Children Learning English
Macmillan Heinemann English Language T
Children Learning English
was first published in 2000
f the Teacher
Series by Macmillan and was edited by Adrian Underhill.
have as their hallmark a balance
theory with experienced practice. This
book is no exception.
In the introduction the book states that it is a book:
Which provides insights into the special characteristics; abilities and atti
children bring to the classroom.
Which helps you to think about how you can learn from children and make use
of this information in planning your teaching and your work with children
Which offers you ideas and frameworks for teaching English as optio
consider carefully in relation to your own context
Which encourages you to develop yourself as a teacher.
It continues to state that it is
a book of teaching tips, though it does contain teaching ideas for you to consider
and try out
a book fo
r beginning teachers
a book which recommends a universal method for teaching children.
The book is divided into 12 chapters and each one
follows the same format. There is a
cartoon which exposes the problem to be addressed in the chap
ter in a
way. This is followed by the aims of the chapter
usually four or five.
For the most part the subsections of the chapters begin with a context
usually a story
about a primary teacher from another country.
This contextualisation is
throughout so rather than stating that children have difficulty staying in their seats for a
long time, we read that
Nino, a primary teacher, is describing some of this pupils:
Mario can’t sit still or concentrate
reflects current theories of language
the reading of the complex issues involved in teaching
language to children far more
So with the issue stated the
the reader to c
onsider how s/he would deal
with the problem
or what s/he would have done in that situation.
And this is not done
in using any academic rhetoric
it’s direct and bounces off the page
What challenges have you faced in dealing with classes of varying a
his reader found herself answering the questions before moving on to the author’s
I would have like to have space within the book to note down my answers
especially as I think it is useful to look at these kind of t
asks over time
and to see
whether answers changes or not.
Next there are tasks. These tasks are all based around situations that will be familiar to
anyone who has taught (hence the note above that the book is not for beginner teachers).
That is th
e situations are familiar
but the task itself may not be.
For example in the chapter on supporting children ‘s language learning the task is to
analyse a tape script of a Malaysian teacher and to notice the pieces of support which
the teacher offers to
the pupils and to mark on the transcript whether the degree or
quantity or support was just right, too much or insufficient.
I’m not sure that many
teachers have ever had to analyse tapescripts!
However, it is an interesting way to
expose different forms o
f linguistic and non
linguistic support that the teacher can
e task then is
followed by a
commentary in which the author gives her own
suggestions and sums up the subsection in a clear,
Each chapter then ends with a refer
ence section. This is far more
than a full bibliography at the end of the book.
Reflecting her own experience the author
takes us far away from Eur
in this book
we hear about teachers in Colombia in Malaysia, in In
This is refreshing and is own
experience and is
refreshing as are the examples (tapecripts, situations) from real
teachers and real schools.
I have used
parts of it on
teacher training courses and the
reflecting and thinking about their practice.
The book is about reflection and this begins on the first page and goes right up to the
where we are asked to reflect on why we were reading the book in the first
place. It’s therefore not really
a book to read from cover to cover
more one to dip into
and to read occasionally.
A useful addition to the thinking practioner’s bookshelf.
Reviewed by Niki Joseph