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Book review
700 Classroom Activities cover

700 Classroom Activities
David Seymour &
Maria Popova

(Macmillan ELT)

Review written by Thomas Simon

700 Classroom Activities is literally a series of practical activities to use in class. The book is divided up into four sections: Conversation, Functions, Grammar & Vocabulary. There is a short index at the front of the book that simply states the four sections & the page number each one starts on. The real index to the activities is a not very detailed alphabetical jumble of activity focus at the back of the book. A more detailed index at the front that divided the activities up within the four sections into title, level & focus, would make the book friendlier to use.

The publishers point out the following 'key benefits' of the book:

  • The majority of activities are written as if spoken directly to the student.
  • None of the activities require photocopying.
  • The level of difficulty is suggested next to each activity heading with shading on the corresponding level icon (E for Elementary, P for Pre-intermediate, I for Intermediate and U+ for Upper Intermediate).
  • Any topics in the book which may offend particularly sensitive or easily embarrassed students or lead to conflict or antagonism between students with conflicting opinions have been marked with an !.
  • There are also plenty of internet-based projects.

The activities are written as they are spoken, making instruction giving slightly easier, & the lack of need to photocopy is always an advantage as learners stumble around weighed down with wads of photocopies. The activities themselves are clearly tried & tested, some of them a lot of fun & imaginative, & a lot of them are learner-based & personalised, drawing on the students' experiences & ideas. It is a collection of tasks that most experienced teachers might have tried out at least once but the difference here is that they are all in one place, ready for referencing & quick re-use. The less experienced teacher will love this book & it would be especially useful for trainees on initial training courses such as Certificate courses.

The introduction states:

The majority of activities included here are short and to the point, giving the teacher an opportunity to provide on-the-spot practice. They can also be included in normal lesson planning. The activities require no preparation. All that is needed is a quick look through the chosen activity to check the language involved and to estimate the time needed. 700 Classroom Activities is the ideal tool for teachers who appreciate the importance of reacting to students’ needs, as and when they arise.

Although lesson planning is mentioned above, there is an emphasis here on the teacher deciding what to do on the spot. This might be appropriate for the experienced teacher who implicitly takes many factors into account naturally, but for the inexperienced teacher it could make life very difficult indeed - students can spot a lesson that is being made up on the spot a mile off.

700 Classroom Activities is a very useful reference book for any staffroom. It is a shame about the indexing in the book but it is easy enough to use regardless. Get your hands on a copy!

700 Classroom Activities cover

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