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Book review: Teaching English with IT Smith & Baber

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  • djn@dennisnewson.de
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2005
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      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 teacher’s 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
      page design.

      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
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