It pays to ask people to comment about your writing. You learn a lot.

I have recently asked a number of different people to review my book ‘Teaching Language Learners’. The responses are so varied, that is is amazing that they are all talking about the same book. This latest review is by Jane Cronin, well-known teacher of Spanish in Torrevieja, Spain.

I have included the whole review and my response to the bit she did not like. What do you think?


Rosemary Westwell’s book “Teaching Language Learners” covers territory familiar to language teachers in an original way.  The main focus of the book is the need to adapt teaching methods to the individual needs of language learners, a concept which Rosemary has developed through her own experiences of learning Spanish.  The book focuses on the actual process of acquisition, recognizing that it is our “internal thinking” and personal ideas and points of view which must be addressed for learning to take place.


Given the obvious premise that no teacher can be familiar with the individual thought processes of all their students, Rosemary gives a number of pointers to help teachers become aware of the issue and to help learners to recognize their own learning patterns.  One of her key concepts is the focus on internal “needs” rather than external “goals” of language acquisition.  There is also a recognition that unconscious processes run alongside conscious processes, facilitating acquisition in unexpected ways outside the classroom environment.


“Teaching Language Learners” also contains a range of interesting and useful summaries and resources. There are lists of “false friends”, learning strategies, language teaching methods, summaries of grammar rules and definitions, spelling rules and topics for debate.  Each list stands on its own as a generic resource for both learning and teaching contexts.


The weakest point of the book for me are the examples of Rosemary’s own learning strategies using picture memory techniques, clearly because by their very nature they are individual, and as such do not coincide with methods useful to me in my learning.  Having said that, these personal examples abundantly illustrate the fact that when traditional methods fail we should not be afraid to look to our own internal thinking processes to advance our language learning.

Jane Cronin



I am interested to learn that you do not find using pictures/images useful – Maybe you are one of these lucky ‘natural’ language learners who find learning languages easy…?

I have found using picturing/imagery very useful for me and for others – when teaching EFL and English on a number of different occasions and with different students. I plan this to be my next area of ‘study’. When I was studying for the MA in TESOL, our tutor demonstrated the ‘Linkword’ technique developed by Michael Gruneberg and the group of us was amazed at the speed with which we learned new words. However, for me, although this technique works well – I do not remember the words long-term. I need to practise recalling the words several times at different intervals.

Rosemary Westwell


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2 Responses to “It pays to ask people to comment about your writing. You learn a lot.”

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