapter, ‘Comprehension Activities’, is broken down into 20 different lesson activities which aims to focus on developing listening and viewing comprehension. As with previous chapters, each lesson activity includes a step-by-step procedure which explains to the reader how to stage a selected lesson. Chapter 6, which is called ‘Video as Communication‘, focuses on the use of online video and developing communication with an audience. The chapter looks at the various benefits of online communication, possible challenges faced with online video communication, advice on a good internet connection as well as tips on using a webcam for recording video. These two chapters naturally lends itself to Chapter 7, ‘Creating Video‘. This chapter assists the reader by looking at the stages required to create a video. Nik covers a lot of ground in this chapter to assist in the stage of recording a video such as different camera angles, the use of storyboards, editing the video or getting people (such as the students) to collaborate. At the end of this chapter, Nik offers a selection of topics which could be incorporated into video with students.
With Chapter 8, ‘Creation Activities‘, Nik provides the reader with additional activities to assist teachers getting students to create a video with over twenty lesson ideas. There are so many wonderful ideas for readers to exploit for use in class and each suggested lesson includes the key objectives and rationale, the language focus as well as the stages and procedures of the activity. There are also included with all these lessons, additional links to websites and other resources for the reader to view. The last three chapters, Chapter 9, ‘Cool Tools & Tips‘, Chapter 10, ‘Application Reviews‘ and Chapter 11, ‘Resource Reviews‘ focuses more on websites, tablet or smartphone applications and graded readers for use in the classroom. There is such a wealth of information provided in the final few chapters, almost 250 pages dedicated, that it would take a reader a great deal of time to go through each application and try them out for use in class.
Despite my personal confidence with technology, much of which is self-taught, I have very little confidence with digital video and it is an area which I am currently focusing on developing, with further focus on my YouTube Channel. However, this eBook lends itself very well for both the technological adept as well as those that need just a little bit of support. I have gained so many ideas from this eBook and I cannot wait to incorporate some of them into my future lessons. “Digital Video” is worth that digital space on your digital library and is really suitable for teachers who really want to try out video in their class.
When I first started teaching all those years ago, I was not so keen on the teaching of pronunciation or phonics. It was after I returned to the UK, that I decided to learn more about the teaching of pronunciation. I also attended a training session by Adrian Underhill on the use of the Phonemic Chart and discovered that the area of phonics and pronunciation is not so difficult after all. Fast forward a few years later, having read up on many pronunciation books, I found the use of vowel sounds and their spelling still quite unpredictable. It was quite a relief to receive a book, written by Bob Knowles, dedicated to the sounds of vowels.
This book is called, as one would expect, “When Vowels Get Together” and focuses on “the different ways that vowels pairs can be pronounced” (Knowles, p.1). I was unaware how unpredictable and ambiguous the English language can be, especially when it comes down to vowel pairs. In fact, the other day I came across a video on YouTube which demonstrated this perfectly.
For the First Chapter, Bob Knowles introduces the paperback version of “When Vowels Get Together” very well and introduces the reader to the considerations included within this publication. These include why the book was written, why readers should use the book, how readers could use the book as well as the differences between a paperback and electronic version – it is invaluable that this book is available in different formats.
Throughout the book, the author introduces the vowel sounds in a logical fashion, with readers being guided through vowel sounds beginning from ‘A’ all the way to ‘U’. With each vowel sound, there is an associated vowel pair in alphabetical order. For example, with the vowel sounds beginning with ‘A’, Knowles has incorporated spelling with all different variations of vowel pairs such as ‘aa’, ‘ae’, ‘ai’, ‘ao’ and ‘au’. With each dedicated chapter or sub-chapter, Knowles has created a wonderful table for the pronunciation variables with each vowel pair and their corresponding percentile for the respective pronunciation variables. Therefore, you may refer to page 20 and note that the vowel sound represented by the spelling of ‘ai’ will have a 68% chance of being pronounced with the sound of /eɪ/. There is a table also included with a variety of different spellings.
Each chapter focuses on the sounds from various different vowel pairs and Bob Knowles provides the information in an easy and logical format. You soon realise that almost all words are underlined in the tables throughout the chapters. Initially, I was unsure why these words were underlined but then you discover that in the eBook versions, there are links to the Macmillan Dictionary Online where a reader could tap on a word, they are then transported to the definition to the word as well as the pronunciation of the word. You also notice that this book has real potential as an eBook but unfortunately that is lost with the paperback version.
