N is for New edition

16 04 2017

New A-Z of ELT

I started this blog not long after the publication of An A to Z of ELT, with the express purpose of gathering feedback, amendments, corrections and additions for a possible second edition (and as a not-so-subtle way of putting pressure on my publishers to produce such an edition). I’m pleased to say that, just over 10 years down the line, including several periods of concentrated blogging, the second edition is now out – called The New A –Z of ELT. Outwardly resembling the first edition, but running to a hefty 320+ pages, compared to the first edition’s 256, the new edition is – in the words of soap powder marketing – 30% new and improved!

So, what’s different?

First of all there are many new entries, reflecting developments in linguistic theory, language education and, especially, technology over the decade since the first edition appeared. Many of these topics were dealt with in blog posts, especially those – such as othering, imitation, rapport, and coursebook – that attracted a lot of hits; some of them are old topics re-labelled (such as English as an international language, now subsumed under English as a lingua franca, rather than the other way round, and homework re-labelled as self-study). Some topics were just unaccountably missing, even from the index, of the first edition, like language, teacher knowledge, creativity and research. Still others reflect my recent interest in embodied cognition and dynamic systems theories, e.g. gesture, emergence, cognitive grammar and alignment.  And, of course, on-going technological developments prompted entries on adaptive learning, gamification, the flipped classroom, blended learning, mobile learning, and webinar, as well as revisions of entries on computer-assisted language learning, and computer-mediated communication, and a whole new entry simply called educational technology.30%

Other topics that are extensively revised in the light of my own reading and thinking, as well as feedback on the blog, are accuracy, fluency, bilingualism, method, communicative activities, and syllabus. Many of the entries dealing with phonology have been expanded to include more reference to American English (reflecting my own professional relocation).

Some former entries, such as ARC and self-access centre, were deleted from the new edition, on the grounds that they had reached their sell-by date.  By contrast, Demand high and reading aloud are allowed in.

One significant theme that emerged in the re-write was the steady seepage of the language of neoliberalism into the discourse of language teaching: witness outcomes, competencies, life skills, and benchmarking. My discomfort at this development is only thinly disguised. Witness:

Because ‘outcomes’ is a term borrowed from the world of business, it has negative associations for many educationalists, since it conjures up images of the school as a kind of factory, producing undifferentiated learners to order. On the other hand, it satisfies the perception by many stakeholders that educational institutions should be accountable, and meet externally imposed standards.

So, why blog again? For similar reasons as first time round: to encourage the same kind of rich and diverse conversation that informed the writing of the 2nd edition – with a view to a possible 3rd edition – who knows?  And, of course, for shameless self-promotion. (An overtly promotional talk I gave at the IATEFL conference two weeks ago was criticized in some quarters for being – erm – too promotional. As if writers weren’t allowed to promote their own books.)

As in the past, new posts will appear every Sunday morning (European time). All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my publisher. Comments are moderated, so mind your language. I don’t make money from this site: in fact, I pay WordPress to keep the blog ad-free. As recompense, you could, of course, buy the book – available in both print and e-book versions at the end of the month.




32 responses

16 04 2017

Wish you all the best Scott! My invitation still holds

16 04 2017

Brilliant that you’re back. Hooray!

16 04 2017

This has just made my Sunday morning all the more better, Scott. And what perfect timing before my DELTA examination this June. Do keep up the hard work/shameless self-promotion!

16 04 2017
Caroline Bonelle

Oh what a happy Easter 🙂
Sunday morning reading finally restored…thank u!!

16 04 2017
Jo Gakonga

I can only agree with Caroline above – my Sunday mornings have really missed your food-for-thought blog posts. Thanks so much for committing (again) to what I know must be a lot of work – it’s really appreciated.

16 04 2017
Steven Herder

Yes! Your posts usually arrive mid-afternoon on Sundays here in Osaka, when if at home, I’m dying for a break from never-ending school work.

One of your many fans in Japan,


16 04 2017
Kyle Dugan

Welcome back, Scott. I have to say that in my first time at IATEFL this year the overt promotional talks weren’t such a problem – to me it was absolutely clear what you and Michael Swan were there to do. But talks like Steve Brown described in his blog post “Whose conference is this?” that transformed from covert to aggressively promotional were a different beast entirely and a bit of a shock to this (perhaps naive) conference goer. Looking forward to reading more from you.

16 04 2017
Martin Sketchley

Glad to see that you are still blogging here Scott and looking forward to seeing your regular updates each Sunday. I also congratulate you on the publication of the “The New A-Z of ELT”. Is there a possible eBook version in the near future?

16 04 2017

Delighted you are back here. I had ordered the new edition before I was just alerted by an email that Scott on Sunday was back. Great to have chatted with you in Glasgow. Happy Easter!

