Meet your mentor;Learning to teach;Reviews;Modern Languages

27th March 1998 at 00:00
LEARNING TO TEACH MODERN FOREIGN LANGUAGES IN THE SECONDARY SCHOOL. By Norbert Pachler and Kit Field. Routledge pound;14.99

This is not one of those"How to be a superteacher without really trying" books, nor does it follow the American pattern favoured by so many in-service courses in offering "17 ways to make you look forward to Friday afternoons with 9G".

No, this is a serious book for serious students. It is a hefty volume - almost 400 pages - which introduces modernmethods of language teaching.

The range of topics is extensive: there are chapterson lesson observation, teaching in the target language, pupildifferences, assessment, resources and materials,technological aids, as well as the philosophy of language teaching and its place in the curriculum.

There is advice on organising a school trip and parents' evenings and much else. Given this breadth, the treatment of some topics is rather superficial. Pupils with special needs, for example, are given just six pages.

Report writing receives acouple of paragraphs, while classroom discipline, repeatedly given by student teachers as their number one concern, is hardly mentioned at all. Where it does feature - in the context of pupil motivation - the onus is placed squarely on the teacher's need to eliminate bad behaviour by making lessons interesting and stimulating. This is to ignore the reality in many of today's classrooms.

To be fair, the book assumes that nitty-gritty issues such as these will be thrashed out with mentors. Some pointers fordiscussion could give rise to genuinely useful learning,given the right relationship between mentor and student.

There is also an exhaustive bibliography, but will the busy young teacher ever have time to follow it up?

Richard Marsden is head of modern foreign languages at The Minster School, Southwell, NottinghamshireNext week: learning to teach English in secondary schools

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