The practice of English language teaching; by Jeremy Harper (fourth edition),2007, Pearson Education Limited; Reviewed by Kristina Stevceva
The practice of English language teaching provides an excellent guidance and a theoretical background of the English language and the process of teaching and learning. The reason why this book was taken for a review its because I think that it consists all the information and activities that a good English teacher should be aware of. Jeremy Harper who is the author of all published editions of this book is an ELT writer, teacher, trainer and presenter. He is currently an occasional lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. As a writer of books in the field of English language teaching, he is a seminar leader, frequent presenter and a teacher inside UK and all around the world. All the books he has written include methodology titles, course materials and learner’s literature that are of great use for a lot of English teachers around the world, no matter if they have just started their carriers or that have been working in this field for a long period of time. As I already mentioned, this is the 4th edition of this book and its previous editions as well as this one have been used by teachers working on their own, teachers working with colleagues or by students who are training to be a good English teachers. The previous editions of this book are known as very useful and consistent of a large number of practical activities and theoretical background of the English teaching process, but as the 4th edition is the one I have lately read, I will concentrate of the positive and a few negative parts of this book.
One of the reasons I liked this book is the fact that it consists a lot of ideas and activities that can be useful to young English teachers such as myself and helps you continue your professional development. This book takes you, as a reader, to a journey from the beginnings of ELT until present day with the use of technology in the classroom. It represents a review of global English and describes the ways how English has become a genuine lingua franca that is today used as a main language for communication between ordinary people, politicians, business people etc., or in other words, the worlds first language for international communication. As the author continues to the next chapters of the book, its getting clearer to the reader that actually this is a guide book and it has an educational purpose for improving your knowledge as an English teacher or a students who aims to become one. The book consists a methodology of teaching all skill sectors in English language teaching as well as observation tasks, games and activities and it is based on interviews with teachers and their classrooms techniques. Another reason why I was interested in this book is that it is based on personal experiences and already used methods and techniques by teachers all around the world because in my opinion, the best way of becoming a good English teacher is the exchange of knowledge with your colleagues and accepting your own mistakes with the methods or techniques you have used or thought that are the most successful ones.
As described above, the main argument or purpose for writing this book, is for the author to provide a helpful guide for English teachers no matter if they are just starting to work or they have an experience in ELT. We are all familiar with the fact that as the years pass by, the educational system is changing as well as the method and techniques by which students feel more comfortable of studying a second language. That’s why, the author takes as a main argument of this book the methods and techniques used form the beginnings of ELT until the new era of technology into the educational system. It provides teachers and trainees with a huge amount of educational material. Teachers with experience in the process of ELT could find this book very useful for understanding the new educational technology which by the time they were finishing their studies, it didn’t exist. The chapter dedicated to the teachnology in teaching (chapter 11) it represent an examination of the role of technology (old and new) in the classroom activities. The use of technology in the classroom makes students more excited to learn and listen during your classes because the different technological tools, gadgets, software gives them the opportunity to learn a language by using their computers or smartphones. An example from the book which I liked most, according to this theme is the technology pyramid which is shown in two ways (p; 175-176) and shows that although technology is very important nowadays it is not the main tool of the new educational era. The first way of showing the pyramid upside – down is starting with the “language laboratories, Power Point, computers” and ends with using “Nothing” and the other “way – up ” shows that we can use “people and real life situations” to help students learn English successfully. Or as it is said in the book:
“The resources that are currently avaible are truly amazing. As we shall see, they offer an amazing variety of routes for learning and discovery. Yet we shall not see them as methodologies for learning, but rather as tools to help us whatever approaches and techniques we have chosen to use. And we need to remind ourselves that many classrooms both in the