Summer Reading

sum read

The assignments have been submitted, and the new term begins in a month’s time. So here are a few suggestions for reading before you get back to more focused work.


1. Batstone, R. (1994) “Grammar.” OUP. I liked this book when it came out, and I’ve gone back to it from time to time, not to consult it, but just to enjoy its very enjoyable overview of what can be a complex and rather dry subject. Rob gives what I think is a really entertaining treatment of English grammar, and I particularly like Section 1: Explanation – The Nature of grammar, where he looks at grammar as first product then process. There are LOTS of tasks, which you might want to skip.


Swan Thinking

2. Swan, M. (2012) “Thinking about Language Teaching.” OUP. A collection of the best articles by the great Michael Swan over 30 years or so: wonderfully-written, enormously stimulating and enjoyable. It begins with Swan’s side of the memorable exchange between Swan and Widdowson in 1985 about CLT. Most people thought at the time that Swan “won”, but, who cares, it’s marvellous reading. Lara Promnitz-Hayashi says in her review “The first two articles, A Critical Look at the Communicative Language Approach (1) and (2) written and published in 1985, are my favourites as in many instances he questions the philosophy and techniques of CLT. He critically examines many researchers’ arguments including those of Widdowson, who actually wrote a riposte in response to Swan’s criticism. At the end of the two articles is a written exchange between Widdowson and Swan which is quite amusing as initially when the articles were written there was some animosity between the two yet they later went on to work together and respect each other’s views.”.



3. Arnold, J and Murphey, T. (eds.) (2013) “Meaningful Action: Earl Stevick’s Influence on Language Teaching.” CUP. A great collection of papers from 19 ELT authors and influential academics, specially commissioned to pay tribute to the master. If you don’t “get” Stevick, try this. It includes a very good chapter by Scott Thornbury.



4. Cook, V. and Singleton, D. (2014) “Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition.” MM Textbooks. Two excellent scholars have put together a very readable introduction to SLA which shouldn’t hurt your head much, but still give you a very good overview. This is, IMHO, the best introduction since Lightbown and Spada.



5. Bierce, A. “The Devil’s Dictionary.” Dozens of editions of this famous work are still available or you can go here: I can think of 2 examples (from memory, so doubtlessly inaccurate): 1. Love: A temporary insanity, curable by marriage. 2. War: God’s way of teaching Americans geography. Great fun to dip into. Ambrose Bierce disappeared in 1913, aged 71 when he set out for Mexico to meet Pancho Villa. Some say he was executed by Mexican rebels, others say he never crossed the border.



6. Cryan, d. and Shatil, S. (2008) “Introducing Logic: A Graphic Guide.” Icon Books. Very approachable, marvellous graphics, part of a great series by Icon. Take it slowly, and just flow with it. This is the most approachable introduction to logic I’ve seen.



7. Gardener, M. (991) “New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher.” Gardener has written dozens of books debunking pseudoscience, and this is a good introduction to his work. It consists of a selection of articles he wrote for various magazines and journals. Chomsky says “Martin Gardener’s contribution to contemporary intellectual culture is unique – in its range, its insight and its understanding of hard questions that matter.”



8. Dudeney, G ., Hockly, N., and Pegrum, M. (2013) “Digital Literacies.” Routledge. Gavin and Nicky run the excellent Theconsultants-e service and, with their co-author, here offer a thoughtful, very well-informed review, which as the blurb says “is the first methodology book to address not just why but also how to teach digital literacies in the English language classroom.” Required reading for those interested in what many MA programmes still refer to as CALL. OK, so it’s a bit too focused to be on the list; read it in November, then.

Right. Since I finished my MA long ago, I’m off to the pool to continue reading “The New Spain: A complete guide to contemporary Spanish wine” by John Radford. There’s an introduction by Miguel Torres of the great Torres family, who once did an English course at ESADE Idiomas and was unlucky enough to have me as his teacher. I remember it well. I grovelled to him throughout the course (“And which of the four holiday options here do YOU like, Miguel?”), hoping that he’d give me a case of Grans Muralles when the course finished. At the farewell dinner, Señor Torres said “I really enjoyed the course, Geoff, and I’ve got something for you.” “Here it comes!”, I thought “Maybe TWO cases!” “Oh, Miguel, you really shouldn’t have bothered. Why I was just…..” etc., etc.. He gave me a book on the history of Torres wine. Serve me right, what!

Happy Reading.

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