16 04 2017
Emma Lay

Brilliant! Great to see a 2nd e.d and hopefully a 3rd! A great resource and really pleased to see a book that is a regularly updated compendium of ELT that shows how our field is evolving. Congratulations!

Emma Lay

Sent from my iPhone

16 04 2017
Mark Kulek

Welcome back

16 04 2017
Gordon Dobie

Thanks, Scott.
More power to your elbow!

16 04 2017
Marianne Jordan

…and K is for Ka Pai! Ordering my copy…N for Now! Best wishes for it, thanks, Marianne Jordan, Dublin Ireland.

16 04 2017

Thank you very much for coming back with your thought-provoking posts.

16 04 2017

Congratulations in the new edition of your book! Looking forward to getting and using it! The first one has been one of my favourites, and I’m sure that this new edition will be too.

Congratulations once again!

16 04 2017

So glad to see this new post alert in my inbox – I discovered your blog last year and was really lamenting the fact that I’d found it too late and missed out on all the discussions – so it’s fantastic that you’re updating it again!

16 04 2017

Clearly labeled Publisher’s/Book Presentations add to conferences. Writers and publishers have to eat. And a good resource helps ME eat too. I just don’t like being lured in and tricked. After your overt acknowledged self promotion and the enthusiastic endorsements – I’m buying the book.
Droll – Restaurant billboard: Under New Management. Great Improvement.

16 04 2017
Peter Ratcliffe

Congratulations, Scott! You continue to be the most trusted guide to the complex, fascinating, dynamic world of ELT.

16 04 2017
Nicolás Dantaz

What a perfect Easter present Scott. It’s lovely to start getting your new posts every Sunday. I was there for both your and Michaels’s presentations. We all knew they were commercial and that’s why we went to. I personally wanted to see what’s in the new version and, to me, after the presentation, A stands for Anxious to get my own copy and start reading it as well as U stands for Uruguay is still waiting for you :). Welcome back Scott!!!

16 04 2017

OK. I throw my hands up – again. My criticism of your IATEFL talk being promotional was absolutely unfair.

I’m delighted to see your blog is back again. Sunday mornings are enriched, I look forward to joining in the lively discussions that always follow your posts. As Nicolás says: Welcome back.

16 04 2017

Dear Scott,
This is fantastic news! I really look forward to reading the 2nd Edition of your fabulous book and also to reading your blog posts every week.
I don’t see a problem with authors promoting their work. Keep it up!

17 04 2017
Higor Cavalcante

Welcome back, Scott. I’ve just gotten my new edition of About Language and I was thrilled to find out there’s a new A-Z now. A happy Easter indeed!

Looking forward to seeing you Brazil! Perhaps during the BRAZ-TESOL International Conference next year? Consider this an invitation!


17 04 2017
Sulabha Sidhaye

Congratulations for the new edition ! Glad to get the opportunity to read and discuss various ELT related points with teachers worldwide through your blog. Best wishes for the future version from Sulabha Sidhaye (India)

17 04 2017
Scott Thornbury

Thanks for all the welcoming comments. It’s good to be back! Who said blogging was dead!?
In answer to some tweeted enquiries, the link to the publisher’s site for The New A-Z of ELT will be refreshed once copies become available for sale – some time toward the end of May.

17 04 2017
James Chamberlain

At last! My real education can resume.

Thanks, and welcome back, Scott – we’ve been waiting for you!


17 04 2017
M Amin Gental

Thank you!

19 04 2017
Nick Patrick Cooper

I am happy to hear you are back at it. I thoroughly have enjoyed the blog and was saddened that you had stopped blogging. So much so that I bought the second edition. The completionist that I am, I am forced the buy the third. Thank you. You are appreciated.

19 04 2017
Scott C

As the famous Bill S Preston Esquire once said, “Excellent!”

20 04 2017

My congratulations!
I’m glad that you are back. I learnt a lot from the previous edition. What I found very appealing is that the topics were elaborated on with a critical eye and followed up by critical comments.

11 08 2017

I suggest that a new topic “professionalism in ELT” be discussed and included in the new edition.
All the best

23 09 2017
Jeff Buck

Hi, Scott. I can’t seem to find the e-book version of The New A-Z of ELT. The only books of yours that I’ve been able to buy in e-book format are Big Questions in ELT and Teaching Unplugged. Both are great! I’m sticking with buying only e-books for now, with few exceptions, until I am more permanently situated. I was happy to find How to Teach Grammar at the library at my university here in Busan. Thanks your blog and books. I look forward to buying more of them.

24 09 2017
Scott Thornbury

Hi Jeff… I’m not sure what’s happened to the e-book version: as far as I know it has been formatted but is still not 100% ready for publication. I’ll check.

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