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Reviews - July 2016

Reviews - July 2016

Grammar Practice Intermediate

Herbert Puchta, Jeff Stranks and Peter Lewis-Jones, Helbling Languages;


This 88-page B1-level book for teen students takes a ‘fun’ approach to grammar, urging users to take regular grammar ‘workouts’. The full-colour drawings are gently humorous and help contextualise the language. The grammar points covered include phrasal verbs, time clauses, the third conditional and reported speech. Students can choose to study with the book or excellent CD-Rom, which contains animated cartoons featuring a mascot, Professor Grammar. Both contain clear grammar explanations, although I prefer to call ‘going to’ a future form rather than a future tense. The light-hearted approach should suit the target users. Enjoyable! 

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Book of the month - June 2016

ETpedia™ 500 Ideas For Business English Teachers

Picture book



This 174-page A4 wire-bound resource book is packed with tips, ideas and activities. Firstly, it clarifies ‘What is Business English?’, then looks at planning courses. It provides activities for topic areas like sales, culture, technology and management. Finally, it covers business communication skills (presentations, negotiations) and language skills (grammar, vocabulary and business writing). The ideas vary in length from short tips to longer activities or lists of expressions. The ‘10 ways to use frameworks’ unit is especially useful, providing diagrams which help students organise their thoughts. An excellent appendix contains a sample needs analysis form, a ‘collocation pelmanism’ activity, and a set of colour business cards for role plays. This is exactly the one-stop resource book I would have liked when I started teaching business English.

Book of the month - May 2016

Empower B1+ Intermediate

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Adrian Doff, Craig Thaine, Herbert Puchta, Jeff Stranks, Peter Lewis-Jones

Cambridge University Press


This new general English course for adult and young adult learners combines content from the publisher with tests from Cambridge English Language Assessment. The syllabus is informed by the English Vocabulary Profile, which provides information about the language that learners can be expected to demonstrate at each CEFR level. The useful ‘Wordpower’ boxes draw on such information, and cover areas such as phrasal verbs and easily confused words. There are ten units, each starting with an eye-catching full-page photograph, designed to generate curiosity. The topics covered are engaging and range from familiar areas, such as environmental issues and culture, to other engaging themes including personality and film-making. This well-structured course is stimulating and well-designed. Empower is a modern course book which is definitely worth investigating. 

Reviews - June 2016

Penny Ur’s 100 Teaching Tips


The author’s intention in this slim 120-page volume is to pass on many of her experience-based insights, saving teachers having to re-invent the wheel. She succeeds. Each tip is given a complete page, and the book covers nineteen areas – including error correction, discipline, games, pronunciation and testing. The inclusion of academic references provides weight to the advice, allowing further exploration. I like the catchy counter-intuitive approach of some tips (‘Don’t give homework at the end,’ ‘Don’t always pre-teach vocabulary’). There are sound ideas for integrating technology where appropriate, such as using SMS texting. A wealth of experience, presented clearly and concisely. 

Gateway B1

David Spencer, Macmillan;


This general English course is for students working towards school-leaving exams, and appropriately includes an extensive focus on study skills. Gateway contains ten units, plus regular review pages. The topics are generally stimulating and engaging; for example, learning to speak Klingon, translations of the Harry Potter novels and making silicon chips. I like the use of the Macmillan star system to show the frequency of vocabulary in the wordlists. The CLICK strand provides input in cross-curricular areas, culture and literature. The coursebook comes with extensive digital support. It is full of interesting content, and should appeal to the target learners. Recommended.

Book of the month - April 2016

Get ready for IELTS, Pre-Intermediate to Intermediate Student’s Book

Fiona Aish, Jane Short, Rhona Snelling, Jo Tomlinson and Els Van Geyte, Collins;


This new exam preparation course takes a ‘flipped learning’ approach, which means students receive language input before their face-to-face class. This pre-class preparation can be done online or using the excellent 112-page workbook. Class time is then spent developing language skills and exam strategies. The teacher’s book is essential, providing spot checks to clarify students’ understanding of language points, and extension activities. Each of the twelve units finishes with exam practice tasks, which can be done for homework. The book is full of useful exam tips. I think teachers will need to spend some time getting familiar with the self-study content. The innovative flipped approach is ideal for an exam preparation course; this suite of material for Ielts 3.5 candidates currently at A2+ is worth investigation.

Reviews in brief


2nd Edition Advanced Tim Falla, Paul A Davies


This is the second edition of the advanced level of a five level English course for teenagers. One highlight is the new literature and cultural section, which is both serious-minded and challenging, and contains poems from Sylvia Plath and Wilfred Owen. The comprehension exercises accompanying the extract from ‘Lord of the Flies’ are quite demanding. The vocabulary input is appropriate for high-level learners; in one useful awareness-raising task, students scan an extract from the Oxford Collocations Dictionary. I especially like the unit on the origins of English. The course includes an extensive online component and iTools for in-class projection. Recommended.

TED Talks Keynote

Upper Intermediate

Helen Stephenson, Lewis Lansford and Paul Dummett

National Geographic Learning / Cengage Learning


This is the Upper Intermediate level of Keynote. Like the Intermediate level, recently reviewed (EL Gazette, December 2015), the course is built around selected TED talks. These presentations are well-known to be passionate, persuasive and inspiring. The twelve units here include talks on population growth, work-life balance and five ways to improve listening. The talks are edited, distinguishing them from the purely authentic material found on the TED website. The author team have again crafted a solid set of learner support material focused on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and importantly, presentation skills. The full-colour infographics remain a highlight. A winning formula.

Pathways to Literature

Pathways to Literature

Virginia Evans and Jenny Dooley, Express Publishing;


This book is probably most suitable for teachers already knowledgeable about literature. The three parts focus on poetry, prose and plays from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, and cover well-known works by Shakespeare, Dickens and Byron. The introduction is excellent, providing much-needed input on literary terms like simile, hyperbole and alliteration. There are opportunities to listen to and read extracts at the same time. The book is lavishly illustrated. Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses’ is highly challenging; nevertheless, the accompanying exercises help students’ comprehension. This innovative 232-page book should be useful in helping students analyse and appreciate the selected works.