Reﬂective Writing for Language Teachers
Thomas S C Farrell
Reﬂective Writing for Language Teachers is directed at both new and experienced ELT practitioners, with the aim of helping them to harness writing as a means of supporting reﬂective practice, something which nowadays is itself considered to be key to teacher education and professional development.
To me, this book seems to be a rich project to be undertaken, rather than something simply to be read from cover to cover: each of its seven chapters contains various tasks to perform, tasks which encourage teachers to question and discuss their own beliefs and practice, and which guide them through the process of evaluating these critically, through the medium of writing. The tasks could be tackled alone, with a colleague or as a group activity for continuing professional development (CPD). Teacher educators might also wish to incorporate this book into a module on their training courses.
It is interesting to see a book with such a narrow focus: reﬂective practice and, within that, reﬂective writing. What results is an in-depth, detailed coverage of this area. The book follows a logical outline, from broad themes, such as the role of professional development in language teaching, to narrower focuses, such as reﬂective practice activities, different formats for writing reﬂectively, and the use of journals and narrative writing, then connecting this back to the bigger picture by demonstrating how it ﬁts into the different stages of one’s development from novice teacher to experienced professional, and ﬁnally taking the whole concept a step further: to the possibility of doing ‘reﬂective research’.
One potential drawback could be that working through this book alone, alongside a full teaching timetable, might prove rather a tall order. Any teacher attempting this might ﬁnd that their motivation would dwindle too early for any beneﬁts to be reaped. In addition, a teacher using it for self- study would miss out on the value of the discussions which are encouraged regularly throughout the book. However, if you have a receptive staffroom, a keen group of teachers and the stamina to persevere with it, this book may provide the possibility for a really useful thread of extra professional development.
Writing is certainly a powerful tool, so it is good to see a book that recognises this and tries to help teachers harness it, to the beneﬁt of their practice and, ultimately, their careers. I think it would be very interesting to see a range of reports written by teachers who have worked their way systematically through all the activities offered, comparing the outcomes they have experienced with the intended outcomes of the book.