A Comprehensive Language Coaching Handbook: Theory and Practice

This review originally appeared in IATEFL Voices 290. You’ll be pleased to know that Voices reviews have a 400 word limit, which saves you the pain of all my usual rambling in reviews! Haha.

Gabriella Kovács.

Pavilion Publishing, 2022

This book provides a detailed insight into the theory and practice of language coaching. It is aimed at anyone looking to move into language coaching, and classroom practitioners looking to integrate coaching techniques into lessons. The ideas in this resource tend to focus on coaching related to professional and business English, although I feel they are applicable to a range of contexts.

The first part of the book covers the theory of coaching. An excellent framing chapter defines language coaching and explains how it differs to language teaching. The author explains that language coaching is a supportive, learner-led process geared towards helping ‘the client’ develop autonomy in achieving their own goals. In contrast, teaching is perhaps more directive, syllabus driven, and with narrower (language-specific) outcomes.     

The author then outlines how language coaching techniques complement regular teaching. They provide clear examples of the coaching process, and explain the key skills needed by language coaches.

Case studies explaining how learners benefit from coaching, and professional reflections from current coaches, clearly link the theory to practice and give ample context. Different approaches to coaching are outlined, before a whole section of practical tools and activities are provided. This is a really useful ideas bank that makes it clear how coaching can be embedded within (our feature alongside) everyday teaching practice.

A final chapter on ‘Professional Do’s and Don’ts’ as a language coach further explains the differences between coaching and teaching/training. Reflective tasks throughout the book guide the reader to explore the topics further – these work well.

Overall, I found this resource really informative and useful for my own professional development. Reading the ‘Practice’ section was a lightbulb moment for me. It helped me to recognize ways in which I already act as a coach to my learners. However, it also made me reflect on how I’ve perhaps undervalued the coaching process during and outside of class time. With this in mind, I could see how some coaching techniques in general could be used with my learners during tutor time and PSHE sessions.

I’d highly recommend the resource and would agree with the title – it is comprehensive! More than that, I found it an inspiring read – the author’s passion really comes through.

Feature image (c) Pavilion Publishing

Categories: General, reviews

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