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It’s been quite a while since I wrote a post for my blog here, and I decided I’d write up a post since I left Korea and moved to China with Julianne.

We’ve been teaching at a military university’s English program, and it’s been good in many ways, and extremely challenging in others.

Over the course of the first two months of teaching at the university I met many Chinese English instructors of various ranks, and had several conversations. These conversations led to me being invited to give a presentation on my teaching methodology and philosophy of teaching. I should explain the larger context of the conversations involves a massive teaching reform project at my university that has been going on now for just over a year. The university powers that be want to update the teaching methodology that the instructors use, and I think also the English program’s textbooks, testing, and overall curricula design. It’s a massive project.

I decided that since I put about 3 weeks of work, and dozens of hours of reading and prepping a power point and handout, to post a story about the presentation, and my handouts, because I think other EFL/ESL teachers will find it interesting, and hopefully useful too.

You can see my handouts below, and also the list of my “Must Have Books” For EFL/ESL University Instructors.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions.


Last Friday morning I packed up a suitcase full of about half the books in my teaching library, and headed out to do a presentation on my teaching methodology. I was excited about doing this presentation because I’d spent the last 3 weeks reading, and re-reading parts of my methodology books to clarify in my own mind what my current teaching methodology is since it’s gone through quite an evolution during the time I spent teaching in Korea, and now over the last two months in China.

I was also happy that I was being given a forum in which I could explain how I see teaching through the framework of EFL (English Foreign Language) teaching (as opposed to the fractured and confused perspectives I’d been hearing from EVERY Chinese teacher I spoke to–I realized that there was an English program “identity crisis” as far as what kind of program we were all operating within, and I REALLY wanted to address that FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM!). One of the major issues I wanted to foreground during my presentation was the fact that I thought my university’s English program was trying to function within three different types of English programs: ESP (English for Specific Purposes), EAP (English for Academic Purposes), and EST (English for Science and Technology). I got quite a reaction from my audience of teachers, and high ranking colonels and PhD professors when I talked about that, and later in the post-presentation discussion period I was really happy to hear others thought the same thing as I did!

I presented to 30 Chinese English teachers, some of who were the top ranking officers/administrators in the English program of the military university where I teach. Before I presented, two other presenters gave their content, and it was quite telling to see that they were essentially trying to introduce what native English speaking teachers take for granted about what a ‘good teacher’ is–for example, treating students equally. They were also touching on some aspects of CLT and TBL (Communicative Language Teaching Methodology, and Task-based Learning Methodology) but didn’t really do anything other than scratch the surface in a manner that I would think should be used for student-teachers, or teachers who have never taught before and are just starting their careers–not a room full of teachers with years of experience.

Over the past ten days or so I have been fighting a head cold and cough, and also dealing with my regular teaching duities and the problems I’ve been trying to address with course objectives being unclear, and invalid testing and lack of info I needed to know about the final grading and exams . . . this unfortunately made me tired, and I actually needed two or three more days to nail my presentation materials; I finished my prep and first draft of my power point with 177 power point slides of pictures of my students DOING the things I wanted to talk about, and my 10 methodology approaches and principles . . . I then smacked myself up the side of my head and said, “JASON! You ONLY have 50 minutes to present this material–you can’t present 177 slides no matter how good the material is in that time!”

Thursday night, the night before my presentation, I invited a Chinese English teacher over to the apartment so I could do a practice run through of my material, and try to get a clearer sense of what I needed to cut. I think I already knew what needed to be cut but by the time I was done my power point design it was Thursday at 6pm, and I didn’t have the 2 or 3 days I needed to mull over what I could cut, condense, and revise in order to cull it down to a manageable amount of presentation material.

I even went and re-read Jeremy Harmer’s “10 Things I Hate About Powerpoint” because I knew I was putting too much, lol …. but I was out of time, and too tired.

My Chinese teacher friend had a good response to my presentation, and good suggestions too. I cut as much of the material after she left as I could, but I could still see it was too much material. I forced myself, though, to go to bed and not kill myself for a presentation I was only giving once, and for a presentation I was not being paid a large fee for!

