From Grace Willson

Grace Willson works at Polytech, Grenoble.

A few years I had the opportunity to work with Marianne Raynaud at INPG (a technological university in Grenoble, France), so I was delighted to receive her book entitled QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book. It is truly an innovative piece of work. As it is “digital” you read it on a computer. When Marianne mentions an exercise or activity you just click on the hyperlink, and the file you want opens up on your screen. You can also search easily for the information you need. The digital “Document Annex” includes a catalogue of more than 1,500 ready-to-use documents. Listening comprehension exercises are MP3 files for use in the classroom, in labs or on iPods. All text documents are in A4 format and may be freely photocopied for use in the classroom. Many of them are in MS WORD and thus can be “customized” to suit the needs of each institution. Samples of written work and PowerPoint presentations by students as well as excerpts of films written, directed, and produced by Ms. Raynaud’s students should motivate students around the world to carry out similar projects to be presented in their respective English classes.

Although some of the exercises are designed for science students at universities where English is compulsory, most of the materials are appropriate for all students sixteen and over, who have done three years of English. The materials can be used with any level from pre-intermediate to advanced and are particularly useful in classes of heterogeneous levels. The content is varied and above all timeless. Furthermore, the emphasis is on “global English”, which makes it interesting for teachers in a variety of settings around the world. In short, this book will help teachers design their own very effective ESL course.

Marianne worked for twenty-four years at INPG (Institut National Polytechnique in Grenoble, France) teaching at three different engineering schools. Her intensive English course at CPPG became very well known. The reasons were simple. Firstly, after having completed her two-year course all of her students scored over 750 on the international exam TOEIC, and many scored over 850 and even 900. The TOEIC is used in most engineering schools in France as a prerequisite for graduating and obtaining a degree. Secondly, the students themselves would speak enthusiastically of the progress they had made in just a short period. Thirdly, the ambiance in her classes and in ours as well, when we adapted her methods, was wonderful—students very seldom reverted to their native language in class and were often laughing together in English!

Marianne’s “Intensive English Language Program” was famous, because it was a course where students had individual sessions with their teachers, where the emphasis was on speaking skills, and where most of the class time was devoted to techniques enhancing oral participation. Finally, it was well known, because the students became truly operational in English after just two years. The key, Marianne says, is to use exercises that optimize class participation, to customize your teaching to suit the needs of the students, and to have your students generate their own materials—and all this without having to spend hours preparing.

QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book is written as a series of interviews with the author, who is about to retire and wishes to pass on her expertise on ESL teaching. The conversations are with a new “virtual” member of her team, who asks all the usual pertinent questions teachers try to find answers to such as motivation, guidance, discipline, or evaluation. Marianne talks of her teaching philosophy and the techniques she has invented or developed over the years—core curriculum, tutorials, personalized interviews, professional presentations, teamwork, effective testing, intensive pair work, inter-activity, computerized review sheets and much more.
I have used this digital resource book both as a source of teaching materials and as inspiration to implement methods that truly make students gain fluency in spoken English. What is unique about this book is the way it helps teachers put together their own personalized courses. Marianne Raynaud has also edited a film she made herself with her students over a school year. In this very stimulating film entitled Scenes from an ESL Classroom teachers can actually see how students go about doing the exercises that Marianne elaborated.

Marianne spoke at TESOL’s 41st Convention in Seattle on Student Films as a Memorable Linguistic Experience. She conducts workshops regularly for TESOL France and TESOL Spain. She is the coordinator of TESOL France Grenoble.

I have learned a great deal from working with such an inspiring teacher, and I am happy to have all these examples of her work to use in my classes.

Grace Willson, tenured English professor at Polytech, UJF in Grenoble, France.

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