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Book review
The Experience of Language Teaching cover


The Experience of
Language Teaching
by Rose M. Senior

(CUP - Cambridge Language
Teaching Library)

Review written by Thomas Simon

The Experience of Language Teaching is a book written by an experienced teacher who draws on her own experiences & the five interview studies she caarried out. This is what the book blurb says:

Through the words of more than 100 practising language teachers, The Experience of Language Teaching provides a detailed picture of teaching and learning in communicative classrooms. Using a teacher-generated framework it covers a range of aspects of classroom life: how teachers create environments suitable for language practice, how they get students 'on-side', how they manage tricky students, how they enhance the learning experience, how they develop and maintain a spirit of community.

The book demonstrates how paying attention to both the learning and social needs of their class groups enables language teachers to behave in flexible ways that promote learning.

This book will be of interest to teachers, teacher educators, researchers and to anyone interested in finding out what it is like to be a language teacher at the present time.

To get a more detailed veiw of what is covered in the book, here's the index:

1. Establishing a framework for the book
1.1 Selecting the research approach
1.2 Conductlng a grounded theory study
1.3 Identifying a framework
1.4 Conclusion

2. Training to be a language teacher
2.1 The appeal of language teaching
2.2 The training expericncc
2.3 Awakenings
2.4 Early days in the workforce
2.5 Conclusion

3. Becoming a committed language teacher
3 1 Starting out
3.2 Professional development
3.3 Maturing as a language teacher
3.4 Ongoing development
3.5 Conclusion

4. Establishing the learning environment
4.1 What communicative classrooms are like
4.2 Creating informal classroom atmospheres
4.3 The vital first few lessons
4.4 Exercising authority
4.5 Conclusion

5. The diversity of the language classroom
5.1 Students: the raw material of am language class
5.2 Factors influencing student behaviour and performance
5.3 Tensions within the language classroom
5.4 Conclusion

6. Managing individuals
6.1 Coping with individuals
6.2 Tuning in to class behaviour
6.3 Handling students with care
6.4 Conclusion

7. Teaching flexibly
7.1 The reality behind the myth
7.2 Experience-based language teaching
7.3 To thine own self be true
7.4 why flexibility does not lead to chaos
7.5 Conclusion

8. Vitalising the language class
8.1 Responsive language classes
8.2 The role of humour in the language classroom
8.3 Activity-based language practice
8.4 Bringing the pedagogy alive
8.5 Conclusion

9. Maintaining the classroom community
9.1 Language classes as learning communities
9.2 Group dynamics in the language classroom
9.3 Community maintenance techniques
9.4 Conclusion

10. Frustrations and rewards
10.1 The English language boom
10.2 Major causes of frustration for language teachers
10.3 The rewards of language teaching
10.4 Conclusion

11. What drives language teachers
11.1 Standing back: a note of caution on assumptions and beliefs
11.2 Assumptions and beliefs underpinning the communicative approach
11.3 Values shared by experienced language teachers
11.4 Conclusion

12. Towards a teacher-generated theory of classroom practice
12.1 Harmony and balance
12.2 A teacher-generated theory of classroom practice
12.3 Conclusion

As you can see the range of topics goes from starting out in the profession through day-to day issues & on to professional development at very experienced levels. It is very clearly written & easy to read, drawing on the studies & backed up with relevant references & quotes.

The Experience of Language Teaching is an excellent book for all levels of teacher experience, although rather than looking forward, it is more to look back on ones experience & take stock & assemble present thoughts. Those that are moving into teacher training or director of studies-type roles would benefit enormously. Just as the DELTA course gives teachers the confidence to deal with other teachers, this book does the same, bringing together a host of common sense classroom & professional views & options.

The Experience of Language Teaching is an important contribution to English language teaching, a profession that suffers a constant battering to its credentials on all fronts. This book represents a step forward in the struggle for a better professional recognition.

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