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Reviewing English in the 21st Century

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Reviewing English in the 21st Century

Edited by Wayne Sawyer & Eva Gold

Designed for teachers of English, Reviewing English in the 21st Century provides an overview of changes in English teaching in Australia over the last six decades, and the theories behind such changes. This edition also explains current popular theories for teaching English, and suggests methods for implementing them in the classroom. The first section of the book, 'Reviewing', relates how new models of English teaching, such as the cultural heritage, skills, personal growth and cultural studies models, have been influenced by developments in learning theories. The second section of the book, 'Developing and Contextualising", is concerned with providing effective pedagogies for English teachers in many areas, including ESL students, indigenous students and students with learning difficulties. The final section of the book, 'Applying', provides practical applications and student activity suggestions for teaching English, such as methods in drama, media, novels, poetry, visual representations and information technologies.

This book focuses on the student as an active participant in their learning, and advocates a student-centred curriculum. By placing value on what the student brings to the classroom, awareness is raised in areas such as youth culture, media and oral practices in English. The significance of traditional English texts is not undermined, however they may be more harshly judged in terms of their relevance to the students (Doecke & McClenaghan, 2004, p. 54). Another strength of the book is the broad spectrum of areas and activities presented for consideration. The syllabus outcomes of reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, representing, thinking and communicating are all addressed, within the differing texts of fiction, poetry, film, non-fiction, drama, media and multimedia. Also, an important structural feature of this book is the accessibility of teaching ideas: all suggestions for classroom applications are highlighted by an indented margin, making them easy to identify from the theory.

One weakness of the book is that it can lend itself to being slightly political. For example, after reviewing the popular models of English teaching, the suggested model is justified by presenting a certain aspect of Government funding, which, when all factors in the wider context are considered, ceases to be an issue (Thompson, 2004, p. 21).

Both teachers and student teachers will benefit from reading this book. Besides providing many teaching strategies, lists of books suitable for particular stages of the syllabus are included (Tucker, 2004, pp.

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