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Book review
Methodology in Language Teaching cover
Methodology in Language Teaching - An Anthology of Current Practice
Ed. Jack Richards
& Willy Renandya
CUP 2003

Review written by Thomas Simon

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Methodology in Language Teaching is an anthology of articles that 'seeks to provide an overview of current approaches, issues, and practices in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages'. The introduction then goes on tell us that the anthology is relevant to just about any teaching situation imaginable - quite a claim.

All of the articles have been published in the last ten years by a wide range of authors from the very well known, such as Nunan, Douglas Brown, Richards, Swan, Ellis, Field, Raimes & Ur, to a host of lesser known writers. In total there are fourty one articles in sixteen sections. Each section begins with an introduction of the articles from the editors plus a series of pre and post-reading discussion questions, making the book useful for the teacher development group, training course and the individual reader.

All of the articles are well-chosen but some of the more interesting ones to catch my eye:

The 'Approaches to Teaching' section opens the book with an article by Douglas Brown that attempts to pin down the 'principled approach' by listing twelve commonly held principles.

'Implementing Cooperative Learning' by Jacobs & Hall is a very practical look at helping form & develop the group in the classroom.

'Mixed-Level Teaching: Tiered Tasks & Bias Tasks' by Bowler & Parminter provides some guidelines on making their reading & listening coursebook material more flexible in order to cater for the individual within the group.

'Implementing Task-Based Language Teaching' by Beglar & Hunt looks at a twelve week task-based project.

'Language Learning Strategies in a Nutshell: Update & ESL Suggestions' by Oxford provides just what it says by drawing on research from within & without the field. The suggestions are very practical & useful.

Learner Strategy Training in the Classroom: An Action Research Study' by Nunan describes the methods used to help his students reflect on the learning process that did 'lead to greater sensitivity to the learning process over time'.

The 'Teaching Grammar' section summarises current approaches to grammar teaching with articles by Swan, Richards & an article by Ellis on consciousness-raising.

The 'Teaching Pronunciation' contains two articles which try to cover a lot of ground but there is room for a couple more articles here.

There are then sections on the four major skills, vocabulary & assessment with the book finishing with 'Technologies in the Classroom' & 'Professional Development' sections.

The anthology does have something for everyone, which is where some might feel it falls down. The less experienced teacher may find some of the articles overwhelming while the more experienced teacher may find some of them fairly basic. This shouldn't put you off though as there is more than enough to keep everyone happy.

Although the content is by far sufficient you can feel even better about buying Methodology in Language Teaching even before you have opened the cover as all royalties from the book go towards scholarships for English language teachers from South East Asian countries to attend in-service courses offered at the Regional Language Centre in Singapore. Overall an essential buy for the practising teacher.

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