I printed off a two-page double-sided handout with some primary points from the power point, and a list of books I’d be referring to during my presentation (see below), and went to bed.

Back to Friday morning . . . I do my presentation and only make it to point 5 of my 10 points I’d used to organize my teaching methodology. With only 10 minutes left in my 50 minute presentation I skipped past several slides in each section, and got out the key ideas for my last five points, and was done. I was somewhat satisfied with my presentation, but knew that if I’d just had a few more days to prep I could have done something I think might have even impressed Jeremy Harmer a little–him being, in my mind, one of the best presenters I’ve ever heard and seen give a power point presentation (KOTESOL 2007, South Korea).

I’d been given 90 minutes to work with for my presentation, and I’d told the colonel and vice-dean of post-graduate studies at the university that I’d use 50 for my talk, then we’d take a short break during which the teachers could look at the 100 books displayed on a table at the front of the conference room. The break time was a rapid fire blitz of questions from THIRTY teachers all looking like kids on Christmas morning as they grabbed different books I had on the table, and began asking me questions about the books and different teaching needs they all had–holy cow!

I was really happy to see one of the high ranking teachers (not sure about the actual rank) ask me a lot about “A Framework for Task-based Learning” by Jane Willis. I referred to it as the ‘bible of TBL’ during my presentation, and THAT got her attention as she’s one of the teachers assigned to the current massive teaching reform project that my university is currently doing. From what I’ve been able to piece together, she has to ‘teach’ and ‘train’ all the Chinese English teachers on how to teach using TBL, and how to test students too. But based on the fact that the winter and summer breaks don’t seem to be used for in-service training, and that teacher training only seems to be done on Friday mornings each week of the semester with teachers giving lectures with no real training taking place in terms of trainees doing exercises and activities to apply what they’ve been learning about….well, I don’t see how the Chinese English teachers are going to be able to get a solid grasp on what TBL is, and how they can use it in their courses.

A major point that I stressed during the discussion period after the short break and book gazing frenzy was that the current curricula at the university, and specific textbooks I’d seen, were not suitable for use with TBL methodology and testing. This got quite a stir from the teachers, and the colonel tried to diminish my comment/criticism of the curriculum not being compatible with TBL–to which I said, “Sir, you teach post-graduate courses, right? Have you seen the undegradate textbooks? No? I’d suggest you take a look at them and then we can discuss this again. But until then I strongly believe there are major problems that need to be addressed.” I said this with as much respect, sincerity, and neutral tone of voice as I could, and he seemed to realize that he couldn’t back up his opinion cause he had NOT looked at the undergrad textbooks, nor did he seem to be familiar with their testing either.

Anyways, I think some of the big things I walked away from this experience with were quite valuable. Assessing and articulating what my current EFL/ESL methodology and philosophy of teaching was a good experience. It showed me what I need to learn more about, and what I need to read more. It reaffirmed teaching principles and approaches that I strongly believe and practice. And it allowed me to establish more credibility with the powers that be at my university so that when I say something, or criticize something, they know it’s not just a complaining foreigner who ‘doesn’t understand Chinese culture or the university’s English program and teaching culture’–the comments and criticisms are based on knowledgea and experience gained from hard work, and a lot of experience.

The conclusion I came to after a lot of reading and re-reading, and reflection on my teaching, was that I was doing what Harmer refers to in his fourth edition of “The Practice of English Language Teaching,” 2007: “We need to be able to say, as Kumaravadivelu attempted, what is important in methodological terms, especially if we concede one method alone may not be right in many situations” (page 78, my emphasis, Harmer).

Basically, I use a combination of CLT (Communicative Language Teaching methodology) and TBL (Task-based Learning methodology) with some of my own personal approaches to teaching all mixed up into one hybrid form of the two major methods. But in terms of how I practice and apply my methodology there is no fixed formula. How I teach depends on the needs and wants of the specific teaching situation, language learning situation and needs and wants, and the overall teaching and learning environment within which I’m operating. I think that I knew this before I began my prep for this presentation, but doing the work helped me to clarify and confirm what I do, and why I do it. I highly recommend other EFL/ESL teachers try something like this if they have the time and inclination.

