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Classroom Instruction that Works with English Language Teachers

Jane D. Hill and Kathleen M. Flynn
ASCD Publications, 2006, 144 pages
ISBN: 1-4166-0390-5

One of a series produced by the American Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, this book is aimed at elementary school teachers facing the problem of the placement of English language learners in mainstream classes. The book addresses the issue of developing academic content and language skills simultaneously and suggests teaching strategies, many of which are borrowed or modified from general classroom practice.

The main body of the book is divided into twelve chapters, nine of which cover diverse aspects of classroom instruction. Some chapters are explorations of theory and research into areas such as the stages of language acquisition, while considerations of homework, summarising and note taking are more practical. Further sections are devoted to socio-educational considerations such as cooperative learning and the involvement of parents and the community.

This diversity of content is one possible limitation of the book. This is neither an ELT methodology book, nor is it an overview of current research, rather a collection of sound pedagogic principles. There are numerous references to an earlier publication, ‘Classroom Instruction that Works’ (Marzano, Pickering and Hill, 2001) from which generalisations have been drawn and which seems to have provided a framework to which an ELT bias has been added.

A second limitation is that the book refers largely to the American experience, where sheer numbers and economic considerations have reduced opportunities for learning in bilingual and ESL classrooms. However, there is much background material relating to both linguistic and cultural concerns that is relevant to current UK and European contexts. Teachers of immigrants and refugees in the UK face similar problems and are finding the shift from EFL to ESL problematic. In Europe, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), in a variety of guises, is being implemented as a consequence of the EU vision of a multilingual society. In both cases, subject teachers face the problem of providing language support. While this book draws sensible conclusions, offers rationales and makes procedural recommendations, practical techniques and activities are perhaps what the classroom teacher would prefer.

196 May/June 2007