reviews

Jason Anderson and the TATE

There’s a Mercury Music Prize-winning band name if ever I heard one. This post is actually a long one about Anderson, CAP/TATE, British Council and Project-based learning – that didn’t have quite the same ring to it.

I attended Jason Anderson’s webinar last night on contemporary lesson planning and frameworks in TESOL (hosted by DublinTEFL). Really well-presented, very informative.

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Get published! Working with Peachey Publications

It’s about time I did more than just praise Nik Peachey on LinkedIn and in Twitter posts!

Another six months has passed, the royalties from ‘30 Role Plays for TEFL’ are in. They’ve covered a dentist bill, a crate of beer, and one month’s life insurance premium. Blimey, that last bit makes me feel old.

‘30 Role Plays…’ was great fun to write. See here for details of how it came about. It reminds me of some fun times at the British Council, when the crew at our tiny centre in Bangkok were alive with ideas!

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Using Stories Without End

Here’s a quick follow-up to my review of Stories Without End (Taylor Sapp, Alphabet Publishing).

As you may have read, I thought this was great resource which could be easily adapted to my own context. Here is an example of how I adapted one of the stories.

The resources as they are include a few lead-in questions related to the story content, a bit of vocab pre-teaching, the story, and some creative follow-up tasks.

I bulked these out a bit and created the following sequence around the text called ‘Spooky House’ (in which some kids are deciding whether or not to enter a scary looking house). This was for A2/B1-ish level. I taught it at Primary (without the grammar bit) and also Secondary (full content). Worked well for both.

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Review: Work It Out with Business Idioms

Scroll to *get on with it, Pete* for review.

Do you remember that BBC article about how rubbish us native speakers can be at communication? I think that put me off teaching idioms for a bit. I came to think of them as ‘flowery’ (as the article suggests) and likely to cause misunderstanding. I feel like some of Chan’s maxims of good business communication reinforce that viewpoint and don’t seem very idiom-friendly…

… yet in a later chapter of the book (English for Business Communication, 2020) Chan then lists the 50 most popular idioms used in business contexts, suggesting that learning these may result in ‘effective communication with native speakers of English’.

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Review: Retrieval Practice (Kate Jones)

This resource by Kate Jones (2019) is a concise overview of all things retrieval practice – theory, research and classroom implementation.

It begins by defining the term…

‘… the act of recalling learned information from memory (with little or no support) and every time that information is retrieved, or an answer is generated, it changes that original memory to make it stronger’

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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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