reviews

Be like Walton Burns

There was a good post from Russ Mayne recently on the importance of criticism. He mentioned overly unpleasant criticism and unnecessary venom that might accompany it. Russ mentioned both academic and social media contexts. This post is about the latter, and mainly blogs.

I’ve directed unnecessary venom and ad hominem attacks at somebody in ELT before. I once called Geoff Jordan a false idol and even referred to him as, quote, ‘the Bam Margera of ELT’. That was poor form – I don’t even know if he owns a skateboard. Honestly, it was in the heat of the moment and I apologize.

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Book review: 21st Century Skills in the ELT Classroom

This book from Garnet Education explores various issues around the integration of 21st Century Skills in the ELT classroom (!). In the foreword, Christopher Graham (Editor) states that while each chapter is framed with reference to research, the focus is more on practical takeaways for teachers.

The resource doesn’t have to be read cover to cover. Each chapter provides a concise take on a specific aspect of teaching 21st Century Skills, so teachers can dip into the resource as needed.

Each chapter has been authored by a different expert in the field; Graham stresses that this may result in contradictions or repetition, as authors were encouraged to share their own take on things with disagreement providing a springboard for discussion.

Here are the topics covered:

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Review: Work It Out with Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verb resource books you’ve used… GO!

Okay, so there was a good one on the bookshelf at LTC called ‘Illustrated Phrasal Verbs’. Me and Sketch used it so often that the student’s book fell apart (only one copy – a conference freebie), then we had to photocopy pages from the teacher’s book and tipex out the answers to make gap-fills. When I think back, the illustrations were sometimes ambiguous, and we were all too often test-teach-testing it. Not always the most effective.

Apart from that, well… There was ‘Test Your Phrasal Verbs’ (so so) and Phrasal Verbs in Use. Although more of a self-study resource, its concise explanations were great for teachers too. All controlled practice though, not a classroom resource really. Well, sparingly.

Here’s a welcome addition to my (admittedly limited) phrasal verb teaching toolkit – Work It Out with Phrasal Verbs, from Prosperity Education. It’s a neat teaching resource (aimed at B2-C1 level students) written by Billie Jago and Monica Ruda-Peachey.

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All reviews from ELT Planning

Russ Mayne suggested I should have a post or page listing all my reviews. So, here it is.

It turns out there are quite a few. As always, all views are my own and these reviews are highly subjective!

Before the list, some highlights…

  • According to my ratings, the best training courses I’ve taken have been Spoken Grammar by Ken Paterson (Udemy) and Evaluating Digital Materials by Pete Sharma (Itdi.pro). The PGCEi modules come in next.
  • There are a lot of resource sites ranked 4.5/5. In a battle of the video-based lesson platforms, Fluentize triumphs over Ready to Run.
  • My highest-rated book is Silly Shakespeare for Students from Alphabet Publishing. Second place was Great Writing, which was great to teach from.
  • These don’t include resources I’ve reviewed in a roundabout way. For example, my posts on PronPack are kinda like a review really, same with the Phonology for Listening and some other posts.
  • Bear in mind the review date. Sites might change, books might have a second edition, I might understand more about a topic now, etc.
  • A special mention for Eli Publishing, Alphabet Publishing and Marek at TEFL Equity Advocates, who went out of their way to send physical copies of their books to Thailand for review.

Note: the * shows that at the time I didn’t give the resource a 5-star rating, so I’ve added it now.

Apps

2020 Teacher Tapp (Rating 3.8/5)

2020 Studycat (3.5/5)

2020 Learn Thai Duolingo-style (*4/5)

2017 ELSA Speak Pronunciation App (*4/5)

2017 British Council Apps (*Rating probs averages out at 4/5 but this one is a bit vague)

Online resource sites

2020 Read to Run (*Rating 3.5/5)

2020 EAL Hub (2/5)

2020 NILE Membership (*4.5/5)

2019 Wordwall for vocabulary games (*4.5/5)

2018 Fluentize video lessons (4.5/5)

2015 Newsmart (4.5/5) RIP ☹

Training courses/modules/providers

2020 PGCEi Module 2 (*4.5/5)

2020 PGCEi Module 1 (*4.7/5)

2019 Spoken Grammar (5/5)

2019 Evaluating Digital Materials (5/5)

2019 NILE Tech-assisted Language Learning (4/5)

2019 NILE Materials Development (4.5/5)

2018 ELT Training Library from Language Fuel (4/5)

2015 How to Teach IELTS (*4.5/5)

2016 Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching (4.5/5)

