TEFL.net : TEFL Book Reviews

TEFL Book Reviews

Reviews of books (and occasionally other resources such as software and games) of special interest to English teachers, edited by Alex Case.

Review ~ Testbuilder for TOEFL iBT
Reviewed Oct 2011 by Clare Welch | Filed under Exam Materials
Testbuilder for TOEFL iBT

Testbuilder for TOEFL iBT

Exams are challenging to prepare students for, and as there are not an unlimited number of practice tests out there this book is a useful addition to a TEFL resource library. I was excited by the idea of reviewing this new “testbuilder” with its promised “tests which teach” and was keen to see whether it lived up to its claim.

The book offers two full length practice exams along with an answer key. Unlike a traditional answer key, it explains the reasoning behind the correct answers, as well as detailing the type of question each one is: vocabulary, gist, fact, inference, and so on. For the reading and listening parts of the test this information about why an answer is correct is just what a student needs!

After doing this so well, the book then falls down. For the speaking and writing test components, although sample responses are offered, there is no indication as to whether these are good or appropriate responses, what kind of mark they’d have achieved in the exam, what could have been improved, or any guidance for the student as to what a good response would be like. I was disappointed by this.
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Review ~ Macmillan Children’s Readers
Reviewed Jul 2011 by Clare Welch | Filed under Young Learners
Macmillan Children’s Readers

Macmillan Children’s Readers

These readers are described as being for ages 6-12, from Beginner to Pre-Intermediate level and I reviewed 6 readers from levels 1-4.

First flicking through these readers I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of pictures and details which had gone into the books. They are beautifully illustrated and a wide range of kids will appreciate the stories and be drawn in.

What really adds to the stories are the activities at the back of the book, practising the language covered in the reader. Another excellent factor is the picture dictionary, also at the end of each book.

Levels 1 and 2 have a short simple story to work from. The two books I reviewed were Hide and Seek and The Fancy Dress Competition. These are fun topics which would open up a range of extension activities for the classroom, using the readers as a basis.
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Review ~ Penguin Graded Readers
Reviewed May 2011 by Janis Crolla | Filed under Skills: Reading
The Big Bag Mistake

The Big Bag Mistake

Each of the books in this collection has a very bright and colourful cover illustration or photo, including the classics, which was a welcome change to the old style classics sadly accumulating dust in my school. The photo of David Beckham on one of the books was particularly popular with some of my female students!

Some of my students were kind enough to read a few of the books and their comments have been included in my review. I also asked them to make an additional comment about the activities included.

The Big Bag Mistake by John Escott
Two young students Ricardo and Gisela are travelling from London to their homes in Rio de Janeiro and they meet on the plane. They have very different personalities and Ricardo´s attempts to chat to Gisela en route are not successful. When a thief steals Gisela´s bag, Ricardo and Gisela cross paths again.

Between Two Worlds by Stephen Rabley
Joanna is an Australian nurse living in Woomara. A very ill baby has to be taken to Sydney for treatment, but the mother is unable to leave behind her other children so Joanna offers to accompany the baby. After some time in the big city Joanna has to make an important decision.
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Review ~ ReCALL
Reviewed May 2011 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi | Filed under Teaching
ReCALL

ReCALL

The world of Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) is an area which is growing in momentum at a very quick pace. There are numerous books available to instruct EFL/ ESL teachers in the basics of CALL, but what may be of even greater assistance are journals, especially if you are interested in CALL itself and not just setting tasks for your students to do in word processing! If you are like me and relatively new to the wonders of CALL, then I advise you to look at as many research articles as you can and journals are a great place to find ideas. ReCALL (The Journal of EUROCALL [European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning]) is one of the most well-known and esteemed international CALL journals whose self-stated aim is to include “…the use of technologies for language learning and teaching, including all relevant aspects of research and development”. It is a refereed journal published by Cambridge and it is released three times a year in January, May and September, with the May issue containing papers from the EUROCALL conference.
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Review ~ My Grammar and I
Reviewed May 2011 by James Taylor | Filed under Grammar
My Grammar and I

My Grammar and I

When it comes to grammar, as far as I can see, there are three types of English teachers. There are those who don’t speak English as first language. These people have battled their way through the language’s quirks, and rules that have so many exceptions that you wonder why they are rules in the first place, until they have reached a point where, while perhaps not being entirely fluent in the language, they have a level of competence whereby they can teach English. The chances are that having studied the language so much themselves, they are able to deal with most of the grammatical queries that come their way.

