English Teaching in the Secondary School: Linking Theory and Practice

English Teaching in the Secondary School: Linking Theory and Practice

English Teaching in the Secondary School: Linking Theory and Practice

English Teaching in the Secondary School: Linking Theory and Practice


Now in an updated third edition, English Teaching in the Secondary School is a comprehensive guide to the theory and practice of teaching English. Presenting an informed view of current educational policy, the authors provide advice to help students creatively and independently interpret government initiatives and incorporate them in their teaching practice. With practical ideas for use in the classroom, extensive discussion of theory and opportunities for reflection and critical thought, the authors guide students through the whole process of English teaching in the secondary school.

Fully updated to include:

  • a chapter on research and writing for M Level students
  • references to the Every Child Matters agenda
  • updates to the KS3 and 14-19 curriculum
  • revised GCSE specifications
  • an emphasis on creativity, flexibility and learner engagement
  • the impact of globalisation and technology on literacy.

Written in an accessible style, with a wealth of advice and ideas, this book forms essential reading for practising teachers, lecturers, PGCE students and those undertaking initial teacher training, and is suitable for those engaging in M Level study.


Language is a labyrinth of paths.
You approach from one side and know your way about;
you approach the same place from another side and no longer know
your way about

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

IN ORDER TO ENGAGE ACTIVELY and critically with the ideas in the introduction readers might find it useful to think about each question before reading the section that follows.


What do you think is the central aim of English teaching?

The central aim of English teaching is at one level very straightforward and uncontroversial. At its simplest, the purpose of English as a subject is ‘to develop pupils’ abilities to use language effectively’. However, below the surface of that apparently incontestable and transparent statement lie all sorts of conflicting opinions, ideologies, methodologies and philosophies. What precisely is meant by the various terms within the statement? For example, it is only relatively recently that English has included speaking and listening as an important aspect of what counts as ‘using language’. The inclusion of reading has been less controversial but there has been no similar agreement over what should be read, or indeed what exactly is involved in the process of reading. Presumably the idea of ‘responding to language’ is implicit in the word ‘use’. Does ‘using language effectively’ mean using language ‘accurately’ or should the emphasis be on ‘appropriateness’ to specific purposes and contexts? In order to use language effectively how much knowledge about language is necessary and what form should it take? To what degree does explicit knowledge about language improve its actual use? The word ‘develop’ as opposed to ‘teach’ does not make clear what the primary role of the teacher should be . . .

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