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Reviews - December 2016

Unlock – Reading and writing skills 3g
Carolyn Westbrook, CUP / Discovery Education;

This new English for academic purposes course book draws on corpus research, using the Cambridge English Corpus to identify which academic vocabulary to cover at B1 level. Each of the ten units starts with a stimulating picture and a set of questions to engage learners, and includes a thought-provoking video from Discovery Education.

The reading tasks are based on a variety of text types and lead logically into each final writing task. The topics are stimulating and include robots, history, economics, fast fashion and the brain. One highlight is the critical thinking strand, providing practice in analysis and evaluation. Impressive.

Gateway – Build up to B1(second edition)
David Spencer, Macmillan;

This slim 72-page general English book is aimed at A2 learners, with a useful ‘starter’ unit. The ten units cover grammar, vocabulary and the four language skills, although the writing tasks are quite short. There is an attempt to include critical-thinking activities, which is challenging at this low level. The book has a lively, busy feel which is appropriate for teenage students. The texts on ‘tourist graffiti’ and ‘women inventors’ are especially interesting. The word lists usefully include the phonetic script of the key vocabulary; users will need to supplement the course with extra work on pronunciation. Worth investigation.