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Teaching resources

January 23, 2007

Hello again,

I am often asked what books to recommend for ELT. I don’t need to go over my antipathy to coursebooks again but I also hesitate to recommend books unless...

... I know the teaching context. I have always felt that the most important resource in every classroom is the combination of the teacher and the learners. However, I accept that we all need means of unlocking the resources within us and fortunately the new publishers in ELT are producing materials that help do that.

Delta publishing is leading the way in this and it is certainly worth having a look at their latest offerings: http://www.deltapublishing.co.uk. Language and thought are so closely linked that my favourite resource books are those that help a process of self-discovery. Activities that help us find out our learning styles, how we interact with others how we react emotionally and intellectually to our world. I have always made use of Gillian Porter Ladousse’s Speaking Personally (CUP, 1983), an old book (perhaps no longer in print) but one which has fluency activities that also help learners explore their inner selves.

We also need books that address specific aspects of language learning: vocabulary acquision, writing skills, reading skills, listening skills. Look for vocabulary building resources that help learners acquire new vocabulary and understand how it operates by addressing such issues as collocation, idiom and register. Peter Watcyn Jones’ Vocabulary Games and Activities for Teachers (Penguin, 2001) is excellent in this respect.

I have more than once bemoaned the poor standard of written English among those aspiring to enter English-speaking universities. So academic English, especially writing, needs special attention. CUP’s New Directions: Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking (Paperback) by Peter S. Gardner is worth looking at in this field. Take a look also at the Michigan Series in English for Academic & Professional Purposes by John Swales and Christine Feak, which covers all skills areas for higher education.

Business English is another area that requires imaginative resources. My own approach to teaching business English has always been to plunge learners into activities that they can make relevant to their own situation. This is a bit immodest, but I have self-published a collection of such activities: http://www.lulu.com/businessenglish. But I would also recommend: Five-Minute Activities for Business English (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers) (Paperback) by Paul Emmerson and Nick Hamilton. An all-time favourite of mine is also: The Language of Meetings (Paperback)
by Malcolm Goodale (LTP, 1987).

Fortunately there is no shortage of good resource books nowadays so it really just a question of the budget a school wishes to allocate. Why not share your favourite resources with us too?

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