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Reviews in brief - March

WORK ON YOUR GRAMMAR, Intermediate B1, Collins;
ISBN: 978-0-0074-9962-5

Intermediate students often wish to improve their grammar. This 128-page practice book, part of a series, could certainly help. It aims to provide simple grammatical explanation; for example, the term ‘-ing form’ is used instead of ‘gerund’. Each of the thirty units explains an area of grammar typical of this level, such as conditional forms. The book contains over 200 exercises, typically gap-filling, matching and multiple choice activities; answers are provided.

I found the explanations generally clear, and the practice exercises appropriately challenging. The writers use the 4.5-billion-word Collins Corpus among other sources. Designed for users aged 14+. Worth investigation.

INSIGHT, Upper-Intermediate Student’s Book, Jayne Wildman with
Fiona Beddall, OUP; ISBN: 978-0-1940-1109-9

Insight aims to challenge students with ‘thought-provoking’ and inspirational topics. It succeeds well. Ten units contain information-rich texts on a diverse range of topics including genetic engineering in the sci-fi film Gattaca, free speech, cloning and the poet Robert Frost. One rather shocking photograph of ‘edible’ insects in food should help generate discussion. The vocabulary covered is appropriate for this level, including words like ‘obsolete’ and ‘exorbitant’. I especially like the extracts from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary which form part of the dictionary skills training sections. The Intermediate level of this general English course was reviewed here in 2014.