Judith Baker and Mario Rinvolucri
Delta Publishing, 2005, 96 pages
On the surface, this book appears to be a collection of over one hundred classroom activities arranged in five categories – warmers, the skills, writing, vocabulary and exams. However, this collection differs in that it links language development to neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Consequently, while the book is subtitled ‘integrated skills activities’, a ‘fifth skill’, that of internal monologue or dialogue, is introduced and many of the activities aim to develop confidence, self-awareness and mutual trust, targets which are beyond the range of most conventional resource books.
The activities are aimed at intermediate level and above and are mainly designed to promote spontaneous speaking or writing. Certainly, learners would require not only the language to express their feelings, but also the necessary motivation. Teachers using these activities will be those aiming to develop their learners’ broader communication skills and who can assume that their learners have a real desire to produce language.
Many teachers would find it hard to deal with the sensory aspects of some activities (breathing together, smelling memories) but would appreciate the student-based content and learner-driven procedures. Some activities involve groups of three rather than pairs, while the notion of the fifth skill accepts the concept of interlanguage and that learners need time to internalise. There are lessons from NLP to be learnt here.
There will be those who are apprehensive about this book either because they are sceptical of NLP, because their students are not intrinsically motivated, or because spontaneity and creativity are not their main objectives. Rather than concentrating on the NLP-based focuses such as ‘meta programs’ and ‘logical levels’, however, the teacher might view this book simply as a resource collection containing stimulating and practicable activities. The first section, for example, contains a dozen useful warmers, most of which could be adapted and extended as required. Many teachers will be surprised at how many of the activities add an extra dimension to techniques already in their repertoire, such as storytelling, guided fantasy, drama and even exam preparation.
This book is both a collection of classroom activities and an insight into how NLP theory can be put into practice. The book therefore stands both as a valuable resource and as a positive attempt to present NLP specifically as an aid to language learning as well as personal development.
189 March/April 2006