Review: The CELTA Teaching Compendium by Rachael Roberts
Reviewed by Bernardo Morales
The Celta Teaching Compendium by Rachael Roberts aims to provide teachers with a quick reference to most of the skills taught in initial teacher training courses such as the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL and it does so in a way that is easy to navigate (the skills are ordered alphabetically) and concise. As this is distributed as an E-book, when a skill is cross referenced, there is a link that takes you to the right section. The advice given at the end of each chapter is very useful and practical and is evidently based on years of experience. These tips are presented in bullet point format, which makes it easy for readers to locate.
This book doesn’t go very deeply into detail, which can be both a strength and a weakness. It explains most skills on the surface, which is useful if you’re trying to find out what something is, rather than to study specifics in depth.
The contents cover 33 of the basic skills that teachers are trained to do in initial training courses. It covers a wide variety of skills from error correction to what to do with fast finishers. This books also encourages teachers to take a student-centred approach when planning their classes or courses. For example, the learner objectives section encourages teachers to word their aims based on what they expect their learners will be able to do by the end of the class rather than providing a list of activities. The same goes for the section about anticipated problems and solutions. It advises teachers to think of possible language related problems that can happen in the class, such as things to do with meaning, form or phonology, instead of thinking of less practical things, such as whether the board pens work.
The chapter about timings is particularly useful for newly qualified teachers. I can’t count the number of times teachers I have observed rush through activities, so they can cover their lesson plan. This book advises teachers to be flexible and respond to students’ output and provides teachers with tips on how to do that. I also find the advice about using your learners’ mother tongue and how that can be a useful tool when teaching monolingual classes useful for teachers. Roberts mentions that especially at lower levels, using your students’ L1 can provide a quick translation if an explanation will take a lot of time and effort.
There are parts where I think Rachel Roberts could have been more descriptive though, for example the error correction section could feature more examples of both student errors and different techniques teachers could use to correct them. This is an area that newly qualified teachers need guidance with as some feel students are sensitive when corrected. Another part that could have been explored more in depth was the chapter on feedback. Newly qualified teachers don’t tend to vary feedback techniques, and I would have liked to see more practical suggestions.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is taking an initial teaching qualification course, such as the CELTA or Trinity CertTESOL, as well as newly qualified teachers. This book would certainly be a welcome addition to any teacher’s reference book collection because of how well terminology is explained. This makes The CELTA Teaching Compendium particularly useful for those with very little teaching experience.
While some of the topics could be developed further, this is a good reference guide for terminology and basic classroom management techniques. This is in the end what a “compendium” is.
The layout of this book is in my opinion another plus. Since this is an E-book, it’s easy to navigate and it’s also well cross referenced. The review copy I was given was in EPUB format, which is compatible with both Windows and Mac without the need to download special software.
The CELTA Teaching Compendium by Rachael Roberts is out now on The Round Publications – £3.98 on Kindle
Author’s Bio: Bernardo is a teacher and teacher trainer at International House Madrid where he has been working since 2009. Before that he worked at IH schools in Poland, Costa Rica and Hungary. His interests lie in phonology, teaching exam-level classes and teacher training.