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Professional Development For Language Teachers

Jack C. Richards and Tom S.C. Farrell
Cambridge University Press, 2005, 202 pages
ISBN: 0-521-61383-3

Subtitled ‘Strategies for Teacher Learning’, this book in the Cambridge Language Education series is aimed at teachers, coordinators and administrators who wish to follow or implement a coherent teacher development policy. The authors recognise teachers’ needs for reflection, skills development, increased knowledge, collaboration and responsibility, and offer current approaches to enable them to involve themselves in these processes on a regular basis.

The book begins with a very clear definition and model of teacher development which is then used as a framework for the following chapters, which systematically examine eleven procedures used to facilitate professional development. Of the eleven, only the section on Analysing Critical Incidents, which deals with managing classroom crises, stands apart from the known array of development strategies. The remaining ten, including workshops, support groups, journal writing and action research, are tried and tested techniques but are often seen as separate strategies rather than parts of a developmental whole.

The book succeeds in pulling together the existing strands of teacher development, and for those who have experience of these issues, interest is added by the many vignettes and reflective tasks included in each section. For those new to these strategies, each section provides clear definitions and sound practical advice. The section on peer coaching, for example, deals not only with the purposes, advantages and types of peer coaching, but also with procedures and implementation, including an example. It is in this area of collaborative and collegial development, which includes team teaching, support groups and peer observation, often so difficult to put into practice, that the book scores particularly highly.

This book is likely to appeal to teacher trainers, institutions that include or aspire to teacher development as part of their policy, and teachers who wish to follow a self-directed development path, offering the option of adopting the whole range or a selection of strategies available. As comprehensive overview of teacher development strategies and a synthesis of many of existing articles on a variety of related issues, and written by recognised authorities on the subject, Professional Development for Language Teachers is also likely to become a basic text for MA programmes in TESOL and TEFL.

191 July/August 2006