Blog Teaching

Essential TEFL Books – Techniques and Principles in English Language Teaching

As part of the preparation for taking my DELTA, I will be reviewing certain TEFL books in the hope of helping other teachers to sieve through the huge amount of literature on the market. These are not just recommended books, these are the ones I’ve been recommended that deserve to be seen as essential reading. All the books in this series have helped me in a significant way to better understand teaching English. I’m sure they can do the same for you!

– Anthony

Techniques and Principles in English Language Teaching – Diane Larsen-Freeman and Marti Anderson

This week I wanted to share another ‘classic’ TEFL book that crops up on countless reading lists. Techniques and Principles in ELT (TPELT from now on!) aims to give an overview all the influential teaching methods of the past hundred years or so in a concise, efficient volume.

What’s it about?

The book is essential a short, practical history of how we got here. When I say ‘here’, I’m referring to the current methods that we all use as teachers, i.e., the methods we learnt on CELTA or our original TEFL course.

The ‘communicative approach’ is a term banded around a lot, but really the way most modern language classes operate is by using a mix of various approaches rather than a stand-alone ‘method’. In this book you will get to read about those oft mocked methods such as ‘Grammar-Translation’, the ‘Audio-Lingual’ method and even ‘The Silent Way’.

Whilst it sounds a bit dry and heavy going, the book actually reads very logically. I was surprised to find that it is somewhat of a page-turner (as far as academic texts go) and the short, stand-alone chapters do a great job of breaking up the flow.

But those methods were all proved to be a bit crap weren’t they?

Well… yes and no.

The writers do a fantastic job of remaining completely neutral throughout their descriptions of the methods. They give you the theory behind it, how it works in practice and an example lesson observation. At the end of each chapter you get a short breakdown of the methodology used and are asked to question which parts you agree with or use in your own classrooms.

What was most surprising for me was that a lot of the methods we deride so freely today were actually created with the best intentions. Often they are also based on sound methodology that we still respect.

The main issue with most of them and the reason that we no longer subscribe to such methods (although many are still used in different parts of the world) is that they are mostly very restrictive. They follow their core belief almost obsessively and by rejecting other equally valid theories. This makes them ineffective for the majority of contexts and situations.

On the other hand, whilst alone they seem incredibly rigid and incompatible with what we know today, there is a lot to be learned from these old methods. It makes you question if the way we teach today will be looked upon in hindsight as dated and ineffective.

Who’s it for?

TPELT is for every teacher who wants to understand why we teach the way we do. Much like last week’s How Languages are Learned review, TPELT is essential for teachers who want to understand how we got here. If ‘How Languages are Learned’ shows us the theoretical studies that led us to the beliefs we have today, Techniques and Principles shows us the practical path we’ve taken.

So now, when a student asks you ‘what method do you use?’ and you have an opportunity to explain your approach, you’ll be in a real position to explain to them why you teach the way you do, why you use certain techniques and, most importantly why you don’t use use a ‘traditional method’.

A must read!

Useful Links

Techniques and Principles in ELT from Oxford University Press

Techniques and Principles in ELT from Amazon UK


Don’t Interrupt! How to Correct Correctly

The Correction Dilemma

Few of us would argue that correction is one of the most important things we can provide as language teachers. Taking someone’s own, often carefully crafted response or utterance and helping them to perfect it is something that students often only receive in the classroom. This makes it valuable, desired and ultimately expected by your students.


The 12 most misused words in English – can you beat our quiz?

There’s much more to teaching than vocabulary and grammar. But secretly, we all like to think we know it all, don’t we? Most English speakers use these words incorrectly on a daily basis.

English teachers we challenge you – how many do you know? Post your scores below!


[playbuzz-item url=”//”]

DimmiDeck News

Happy New Year from DimmiDeck

Happy new year!

We are currently taking a few days off while we prepare to return to Italy after the Christmas break, so there’ll be a smaller blog update this week. Christmas may be over for us in the UK, but in Italy there’s still one big event left to finish off the Christmas period – Epiphany.


Pair ‘Em Up! – A Culture of Collaboration

Pair ‘Em Up!

I wrote an article a while ago about the difficulties that language teachers often face in the classroom with regards to ‘preconceptions of teaching’, which related to the expectations we have when entering a new classroom and how that shapes our engagement in a course.


MPF – How to ‘Introduce’ Language in a Communicative Classroom

Meaning, Form and Pronunciation

For many of us familiar with CELTA or other TEFL courses, the acronym MFP will have come to be regarded as one of the most important of the many acronyms we come across for teaching a second language. Used for both lexis and grammar, these three simple and easy-to-remember little letters were branded into our teaching methodology from day one as essential steps to follow when introducing any new piece of vocabulary or grammar with your students.

DimmiDeck News

Free 1-Year Subscription to!

Free One Stop English subscription for one DimmiDeck subscriber!

It’s Christmas! And to get you in the spirit of giving, DimmiDeck are giving away a 1 year subscription to the internets largest and most popular database of teaching materials. You’ll need to move fast though, the competition runs only until Friday 23rd December 2016.

for students

How much do you know about your students’ mother tongues?

How much do you know about L1 interference? Try our fun quiz and learn a little about interference in different languages!

[playbuzz-item url=”//”]