The second group are the native teachers of a certain age (I’m far too polite a person to suggest what that age could be…), who were educated at a time when grammar was seen as a cornerstone of L1 learning. Maybe they even attended a Grammar school, which suggests that the subject was so highly thought of they even named the whole school after it. This group has the best of both worlds when it comes to grammar teaching, native levels of proficiency matched with an in-depth knowledge of the mechanics of the language.
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Review ~ Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language
Reviewed May 2011 by Tom Alder | Filed under Linguistics
Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language

Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language

For those who are not familiar with him, David Crystal is the “David Bellamy of linguistics”, a knowledgeable, animated and bearded figure, and an outspoken commentator on contemporary language matters. The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language is an ideal vehicle for his comprehensive knowledge. It is accessible, compelling and well organised, and deals with its topics with a depth that belies its glossy exterior and format. It is packed full of fascinating facts and is quite an inspiration to read, as well as being an ideal reference or revision tool.

In terms of its presentation and approach, this book resembles Crystal’s The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language. The Houston Chronicle, referring to that earlier work, commented that ‘you can’t turn a page without learning some fascinating titbit about our common tongue.’ I would make a similar claim for The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language. It seems that anything you want to look up is there in some form or other, and there is a wealth of new information and interest, making it a perfect book for idle browsing as well as serious study and reference.
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Review ~ Learning One-to-One
Reviewed Apr 2011 by Alison Susans | Filed under Teaching

When I heard that Cambridge was bringing out a new book in their Handbooks for Language Teachers series entitled Learning One-to-One I was keen to get my hands on a copy. The series is a favourite of mine and over the past few years I’ve found an increasing number of one-to-one lessons on my timetable. I prefer teaching groups as I find one-to-one teaching less dynamic and more tiring, so I was hoping that Ingrid Wisniewska’s book would give me some new ideas and stop one-to-one lessons being such a chore.
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Review ~ Raise the Issues
Reviewed Apr 2011 by Tom Alder | Filed under ESP Materials
Raise the Issues

Raise the Issues

Raise the Issues is subtitled ‘An Integrated Approach to Critical Thinking’. ‘Integrated’ means what it means in the TOEFL exam. Rather than being treated in isolation, the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are brought together, with students responding to spoken and written texts by speaking and writing themselves. Reading matter is drawn from American publications such as ‘The New York Times’ and audio recordings from the American ‘National Public Radio’ (NPR) syndicate, edited into pieces lasting approximately 3 minutes each. It is generally oriented towards classroom use, with many exercises involving group or pair work. There are ten units, each with a distinct ‘issue’ and they all follow a similar pattern. Topics include law, sports, education, immigration and genetics. There is an introductory section giving suggestions for usage, and a teacher’s book (although a copy was not available at the time of writing this review: I managed without it).

The first thing to say about Raise the Issues is that to get to most out of it, you will need the audio CD. There are some exercises that work without recourse to it, but there is so much cross referencing between text, audio and written exercises that you would be left with half a book or less. But this CD is expensive and hard to get hold of- mine had to be imported from the USA. If I were intending to use this book in a course, I would order the CD in good time before it started. It is a shame it is not included with the book.
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Review ~ Teaching English Grammar
Reviewed Apr 2011 by Saul Pope | Filed under Grammar
Teaching English Grammar

Teaching English Grammar

When offered the chance to review a book by Jim Scrivener, I jumped at it. When I first started in this industry Learning Teaching was my roadmap – he seemed to be able to explain fairly complex concepts very clearly, giving me the confidence to go out and teach and, perhaps most importantly, experiment. I can see Teaching English Grammar helping new teachers in exactly the same way with what is (for native speaker teachers at least) the hardest part of EFL teaching.

The book starts with a brief introduction in which the author sets out his aim to “save you time, energy and stress and help you to feel more confident, well-informed and one step ahead of your students”. There is then a brief section on key terminology, including useful potted guides on the use of timelines and finger contractions. This is a brief section mostly aimed at new teachers, but even an old-timer like myself found a useful tip – that teachers spend too long worrying about making lessons fun, when the real aim should be to make them engaging.
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Review ~ The Business English Teacher
Reviewed Apr 2011 by Jesús García Laborda | Filed under Business Materials
The Business English Teacher

The Business English Teacher

Those of us who have been teaching Business English for years find it difficult to find volumes on ESP methodology that are accessible and well justified. This is just what can be found in The Business English Teacher: Professional Principles and Practical Procedures. This volume, which can be used both by in–training and in-service teachers, is a compilation of good activities that work in the business classroom. The book has three main positive aspects: there is a clear interest in addressing international students; a detailed guide for current and prospective teachers; and an attractive collection of activities that address the students’ language- and content-oriented skills.

