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Selected books on language pedagogy

By Dr. Liz Galvin, UCLA Department of Applied Linguistics.
 

Celce-Murcia, M. (Ed.). (2001). Teaching English as a second or foreign language. (3rd Ed.) Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

  • Among ESL and EFL teachers, this book is known as both "the Bible" and "the apple book" (for the image on its front cover). It has a wealth of information on all aspects of language teaching. Although each chapter is written by an expert in an area of teaching English, nearly all of the content is transferable to other language teaching contexts. Like Shrum and Glisan, the chapters on teaching the skills of writing, reading, grammar, listening and speaking contain discussion questions, websites, and suggested activities. Compared to other related texts, it has more of a big picture focus including teaching methodologies, lesson planning, textbook selection.

Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning: Teaching second language learners in the mainstream classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

  • Scaffolding Language was written for a specific purpose: to help mainstream (classroom) teachers help the English learners in their classes build academic English and concepts. While that context is certainly different from that of most teachers of less commonly taught languages, the book is still a "must" for all language teachers: it is relatively short, elegantly and accessibly written, and contains pages of easily implemented activities for reading, writing, listening, and speaking

Nunan, D. (1999). Second Language Teaching and Learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

  • Nunan's book is also a general text for pre-service and in-service language teachers. The main difference between it and the others is that it emphasizes theoretical and empirical foundations of language teaching a bit more. It's divided into three parts: "The Context of Second Language Teaching and Learning," "Language, Learners, and the Learning Process," and "Language Skills in Action." While the third part contains ideas about teaching each skill, it is more theoretical and less specific about strategies and activities. You might look to other books to get ideas about what to do during a particular lesson; Nunan's book would be helpful if you wanted to read more about how a particular activity or strategy affects language learning.

Shrum, J.L., and Glisan, E.W. (2004). Teacher's handbook: Contextualized language instruction. (3rd Ed.). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

  • This book focuses on teaching language in context, that is, surrounding the vocabulary and grammar that is taught with a context that is meaningful for the student, in order to deepen language acquisition. The book starts with an overview of the need for context in instruction, then moves on to chapters about teaching world languages in elementary, middle, and high school. Each language skill has a chapter devoted to it (writing, grammar, reading, listening, and speaking). The strength of this book is that every theoretical point is grounded with detailed case studies, examples from language textbooks, and transcriptions from language classrooms. It also pays more attention to the primary/elementary school context than most other language teaching texts.

Ur, P. (1996). A Course in language teaching: Practice and theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Like Celce-Murcia's book, this is meant to be a comprehensive text for language teacher trainees. In addition to eight chapters on the "how" and "what" to teach (skills and content), Ur has three sections that delve more deeply into lesson planning, classroom management, course planning, and learner variation. One shortcoming is that it has not been updated since 1996 and thus does not have a chapter on technology in the classroom.

Books suggested by our site visitors
 

Bill Johnston with Louis Janus (2007). Developing Classroom Materials for Less Commonly Taught Languages.
Available from the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition.

  • This book provides principles and practical guidelines for LCTL teachers of all levels and languages to transform raw materials into activities for the language classroom. Grounded in research, the author lays out a series of principles that serve to remind teachers of the possibilities that exist when they consider using authentic materials in the classroom. Each principle in the book is accompanied by numerous practical examples in a wide variety of languages, created by the author and by teachers who have participated in a summer institute led by Bill Johnston and Louis Janus at CARLA since 1999.

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. "What is Backward Design?" In Understanding by Design. 1st edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2001, pp. 7-19.

  • A discussion of how to design curriculum by starting with the desired results (objectives, standards), then selecting materials and developing the content needed to equip students to perform the objectives.

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