Ambitious, flawed, and very practical

Image of Highway To E.S.L.: A User-Friendly Guide to Teaching English As A Second Language
Author: B.A., TESOL, Pinky Y. Dang
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (2005)
Binding: Paperback, 370 pages

Evidently written to help novice ESL teachers understand the diverse and challenging skill sets required to teach English overseas, this ambitious book provides a plethora of practical tips for success in the classroom.

The 21 chapters range from overseas preparations, classroom management, and language needs and placement tests to verb tenses, teaching vocabulary, and teaching vowels. An informal, friendly tone pervades - and more than a few odd sentences and editing errors have survived in this 359-page tome. Each chapter includes concise subheadings, clear examples, and many needlessly long sentences. Numerous teaching suggestions, strong statements, and bullet point lists help transmit an impressive amount of information.

From my perspective as an experienced ESL instructor who has taught academic ESL for over a decade, this book remains a hidden gem. Two very strong chapters alone - Teaching Writing (chapter 10) and Teaching Speaking (chapter 17) - make this a smart choice. Both cover the predictable ground, include worksheets, and offer innovative assignments to motivate students.

I haven't read the entire book, but I'm impressed with the depth and range of concepts in the chapters I have read. Further, the resource lists allow one to conduct further research. The book attempts to convey academic research in an accessible, practical manner. Overall, it succeeds in providing a single teaching resource for English teachers wanting to help their students master a difficult language.

Two other final comments. I recognize how the book might have benefited from an university press editor, but the book would also have been far thinner, more academic, less engaging - and far less practical for ESL teachers working overseas. "Highway to ESL" succeeds far better in explaining the field and guiding teachers through a complicated maze of information than most professional titles.

For instances, "Highway to ESL" compares quite favorably to the disappointing, almost unreadable "Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching" published by Cambridge University Press. Why? A non-specialist can actually enjoy reading the book, learn some effective techniques, gain a big picture understanding of the field, and zoom in on actual classroom practices that work. As an experienced English instructor, I also learned from this under-rated book.You might too.

I strongly recommend this book for teachers entering the field, students considering teaching abroad, and experienced teachers looking for new ideas.


I just wanted to express my

I just wanted to express my gratitude to everybody who has anything to do with the creation of this resource.

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