The book is divided into three sections that pay attention to first theory, then to practice and, finally, to development.

Part A addresses the organization and planning of Business ESP courses, including the contents and physical set up, along with basic considerations of vocabulary, language skills, grammar and so. This section also addresses the teaching principles such as how to choose the lesson objective, how to plan effective lessons, ways of
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Review ~ Perspectives on Language Learning Materials Development
Reviewed Mar 2011 by Carmela Chateau | Filed under Teaching
Perspectives on Language Learning Materials Development

Perspectives on Language Learning Materials Development

One of the most interesting things about this book is the breadth of its scope. It is divided into three sections: Materials Development and Naturally Occurring Discourse (four chapters); Technology and Materials Development (two chapters); and Tailoring Materials for Learner Groups (four chapters). Six of the ten chapters were originally given as papers at the MATSDA (Materials Development Association) conference held in Ireland in 2008. The second section is entirely composed of new articles (one by the co-editor of the book) and there is one new article in each of the other two sections. The authors work in many different environments, with learners from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, using many different types of material, and in countries as far apart as Japan, Pakistan, Tunisia and Venezuela.

One of the postulates here is that every language teacher is a materials developer, and it is for this reason that the book is a must-read for those of us who want to take things just that little bit further. Naturally occurring discourse is far more readily available now, in the age of internet, than it was in the past. The problem now is one of knowing how best to use the vast quantities of material available. The first chapter shows how the authors McCarthy and McCarten, well-known in the field of ELT publishing, used the Cambridge International Corpus to build a conversation management syllabus. The four macro-functions identified are: organising your own talk; taking account of the other speaker(s); listenership; and managing the conversation as a whole. Part of the problem of using a corpus of naturally occurring speech is that such conversations rarely fit the ideal textbook format of 50-word snippets. The authors suggest strategies for overcoming these problems, illustrating them with examples taken from their Touchstone series.
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English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice

English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice

English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice is a very useful book for all teachers of English as a foreign language, and especially for experienced teachers looking for more specialised help with lesson planning or understanding course content. In addition, it is a great tool for those involved with (or considering involvement with) materials writing. The teaching materials covered in the book are wide-ranging and not just limited to textbooks. Of course, textbooks are covered, but so are realia, worksheets, specific exercises, and the methodology for using these materials. The book also covers the production and publication of materials.

The book is divided into chapters, in this case each written by a different author or group of authors. All the contributors to this work are practising teachers or academics from university departments, covering a range of English-speaking countries. Some names will also be familiar to those readers who often read research papers about EFL.

This last point is significant because the content of the book is very academic. The chapters are written more like journal articles than book chapters. Because of this, I would say that while the book is of use to all teachers of EFL, for those who are newer to the profession or those who do not have so much academic knowledge of language and language teaching, it may be quite heavy-going.

At the end of each chapter, there are points for discussion and other such tasks designed to enable the reader to reflect upon what they have just read and to give the reader a chance to put into practice the ideas and content of the chapter.
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Review ~ Macmillan Collocations Dictionary
Reviewed Feb 2011 by Jennie Roloff | Filed under Vocabulary
Macmillan Collocations Dictionary

Macmillan Collocations Dictionary

When it comes to English fluency, collocations are crucial to sounding natural, smooth and competent. Understanding how words work together adds meaning that cannot be gained in any other way and is essential for beginner-level students who wish to progress to the next level. The Macmillan Collocations Dictionary is an excellent book to help students develop their language skills in this way. The introduction describes how the dictionary can aid students in their IELTS study, but it is useful for those not taking this test as well. In particular, I think this book can really support writers looking to improve their academic or professional writing skills. I’m even considering making this a required text for my university academic writing course because it’s so easy to use.

Its main strength is the colouring and layout, which are simple and clear, meaning that it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. The basic colouring includes headwords in red, simple definitions in black type and examples in italics. Multiple definitions are clearly numbered and collocates are bolded for easy identification. Under each word, different grammatical relationships (adj +N; V + N) are marked with a dot and additional listings of the same relationship are labelled with an arrow. Since the collocates are bolded, they visually leap off the page in a way that helps the busy writer efficiently identify the appropriate words to use. There are also occasional grey-and-red boxes that explain elements of usage in further detail and provide examples.
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Review ~ Global Pre-Intermediate
Reviewed Feb 2011 by James Taylor | Filed under Level B
Global Pre-Intermediate

Global Pre-Intermediate

Global is the new coursebook series from Macmillan. It consists of a student coursebook, an eWorkbook, a teacher’s book with resource CD, audio CDs, a version for interactive whiteboards and a regularly updated website. At first glance, Global doesn’t differ that greatly from the coursebooks that teachers the world over are accustomed to using, in that it is divided into themed units containing grammar, reading, listening, and vocabulary, along with speaking and pronunciation components. At the end of each unit is a ‘functional’ page to practise ‘useful’ English, a writing task and a review section.