Oh, a really bizarre moment occurred after the end of the discussion period. The colonel stood up, and walked to the front of the conference room. He then proceeded to say that he thought I had a lot of great ideas and opinions about teaching methodology, and EFL, and that he wanted to hear more about my ideas. He then said that “after learning more about Jason’s opinions and ideas we may adopt them here as policy and practice at the university”–HOLY SHIT!

Sometimes I really don’t realize how other teachers perceive what I say and do. Sometimes I really don’t give myself enough credit that the hard work I put into my teaching craft, and continually trying to improve myself as a teacher, comes across to such a point as that I’d actually have my methodology used as a part of the basis for an entire English program’s teaching methdology reform . . .

It’s humbling, scary, and thrilling all at the same time.

I just have to hope that some degree of success can be achieved in their reform project because based on this article, The Impact of CurriculumInnovation on the Cultures of Teaching (, I don’t know if they can achieve their wishes.

But I’ll help–if they ask (and hopefully pay more too!).


What is a good man?

A teacher of a bad man.

What is a bad man?

A good man’s charge.

If the teacher is not respected,

And the student is not cared for,

Confusion will arise, however clever one is.

This is the crux of the mystery.

Lao Tsu 1997, ch 27

From “Experiential Learning in Foreign Language Education, General Editor C. N. Candlin

Applied Linguistics and Language Study, Pearson 2001

Different types of foreign language learning . . .

• ESP – English for Specific Purposes

• EAP – English for Academic Purposes

• EST – English for Science and Technology

• EFL – English as a Foreign Language

• ELF – English as a Lingua Franca

• ESOL – English Speaking of Other Languages

• CLIL – Content and Language Integrated Learning

EFL/ESL influences on my teaching methodology . . .

Jeremy Harmer

Scott Thornbury

Michael Rost

Sari Luoma

Penny Ur

Jane Willis

Michael J Wallace

Teaching methodologies . . . Which one? More than one? Or . . . Something new?

• Grammar-Translation

• Direct Method

• Audiolingualism

• Behaviorism

• PPP (Presentation, Practice, Production)

• ESA (Engage, Study, Activate); Boomerang Procedure, Patchwork Procedure

• Four Methods: CLT (Community Language Learning), Suggestopaedia, TPR (Total Physical Response), and the Silent Way

• CLT (Communicative Language Learning)

• TBL (Task-based Learning)

• The Lexical Approach

• Teachers-Students Dialog Method

• Post Method ???

My 10 EFL Methodology Principles and Approaches to ELT

• 1. Fun and Interesting. The “Magic X” factor.

• 2. Balance of accuracy and fluency language goals and content in lessons/course design.

• 3. Communicative and interactive style of TTT and STT.

• 4. Task-based learning.

• 5. Transparency in testing/evaluation, rubrics, and process.

• 6. Recode EFL language classroom with communicative power dynamics.

• 7. Games and Activities are a vital learning tool for learning, practicing, and mastering language goals and skills.

• 8. The 7 P’s: Proper planning and preparation prevent piss poor performance. Lesson planning/course design are critical in achieving teaching success, and language learner success.

• 9. “Variety is the spice of life.” Using a wide range of learning goals, language goals, skills, strategies, tasks, games, activities, and topics.

• 10. Empowering language learners to develop meta-cognitive learning skills (or ‘learner autonomy), and EFL language learning skills.

CLT – Communicative Language Teaching, and interactive style.

NOTE: There was a diagram on my handout that I cannot copy paste into blogger.

Post-Method: 10 Macrostrategies?

• “What is needed, Kumaravadivelu suggests, is not alternative methods, but ‘an alternative to method’ (2006: 67). Instead of one method, he suggests ten ‘macrostrategies, such as “maximise learning opportunities, facilitate negotiation, foster language awareness, promote learner autonomy” etc.’ (Kumaravadivelu 2001, 2006)”

From, The Practice of English Language Teaching, Fourth Edition. Jeremy Harmer

Post-Method is my ‘one’ method . . .

