Learning to Teach English by Peter Watkins – an alternative to Scrivener & Harmer?

When I did my CELTA back in 1997 (!) we used The Practice of English Language Teaching by Harmer as our coursebook. On our CELTA courses in Munich, we use Learning Teaching by Scrivener so when Learning to Teach English landed on my desk, I was interested to see whether it could hold its own against these two “classics”.

fullsizeoutput_46db

 

The second edition of Learning to Teach English published by Delta Publishing is designed as an introduction to teaching for those embarking on an initial teacher training course such as TKT, CELTA or Cert. TESOL. It inlcudes a DVD and is made up of 18 chapters and 8 appendices. The chapters cover a variety of topics such as Managing a Class or Developing Writing Skills. As I have a session on Teaching Vocabulary coming up on my current CELTA course, I decided to look at this chapter in a bit more detail. Here’s what the chapter consists of …

  • An explanantion of the importance of words.
  • Ways of presenting vocabulary. This includes 8 practical classroom examples that trainee teachers could use in their teaching practice. For each method suggested, there is an activity for the trainees to do. For instance, Classroom example 7The teacher uses the new word in context and the learners try to work out the meaning. For example the teacher says “The dog ran into the road and the driver had to swerve to miss it.”  The activity given to the trainee teacher is “How could you check the learners understood the meaning of swerve?” The commentary at the end of the unit gives the answer: The teacher could ask questions such as: Did the driver stop? No. Did they drive in a controlled way? No. Does “swerve” involve the brake or the steering wheel? The steering wheel. (These are known as concept checking questions)
  • A checklist of what the teacher needs to include when presenting lexis.
  • Ways of practising vocabulary with 5 classroom examples that trainees could try out.
  • Learners’ problems and their causes. This could be useful when trainees write their Focus on the Learner assignment.
  • A summary of the unit.
  • Commentary with answers and explanations to the tasks set.

The appendices cover a variety of topics such as basic grammar terminology, an activity bank, a needs analysis form and activities to accompany the demo lessons on the DVD.

The DVD itself contains a vocabulary, a grammar, a reading and a speaking lesson to observe. In addition to the lessons themselves there is a short interview with the teachers, here they give tips about teaching that particular type of lesson. The final section on the DVD is called “Advice for teachers” which includes tips such as:

  • be natural with your learners
  • teach with a context
  • observe colleagues teaching

So coming back to my upcoming input session on Teaching Vocabulary, there are plenty of ideas which CELTA trainees can employ when introducing new lexis in their classrooms, some of which they may not have thought about before. Watkins talks about a word bag which is something I often use for reviewing lexical items at the beginning of the next lesson. As the bag gets fuller, learners really have a sense of accomplishment when they see all the new lexical items they have met during the course. One idea in the book involves giving the learners some nouns from the bag and getting them to brainstorm adjectives and/ or verbs that collocate with each noun- a great way to expand their existing knowledge!

Although maybe not quite as detailed and visually not as appealing, all in all, I would say Learning to Teach English is a worthy competitor to Harmer or Scrivener and will certainly be a useful addition to our CELTA book cupboard. 

For more useful information about CELTA, take a look at The Ultimate Guide to CELTA available on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Coursebooks – How to use and adapt them

On our CELTA courses in Munich, we use two coursebooks with the students (currently Speakout and English Unlimited) but as the course progresses and trainees become more confident in the classroom, we encourage them to move away from the coursebook a little. Why?

Continue reading “Coursebooks – How to use and adapt them”