So far, so typical. However, as you begin to dig deeper you begin to notice aspects of the book that make it quite unlike other coursebooks of a similar ilk (New English File, Cutting Edge etc). One of author Lindsay Clandfield’s stated aims is “for students to learn about English…We believe that (this subject) is
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Review ~ Learning One-to-One
Reviewed Jan 2011 by Kate Mastruserio Reynolds | Filed under Teaching
Learning One-to-One

Learning One-to-One

My favorite kind of professional text is books of practical techniques that are full of thoughtful, creative and interactive language tasks and activities. These kinds of books can range greatly in quality and usefulness, however. The most notable exception is the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series, guided by Scott Thornbury. Like all the other valuable contributions to teachers’ professional libraries that Cambridge has produced, Wisniewska’s Learning One-to-One does not disappoint. As the title succinctly indicates, this is a book for ESL/EFL instructors who work individually with learners, in person or at a distance. It fills a gaping hole in the field today, as many teachers have been trained to teach classes of English language learners (ELLs) but are being asked to pull learners out of mainstream courses for one-on-one support or to teach an individual online. This text orients teachers to both of those two types of environments, as well as the intellectual shifts necessary to teach one individual well.

After a brief introduction to this instructional format and its challenges, the book has two large sections entitled “Basic Principles” and “Activities”. These are followed by references and a slightly annotated list of useful websites. The text also includes a CD-ROM of photocopiable worksheets.
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Review ~ Teaching English Language Learners through Technology
Reviewed Jan 2011 by Jesús García Laborda | Filed under Teaching
Teaching English Language Learners through Technology

Teaching English Language Learners through Technology

The number of books on computer-assisted language learning or technology-based language learning has increased dramatically in the last two or three years. It seems like everyone now working in teaching methodology or preparing books for teachers has to complete or reshape the topic just a bit and “computerize” or “technologize” their titles. I have to say that by the time I received this book I had already reviewed many similar ones, at least in title and contents, so when I first opened this volume I was wondering whether I would really find anything new here. One heading that immediately caught my attention was “Not all ELLs [English Language Learners] are the same” (p. 32), about when and how to teach with technology. That was indeed new! In a way, I feel the same about the rest of this volume – it is not only another book on the topic, but also very versatile and adaptable to each individual’s needs.

The book is divided into three main sections. The first part (titled “Your English Language Learner”) consists of eight chapters, and each addresses different aspects of teaching needs or realities of different students such as the process of second language learning and teaching, the features of the best TESOL programs, how to orientate bilingual education, adjustment to different kinds of learners (one of my favorite parts of the book), technology-based language
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Review ~ Weaving it Together
Reviewed Dec 2010 by Jennie Roloff | Filed under Skills: Reading
Weaving it Together ~ Connecting Reading and Writing

Connecting Reading and Writing

Critical thinking is in vogue in the EFL/ESL field at the moment, and at a recent conference I saw myriad materials touting the development of students’ critical thinking skills. The question, however, is whether these materials actually follow through on their claims or are simply roses by other names with very little innovation. I can say that the Weaving It Together series from Cengage blends actual development of critical thinking skills, on multiple levels, with reading and writing development. The format across the four levels is similar, with increased difficulty coming in the length of readings (one page in level 1 and 2 up to three pages in level 4), writing products (paragraphs in level 1, paragraphs to basic essays in level 2, full length essays in levels 3 and 4), and level of analysis required in the tasks (level 4 ends with analysis and interpretation of fictional work). Levels 1 and 2 are appropriate for low intermediate (high school EFL) while level 3 would be appropriate for mid to high intermediate (university level EFL). Level 4 is solidly for high intermediate to advanced level learners, because the combination of analytical and linguistic demands will be more than lower level students can likely handle. These are also good texts for adult students, or for those in a university ESL classroom in which they are learning to write.
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Review ~ CLIL
Reviewed Dec 2010 by Leahn Stanhope | Filed under Teaching
CLIL

CLIL

At first glance I thought this book would be another book about the recent TEFL buzzword “CLIL” that left me with more questions than answers. Luckily I was wrong. The book answered and resolved many of the doubts that I was harboring about Content and Language Integrated Learning.

