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Reviews

Learn English A–Z Elementary Level, Meet the British!

Katie Barron, Liberal Publications, Cambridge English;

978-0-9931-4683-1

The contents of this slim 106-page volume are laid out in an original A–Z format. Each of the 26 units looks at an essential language item, such as the verb ‘to be’, ‘can’ and question forms. There are regular opportunities to self-test. The book provides useful phrases and a simple guide to basic grammar, pronunciation and spelling. It is designed to be used alone, with a ‘small dictionary’ and a pen; students are encouraged to read sentences aloud. The hand-drawn illustrations in a range of styles add interest and variety. A deliberately simplified, quirky alternative to the traditional beginners’ book. 

Book of month - March 2016

Work on your Vocabulary, Intermediate B1

Collins;

978-0-0074-9964-9

image 40064

This 128-page vocabulary practice book is part of a five-level series, and contains over 100 exercises. Each of the thirty units provides explanations and definitions of the target words, which have been selected specifically for B1 level and are grouped into themes such as People, Feelings, Education and Communication. The strength of the book is that it is based on the 4.5-billion-word Collins Corpus. The short introduction is informative, and includes some good study tips for students. There is helpful input on prefixes and suffixes, metaphorical language and collocations. The illustrations, often simple line-drawings, add variety. I would have liked the inclusion of word frequency data, which could be interesting for users. Although the book can be used in class, it is probably best for self-study.

Book of the month - February 2016

Eyes Open 3

Feb book

978-1-1074-6764-4

This new general English coursebook for B1-level teenagers includes a series of high-interest videos provided by Discovery Education. These videos are informative, providing cultural knowledge on areas such as ancient Mayan calendars, Australia and the explorer Magellan. The topics ‘Extreme Living’ and ‘Adventure’ should appeal to the target users. Each of the eight units starts with an eye-catching photograph, accompanied by an invitation to ‘Be curious’ and several questions to engage students’ interest. The authors’ intention is to make learning a meaningful experience. The additional Clil strand is excellent, with useful input on renewable energy, geography and perspectives in art. There are useful grammar and vocabulary banks at the back of the book. This visually stimulating coursebook is full of rich content.  

Reviews - March 2016

Grammar and Vocabulary for First and First for Schools

Barbara Thomas, Louise Hashemi and Laura Matthews, Cambridge English;

978-1-1074-8106-0

This 255-page book covers the grammar and vocabulary for two Cambridge FCE exams. It is divided into two sections: grammar and vocabulary. The grammar section contains 24 units. Each item is presented in context through audio recordings, conveniently available online, followed by grammatical explanations and practice exercises. The twenty vocabulary units are theme-based, and the book draws on the Cambridge English Corpus. The ‘error warnings’, drawn from the Cambridge Learner Corpus, are useful. There is a concise summary of the exams, and plenty of exam practice exercises. I love the two-page spread on learning and revising vocabulary. Impressive and thorough.

 

Business Result, Upper Intermediate

Michael Duckworth and Rebecca Turner, OUP;

978-0-1947-3940-5

Business Result first appeared in 2008 and now includes an interactive workbook and video material on DVD-Rom. The video clips include dramatised business scenarios, documentaries and interviews with real working people; they provide useful and interesting content. There are sixteen units. The one-page case studies are short and straightforward, and include input from the Cranfield School of Management through ‘Expert View’ sections which add authority to the course. The material can be done in a streamlined way by following a ‘fast-track’ option. Each page has a crisp, smart design. I especially like the units on decision-making, culture and appraisals. Recommended.

Book of the month - January 2016

Teaching children how to learn

Gail Ellis and Nayr Ibrahim, Delta Publishing;

978-1-9050-5886-6

image 44611

The latest book in the Delta Teacher Development series has a specific focus: learner training for children. It is based on a ‘plan – do – review’ cycle. Part A discusses the theory behind ‘learning to learn’ and is of relevance to all language teachers. It introduces Wilbur the Worm, an appealing mascot figure designed to stimulate children’s imagination which can be used as a teaching aid. Part B contains practical ideas like making a vocabulary diary. Part C encourages personal reflection. I love the Toolkit, a bank of ready-to-use teaching material in reduced format – full-size pdfs are downloadable from the web. The book contains advice on developing storytelling skills and how to encourage home involvement. The authors draw on their considerable experience in this area. Recommended.

Reviews - February 2016

A Practical Introduction to Teacher Training in ELT

John Hughes, Pavilion;

978-1-9103-6699-8

This highly practical 168-page book introduces language teachers to the world of teacher training. The six chapters cover training techniques, monitoring teaching practice, lesson observation and managing training programmes. One innovative aspect of the book is the focus on online training, such as delivering webinars. I like the ‘graph observation form’ which provides a visual snapshot of a lesson. ‘Terminology pelmanism’ is a useful game-like activity; cards are supplied. The prose is clear; the tone is friendly and personable. This handbook fulfils the aim outlined in the title and is most suitable for those new to this area. Worth investigation.

 

Navigate, Elementary A2

Paul Dummett, Jake Hughes and Katie Wood, OUP;

978-0-1945-6637-7

The A2 level of this new flagship coursebook consists of twelve units. The vocabulary syllabus is based on the Oxford 3000, a list of frequent and relevant words. Like the other books in this general English series, the approach to teaching the four language skills is based partly on recent academic research. The texts are suitably short and often intrinsically interesting; ‘Geo-caching’ – using an app to locate hidden treasure – is a fascinating topic. The digital support material includes online exercises, an ebook version and a ground-breaking app which recycles vocabulary. The book has a fresh, modern design. Recommended.

Reviews - January 2016

Become an Online English Teacher

Nestor Kiourtzidis, Pavilion;

978-1-9103-6677-6

This slim 124-page guide is aimed at language teachers interested in the growing phenomenon of teaching online. Chapter one looks at Skype and various tools like Google Docs. It describes how to record online classes and share documents. I found the book helpful on the business side, dealing with the practicalities of setting up and marketing online courses. It provides tips on finding students, building a blog and, importantly, processing online payments. Chapter seven contains teaching ideas and includes links to online materials like Expemo, a flashcard app. Users will need to supplement this book to get further teaching ideas.

 

Merlin

Janet Hardy-Gould, OUP;

978-0-1942-4974-4

Merlin is a 34-page graded reader. The level is ‘quick starter’, aimed at A1 students; it uses 250 headwords. The intriguing story concerns a young wizard, Merlin, who through drinking a magic potion can change into different animals. The book incorporates some tricky words, like kingdom, enchantress, potion and cauldron, and manages to remain accessible for the target readers by providing simplified definitions. I especially like the imaginative, stylish illustrations, and the language exercises at the back are useful. The accompanying MultiROM includes a dramatised reading of the story. A new Gamebook version on the web includes fun vocabulary games. Engaging.