Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Category: book review (Page 1 of 3)

“IELTS Academic Reading Practice”: Book Review

IELTS Academic Reading Practice by Peter Clements and Paul Murphy

The International English Language Testing System (also known as IELTS) examination is one of the most widely acknowledged tools of assessment which is recognised by universities, public organisations as well as organisations. With many international students preparing to undertake an IELTS examination as a pathway to universities in North America, Australia or the UK, it is natural for schools and teachers to offer preparation courses with a vast array of publications and material available for such courses.

Prosperity Education was kind enough to send me one such publication to review: their latest publication, IELTS Academic Reading Practice. IELTS Academic Reading Practice is co-authored by Peter Clements who is an academic skills specialist based in an international school in Thailand (also known for his acclaimed website ELT Planning), and Paul Murphy who is currently an IELTS Speaking Examiner, has been teaching English for Academic Purposes (EAP) in Glasgow and is currently teaching such courses at Mahidol University International College in Thailand. The first two chapters of the book naturally guide the reader towards the use of the book within a classroom environment, include preliminary information about the units, suggestions for speaking activities, as well as introduce readers to the IELTS examination, particularly the Academic Reading tasks.

Summary of the book

The book is organised into 14 chapters depending upon the task focus. Tasks types which are included within the publication include Matching Headings, Matching Information or Summary Completion to name just a few.

Tasks are organised into 14 different chapters depending upon the focus

After the initial introductory chapters, the reader is introduced to the 14 task types (matching headings, sentence completion, etc.). Each of the 14 task introductions are accompanied with suggestions for completing the relevant task as well as potential pit falls. For example, the first task is Matching headings. The reader is introduced to this task (testing the candidate’s ability to understand main ideas), suggestions on the most suitable approach to complete the task (skim-reading, using prediction skills, guessing meaning) as well as recommendations on what not to do during the exam (not to look for an exact match of words or focusing to heavily on unknown language).

Once readers have been introduced to the various academic reading tasks included in the IELTS, the following chapters focus on individual task types with a focus on a range of topics. Each task type includes discussion questions – always a good opportunity to incorporate with possible lessons, a vocabulary matching activity, followed by a practice activity for the task, then a more exam-focused task.

Each of the task types include extra practice activities (page 110-137) with all answers being included at the end of the book (page 138-151). There is also a glossary of language used throughout the publication with necessary definitions and a reference to the page number. I could see myself using the glossary of terms to help prepare vocabulary review tasks with students.

Who is the book for?

The publication is geared towards either students who are preparing for the IELTS examination independently, or for schools and teachers who are delivering and teaching preparation courses. It would also be a suitable resource for teachers who are venturing into the teaching of IELTS preparation courses.

The great benefit of such a preparation book is the flexibility to incorporate with future IELTS courses – both online or face-to-face. Combined with Jane Turner’s Reading Practice with 28 sample papers, teachers will have a range of material that could be used with relevant preparatory exam courses. It would also be wonderful to see a future publication by Prosperity Education that prepares students for the Listening and Writing elements of the IELTS exam.

Overall opinion

The book is an invaluable resource which helps guide and prepare students to complete the relevant Academic Reading activities depending on the type of task. It naturally organises the tasks into comprehensible chapters and will support students seeking to become confident candidates for reading in the exam or to help support teachers prepare IELTS reading classes. The authors have done a marvellous job organising the components of IELTS Academic Reading with the publication. If you are a teacher looking to update your current IELTS material, then this book would be a worth considering.

Finally, here are a few pages that give you an idea should you consider purchasing this book – you will not be disappointed.

“50 Tips for Teaching Pronunciation” Book Review

In today’s post and video, we are reviewing a new book, Mark Hancock’s “50 Tips for Teaching Pronunciation”. For those that are unsure, Mark Hancock has published “Pronunciation Games” as well as authored “Pronunciation in Use”.

The teaching of pronunciation can be a rather difficult skill to develop, as it was for me, for many newly certified English language teachers. However, the benefit of developing the confidence to teach pronunciation can aid your students in becoming more intelligible and confident when speaking. 

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“How to Write EAP Materials”: Book Review

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.

I actually enjoyed reading this book and found the suggestions incredibly useful
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“How To Write Grammar Presentations and Practice”: Book Review

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.

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“Become an Online English Teacher”: Book Review

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“.

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“Teaching English as a Lingua Franca”: Book Review

“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.

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Classroom Community Builders: Book Review

Introduction

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.

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"50 Activities for the First Day of School": Book Review

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.

"Digital Video – A Manual for Language Teachers": Book Review

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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 OnlineDownloading VideoEmbedding VideoMuting AudioSubtitles and AnnotationsCreating 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 LearningVideo & Flipped LearningVideo 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.

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