Customer Reviews: Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT
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on July 12, 2010
I am very happy to have run across this book! After many years of teaching languages and researching language acquisition, I've finally found a single volume that integrates key principles of language development and practical classroom activities. Great work! The book is arranged into five sections - thinking, memory, creativity, critical thinking, organizing - each with a crisp review of some of the relevant research in the area (appropriately acknowledging sources and suggesting extra reading) and a section of author-tested activities (about 20 distinct activities per section!), all easily adaptable to different ages, backgrounds, teaching contexts. Although I have encountered much of the research Hall sites and have used or seen many of these activities he presents, what impresses me is how clear and intuitive his approach is. Language acquisition requires lots spoken input, as well as "negotiation of meaning" (actively working out what other people are thinking and saying), "pushed output" (being compelled to express ideas and forms that you may not initially be comfortable expressing), "relearning" (revisiting partially learned content and making new connections), and "noticing the gap" (figuring out what you need to know before you can complete your idea or understand what someone else means). Provoking Thought provides concrete resources for doing ALL these things - and having a great time teaching actively. I'm sure students of all ages and backgrounds will benefit from their teachers using Hall Houston's book.
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on April 16, 2010
Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT may become an ESL and EFL classic. Remember the title.

Dividened into five major sections (Thinking, Memory, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Organizing Ideas on Paper), this systematic book demonstrates how to engage students and create a far more creative, dynamic English classroom. Filled with practical lesson plans and revealing interviews, this powerful teacher's resource inspired revisions to my course curriculum to include new exercises, and modify old classics.

Hall Houston, a prolific ESL/EFL writer and English teacher in Taiwan, has assembled an impressive amount of material in this inspiring book. Part journalism, part teacher resource, and part philosophy, this original and reflective ELT textbook will "provoke thought" on how we teach English for both experienced and novice instructors.

One minor criticism: the book would have benefited from including several reproducible lessons that the author so vividly describes, saving time and encouraging more classroom applications of these creative exercises that cajole students into thinking in English.
Bottomline: This is my favorite ELT book of 2009 - by far!
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on February 7, 2010
Houston`s work is a valueble guide for teachers wishing to deepen their perspectives on cognitive processes in the classroom. Full of practical knowledge based on a life time`s experience in teaching. A must -read for any aspirant teacher embarking on an overseas career.
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on January 27, 2010
This book is a very useful tool for esl teachers. It is full of fun and practical methods for engaging esl students. It's obvious that the author is an actual teacher and knows what is needed when facing the classroom each day.
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on June 14, 2010
When I originally acquired my copy of Provoking Thought, I was interested in it mainly as a way to expand my knowledge base of teaching techniques in the ELT classroom, but after reading it, I was impressed by the fact that the principles and techniques it teaches are not just limited to ELT. Drawing on fields such as Cognitive Psychology, Provoking Thought shows instructors a myriad of ways to `get inside your students head', improve their understanding, increase their retention and memory, and get them to better express themselves- all things that can apply to any realm of teaching- but are especially important in the language learning environment where students don't have the luxury of communicating, and/or even thinking in their own language.

Additionally, the book does not just show the teacher the principles of `Provoking Thought' but backs them up with proven and easy to understand lesson plans that apply them from Hall's own classroom. An informative read for not just ELT instructors, but other kinds of teachers as well.
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on February 27, 2015
“Provoking Thought” by Hal Houston of the ELT Daily Journal tackles five areas that are essential for any language class. The five areas in order of appearance are thinking, memory, creativity, critical thinking and finally organizing ideas on paper. This explicit structure accommodates ESL students as it helps them organize their thoughts before just writing them down on paper. Houston creates exercises within each of these areas that expand vocabulary, test memory skills, generate creativity and organize thoughts to be able to put in an essay. One tip that was most useful and something new English teachers like myself can use for their students is brainstorming. For brainstorming, Houston makes sure groups are small with everyone contributing equally and fairly without any criticism from fellow students. This way students will feel each idea has validity while feeling a sense of encouragement. As a recent college graduate I often enjoyed brainstorming with my American classmates about ideas made me see how often I relate to others and that’s why I want to encourage it as a teacher. It’s important to teach EFL students to listen before criticizing. “Provoking Thought” shows ESL and EFL students the complete process of how thoughts are formulated from simple ideas that eventually turn into five page essays.
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on April 29, 2016
Interesting ideas.
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