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on April 1, 2000
I don't know just how old this book is, but it reminds me of the kinds of language activities that I did as a pupil in English as my first language when I was eleven or twelve. There are lots of cognitive and logical activities and a few balloon debates, which are fun if you like that kind of stuff. However, these activities may not necessarily be the best way to promote fluency in your EFL class simply because they are mentally too taxing. They require silent reflection, which is not what you would want in your oral English lessons. The book is divided into two parts; The first section discusses general principles, which is both lucid and informative. The second section, which is about three quarters of the book, gives practical examples. The best activities for me in my high school teaching situation, are the simple ones which have a real-life purpose, such as planning for a trip or doing a survey, and which are easy enough to get students talking straight away. Overall, this book does have quite a lot of useful and workable activities and I'm pleased that I can refer to it from time to time. If you are an EFL teacher looking for new ideas for facilitating discussion in your language classes, then most likely, you will not be disappointed with this book.
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on August 3, 2004
I bought this book and, if you are an ESL instructor, you should too. The author, Penny Ur, successfully bridges that gap between ESL theory and pratical application. What is the "task-based" teaching approach to ESL ? It is NOT just assigning tasks and then moving around the classroom from group to group, correcting the student's English. Although this is what I observed many times in all the years I have been teaching ESL at the university level, this is not what task-based learning is about. It's about knowing the skills involved in performing language tasks then assigning them, based on the student's ability. Penny Ur takes the reader from the approach to application in her text.
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on June 11, 2005
I teach an advanced oral English class for professionals, in China. I am very impressed with the books in this series, and with this one in particular. I received Discussions That Work a couple of weeks ago and have gone through it cover to cover. I was amazed to find that I could imagine my class discussing almost every topic given, participating in almost every activity suggested. This book is full of wonderful ideas, clearly presented by the author and requiring little advance preparation by me. Ms. Ur is a master at her craft. Highly recommended!
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on March 19, 2002
I relied on this book during my three years as a teacher of English as a second lanugage in the Peace Corps. I do not know what I would have done without it.
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on March 28, 2008
I teach English Conversation classes to high school intermediate students and have used almost every activity in this book. It is so helpful when I need a new idea to create a lesson off of, or when I need to quickly plan a lesson. You can copy things straight from the book for use in the classroom or you can use the suggestions to create your own. This is one of the best resources I've found to get students talking and keep them speaking in English. The lessons are quite flexible in allowing the teacher to increase (or decrease) the level of complexity. I would highly recommend this book to any teacher of English Conversation.
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on January 6, 2011
Although aware of the 1 rating here on this book, and I do agree with it, I can think back a decade ago (or more now) when I entered the language classroom - the ideas were not "new" as I did not know the "standard: at the time.

So, if you have been in the field a long time and have read a lot on "how" to devise discussion activities I then agree that the book may not be the most valuable to you.

However - if you are newish to the field of TESOL (1-5 years) you will get some ideas out of this and really think in new ways regarding how to organize and structure activities. There is no real price to that - but the book is not that expensive. If you can have a language school or college order it, as a resource, it may be more worthwhile.

Very useful ideas for the communicative classroom. Lots of fun to be had.
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on April 17, 2008
I read this some years ago after I finished my masters in TESL and started to teach in Japan, and I have to say it would certainly still rank in my top 10 most useful books on theory and/or practice. Indeed, to some extent it inspired some of the core ideas in my own task-based textbook (which I'm too bashful to name here).

Highly recommended to those who can appreciate it for what it is, a collection of interesting ideas you can use as a springboard for your own classroom creativity.
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on November 9, 2009
I was desperate for ideas that would help me make my students talk and this book has helped me a lot since day one. Easy to use, well-organised and with plenty of useful ideas that actually work.
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on July 9, 2016
I'm very satisfied with the product. It came as it was anoucced. I got everything on time.
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on June 10, 2016
Classic ESL ideas book. I've used it a lot with my students.
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