Book review: Teaching English with IT Smith & Baber
- Apologies if this is the second appearance of the review. I have checked and double-
checked, though, and the first attempt seems to have failed. I do think this book is worth
bringing to the list's attention.
Teaching English with Information Technology. David Gordon Smith and Eric Baber
Modern English Publishing, 2005 ISBN 1 904549012 181 pages
Price in UK 14.95 pounds sterling USA $29.95
This is a very readable, stimulating, informative book and I am keen to bring it to
the attention of members.
The authors know that a lot of teachers are suspicious of IT (information technology)
and that such teachers argue it is quite possible to teach without a computer. David
Smith and Eric Baber agree, but point out that the computer and the internet are
valuable extra tools in the teachers arsenal.
The authors appear to the reviewer to have made the sensible assumption that the
average classroom is without a connection to the internet and a central point of theirs is
that the web comes into its own as a resource for planning lessons, i.e. for the teacher
in his or her study , noting that this material is already in electronic form, making it
simplicity itself to copy and paste texts into a word processor, ready for being made into
They also have an engaging habit of gently enticing the reader further into the field of
IT: "Now that you have seen how simple the basics of HTML are, you might be
interested in trying to learn another frequently used programming language." "Now that
you have your own website, you might be interested in acquiring your own domain."
The authors have a very clear, readable style and an ability to give a basic minimum of
technical information just enough to understand what is being presented. They
concentrate on how to use the technology to teach, not on the technology for its own
Their publishers have reinforced the clarity of their writing with clear fonts and clean
The Amazon synopsis reads:
This new practical guide for teachers provides an introduction to, and rationale for,
using information technology when teaching English. The book explains how teachers
can use e-learning in English language teaching. The topics covered include using
email; the importance of the web in ELT (covers websites; using audio and video clips
from the web, web activities, webquests and treasure hunts); using CD-ROMs;
professional training on the web for online teacher training and online teaching
communities; audio- and video-conferencing and text chat; learning management
systems; and finally, using standalone software on desktop computers.
What that summary does not include is mention of the dozens of practical suggestions
for the use of the products of IT in the classroom (70 in Chapter 2 alone and more, for
example, in the chapters on standalone software and blogs.)
This is a beginners book, but those who have already taken their first steps in IT may
still find there are new tips and references of use. and coverage of areas of IT that they
have not investigated. The book provides an excellent overview of the whole field.
The book contains appendices of: website addresses for each chapter - language-
learning CD-ROMs, recommended books, keyboard shortcuts and a glossary of IT
Aware of how quickly things change on the internet , the authors have taken the wise
decision not to have full URLs (website addresses) in the body of the book which may
quickly go out-of-date. They are all contained , though, in their full form, in an appendix
which will be kept up-to-date online at http://www.modernenglishpublishing.com
Highly recommended for the individual teacher, teachers in training and the shelves of
the staff room library.
Dennis Newson October 2005
Originally posted to the EFLTU list