• “We need to be able to say, as Kumaravadivelu attempted, what is important in methodological terms, especially if we concede one method alone may not be right in many situations” (page 78, my emphasis, Harmer).

• “We have to be able to extract key components of the various methods we have been describing” (page 78, my emphasis, Harmer).

“Must Have Books” For EFL/ESL University Instructors


Conversation Strategies 

David Kehe and Peggy Dustin Kehe

PLA (Pro Lingua Associates)


Basics in Speaking 

Michael Rost



Strategies in Speaking 

Michael Rost



Keep Talking: Communicative fluency activities for language teaching. 

Klippel, Friederike. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. Series Edited by Penny Ur. W30,000

Oxford Basics: Simple Speaking Activities

Jill Hadfield and Charles Hadfield. Oxford, 1999.

W5, 800

Getting Ready for Speech: A Beginner’s Guide to Public Speaking, by Charles LeBeau and David Harrington. Compass Publishing, 2002. W14,000
Pronunciation Pairs, Second Edition: An Introduction to the Sounds of English, by Ann Baker and Sharon Goldstein 

Cambridge, 2008


Conversation Gambits: Real English Conversation Practices. Eric Seller and Sylvia T. Warner. Thomson Heinle, 2002. W29,000 Small Group Discussion Topics for University Students, A Modern Approach to Fluency in English, Third Edition.. Jack Martire. Political, economic, environmental, and social issues facing the world in the 21st Century. Pusan National University Press, 2009. W12,000


Steps to Academic Reading Level 3: Across the Board 

Jean Zukowsky/Faust

Thomson Heinle


Steps to Academic Reading 4: In Context 

Jean Zukowski/Faust, Susan S. Johnston, and Elizabeth E. Templin

Thomson Heinle


Extensive Reading Activities for Teaching Language. Edited by Julian Bramford and Richard R. Day. Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers 


Reading Extra by Cambridge 

College Reading Workshop, Edition 2. 

Malarcher, Casey. Compass Publishing, 2005. W15 000

Curriculum Design

Materials and Methods in ELT, Second Edition. A Teacher’s Guide

Jo McDonough and Christopher Shaw. Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

W35 000

Games and Activities

Games for Language Learning, Third Edition. Andrew Wright, David Betteridge, and Michael Buckby. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. Series Editor, Scott Thornbury. W28 000 700 Classroom Activities

David Seymour & Maria Popova. Macmillian, 2005.


Grammar Practice Activities, Second Edition, by Penny Ur. Cambridge University Press, 2006. Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. Series Editor, Scott Thornbury. Cambridge, 2009 


Debate and Critical Thinking

Discover Debate. Michael Lubetsky, Charles LeBeau, and David Harrington. 

Compass Publishing, 2000.

W16 000

A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, Fifth Edition

Wilfred L. Guerin. Oxford, 2005.

W22 000

The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, Second Edition. 

Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray.

Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

W25 000

Becoming A Critical Thinker: A Master Student Text, Fifth Edition. 

Ruggiero, Vincent Ryan. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

W11 000


Tree or Three? Second Edition. Beginner Level. Ann Baker. 

Cambridge, 2006.

Ship or Sheep? An Intermediate Pronunciation Course, Third Edition.  

Ann Baker. Cambridge, 2006

Teaching Listening Comprehension 

Penny Ur

Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers


Dictations for Discussion, A Listening/Speaking Text, by Judy DeFillipo and Catherine Sadow. Pro Lingua Associates, 2006. W41,000 Listening

White, Goodith. Oxford, 1998.

Resource Books for Teachers, Series Editor, Alan Maley. W26 000

Pronunciation Pairs, Second Edition: An Introduction to the Sounds of English, by Ann Baker and Sharon Goldstein 

Cambridge, 2008. W20,000


Sentences At A Glance, Third Edition

Brandon, Lee. Houghton Mifflin Company 2006.

