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on March 28, 2017
I'm a big fan of English Teacher X even though he's kind of a jerk. His autobiographical travel writing and sense of humor make it seem like his teaching methods might be BS, but they are actually really solid and (amazingly) line up well with best practices for teaching English to speakers of other languages. I'd highly recommend this book. It took me almost ten years of teaching to come at doing some of these type of exercises, and here they are, laid out very well and paired with his irreverent sense of humor. I sincerely hope these books are always in print. They are the real manuals that we need, the things that we actually learn when we're talking to colleagues in the break room as we rush to the next class. Speaking classes can be elating to teach, or they can be soul-sucking drudgery. Either way, get this book and things will get better for you. Expect a conversational, informal tone suited to the adventurous spirit of most English teachers.
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on March 6, 2014
I understand that teaching in another country can feel a lot like teaching without rules. I understand how someone would want to take advantage of that to write a book that clearly ignores all of the cultural norms we associate with the teaching profession, and I'll admit, there is some valuable information in this book, but it's rough. It drips with foul language and bad attitude. It's like getting something to eat from a garbage can (something I see far too often here in Cambodia); it may be nutritious, but your going to have to scrape the disgusting parts off before you ingest it. So, if you don't mind that the prose is unprofessional and foul and are willing to scavenge for the nuggets of truth, this book has some great insights from someone with real world experience. You'll likely get more and better ideas than you would from many scholarly tomes.
3 people found this helpful
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on July 16, 2013
English Teacher X's third book is more of a niche title than his other releases, aimed squarely at those who are already teaching English abroad. As the title suggests, it's a book dedicated to speaking activities, the laborious process of getting your students to actually speak the language you're teaching them. Despite the dry subject matter, ETX still manages to work in some of his trademark humor, such as with these "personal development" questions:

"1) Think of the five main reasons that you suck as an English teacher."

"3) Why are your lessons so boring and stupid? Try to think of at least five reasons."

Speaking Activities is brief and has little application if you're not an English teacher, but if you enjoy English Teacher X's writing, it's still worth the buy considering its low price.
One person found this helpful
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on September 24, 2015
While I like to think of my own style as a bit more published than English Teacher X's (maybe partly due to my students being actually more talkative and interested), I still appreciated this to-the-point and irreverent guide.

Even if much of the activities seem basic (and/or overkill) it would be difficult for an ESL teacher at any level of skill or experience not to find enough good stuff in here to steal to fill a few hours of any given class, which more than justifies the price.

Would have been nice to see vocabulary linked to speaking activities more explicitly (with lists of words beyond just basic nouns tied to questions, for example) but the general quality of ESL texts is so obnoxious and detached from reality that this one still shines.

Small grammar related caveat, English Teacher X offers complex ways to distinguish between the correct use of things like "will / going to" that do not reflect actual patterns of native speech and seem unnecessarily confusing. I also wouldn't recommend trying to teach students the names of different tenses and parts of speech, beyond what the average native speaker would know.

Finally I think the best teachers are those that have (or make themselves find) sympathy for students, even those with whom we have, as he puts
it "nothing in common beyond the cellular level." Of course if you're stuck teaching lethargic kids, resentful employees or people who just plain don't want to be there then the occasional private laughs at their expense can be cathartic, and if that's your situation you will enjoy this book even more.
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on September 21, 2013
I'll actually profess that this book changed my teaching. I did a CELTA a few years back where they instilled us with the importance of the communicative approach and of maximizing student to student interaction. I took all these bright ideas into a classroom full of young children with very basic levels of English. Needless to say, any activities I had learned didn't really seem to work. The kids didn't understand what they were supposed to be doing and seemed to waste time often speaking quietly in their own language when they were asked to do anything in pairs.

After reading this book I realized how simple it could be to make any piece of language communicative and to build a pair activity around it. After I got to grips with a few of the simple tips in this book I found that I was able to build from this and even bring in some more complicated activities.

A word of warning, although I found this book a great help in my teaching I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. I think the book is more for newbies to the profession who want some simple and easily implemented activities or to someone who has been teaching for a little while yet feels like they are struggling to make their classes more communicative and get more student to student interaction in the class.

I don't think this one will be on the DELTA reading list any time soon, but it's great for the beginning or confused ESL teacher.
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on August 31, 2014
This book is definitely not for everyone. It is genuinely offensive and inappropriate. However, if you are thick skinned, the dark, cynical humor will keep you awake in a way that most other ESL books will not. This brief book contains useful exercises that will be a big help for any ESL teacher. Sometimes it is really hard to get ESL students to speak up and interact, especially students who come from a culture that does not promote learning through interaction. Buy it? Why the &*@# not?
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on October 30, 2013
The book does, as the British say, exactly what it says in the tin: English Teacher X lays out page after page of speaking activities for any level of EFL classes. Any of these activities can be done with zero preparation and they can get the students talking. As someone who's been overseas teaching EFL in Korea for two years, X's plans do the job. I picked up the book in the middle of a draining week and have already used a couple of the activities in class. He's right to note that learning English hinges on repetition. He's also good with interspersing remarks from the recurring "Hot Chick" and "Rich a Guy" characters to show how these activities will (not) play out in class
Highly recommended.
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on December 3, 2014
Wow, I was stunned. I'm usually into humor, but this takes things too far. Iis so full of wanting to be shockingly funny the content gets lost. I do not recommend this to anyone ever.
2 people found this helpful
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on October 23, 2015
You can get some useful ideas out of it, but it's not going to save your classes
One person found this helpful
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on June 29, 2012
I was hoping for a miracle book, and thought that there should be more ideas to make for success. But! When I thought about what he wrote about getting students to speak...?! That is indeed the most important part of the English lesson. I started using his ideas in my classes and I have found it very helpful. So...the book is a good buy for myself. I have also lived almost 10 years abroad teaching English and the author is correct about the types of students that one has to teach. If he deleted the profanity, the book size would be reduced by 60%, and I would recommed that! However, the few genuine ideas won from suffering (he's lived in Russia you know!), can really make the book a practical buy.
6 people found this helpful
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