Personalising Language Learning
by G.Griffiths & K.Keohane
Review written by Thomas
Language Learning is another in the excellent Cambridge
Handbooks for Language Teachers series. We
have already reviewed a few from the series & this
book fits in nicely as it is at the heart of a learner-based
approach to language learning. As the authors say in the introduction:
provides a collection of creative classroom activities
designed for busy teachers who wish to enhance language
learning by integrating the personal experiences, feelings,
values and opinions of individual learners in their classrooms.
And go on to say:
is one very effective way of enhancing motivation. By
this, we mean making language learning content personally
meaningful. If learners feel that what they are asked
to do is relevant to their own lives, and that their feelings,
thoughts, opinions and knowledge are valued, and crucial
to the success of the activities, they they will be fully
engaged in the tasks and more likely to be motivated to
learn the target language.
The book is divided into eight
Acting, reacting & interacting
Self-awareness & self-assertion
Values & values awareness
Self-knowledge & knowledge about others
Images & scenes - real & ideal
Closing the course
Each of the activities begins
with a description of the language focus, the level it is
designed for & the preparation needed. The procedure is
clearly numbered & there are also follow-on activities.
Clines are used in a few of
the activities & in 'Careful Listening' the students are
asked to close their eyes & listen to the sounds around
them. They then fill in different clines - happy to sad, annoying
to pleasing etc with the sounds - bus, lorry, bell etc. A
comparison then follows. In 'I'm This Type of Person' students
are asked to put adjectives to describe their personality
on a cline of Very to Not At All.
The 'Function Review' activity
draws on the students first language as they need to recall
when the used a function or two over the past couple of days
& then translate it into English & pass the paper
on for students to add lines to the dialogue. 'Role &
Language' looks at stereotypical language & gives lots
of speaking practice.
The activities are generally
inherently interesting & humour is also injected throughout
as in the 'Making People Laugh' activity where students have
to face each other & through verbal means, make each other
laugh. 'Deflecting questions' very usefully looks at avoiding
answering personal or tricky questions & will be lots
There are quite a few activities
where the students describe their lives so far & their
wishes for the future. In 'Life Maps' they are given road
signs - Stop, Straight Ahead, Turn right, Roundabout etc -
with which to exemplify their lives so far - nice idea.
The authors say that the activities
are meant 'to be used as occasional enrichments to supplement'
& I'm sure they would be for the busy teacher. This book
reminds me of the excellent 'Classroom Dynamics' (OUP) as
a book that enriches all aspects of the lesson & the group.
Another essential buy for the staffroom.
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