W10 000

Paragraphs At A Glance, Third Edition

Brandon, Lee. Houghton Mifflin Company 2006

W10 000

Share Your Paragraph: An Interactive Approach to Writing, 2nd Edition

George M. Rooks. Longman, 1999. W13 000

Effective Academic Writing 1: The Paragraph 

Alice Savage and Masoud Shafiei

Oxford University Press


Effective Academic Writing 2: The Short Essay 

Alice Savage and Patricia Mayer

Oxford University Press


Effective Academic Writing 3: The Essay 

Jason Davis and Rhonda Liss

Oxford University Press


EFL/ESL Test Design and Evaluation

Assessing Speaking 

Sari Luoma

Cambridge Language Assessment Series


Testing Second Language Speaking 

Glenn Fulcher. General Editor: C. N. Candlin. Applied Linguistics and Language Study. Pearson Education Limited, 2003.


Testing for Language Teachers, Second Edition. Arthur Hughes. Cambridge Language Teaching Library Cambridge, 2003. 


EFL/ESL Research and Teaching Books

Teaching and Researching Listening 

Rost, Michael. Longman, 2002.

Applied Linguistics in Action Series, Edited by Christopher N. Candlin & David R. Hall

W22 000

Teaching and Researching Speaking 

Rebecca Hughes

Applied Linguistics in Action Series, Edited by Christopher N. Candlin & David R. Hall

W22 000

Teaching and Researching Reading 

William Grabe and Fredricka L. Stoller

Applied Linguistics in Action Series, Edited by Christopher N. Candlin & David R. Hall

W22 000

Teaching and Researching Writing  

Ken Hyland. Applied Linguistics in Action Series, Edited by Christopher N. Candlin & David R. Hall. W22 000

Culture/s and Cross-Cultural Lessons

Crossing Cultures in the Language Classroom, by Andrea DeCapua, Ed.D., and Ann C. Wintergerst, Ed.D. 

University of Michigan, 2004.


Culturally Speaking, Third Edition, by Rhona B. Genzel and Martha Graves Cummings 

2010 Heinle, Cengage Learning


101 American Idioms Harry Collis and Joe Kohl. Compass, 2004. W7,500; 101 American Customs Harry Collis and Joe Kohl. Compass, 2004. W7,500; 101 American Superstitions Harry Collis and Joe Kohl. Compass, 2004. W7,500
A First Look at the USA: A Cultural Reader 

Milada Broukal



More About the USA: A Cultural Reader 

Milada Broukal and Janet Milhomme



All About the USA: A Cultural Reader Second Edition. Milada Broukal and Peter Murphy. Longman 


EFL/ESL Methodology Books

The Practice of Teaching English, Fourth Edition

Harmer, Jeremy. Longman 2007.

How to teach English

Harmer, Jeremy. Longman, 1998.

W22 000, 000

How to teach Vocabulary

Thornbury, Scott. Longman, 2002.

Series Editor, Jeremy Harmer.

W22 000

How to teach Pronunciation

Kelly, Gerald. Longman, 2000.

Series Editor, Jeremy Harmer.

W22 000

How To Teach Speaking

Thornbury, Scott.

Series Editor: Jeremy Harmer. Longman, 2006. W27 000

How to teach Writing. 

Harmer, Jeremy. Longman, 2004.

W22 000

Teaching English Through English. 

Willis, Jane. Longman, 1981.

W20 000

A Framework For Task-Based Learning

Willis, Jane. Longman, 1996.

W22 000

Listening, Practical English Language Teaching. Marc Helgesen and Steven Brown. McGraw Hill, 2007. David Nunan, Series Editor. W15 000
Speaking, Practical English Language Teaching. Kathleen M. Bailey 

. McGraw Hill, 2007. David Nunan, Series Editor. W17,000

Teaching ESL/EFL Listening and Speaking, by I.S.P. Nation and Jonathan Newton.
ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series. Routledge, 2009. W25,000

Teaching ESL/EFL Reading and Writing

by I.S.P. Nation and Jonathan Newton.
ESL & Applied Linguistics Professional Series. Routledge, 2008. W25,000


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