New Delhi: Orient Blackswan (240 pages). ISBN 10: 938629687X ISBN 13: 9789386296870 ₹450.00
What does it mean to teach and learn a language? How can we make languages more accessible to our learners and how do we cope with the challenges of the changing world? How do we reach out to all learners, irrespective of their background, abilities or challenges and home languages? These questions continue to engage academia and researchers all around the globe. In our endeavour to reach out to the most marginalized groups, to enable all those who have been confined to the periphery of the mainstream, we continue to try and make sense of the trends that influence the field of language teaching. Trends in Language Teaching edited by Agnihotri, Seghal Gupta and Khanna (2017), is one such attempt to capture the latest trends in language education. This book is the latest addition to a series of books on similar topics by this team of experienced experts who have devoted their life to the teaching of languages. New research, new approaches and the ever-changing structure of our society has prompted them to look anew at what is happening in classrooms and how pedagogy is changing to adapt to the needs of the learners.
The editors clearly state they have deliberately kept away from dividing the book into sections because they believe “there is a kind of seamlessness between theory and practice” (p. 11). This movement away from conforming to old, archaic boundaries is also visible in the majority of the 14 chapters which discuss how multilingualism and cultural diversity are more normal than have been thought of previously. New, innovative techniques for the teaching of languages include bringing in food (Bhattacharya) and languages of the learners into the classroom (Heugh, Saxena, Kumar & Jayaram); rethinking techniques for teaching reading, writing and grammar (Jayaram, Lukmani & Samal; Kohli); making the classroom a truly inclusive place where everyone learns at their own pace (Kumar, S., Vaidya & Barua); learning fun with karaoke (Punjabi & Lukmani) and storytelling (Ray). The only area that has escaped the attention of the authors and editors is assessment, but probably that was beyond the scope of this book. The chapters celebrate the unique individuality and diversity of the learners, making sure that all discussions centre around the learners. The editors acknowledge the linguistic, cultural and geographical diversity in the classroom and make it inclusive by bringing together learners with diverse challenges and strengths, while using innovative technology to appeal to the modern-day learner.
The collection of essays is written in a clear, lucid style, free from jargon that may intimidate the practitioner and stop him/her from adopting the techniques or methods suggested by the authors. Each essay reflects the real-life experiences of the authors as the examples have been drawn from the classroom and illustrations and appendices have been supplied to help illustrate a particular point. These may act as reference points for teachers planning to adopt/adapt the ideas as they act only as indicators of what might be done in the classroom. The easy prose, without being didactic, encourages the reader to consider how they might use these suggestions/ideas in their classrooms. Since it deals with the latest trends and approaches in language teaching, this book is very relevant today. It is also very handy, has a reader-friendly font and is reasonably priced, making it a useful addition to one’s collection on language teaching.
Nupur Samuel is interested in assessment of English language skills, teacher training and English language teaching. She has a Ph.D. in Education from the Department of Education, University of Delhi. She teaches English language at Ambedkar University, Delhi. She holds workshops for teachers and students, and also develops teaching-learning materials and tests.