Review written by Thomas Simon
‘Lessons From ‘Nothing’ by Bruce Marsland is an extremely practical book from the stable of Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. In this high tech day & age it is refreshing to come across a book that describes itself as a ‘sourcebook of ELT exercises & activities which do not require extensive resources or facilities’. The book is designed with the 'limited-resource situation' in mind but all can apply to normal teaching situations. Don't you get tired of photocopying stuff & seeing students bogged down with copies that they'll never look at again?
It is comforting to go into a lesson with material but a material-less activity can be more interesting & exploit the classroom situation & the learners in it. With this learner-centred philosophy in mind 'Lessons From Nothing' provides a wide range of activities.
The book is divided into the following sections:
Activities using no resources
Activities using pens & paper only
Activities using blackboard, pens & paper
Activities using other resources
And each activity begins with the language to be practiced, the level & age, followed by the procedure, rationale & any variations on the procedure. All very clear & easy to follow.
There are quite a lot of straightforward traditional games & activities ranging from mime activities ‘I Spy’, ’20 Questions’ to ‘Doodle’ (guessing the doodle representation to practise modals). Drama plays a role throughout as an easy to set up imaginative way of providing speaking practice.
This is a very practical book that shows teachers just starting out, as well as a reminder for the more experienced teacher, that a little imagination can go a long way. 'Lessons From Nothing' is highly recommended for initial training courses.