Succeeding with English Language Learners: A Guide for Beginning Teachers

Thomas S.C. Farrell. Thousands Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006. Pp. xi + 160.

Reviewed by Handoyo Puji Widodo
Politeknik Negeri Jember Vocational College
East Java, Indonesia

Learning to teach is a complex process, so novice teachers need much support. In response, Farrell s Succeeding with English Language Learners: A Guide for Beginning Teachers, a practical and reader-friendly resource,provides indispensable support for beginning EFL/ESL teachers to help make the transition from the teacher education institution to the real classroom smoother.
Designed to help novice teachers gain the pedagogical skills beginning teachers need, the text is comprised of ten chapters, each of which provides an easy-to-ready discussion of each topic as well as questions and chapter reflections to help readers engage the material.
The book begins by emphasizing two first-year development models to provide new teachers with a useful picture of what they are going to experience during their first years: Fuller and Brown s model (survival, mastery, resistance and adaptation) and Maynard and Furlong s (early idealism, survival, recognizing difficulties, reaching a plateau, and moving on).
The next chapter moves on with an explanation of the importance of lesson planning they will need to become familiar with: modeling, development, implementation, and evaluation. Chapter 3 then examines several classroom management issues: how to organize a class, conduct group work, elicit positive student behavior, organize classroom communication, and facilitate diversity.
In the fourth chapter, the text introduces fundamental approaches to teaching grammar (inductive and deductive) along with suggestions for alternative approaches and succinct guidelines for preparing lessons. Chapter 5 addresses writing instruction. It discusses commonly held perspectives on product and process models, helpful suggestions for writing lesson preparation, a guide to peer response and evaluation, and a writer s checklist to make in-class writing conferences feasible.
Chapter 6 describes core speaking dimensions such as turn taking, conversational topics, repair, the important features of accuracy and fluency and offers valuable speaking tasks (e.g. project tasks and reports) to help teachers promote communicative activities in the classroom. The following chapter explores the teaching of reading. It introduces fundamental reading process models such as top-down, bottom-up, and an interactive model which combines the two along with guidelines for reading lesson preparation. The remaining sections succinctly touch on basic reading sub-skills such as prior knowledge activation, prediction, scanning, skimming, word guessing, and rhetorical awareness.
The eighth chapter looks at three listening dimensions–interactional, transactional, and interactive–and suggests that teachers should consider learners’ active participation. It then offers a listening activity, TV Soaps, which is based on several pedagogical tenets: Listeners make no response, a short response, or a longer response. The chapter finishes by arguing how such activities are an exceptional way of integrating other language skills (e.g. grammar, writing, speaking, and reading).
Chapter 9 begins by touching on language assessment types and criteria, providing a strategic approach to assessing spoken English, and treating two core criteria of language assessment, reliability and validity. The final chapter then goes on to close the book with a discussion of professional development opportunities (e.g. action research and classroom observation), suggesting that teachers who pursue professional development can find it invigorating.
Throughout the book, readers will be pleased with the text s wide coverage of the important points new teachers need to become familiar with, yet some may desire a more in-depth exploration of particular points. Nevertheless, as an introductory text, Succeeding with English Language Learners: A Guide for Beginning Teachers, is a valuable starting point for new teachers to get acquainted with fundamental facets of ELT.