Short Book Reviews
Hanna Kryszewska is a teacher, teacher trainer, trainer of trainers. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Gdańsk, Poland. She is co-author of resource books: Learner Based Teaching, OUP, Towards Teaching, Heinemann, The Standby Book, CUP, Language Activities for Teenagers, CUP, The Company Words Keep, DELTA Publishing, and a course book series for secondary schools: ForMat, Macmillan. She is also co-author of a video-based teacher training course: Observing English Lessons, and online course for Orient Black Swan on 21st Century Skills and Teaching the whole person: Humanising language teaching. Hania is a Pilgrims trainer and editor of HLT Magazine.
Look Back. How to talk about the past in English B1-C1. D. Hastings. DMH Press (2023). ISBN 9798390749920, pp.156. The book is the second title in the Vocabulary Detective series by the same author. (review and author’s review in HLT). The focus of the book, just like the title states, is very limited. Its aim is to help intermediate level learners to progress to higher level just focusing on past tenses. The author, of course, does not claim that the only way to progress to a higher level is to master and perfect the past tenses. There are other grammar structures, language functions, lexis to learn, but it is an interesting idea to focus on one area and devote special attention to it. The way work on past tenses the author has proposed is to read stories from history in which past tenses are highlighted, and then they are followed by questions and additional language work through summaries. There are twenty stories of varying length and level (from B1-C1), and they are really entertaining and interesting, and their titles common idiomatic expressions like The last laugh or Prophet of doom. At the end of the book there are ten sections devoted to ways of talking about the past, a key and bibliography of the sources where the stories come from. I am sure the boos will enrich and liven up grammar lessons, also as jigsaw reading or self study.
Powerful Questioning. Strategies for Improving Learning and Retention in the Classroom. M. Chiles. (2023) Crown House Publishing. ISBN-9781785835964, pp 167. Questions play a very important role in our lives. John Hattie in the foreword to the book observes how the questions we ask change with our age. We start with Why, then move onto What, and then Why not (as teenagers) and then finally How much. Of course, this is an oversimplification even though a neat one, it encapsulates human nature – we like to ask questions. And not just ask one question – there is always a follow up, as one question leads to another. There are many books about asking the right questions, but the most important is to “ask the right question at the right time for the right person and with the right level of complexity’. The teaching profession is very much focused on asking questions, eliciting, checking if the students understand, remember, etc. And in a vast majority of questions (approx. 80%) teachers know the answers. Now it is an era in education when making thinking visible and exercising critical thinking are widely promoted and encouraged we need different kinds of questions. Firstly, questions that address both lower thinking skills and higher thinking skills (as defined in Bloom’s taxonomy), secondly, questions to which the teacher does not know the answers either, and so the classroom becomes a community of thinking and sharing learning. The book looks at a number of areas: why we ask questions, what questions we ask, how to foster a questioning culture, how questions check understanding, and finally, how questions can be part of assessment and reflection. The book is user friendly – each chapter starts with a map of the chapter, an introduction and background, some points for reflection, and activities. The layout is motivating through bullet points, boxes, grids on top of traditional text and paragraphs. I am sure that a language teacher as well as teachers of other subjects will benefit from this book.
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Short Book Reviews
Hania (Hanna) Kryszewska, Poland
The Practice of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) around the World edited by Carol Griffiths, published by Springer