“When Vowels Get Together” is a fantastic book which helps the reader learn more about the relationship between varying vowel sounds and their respective vowel pairs. It can be usefully exploited by teachers for classroom use, and if teachers are keen to develop learner awareness of vowel sounds and spelling then this book is absolutely brilliant. I would recommend any teacher to have the chance to refer to this publication so that they learn more about the reason how particular words could be pronounced and for learners to make an educated choice when faced with a new word.
Source: Originally published in EFL Magazine (Book Review: Penny Ur’s 100 Teaching Tips)
I received a small package from Cambridge University Press last week and was eager to open it up and see what I had received. Sure enough, as I was expecting, my new copy of “Penny Ur’s 100 Teaching Tips” had swiftly been delivered. My first reaction was, “wow such a small book” and then I started to look at it in more detail. I instantly realised that this book is not meant to focus extensively on English language teaching, but is solely a practical source of information for teachers in various areas of teaching. We already, for example, have books which focus on Classroom Management Techniques or lesson planning, and it is refreshing to read a book which cuts down on the waffle and offers readers practical and clear ideas to incorporate in class. Penny Ur has authored or co-authored many practical books before such as “Vocabulary Activities”, “Five Minute Activities”, “Teaching Listening Comprehension” as well as “Discussions that Work”. Incidentally, my favourite book in my early years of teaching was “Five Minute Activities” and there were so many practical ideas which I incorporated into my teaching. Nonetheless, let’s have a look at her latest publication.
The book is split between 21 chapters – these including the Introduction and Index – and cover a range of areas of teaching. Penny Ur’s introduction explains why she wrote the book, covers a little of her teaching career and inspires the reader to continue on. There are a lot of sub-chapters from the remaining 19 chapters and the Index allows the reader to easily find an area of teaching, such as error correction, picture dictation or speaking, easily accessible. These chapters are organised into the following:
Beginning and ending the lessonThe Coursebook
Testing and assessment
Each of the chapters, which offers the reader the opportunity to make an educated guess on the topic to read, has between four to seven teaching tips apart from the final chapter, ‘P.S.’. The author has written the book in such a way that teachers do not have to read it from cover-to-cover. Readers can decide on a topic and then get some inspiration from a particular area of teaching. For example, if you are interested in the area of teacher talking time, you could look at the contents list and refer to the 6 sub-chapters related to the chapter on ‘Teacher Talk’. These topics sub-chapters include:
- Talk a lot
- Keep eye contact
- Tell stories
- Teach common classroom language
- Use mother tongue occasionally
- Invite short responses
Should you decide to read more about telling stories, you can go to the relevant page. Each sub-chapter has a page worth of teaching tips, therefore there are 100 pages of teaching tips within this book. Each teaching tip is easy to digest as there is not too much information on the page with a suitable sub-heading which encapsulates the topic effectively. For example on the subchapter on ‘Tell stories’, there is inspiring piece of sub-heading:
“One excellent way of exposing students to spoken English through teacher talk is storytelling – not only for young learners.” (p.94)
Further down the page there is additional teaching tips and techniques which the reader could easily incorporate into their own classes, such as using a picture-book with young learners to tell a story, using online video versions to support your story, as well as using jokes or other strange events to support the telling of stories and also keep students’ attention. This is one example from the many practical ideas within “Penny Ur’s 100 Teaching Tips”. All tips are broken down into an easy-to-read format and inspires the reader an opportunity to incorporate these invaluable ideas.
The major advantage to this book is that it is also downloadable as well as being available in paperback. The digital formats available include Apple iBook, Google ebook, Kindle ebook and an eBooks.com ebook. So if you wish to purchase this but are unable to purchase a paperback copy, you can purchase it in a digital format. It is not going to be a thorough book on all aspects of English language teaching as this is not what it is focused on. It is a book on the areas of teaching which are more pertinent to teachers and offers a number of ideas which readers could use or tweak if they should wish. As Penny Ur mentioned in her introduction, readers should not “regard [the teaching tips] as directives from an authority, but as suggestions from a colleague” (p.viii). The reader is encouraged to use the tips and techniques selectively.
Actually, this book reminds me of the teaching tips nearer the back of Jim Scrivener’s “Learning Teaching” where there were a number of recommendations for teachers to consider on all aspects of language teaching. I was so inspired by some of these statements by Scrivener that I typed them up on a computer, printed them out, cut these up and laminated them. These self-made flashcards are with me to remind about teaching which can so easily be forgotten. But I am also pleased to say that the book will also be with me so that I am able to get ideas for teaching.
I recommend “Penny Ur’s 100 Teaching Tips” for any English teacher as this book is a wonderful reference book for those seeking a quick technique with regards to an area of teaching. I can see teachers referring to this book if there class observation highlights a few areas to focus on for next time.
There are more resources available for those wishing to learn more about Penny Ur’s latest publication here: