Friday, August 28, 2009

How to Teach English

Jeremy Harmer’s How to Teach English is an invaluable guide for English teachers, particularly for those who have not undergone any special training in English teaching. This book covers all the important topics that relate English teaching classes at various levels as well as the main elements of English grammar and some effective methods teaching them to students.

Harmer’s attention to the extra-linguistic features that help in engaging students’ interest is the most appreciable aspect of his book. Teachers can gain some truly valuable tips here on, for example, how their dress and voice influence the attention of their students; how to plan lessons; the pros and cons of different English teaching approaches, and much more. The exercises included with the text to illustrate the topics are simple and easy to use in any English teaching class.

How to Teach English also includes a special chapter What If? to guide teachers on how to handle the commonly experienced difficulties with students in a class. What, for example, can a teacher do if the students are uncooperative or if the students keep using their native language(s) in the class instead of speaking English. The author has also provided a brief list of helpful resources for teachers of English. For all the latter, Jeremy Harmer’s How to Teach English is strongly recommended.

ISBN: 0582297966


The Labyrinth

Shackled in a dreary room in one of Chicago’s mental hospitals, a schizophrenic child’s life had crossed the way of eternal darkness. Wounded and nearly abandoned, this kid couldn’t foretell then that he was to attain freedom from the dismal scene of the mental hospital, get back to school, go to fight in a war for his country, get married and sire kids, and found his own publishing company in the heart of the world’s publishing center. This child was Mike Stefan Strozier and The Labyrinth (World Audience Publishers, 2006) is his memoir.

Reading the book’s subtitle – schizophrenia, homelessness, war, alcoholism, and divorce – did at first induce some apprehension: was it going to be another gloom-and-doom story? But it was amazing to find the episodes of Mike’s troubled past free of self-pity. Instead, you find the writer’s success in stepping aside from the negativity so frequently associated with the bitter memories of trauma. With time, the account of his life’s most challenging phases show Mike as a man growing in strength while his trial changed its guise. There was pain, a lot of it, but there also was a characteristically human tenacity that took the throes one after the other, without cringing. The Labyrinth goes to show how tolerant the human spirit is!

Something worth-noticing in the book is that Mike has chosen not to causally or – for some part – chronologically connect the choices he made in his adult life; one reason perhaps being that he didn’t have many of them. But this is also how he proves his writing talent, i.e. by engaging the readers’ interest in the immediacy of his episodic narrative. And it works in preventing The Labyrinth from sounding too egotistical.

There is some limitation, however, with respect to the book’s audience. This reviewer feels that The Labyrinth is about the phases of a man’s life, which would be of little interest to many women. The interesting question that strikes the mind, therefore, is ‘who is Mike’s Ariadne?’ Or did his magical thread come out of the blue?

ISBN: 978-0978808662