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Book ReviewEditorial NRInglês

★ Thinking in the EFL class

Has the fun has gone out of teaching? Do you feel you are giving your classes on auto-pilot? If so, this is a book for you. For experienced and inexperienced teachers alike, Thinking in the EFL Class (in the beautifully-produced Helbling The Resourceful Teacher Series) is a goldmine of ideas and activities. It sets out to suggest ways of getting both the teacher and the students involved in new ways of looking at things.

Starting from an introduction on thinking in general, with a useful reminder of ‘lower order’ and ‘higher order’ taxonomies of thought, the book contains 7 sections. It progresses through Chapter 1 (Fundamentals) to Chapter 7 (Designing tasks and activities to encourage thinking), each with its own introduction, teaching tips and practical activities for use in class. Particular activities are also flagged with a symbol indicating there is a free downloadable worksheet in .pdf or .doc format on the Helbling Languages website.

If you work with a syllabus tied to a particular set of course materials, you may feel you have too little time to introduce new ideas. This book, however, will help you liven up your thoughts on topics such as “Building concepts, looking for patterns and memorising” (Chapter 2) and on “Keeping it practical: ways of structuring lessons for thinking” (Chapter 3) among others. Many of the practical activities suggested can be used with the textbook or course materials rather than instead of them. Varying the focus you give to your materials, getting your students to think more, to create more actively and to cooperate better will all have practical rewards. And the whole process begins with things as simple as allowing more time for student answers and looking for alternative response to the same question. Things we often do, but reflection on what we do as teachers and why we do it will always be time well invested.

Activity 3.4 involves “Inspiring people” and suggests working with “making a personal association with someone who has overcome difficulties or achieved great things”. One of my heroes in the teaching profession is Tessa Woodward. I have admired her work both in person and on paper since I first met her in the late 1980s. As a teacher, as the editor of the journal The Teacher Trainer, and as a writer of supplementary materials for teachers, she has a simplicity, an originality, an eye for detail and an elegance that few other trainers can match. All these qualities are reflected in Thinking in the EFL

Suggestions

Thinking in the EFL class

Thinking in the EFL Class progresses to the fundamentals of building a positive class atmosphere for communicating well and in English. Thinking in the EFL Class offers over 30 well-thought out, realistic tips for teachers and over 85 practical, easy-to-use activities for language classes. These tips and activities encourage flexibility, fun, creativity and rigour in teacher and student thinking. They involve minimal preparation and a wide range of interesting topics. Most of the activities are multi-level and adaptable from elementary to advanced students. Many integrate the skills of listening, speaking, reading and/or writing. Thinking in the EFL Class is extremely valuable in helping teachers stay interested in their work and in helping students cope with the demands of learning a language and living in a restless, changeable world.

The reviewer
Sara Walker was born and educated in Britain, where she gained a BA in Modern Languages and an MA in Latin American Studies, but has worked virtually all her professional life in Brazil. She has been coordinator of the English programme for trainee diplomats at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry’s Instituto Rio Branco for many years and is a former president of BRAZ-TESOL. She was recently made an Honorary Citizen of Brasilia
to celebrate her 50 years of teaching in Brazil.
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