Rhonda Oliver and Jenefer Philp
Oxford University Press 2014 162pp.
Paperback ISBN 978-0194000840
This book belongs to the series Oxford Key Concepts for the Language Classroom, edited by the formidable duo Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada, which “is designed to provide accessible information about research on topics that are important to second language teachers” (xiii). In particular, this volume shows the relevance to the practicing teacher of research in second language acquisition, and its implications for oral interaction in the classroom. Very little prior knowledge is assumed, and a glossary of key terms is provided.
Each chapter contains several “Classroom Snapshots” in which the authors present classroom data to illustrate the concepts they are introducing, and also activities to consolidate the reader’s understanding. These activities are well designed to promote reflection and will be very useful for teacher educators to incorporate in their classes. There are also a few Spotlight Studies, each of which presents a selected research study in slightly greater depth than the other research reviewed in the book, but still in a maximum of three pages. These are simple but accurate accounts of contemporary research – all of the studies highlighted are from the twenty-first century, and some are as recent as 2013.
The two central chapters of the book focus on the primary and the high school classroom respectively, and consider the implications of research for teaching practice in each of these contexts. Lots of useful practical suggestions are given as consequences of the research findings surveyed. For example, there are pointers on how to provide scaffolding and how to give feedback. The final chapter returns to the ten statements that formed the basis of the first activity in chapter one, and summarizes what has been learned about these issues throughout the book.
In common with all the titles in the series, this volume is designed to be useful “either as part of a university teacher education program or in a professional development course for experienced teachers” (xiii). It does an excellent job of introducing significant research findings and demonstrating their practical relevance, and for readers who wish to explore further, there is a comprehensive list of references and also a brief list of suggestions for further reading.
Peter Beech, Anglo-Hellenic Teacher Training, Corinth, Greece
Review first published in IATEFL Voices 247, November - December 2015