Scott Thornbury

Scott Thornbury

A qualified English teacher always seeks ways to develop professionally, find new methods and approaches and not to fall behind the time. In this respect, teacher educators are of great use. They facilitate the learning of student teachers and teachers, develop new materials, provide teacher training, etc. When speaking about educators one cannot but mention the name of Scott Thornbury. Who is he, what are his most famous books and why English teachers should know him? The answers to all these questions you will find in this article.

Who is Scott Thornbury?

Born in 1950 in New Zealand, Scott Thornbury is an internationally recognized English teacher trainer. He has over 30 years’ experience in English language teaching in Egypt, the UK, Spain and in New Zealand. He started his ELT career in IH London in 1975. His writing credits include several award-winning books for teachers on language and methodology. He is a series editor for the Cambridge Handbooks for Teachers (CUP). He was also the co-founder of the Dogme ELT group. Now Thornbury is an associate of the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi), an online campus dedicated to teacher development. He also writes for many blogs such as Deltapublishing, and including his own: and

Here is a list of must-read books:

An A-Z of ELT

This book contains an alphabetical list of ELT terms and concepts covering grammar, lexis, phonology, discourse, methodology, theory and practice. Each entry is categorised, described and explained in terms of its importance and relevance to ELT. Each definition is authoritative, clear and concise, and cross-referenced where relevant.

How to Teach Vocabulary

The main aim of the book is not only to introduce the theoretical background of teaching English vocabulary but also to suggest tips and ideas on how to bring it into the classroom. In the book, you will find practical parts, such as how words are learned, how to present vocabulary, how to test vocabulary, etc.

How to Teach Speaking

It is sometimes said that knowing and speaking the language are synonymous. However, learning grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and being able to make grammatically correct sentences doesn’t yet mean you can speak the language. Since speaking requires interaction, fluency, and co-operation, it goes far beyond just learning some rules. Speaking is a skill and must be developed and practised independently of the grammar curriculum. Apart from the theoretical introduction, in this book, you will also find awareness-raising and appropriation activities, examples of presentations, talks, dialogues, etc.

How to teach Grammar

This book presents different techniques for teaching grammar including inductive and deductive approaches, covers practising, testing, error correction and how to integrate grammar with various methodologies such as communicative language teaching and task-based learning. You can also find sample lessons with a range of teaching approaches and grammar items in context.

About Language: Tasks For Teachers Of English

The book will introduce you to the study of language, terminology, methods, and theories – everything you need to know about English in order to teach it. The book consists of 28 units, each containing around ten tasks. Throughout the book, the language is illustrated wherever possible from authentic sources, so that the teacher can be sure that the English being studied represents current usage. This book will heighten your awareness of the language and your ability to be a better language teacher, no matter which language you teach.

30 Language Teaching Methods

Those teachers who are interested in different methods and their history will definitely enjoy this book. It introduces 30 teaching methods according to what they have in common, irrespective of the time. The book also includes some old and forgotten methods. Thornbury speaks about how to use these old methods by experimenting with them.

Teaching Grammar Creatively

Do your students get bored of grammar lessons and activities? Are you looking for new ways to teach Grammar? Here the author offers various lessons and activities for everyday use in your ESL classroom. The book is aimed at motivating English learners to use their imagination and creativity in their classes. There are 53 grammar lessons in the book which provide lots of practice and a deeper acquaintance with these grammar items.

Natural Grammar

The main feature of the book is that it is about grammar but it is organized around words. It is explained by the fact that words have grammar. When you use a word, you are obliged to choose from the particular grammar pattern. Each section is accompanied by exercises that explore the grammar and collocations of each word.

Videos and Conferences

Scott Thornbury has taken part in many international conferences dedicated to language teaching. Each of them plays a crucial role in teacher training. You can find recorded workshops on Youtube. We would like to mention one of his latest talks at the Better Learning Conference, where he discusses what he believes constitutes a ‘good teaching method’.

Hopefully, the books introduced in the article will help you to conduct even more effective lessons and to find the technique that suits your classroom best.

What activities do your kids find most interesting?

Вероника Аветисян

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