Jeremy Harmer, How to Teach English (How To... S.) Review

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Drs Suprihadi M Pd's review of Jeremy Harmer, How to Teach English (How To... S.)


“Jeremy Harmer, How to Teach English is a complete...”

Written on: 09/04/2005 by Drs Suprihadi M Pd (1 review written)

Good Points
- Complete, practical, and easy to understand.
- maximizing the student's roles.

Bad Points
- Encouraging the users to 'balance', which is sometimes difficult.

General Comments
Jeremy Harmer, How to Teach English is a complete manual of teaching English as a foreign language. It is complete because of its wide-range coverage from general issues about teaching and learning English (Chapter 1 and 2) up to specific problems that English teachers frequently encounter (Chapter 13). Between these two extremes, readers can find almost everything dealing with teaching and learning English. Those who are interested in developing the teaching of language components may refer to Chapter 5. A brief review about sentence constructions, part of speech, noun types, verb forms are topics within this chapter. Not intending to dichotomize weakness and strength, bad and good, these topics indicate that the descriptions of grammar used in this book refer to traditional view of grammar, not to Hallidian grammar. Chapter 7-10 deal with teaching the four language skills. They are, therefore, appropriate for those who want a practical, easy to understand reference of teaching listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

As a teaching manual, as the writer says in its introduction, "How to Teach English" is a practical book concentrating on examples of teaching and teaching practices rather than on detailed analysisi of learning theory. Its practical characteristic makes this book appropriate for novice teachers with even limited comprehension. In addition, in the bulk of TEFL material, this book will be more useful when accompanied by "Theory in Language Teacher Education", 1999 by Trapper-Lomax, Hugh and Ian McGrath (Eds.)and "Strategies in Learning and Using a Second Language", 1998 by Andrew D Cohen.

Its completeness still goes further as this book seems to be able to answer the frequent complaint of some readers, including I, of being disturbed by the feeling of inadequate understanding. This book provides a kind of checklist (Task File), by which the readers may self-evaluate what they have read. Not less important is the appendix describing the equpment used in the classroom.

Another feature indicating the strength, and at the same time the weakness, of this book is the writer's attempt to 'balance' the issues discussed in this book and to maximize the student's roles. This attempt might also be regarded as a reflection of the writer's personality of being moderate. "Good teachers use their common sense and experience to get the balance right (between when to talk and when not to talk)" (p.4), "Good teachers find a balance between predictable safety and unexpected variety (when to observe and when to violate their behavior patterns)" (p.5), and "A good teacher maximizes STT (Student Talk Time) and minimizes TTT (Teacher Talk Time)" are examples of quotations describing this feature. Stll in terms of balancing, the writer argues that a balance has to be struck between teachers attempting to achieve what they set out to achieve on the one hand and responding to what students are saying or doing on the other (p.5). Dealing with the reading texts, whether authentic or artificial, a balance should be struck between real English on the one hand and the students' capabilities and interests on the other (p.69).

This feature also indicates its weakness in the sense that being moderate is not an easy job. People tend to rely, conscious or consciously, on one extreme instead of being moderate.

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Grimmeth's Response to Drs Suprihadi M Pd's Review

Written on: 25/07/2009

I found this review somewhat helpful because... it tries to evaluate the book, but as a future reviewer of the same title, I found it was lacking in substance, but as I'm supposed to be reviewing the book, and not the review, I'll stop here!

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