Sunday, May 8, 2011

CTET : Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom


Teaching and learning in the language classroom is aimed primarily at language teachers with some experience, and though it could be very useful for teachers to explore on their own, its main use is likely to be as a core textbook on in-service training courses. Throughout, it encourages teachers to reflect on issues in language teaching and learning on the basis of their own experience. Each chapter begins with an "introductory task" which focuses thought on the area to be considered and which in most cases invites teachers to identify aspects of their current ideas and practice on the issue. Similarly, the penultimate section of each chapter is a considerable list of "discussion topics and projects", many of which are based on examples of teaching materials. These activities are likely to be most profitable when carried out in groups, and the most obvious way in which to exploit them is on a formal training course.
In between these discussion tasks, each chapter produces a highly concentrated but still readable exploration of the issues in the topic under consideration. Though the main subheadings in each chapter take the form of questions, such as "How do second language learners acquire vocabulary?" or "What role can self-access facilities play in language learning?", these are questions which the author sets out to answer; they are not specifically addressed to the reader. The general pattern of each chapter is to move from more theoretical to practical considerations, and Hedge draws on both research and published teaching materials in exploring central issues in language teaching. The conclusions drawn are often fairly tentative, though; this is not a book which implies that there are clear and straightforward answers to the questions that concern language teachers, or which sets out to provide simplistic classroom "recipes". After working through the chapters teachers should end up making more informed choices and decisions, but they will still be making the choices--Hedge views teachers as the "decision-makers in managing the classroom process" (1), and it is not her aim to usurp that role by spelling out some fixed set of classroom practices which she believes to be ideal. As she says in the introduction, her book is not "based on the belief that teachers sit at the feet of educationists and applied linguists waiting for ideas to drop, like crumbs, to sustain them", since "experienced teachers are more robust and independent than that"(2). She recognises that neither theoretical nor classroom research can provide "a base for unshakeable principles of classroom practice". Her aim is to help provide "a foundation of knowledge against which we can evaluate our own ideas about teaching and learning, to which we can apply for insights in our attempts to solve pedagogical problems, and from which we can draw ideas to experiment with in our own classrooms" (ibid.). Such an approach should appeal to the experienced teacher

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