Agnihotri, Rama Kant & Khanna, A. L. (2019). CTET: Preparation and practice. New Delhi: Oxford. (135)
A quick refresher for ELT and CTET
Agnihotri, Khanna and Vidya Bhawan Society have brought out a one-stop quick refresher for English language teachers preparing for Central Teacher Eligibility Test, or what is popularly known as CTET. This is one in the series of CTET preparation books on all teaching subjects published by Oxford University Press, competitively priced at INR 165. This 135 page long book has four sections: (1) a general section, (2) solved CTET question papers, (3) content chapters and (4) model test papers for practice. This makes it a very comprehensive book, which uses simple, comprehensible language to reach out to its readers. It has an extremely reader-friendly layout, with boxes and arrow markers to guide readers in the How to Use this Book section, and text boxes for notes on NCF 2005. Key information is aptly highlighted in bold, and bullet points used wherever necessary. The Tips for preparing for CTET and General Tips for Exam Preparation sections gives some useful advice to teacher-aspirants such as perusing NCERT textbooks and doing a quick review of NCF to shed some light on how to solve pedagogy questions.
The authors are sensitive to the readers’ needs, experience and background as they realize that most CTET aspirants are working professionals with limited time, who may have studied theory of language learning some time ago. Thus, they provide a summarized version of important texts such the National Curriculum Framework 2005 and Right to Education Act 2009. An interesting section on The Convention on the Rights of the Child adds value to the early section. Like other sections, this section also has Questions for Practice, accompanied by an answer key for self-assessment. In a book that is meant primarily to support test takers in their preparation, these questions at the end of each section are important indicators of the readers’ progress and the areas that need further attention. The Model Test Papers with the answer key at the end of the book provide enough questions for self-assessment.
The second section has six solved papers from 2016, 2017 and 2018, which give an idea about the level and kind of questions asked in the exam. On the basis of these the authors have identified some key content areas which are dealt with in the next section, titled Chapters. Under this section, the authors have chosen fourteen topics, ranging from language acquisition, language learning and teaching to language skills, errors, role of grammar, disabilities, multilingual classroom, teaching methods, technology, assessment and finally a chapter on comprehension. This is probably because comprehension passages in both Language I and Language II papers carry about fifty per cent weightage. In each chapter, the authors discuss or list the over-arching points of the topic. At the end of each chapter there is a text-box titled Look Back, which provides a crisp summary of these points and is likely to come in handy for last minute revision. Check your Concepts and Questions for Practice allows the reader to do a quick self-assessment. A Progress Evaluation Checklist helps to check the preparation for each chapter and can be used effectively by the readers.
The book begins by warning that CTET questions are tricky, and then illustrates it by framing questions at the end of each section that require understanding and application. However, what is missing is content on the teaching of each language skill. For instance, questions on writing, brainstorming, roleplay, storytelling, etc., are included in the previous papers, but these find no mention in the content chapters. These are important areas that are increasingly finding space in English language education, and teacher education programmes are also focusing on developing teachers’ competence in using innovative techniques in the classroom. Similarly, a section on activities which help the test-taking teachers to extrapolate their understanding of key concepts through activities would have been an asset to this book. To give an example, the chapter on teaching materials and textbooks has a section on authenticity of materials with reference to Eklavya, Tulika, etc.; an activity which required teachers to bring in similar authentic material to class and plan a short lesson around it, would have been suitable. This suggestion aims to serve the dual purpose of helping teachers think creatively with regard to their classroom planning as well as prepare for CTET. Other than some minor editing and the missing answer key to Solved Question Paper 1 (2016), this book is extremely useful not only for CTET aspirants but for anyone who wants to have a quick reference book of key topics in English language teacher education.
Nupur Samuel teaches English at Ambedkar University, Delhi. Her primary areas of research interest are English language assessment, writing pedagogy, inclusive education, material development and teacher education.