THE book a teacher should have

Do you like reading books? I love it!

Do you like reading books about teaching? Urgh…

Isn’t it as if people who write most of those methodology-of-teaching-English-as-a-foreign-language books have little in common with real-life teaching? Well, I think before you write a book, get it edited and published so much changes in teaching, that it really is difficult to be trendy. However, I remember some books I had to read when I was a student and most of them taught me nothing. Actually – none of them taught me anything.

To be completely honest, no theory I was supposed to learn during my studies prepared me to be a teacher. Sure, I’ve met some people who were the real teachers and they inspired us with their passion and attitude – but methodology books? Nevah!

It was a couple of years after I graduated when I took part in a contest by Macmillan and won a book. Any book from their offer, I remember it well. How wisely did I choose deciding on a book called 700 Classroom Activities by David Seymour and Maria Popova from Macmillan Books for Teachers series! It appeared to be the best book a teacher could get  – at least, a teacher like me.

The book consists of tips, ideas, games, warm-ups and it’s kept short, simple and organised. No useless theory, just 150 pages of useful ideas. There are four main categories:

  • Conversation

Perfect warm-ups for introducing a topic or before a reading comprehension, I use it particularly often at the beginning of a course as there are lots of great ideas for language users at different levels (and yes, the levels are given next to tasks).  You can choose different topics – accommodation, culture, education etc. and find a bunch of nice conversation ideas. There are even some marked as ‘taboo’ as particularly sensitive or possibly controversial.

  • Functions

Perfect for short language-use practice. I use it when I finish all exercises and just want to practice some ‘real’ English. And I choose from buying/selling, complaining, describing, necessity etc. – again, with the proficiency levels suggested.

  • Grammar

That’s my favourite part of the book and the reason why I use it on my virtually every lesson: nice, short and creative little games and conversations that make my students understand grammar better. I must confess that whenever I have a piece of grammar to teach I always use this book to check for some nice ideas – and even if they are not really adequate to my group’s profile, they can be easily adjusted to any group.

  • Vocabulary 

Now, I don’t believe I could ever lack some help when it comes to teaching and practicing vocabulary (for me that is the most difficult area of teaching, mainly because it’s the student who has to do most of the job… too bad hammering vocab in students’ heads doesn’t seem to work, eh?..) and those little tips are always helpful even if well-known.

So – that’s what the book is like. Extremely useful, well-written, short and simple: perfect for a teacher who sometimes happens to be a scatterbrain and needs some help to get things organized. If you wonder what to do now – well, go and buy it, really!

And have fun using it!

I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to my student Paweł, who has motivated me to write today:)



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