Books

2020 Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners (*4/5)

2020 Rosenshine’s Principles in Action (3.9/5)

2020 How Global Capital is Remaking International Education (3.5/5)

2020 Barry Reinvents Himself (4.325/5)

2020 Silly Shakespeare for Students (4.9/5)

2020 The Learning Power Approach (4/5)

2019 Play for the Planet (4/5)

2019 A-Z of ESOL (*4.2/5)

2019 Teaching English as a Lingua Franca (4.5/5)

2019 Egghead (3.5/5)

2019 Loving London (4.5/5)

2019 Vocabulary in Pictures (*4.2/5)

2018 Stories Without End (*4.5/5)

2018 ELT Lesson Observation and Feedback Handbook (4.5/5)

2018 Great Writing (4.6/5)

2018 Her Own Worst Enemy (4.5/5)

2017 Successful Group Work (*4/5)

2017 Community Classroom Builders (*4/5)

2016 Incredible English (*4.3/5)

2015 Punctuation..? (*3/5)

Other

ELT Publishing Professionals (*4.5/5)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

PGCEi Module 2: Understanding Learning and Teaching in International Contexts

Module 2 of the PGCEi (though Nottingham) is in two parts.

Part A starts with framing unit. It introduces various theories of learning such as behaviourism, cognitive constructivism, and social constructivism. Unit 2 then delves deeper into learning theories/approaches with a social focus, exploring dialogic talk, oracy, scaffolding and contingent teaching, and the spiral curriculum. ZPD is only mentioned about 8 billion times during Unit 2.

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Review: The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners

This review of The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners by S Garton & F Copland (Eds) first appeared in IATEFL Voices Issue 276.

This handbook provides an overview of teaching English to young learners across a wide variety of international contexts. The editors state that this 540-page volume outlines the key issues in young learner teaching and offers a ‘plausible research agenda moving forward’. It achieves this for the most part, although there will inevitably be gaps given the scope of the book. (more…)

PGCEi Module 1: Educational Aims and Values

I’ve written a bit about why you should do a PGCEi but not much about the course content. So, here it goes…

The first module of the PGCEi (Nottingham) was on the aims and values of education in international contexts. The module covered some fairly broad topics like ‘the purpose of education, the nature of knowledge, the concept of a curriculum’ and so on.

The module was assessed based on process work and an essay. After you’ve done all the reading and module tasks, you write a 1000-word piece of process work outlining your own educational beliefs and values. Then you complete a 4000-word assignment in which you critique a model of schooling based on those values. (more…)

Review: Rosenshine’s Principles in Action

Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (POI) is a list of research-based strategies which teachers can apply in their practice. The list of 10 principles (whittled-down over time) could be considered ‘core skills’ for teachers. They’ll no doubt be familiar to CELTA/Dip grads, although Rosenshine’s POI itself might be new for you. Here are the principles (actually the longer list of 17, from Rosenshine 2010):


I’ve just read a book by @teacherhead (Tom Sherrington) on Rosenshine’s ‘Principles in Action’ (John Catt Publications). It’s a pretty good resource, the first half is Sherrington’s take on Rosenshine’s principles and how to apply them. The second part is the original pamphlet that outlines those principles. (more…)

Review: How Global Capital is Remaking International Education

The full title is … How Global Capital is Remaking International Education: The Emergence of Transnational Education Corporations.

In this Springer Brief publication from 2019, Hyejin Kim considers the impact of corporate interests in the international education sector. Kim focuses on how private equity groups such as Transnational Education Corporations (TECs) have shaped the international education scene. Examples include how they capitalize on educational reforms, influence government policy, economize education, expand as an add on to other business interests (e.g. property development), and so on. Kim’s critique focuses on three or four major TECs, with the author having spent time working within the sector in admissions, marketing and as a managing director. (more…)

Review: Teacher Tapp

Teacher Tapp (TT) is a survey app for teachers. Every day at 3.30pm (UK time) teachers are asked three multiple-choice questions related to their professional life, practice, wellbeing, etc. Once answered, users can then see the results from the previous day’s questions. Users are also given a link to a useful site/blog for CPD. Occasionally the app also provides links to edu-related special offers as a reward for answering questions.

App users are usually educators, and TT questions are often commissioned by businesses, organizations, researchers, etc, in order to gain insights from those at the chalkface. The TT site says…

‘Whether you’re a business seeking insight into the products and services that teachers want and need, a researcher looking to recruit teachers or a policy specialist who needs to boost your advocacy position with teacher opinions, the Teacher Tapp app is for you.’

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