book review

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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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: 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…)

Book review: Teaching English as a Lingua Franca

I’ve finally got my hands on a copy of this book! Woohoo!

What can I say? I’ve a keen interest in the topic of English as a Lingua Franca. ELF was a buzzword during my BA, well before I entered teaching, as my tutors included Jennifer Jenkins and Martin Dewey. This topic also relates to my recent MA dissertation, so I’ve been very eager to see how the authors puts a practical spin on the topic.

As far as I’m concerned, a comprehensive resource that deals with the practical application on ELF is long overdue. The authors, Marek Kiczkowiak and Robert Lowe, mention that “ELF researchers have either been very cautious, or perhaps even neglectful, of the practical applications of their studies” (pg 13). I agree, hence I instantly recognise the value of this resource and what it sets out to achieve. (more…)

Book review: Loving London

Loving London by Angela Tomkinson is an A2 level reader for teens. It provides 26 short texts on London (alphabetical), covering a whole range of topics (see image). Each text includes a short after-reading activity, and there are audio recordings available should the teacher wish to adapt the task into a listening. (more…)

Book review: ELI Vocabulary in Pictures

This week I received a huge box of resources from ELI Publishing. The first book that caught my eye was ELI Vocabulary in Pictures, which looks like a useful and good value resource.

Vocabulary in Pictures (VIP) is a picture book aimed at A1-A2 level young learners. It introduces more than 1000 words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions) through various thematic situations. It has a digital component, which includes audio recordings for each word plus some interactive activities for learners. (more…)

Review: ELT Lesson Observation & Feedback

Lesson observations – where to start?! Jeanette Barsdell, the author of ELT Lesson Observation and Feedback Handbook, was thrown in at the deep end and expected to observe a teacher on her first day as a DOS. Despite being terrified, she got some great advice, hit the ground running and developed into a competent observer. She’s written a guidance book for anyone who observes or intends to observe ELT teachers, and overall is a great resource. (more…)

Book review: Her Own Worst Enemy

Alice Savage

The latest offering from Alphabet Publishing looks like a great resource for bringing drama into the language classroom. Her Own Worst Enemy is written by Alice Savage, a Professor of ESOL in Texas who has previous publications with Longman and OUP.

The book is based around a short one-act play. A complete curriculum is built around the play (pitched at ‘low intermediate to high intermediate’ level), including:

  • preparation tasks such as discussions, background reading, understanding pragmatics and attentive listening practice
  • the script itself along with post-reading discussion questions
  • a step-by-step production section which helps learners analyse the play, learn their lines, get into character, and develop pronunciation skills for their performance
  • post-performance tasks including debates, follow up tasks and resources for peer and teacher feedback

The play

The deal-breaker for me with a resource like this is whether the play is actually engaging. Can I see my learners getting into it? Here’s a blurb on the play from Alphabet Publishing:

Aida, a high-school student, wants to get a university degree in science. But her performance in a school play has caught the attention of the theatre director at a famous performing arts college. Which passion should she pursue, her love of science or her talent for acting?

Of course, such a topic won’t suit every context, but it’s definitely a topic that many teens and young adults will be able to relate to. My studious teen classes would certainly enjoy debating some of the issues that the characters face. In other contexts I’ve worked in, especially summer schools back in Europe and short courses with closed groups back in the UK, I can see this topic would be relevant and generate a lot of interest. (more…)