Books for teacher trainers

Books specifically for teacher trainers are few and far between. There’s probably a good reason for this. It’s a niche market as far as publishers are concerned and then there’s the issue of who/where/what/why are you training which means writing a book to help every context is even more complex than trying to write a course book that will serve everyone.

So I was intrigued to see Cambridge University Press have published a book called Teacher Training Essentials. I haven’t seen a copy yet so this isn’t an endorsement but a new book for trainers does feel like an event that happens about once every five years.

CUP have a good track record in books for trainers with titles by people like Ruth Wajnryb and Penny Ur and – even though many of them were printed over 20 years ago – I still have them close to my desk. So, it set me wondering which books for trainers I’d recommend. Here are the five titles I suspect I’ve used or recommended the most to new trainers. Apologies that some are out of print but, as I said, these don’t make your ELT best seller lists!

A Course in Language Teaching by Penny Ur, CUP 1996

A book packed with sessions and idea for virtually any training course. You can use it either as it’s written or to get ideas.  

Classroom Observations Tasks by Ruth Wajnryb, CUP, 1992

It is what it says on the cover. Loads of ideas for observing lessons. Great to use if you’re setting up a peer observation programme

Ways of training by Tessa Woodward, Longman 1992

This is out of print with Longman but Tessa Woodward herself has republished it (or a newer version of it) at Anyway at one time my old version seemed to be the only thing of its kind on the market. It has activities and ideas for most aspects of training. There are some activities I could never imagine doing but the majority are really solid and a good starting point for new trainers.

Inside Teaching by Tim Bowen and Jonathan Marks, Macmillan 1994

This book was part of the Macmillan series for teacher development which continues to this day but this particular title is out of print. It is an eclectic mix of things but one aspect I like is that it has quotes from lots of teachers about different areas of teaching. These have always been useful as a springboard to start training sessions on different topics and to get teachers talking.

Learner English edited by Swan and Smith, CUP 1987 with a reprint in 2001

Choosing book number five was hard. I often refer to and use About Language (again CUP) and The A to of ELT (Macmillan) both by Scott Thornbury.  Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching by Diane Larsen-Freeman (Oxford 2000 with many reprints since) is also very helpful for sessions on different approaches and methods. But for sheer versatility and usefulness as a reference when preparing sessions on language awareness, Learner English takes some beating.

 OK, so those are five I often use.  What are some of your most-used teacher training books?

Categories: Teacher Training

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5 replies

  1. These are all excellent. I’d add Tessa Woodward’s other book “Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training” as a highlight, but the whole Cambridge Teacher Training and Development series is worth looking at. Another couple I recommend are “Tasks for Teacher Education” by Rosie Tanner and Catherine Green and “Language Teacher Education” by John Roberts.

  2. I’d add Sound Foundations by Adrian Underhill – probably the best book on pronunciation and teaching it but also raising awareness of it. Also Approaches & Methods in Language Teaching by Richards & Rogers, (a bit like the Diane Larsen-Freeman book), and The Dictionary of ELT & Applied Linguistics – for when you do sessions and need a quick definition of, say, phoneme.

  3. I really, really like Principles of Language Learning and Teaching by H. Douglas Brown. We know it’s not a book exclusively for teacher trainers, but it’s great anyway.

    I have also found interesting material for workshops and discussions in Advising and Supporting Teachers (CUP)

  4. Certainly some good books already mentioned. I would add that we mustn’t forget the books about training that are not produced by ELT people – they can provide some great insights. Books I regularly revisit include

    Facilitating Multicultural Groups
    Training in Organizations
    Handbook of Intercultural Training

  5. Thanks to all for further suggestions…some good recommendations to add to the library!

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