Using a Broad Brush

Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields: Psychology, Business, Brain Science, and More. Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields: Sports, Arts, Design, and More.  

Stillwell, C. (ed), TESOL Press, 2015 ISBN:  (Psychology, Business, Brain Science, and More) 978-1-942-22348-1 (Sports, Arts, Design, and More) 978-1-931-18507-3

 

We all have heard the metaphors of teachers as counselors, gardeners, and coaches, but what about the reverse, when a vacuum salesman, anthropologist, or Zen master becomes a teacher? What strengths and experiences influence their lesson plans, classroom-management strategies, and content delivery? Unfortunately, somewhere in the process of becoming more “teacher-like” (i.e., carrying totes, using planners, and speaking in acronyms), these protean teachers often fail to share the expertise they have acquired in other areas. Across two volumes, Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields, edited by Christopher Stillwell, seeks to address this disservice by openly celebrating teacher diversity. In what the author describes as a book-length dinner party conversation, 29 language teachers share how their professional and recreational backgrounds have influenced their language teaching.

Each volume in the series is divided into four sections focusing on specific aspects of teacher development.

The sections of Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields: Psychology, Business, Brain Science, and More include:

1. Getting Students Interested in Learning

2. Planning an Effective Course

3. Expanding the Teacher’s Toolbox

4. Enhancing Teacher Effectiveness

Throughout the 15 chapters, readers receive teaching tips from 15 authors, including a television producer commenting on how to increase student engagement; a business professor on how to strengthen discussions; the wife of a psychiatrist on how to listen effectively; and a creative director on how to build a teacher brand.

In the second volume of the series, Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields: Sports, Arts, Design, and More, sections include:

1. Recontextualizing the Language Classroom

5. Dealing with Challenges

6. Teaching the Four Skills

7. Developing as a Professional

Readers of this volume will learn how to create the ideal learning environment from a bartender; how to appropriately critique student writing from a restaurant reviewer; how to borrow elements of video games to track student progress from a role-play game designer; and how to incorporate visuals into lessons from an architect, among others.

The interesting topics and wide range of contributors make for books that feel more like attending an education conference than reading a handbook. They are a place where teachers have gathered to share what they know, advance the field of education, and ultimately help students to succeed. Contributors readily offer personal anecdotes, humor, and practical tips that readers can integrate immediately.

Thankfully, no assumptions are made of prior knowledge of a field, and each chapter opens with essential background information. This foundation is followed by a series of tips detailing how skills can transfer from the field of inspiration into the classroom. If that were not enough, each chapter closes with resources for further exploration, a thorough list of references, and an author biography.

In what can best be described as a teacher-sized game of show and tell, both volumes of Language Teaching Insights from Other Fields make interesting connections between diverse fields and education. Every reader is sure to walk away with new curiosity, inspiration, and knowledge from which he or she can become a more effective, creative, and well-rounded educator.

Edward Coronado III is a graduate student in the master of arts in English/TESOL program at Cal Poly Pomona University. His research interests are in second-language composition and technology in education. He is an active participant in the CATESOL affiliate.

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