Teaching by Principles

2631 words 11 pages
Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy

Brown, H. D. (1994). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents. 416 pp.
Reviewed by Gail Schaefer Fu
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

H. Douglas Brown's Teaching by Principles is intended for teachers in training -- those who intend to be teachers but who have little or no classroom experience -- and for teachers who train teachers. It is centered, not surprisingly, around certain principles of language teaching and learning, echoing Brown's own Principles of Language Teaching and Learning (1994). His new book Teaching by Principles is itself a manifestation of the principles which it
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At the end of the chapter on group work, for example, he recognizes that the reader may "feel overwhelmed or put off by the prospect of doing group work in your classroom. If so, that need not be the case! All of the guidelines and reminders and do's and don'ts included in this chapter will in the due course of time become a part of your subconscious intuitive teaching behavior" (p. 187). For a teacher in training who may indeed be feeling insecure and perhaps inadequate to the task ahead, this empathetic tone of encouragement will undoubtedly fall on welcoming ears.

THE PRINCIPLE OF REALITY: Brown recognizes that real teachers teach in real classrooms in real institutions in real communities. He does not assume that every class will be of an ideal size, that every classroom will be ideally equipped, that every administrator will be ideally supportive of a teacher's curricular and pedagogical suggestions. In the chapter on sociopolitical and institutional contexts, he refers to institutional factors which may influence the way in which a teacher plans a lesson or carries out a technique within the given curriculum (these factors include the textbook, "which you may detest!") He admits that curricular constraints may sometimes be "the biggest hurdle you have to cross," but he also believes that it is possible to find ways to "compromise with the system and yet to


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