24 AUGUST 2014
Could you tell us a little about your background?
I've been a teacher of First and Second Language English and English Literature 11 - 18 and Head of English in schools of different types in the UK and overseas: Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Azerbaijan. I've been an author for 30 years. Publications include Cambridge IGCSE First Language English suite; Checkpoint English suite; author and series editor of A level literature teacher resource files and study guides for more than thirty titles for another publisher.
What first interested you in First Language English?
I loved English language and literature from even before I first started school, being fascinated by nursery rhymes and the shapes and sounds of letters. I wrote my own stories and poems as a way of imposing some pattern on experience. As a teacher I enjoy the way that there is a freedom of content for delivering an English curriculum, and the way that the skills are transferable, not just within English studies but between subjects, and to life itself. English actually includes a range of academic subjects and topics and covers so many types of text; fiction and non-fiction, verse and prose, tragic and comic. Competency in English, and a knowledge and understanding of how language works, gives power and opportunities to students, and this is rewarding for the teacher as well.
What's your favourite book and why?
I don't have a favourite book. I read a wide range of contemporary fiction and re-visit old favourites and classics of poetry and prose when writing coursebooks. For teaching purposes, however, it's hard to beat The Lord of the Flies for coverage of important themes, as an example of narrative structure, and for use of setting, dialogue, imagery, symbolism, characterisation, drama, climax. And then of course there are interesting discussions to be had about how or if it would have been different with girls!
Do you have any tips for teaching Cambridge IGCSE First Language English?
Variety, differentiation, pace, support, extension, reinforcement, formative assessment, individual pupil targets... Teaching English isn't just telling students to turn to a page in the coursebook, however good it is! Lesson planning is essential for effective teaching and progression of learning. The teacher must always be in control, but students need to learn independently and interactively. You can't beat the old saying: 'Tell me and I'll forget; Show me and I'll remember; Involve me and I'll understand.'
How does Cambridge IGCSE First Language English help learners?
The Coursebook, Workbook and Teacher's Resource book cater for different purposes and needs of students and teachers, but together provide a complete foundation for the Cambridge IGCSE First Language English curriculum and exam syllabus. The key points and task tips provide a comprehensive teaching of the skills required. There is flexibility for the teacher to skip or complement materials and tasks and adapt the course to their particular class. A huge range and number of passages are provided, and more are suggested in the Teacher's Resource. The suite follows the same methodology and approach as the Checkpoint series of nine books, so together they provide a complete and progressive five-year secondary English course, and contain everything you need to know about English!.
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