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Reviewed by:
  • Innovating EFL Teaching in Asia
  • Cynthia Xie and Heesoon Bai
T. Muller, S. Herder, J. Adamson, and B.S. Shigeo (Eds.) (2012). Innovating EFL Teaching in Asia. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave MacMillan. Pp. 328, UK£60 (cloth).

Innovating EFL Teaching in Asia provides descriptions, ideas, theories, advice, and solutions in regards to teaching English language in Asia. The collection has wide-ranging contributions from 31 teacher/researcher authors based in nine different Asian countries. The analyses and discussions on EFL (English as a Foreign Language) in the authors’ situated contexts within diverse regions successfully demonstrate innovations and contributions made by EFL practitioners in the field.

Innovating EFL Teaching in Asia is a significant contribution to the field and also a practical guide for researchers and teachers, situated in Asia and beyond, who are interested in bringing their local contexts into both their academic studies and their daily classroom practices.

The book is organized in five parts. Part A describes the evolving Asian EFL context. Part B further explores teachers’ and students’ perceptions and beliefs about themselves and their national culture in the context of English learning and teaching. Part C is more methodologically focused, discussing teaching and learning strategies for speaking, reading, vocabulary building, and classroom interaction. Part D dwells on the topic of developing English-language skills for younger learners. Part E focuses on teaching writing skills in English, addressing important issues such as extensive writing versus process writing, feedback and error correction, and assessment.

This book is user-friendly. Each of the five parts has its own introduction to the set of chapters wherein editorial intentions, reviews, and summaries are given. The book concludes with an epilogue, in which descriptions of the process of creating the book is provided.

Curriculum reform and its implementation

Curriculum reform is an ongoing process among many counties in Asia. A continuing trend toward communicative language teaching (CLT), in contrast to the historical grammar- and vocabulary-based [End Page 117] approach, is much evident in contemporary Asia, and is supported by education policy makers and curriculum developers in most countries at the national and regional levels. Adopting and adapting innovations to the local context is a complex topic presented from different perspectives in various chapters throughout the book.

Authors of these chapters have all identified constraints in regard to fully and successfully implementing curriculum reforms such as, form-oriented examinations in most of the Asian education systems; teacher and student lack of trust and motivation, and therefore a lack of commitment to new top-down reform agendas; and lack of opportunity for professional development and inadequate resource allocations and infrastructures at schools, not to mention the short supply of textbooks and teaching equipment. These chapters offer a wealth of information and ideas for all the stakeholders who are involved in the implementation and renewal of curricula for teaching EFL in Asian contexts.

EFL research and Asian voices

The Preface of the book begins by distinguishing among English as a Foreign Language (EFL), English as a Second Language (ESL), and English as an International Language (EIL). The Preface then sets the stage for the theme of the book, namely that teaching EFL is distinct from ESL and EIL contexts, as illustrated by the local Asian contexts. Chapter 2 further drives home the message that we need to “recognize English as an Asian language with its own local forms and functions existing in a fluid relationship alongside global uses” (pp. 33–34) and that the focus of English-language teaching should “go beyond the predominant focus on grammar, vocabulary, and phonology based on a single native speaker variety of English” (pp. 33–34) by incorporating recourses in successful intercultural communication.

Innovations in English-language teaching research, both in theory and methodology, are advocated in this book with an emphasis on “empowering Asian voices” (p. vii). A concern is expressed by many authors in the book for “a one-way flow of knowledge and expertise from the Inner Circle to Outer Circle and Expanding Circle recipients” (p. 25). Such flow is “often accompanied by teaching materials and methodologies developed for Inner Circle classrooms” (p. 27), and hinders the plurality and diversity of English use and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1131
Print ISSN
0008-4506
Pages
pp. 117-119
Launched on MUSE
2013-02-15
Open Access
No
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