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  1. #1
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default I can English. Can me teacher?

    I have been subscribing to these forums for quite a while now, but for one reason or another I never got around to post anything.

    For some time I have been pondering about how to improve my English, and I have now finally come to the conclusion that the best way to learn English would be to teach it. Some members here may find this to be a case of the blind guiding the Cyclops, but I ain't bovvered. I rather hope that I might pick up some tips on how to prepare best for this long journey.

    I have already found two victims, ahem, pupils, although they don't know it yet. I have got two Thai friends who work in a hotel in Thailand, When they applied for a new job they both were turned down because of their poor English. So I decided to help them by giving them English lessons during my next holiday in Thailand. I never have a problem to communicate with them, although their vocabulary is rather limited. One of them is weaker than the other, and the stronger pupil has also given me some examples of his writing abilities. Whenever he sends me an email I imagine Rolf Harris jumping up and down behind the words, holding up a sign “Can you guess what it means yet?”. Well, I always manage to work out what he meant, in the end. It is just a question of using the little grey cells, but I'd rather see them both writing perfect texts. Sadly both my friends don't seem too keen on reading books, which I personally found invaluable in widening my vocabulary and increasing my knowledge of the English language. I am not yet hundred percent sure how to tackle the teaching task, but as a starter for ten I might just ask them to write ten sentences about any topic they like, and then go from there.

    I am also considering moving to a little Thai village when I retire (although this is still a long way off) and to offer my help with English to the local children and adults. I could imagine setting up an informal English club where interested villagers could join in to improve their English. As most villagers are not very well off financially, receiving any remuneration would be of no importance to me. It would just be my way to give something back to the local community and it would help me keep my cogs going.

    Nevertheless, gaining some formal qualification would not only make me a better teacher (well, at least I hope so), it would also keep my options open should I consider a future change of career. Therefore I did a bit of research on the internet and came across ESOL, EFL, TESOL, TEFL and CELTA (I always thought that's a football club). I am not sure how this will further my knowledge of English, but at least I have got a new bunch of acronyms to throw at people.

    I have got a full-time job and therefore I could only ever attend a weekend course, at least for the time being. The last time I attended any formal training in the English language was about fifteen years ago, and I feel I need to brush up on my English before I can even dream of signing on for a teacher training course. I still struggle with the occasional pismonunciation of worms and when it comes to grammar, well, all these various tenses make me feel rather tense at times.

    So, to the few who haven't yet lost the will to live and are still reading on, may I ask you the following questions?

    What books should I read and/or study as a preparation prior to any formal course?

    What books or other material do you consider to be essential for a teacher of English (e.g. dictionaries, grammar books, thesauruses etc.)?

    Any comments and suggestions will be much appreciated.


    TomUK

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    If you don't grammar, Michael Swan's Practical English Usage is as good a place to start as any.

  3. #3
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by TomUK View Post
    What books or other material do you consider to be essential for a teacher of English (e.g. dictionaries, grammar books, thesauruses etc.)?
    Swan, already mentioned by Tdol, and The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. (Actually, there may be other good advanced learner's dictionaries, but I started with the 2nd edition of Hornby back in 1968, and have found each new edition has served me well.)

    There are a number of books that vie for third place, but those two have been essential for me for years.

    If people asking questions in the Ask a Teacher forum possessed, and used, these books, we'd go out of business.
    Last edited by 5jj; 27-Jul-2011 at 23:03.

  4. #4
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    I don't know Michael Swan's book, but will check it out and maybe put it on my wish list.

    I have got the "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English" (third edition 1974, fifth impression 1976). I had to buy this when I was still a wee schoolboy, but now I don't really use it anymore. Instead I am usually refering to "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English" (ninth edition) when I want to look up a word. I just realised it was already published in 1995, so maybe it's time for an updated version.

    As a grammar book I am currently using "English Grammar in Use" (for intermediate students, 2nd edition printed in 1996) by Raymond Murphy. I had to buy this one for a Business English Course about fifteen years ago. I have also got another English grammar in German way back from my school days.

    I was only hoping that you English teachers (or is it "teachers of English"?) might have some books up your sleeves that us mere mortals would never dream of buying.

    TomUK

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by TomUK View Post
    I have got the "Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English" (third edition 1974, fifth impression 1976). I had to buy this when I was still a wee schoolboy, but now I don't really use it anymore. Instead I am usually refering to "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English" (ninth edition) when I want to look up a word.
    I recommended the ALD as an essential book for a teacher.After more than forty years in the classroom, I still find its definitions and example sentences rather more useful for most of my students than those in the COD.
    As a grammar book I am currently using "English Grammar in Use" (for intermediate students, 2nd edition printed in 1996) by Raymond Murphy.
    Murphy is a useful standby for many teachers, but he does have an unfortunate tendency to suggest that there is just one correct thing to say in many situations, when there is often more than one.
    I was only hoping that you English teachers (or is it "teachers of English"?) might have some books up your sleeves that us mere mortals would never dream of buying.
    We all have our personal favourites. Michael Lewis's The English Verb and Implementing the Lexical Approach influenced my thinking enormously, and there are others which have been very useful indeed. However, if I were trekking off to remote villages and could take only essentials with me, then I would br happy with Practical English Usage and the ALD.

  6. #6
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    However, if I were trekking off to remote villages and could take only essentials with me, then I would br happy with Practical English Usage and the ALD.
    I am not exactly planning to trek off to remote villages, at least not yet. The village I have been visiting several times is only 10km outside Roi Et, which is not as remote as some other places I have been to in Thailand.

    I am going to follow your advice and have included the ALD and Practical English Usage in my list of books to order.

    TomUK

  7. #7
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Tom, since you have been on these forums for a long time, you probably know this already, but, just in case this is not the case, I will tell you this. Being here, I discover things whose existence I hadn't even imagined. I no longer need a paper dictionary and although I have a couple of large volumes, I virtually never use them. I'm not a teacher and I have a vague idea of the need of a paper dictionary in the modern classroom, but if modern classrooms have something in common with the fantasy I have about them, they might not need paper dictionaries at all. (I would be glad to learn if that is true.)

    Anyway, there's more. When I need a sample of some kind of usage, I go straight here. After learning a couple of syntax rules I can ask these corpora very many kinds of questions and get loads of examples. It can take some time sometimes, but it's all there. Also, there's this. I haven't really tried it out yet, but it looks very promising.

    I know little about teaching English, but I think these things are just too great not to use them in teaching. I also think a student should be taught how to use them for self-study.

    I've spoken on a subject I have no idea about again.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I've spoken on a subject I have no idea about again.
    If I were still a beginning teacher (or even somewhat more advanced/experienced than 'beginning') I would be very happy to have as much 'no idea' as you have.

  9. #9
    TomUK is offline Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I've spoken on a subject I have no idea about again.
    If people were only to speak about subjects they know about, the silence would be deafening.

    TomUK

  10. #10
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I can English. Can me teacher?

    Self-deprecation never fails!

    I've just thought of one more thing. I don't know how much you know about phonetics. If not so much, you will probably need to learn a bit. You have to know the IPA and perhaps the SAMPA (I'm not sure about the latter). Here's more than you need:

    Wikipedia:IPA for English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    International Phonetic Alphabet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    International Phonetic Alphabet
    International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet chart for English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I don't know if you need to read any books on this to be a good teacher. I hope the teachers will tell you (and me).

    Every speech sound has a Wikipedia page too, usually with a sound sample.

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