English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 32.1
Volume 32 No 1 115 English Australia Journal developed out of the recent research findings of corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, conversation analysis, and the interrelationships between grammar and lexis, while the pedagogy of language skills is based on the sociocognitive theories of language learning. The lesson plans, which are prepared by real classroom teachers or teacher educators in diverse teaching settings and appended to each chapter, illustrate how the ideas presented in the chapter can be operationalised in the real classroom. While discourse and pragmatics – the two components of verbal communicative competence – are more often than not excluded in most second language teaching literature, these components are included in this volume. Richards states that understanding of discourse analysis and pragmatics helps teachers to ‘better prepare learners to become effective users of English as an international language’ (p. 545). Since the 1990s, there has been a growing recognition of the demand for context- informed pedagogy in second language teaching to meet the diverse needs and contexts of language learners. Accordingly, teaching is no longer viewed as a self- contained activity that does not need to look much beyond itself. Instead, effective language teaching today is seen both as a pedagogical problem and an organisational one. In response to such a profound change, Part IV covers issues that focus on language teachers’ new roles as course and materials developers, classroom researchers, learning assessors, learner-based innovators, etc. Although I am not keen on the title of this part, ‘ The teacher ’s environment’, because it sounds rather ambiguous, I find the content really helpful to inform teachers’ development of effective context-specific pedagogy. In particular, Chapter 19 introduces a balanced view of both the upside and the dark side of technology in language teaching whether used to assist classroom teaching and learning, to bridge in-class learning with out-of-class learning (blended learning), or to complete a language learning course off-site. Teachers who are aiming for continuous improvement will find Chapter 21 on professional development strategies practical and motivating. Richards writes in the Introduction that this book is intended ‘to provide teachers and teachers in training with a foundation of essential knowledge and skills to support their teaching and ongoing career development’ (p. xxii). No doubt, this goal has been satisfactorily achieved. If I could have one wish about the book, I would like to see one full chapter on teaching large and heterogeneous classes, which is a way of life in most EFL, and some ESL contexts. Regrettably, this issue is not adequately addressed in the book. To conclude, Key Issues in Language Teaching is really a valuable asset. If you, either as a practising or prospective English language teacher, find yourself in an EFL book store having enough money for only one book, this is the book to buy.
English Australia Journal 31.2
English Australia Journal Volume 32.02