Practical Techniques For Language Teaching

Introduction

This book is not theoretical. It is a collection of practical ideas and techniques which you can use immediately to make your own teaching more effective, and more enjoyable for yourself and your students. The book is not based on a method or an approach. We do not believe that there is one way of teaching well. All the suggestions are based on our experience of teachers teaching. Ideas are included because we have seen that they work for a wide range of teachers in many different situations.

Teaching situations are different. You may, for example, have to prepare
students for a particular examination so that some time must be spent on
examination techniques. All teachers complain that they do not have
enough time to do all the things they would like to do. Some compromises
between what you would like to do, what your students need, and the
requirements of the situation, are inevitable.

In these circumstances there are two guiding principles which should
influence your decisions: that language teaching is only an aid to language
learning, and that it is those things which help the students to improve which are of particular importance; and secondly that language is first and fore-most communication. Those activities which mean students can use the lan-guage, and communicate better, are to be encouraged at the expense of activities which will only mean that students “know” the language.

The first two chapters of the book do provide a more general framework
for the specific tips which follow. Even these general principles, however,
are practical rather than theoretical. You are encouraged not only to read
the tips, but to try the ideas they suggest. We hope most will work for you, but some may not, and some will need to be modified for you and your sit-
uation.

The book is essentially one of techniques, applicable to different situations and also to different material. Any selection of textbook materials we could make would be in danger of being situation-specific, or based on assumptions about text-books which are widely available at the moment of writing. We believe initial teacher training courses should include an element which shows students how to develop lesson plans round published materials, but in our experience course tutors almost always prefer to use contemporary or local materials in developing these lesson plans. For this reason, we have not included a chapter on specific materials.

In revising this book for its second edition, we consulted many course
tutors, and others with experience in the teacher training field. We were
delighted to discover that they were happy with the existing text. The main
change in the new edition, therefore, is the addition of points which we felt
deserved more emphasis. In one or two cases — specifically increased
emphasis on receptive skills and collocation — the re-emphasis marks the
development in our own thinking since the first edition appeared.

Few teachers, however long they have been teaching, are doing things as
well as they possibly could. There is almost always an opportunity for new
ideas, attitudes and techniques. We hope this book will encourage readers
to try any ideas which are new, and so to develop their teaching, and in turn their students’ learning.

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