I'm lucky in that I do a lot of travelling, mainly to conferences to give talks and workshops. Whenever I can, I escape for a few hours and search out second-hand bookshops in the city where I happen to be, and look for old English language teaching textbooks and teachers' guides. (Two places where I found a lot of places selling such books were Lima in Peru, and Ljubljana in Slovenia).I collect these books because they are a rich source of information as to the way language teaching has evolved over the years. But also because they often contain insights which suggest that not a lot has changed, and that some of the claims about learning that we think are relatively new are in fact quite old.Here is a selection that I've picked, fairly randomly, from my collection. To me, these are all examples of excellent advice. Do you agree?“No amount of sentence-constructing ingenuity can replace the patient daily repeating and reviewing of foreign-word groups” (Palmer, H. 1925. ‘Conversation’. Re-printed in Smith, R. (1999) The Writings of Harold E. Palmer: An Overview. Tokyo: Hon-no-Tomosha, p. 187) “The teacher should beware of giving any firm rules for intonation, or for any other feature of the language for that matter” (Hornby, A. 1964 Oxford Progressive English Alternative Course: Book A Teacher’s Handbook. p. x-xi) “It is as well to remember that language is life itself, and that life is very largely language… Language is not a sterile subject to be confined to the classroom. One of two things must be done: either life must be brought to the classroom or the class must be taken to life” (Strevens, P. 1956. Spoken Language. p. 69) “A command of structure is more easily acquired by reading, speaking and writing the language than by hearing and studying explanations” (Gurrey, P. 1955. Teaching English as a Foreign Language. p. 80) “Language is not words, but words together; it is not word—word—word, etc., but word + word + word, etc., and so language learning must be learning words put together” (Chapman, L. 1958, Teaching English to Beginners. p88. ) “Be friends with your pupils. Let them help you to teach; they will then have the happiest of feelings about all their English lessons” (French, F. 1949. The Teaching of English Abroad: Part II The Junior Course. p.33.)
Submitted 9 years 9 months ago by Scott Thornbury.