The book CLIL draws on the extensive knowledge and experience of the authors to give a comprehensive overview of Content and Language Integrated Learning. It is divided broadly into three sections: the background to CLIL, classroom practice and, ways of sustaining and critically assessing CLIL.

It is written with Pre-school, Primary, Secondary and Vocational levels in mind and is divided into eight chapters. Each chapter deals with a relevant theme in CLIL, from an introduction to CLIL in the first chapter, to the last chapter on future directions.
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Review ~ Grammar for Business
Reviewed Dec 2010 by Saul Pope | Filed under Business Materials
Grammar for Business

Grammar for Business

Traditionally, in-company classes are the most difficult for ESOL/EFL practitioners to find decent materials for. Business course books, even when well-written and presented, tend to spread the net a little too widely, meaning that some units tend to be useful for the students and the other half irrelevant to their particular situation. They also, for my money, have a tendency to skimp on the grammar. The alternative, to take a crash course in whatever the business may do and write a set of materials based around that, can be daunting and time-consuming. But in-company students tend to be demanding, and rightly so – they often pay premium rates for special treatment. That extra mile therefore often has to be travelled to keep them happy. One thing your DoS/Senior Teacher can do right now to help you out in such situations is to get hold of a copy of Grammar for Business.
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Review ~ EAP Essentials
Reviewed Nov 2010 by Dave Allen | Filed under ESP Materials

EAP Essentials is a comprehensive and pragmatic resource book for all teachers of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The content is delivered in line with current learning methodologies – that is, it includes input sections followed by case study examples and tasks, many of which are reflective in nature, to involve the reader in a process of self-paced learning.
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Review ~ Visual Thesaurus
Reviewed Nov 2010 by Jennie Roloff | Filed under Websites

I never thought I’d say this about any teaching tool, but I feel that the Visual Thesaurus is as perfect as a resource can be. In the interest of an objective and balanced review, I looked for what might be lacking, but I came up empty-handed.
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Review: Teach TEFL DVD: Pre-Intermediate Vocabulary
Reviewed Jul 2010 by Carmela Chateau | Filed under Teacher Training
Teach TEFL DVD - Teaching Vocabulary

Teach TEFL DVD - Teaching Vocabulary

This video is the first in a series “aimed at helping EFL and TEFL teachers around the globe improve their understanding of good teaching practice”. As such, it definitely corresponds to a real need, as observing is almost certainly a very good way of understanding what teaching is all about. The best way to learn is obviously through teaching practice itself, but unleashing unprepared trainees on students is a bit cruel (for both the students and the trainees). Video is a useful tool for teacher-training, but it is unusual to find a professionally filmed video of a classroom situation. The series will therefore fill a useful niche in an ever-developing market.

This vocabulary-based class is split up into short sections, each focusing on a separate part of the lesson. As the accompanying website www.teachtefl.co.uk indicates, the entire session lasted 90 minutes, but the overall runtime of the DVD is around 43 minutes. The parts of the lesson where the teacher is setting up the activities are presented in full, but the sections where the students interact have been abridged. The introduction (1.39 minutes) sets the scene. The teacher is female, and the voice-over commentary is male. There are nine adult students, four female and five male. It is a visibly multi-cultural, multi-lingual group (with students from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Italy and Mali, according to the website), which will obviously reduce student interaction to what they are able to say to each other to only things in English. Although this is a realistic TEFL situation, the other type where the students all share the same first language (which the TEFL teacher does not necessarily speak with any degree of fluency) is perhaps more common. The website indicates that other levels, learning situations, and age-groups will be addressed by the remaining videos in the series, and even invites teachers to contact the team with special requests.
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Review: Language Teaching: Surveys and Studies
Reviewed Jul 2010 by Dave Allen | Filed under Linguistics

Language Teaching (henceforth LT) is one of our field’s longest running (since 1968) and most prestigious journals; getting published in it is only slightly short of getting knighted by the Queen. All exaggeration aside, LT’s most distinctive characteristic is its variety of article formats, including Plenary speeches, Research timelines, A country in focus, A language in focus, Surveys of PhD/ED.D theses, Annual reviews of research, Research in progress and the Comparative book reviews. I will look at these various types of article below.
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Review ~ EAP Essentials
Reviewed Jun 2010 by Kaithe Greene | Filed under ESP Materials

EAP Essentials provides an excellent introduction to EAP, and is particularly useful for any teacher new to English for Academic Purposes. This book aims to provide a guide to principles and practice, and is designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It achieves these aims through a measured blend of rationale, practical tasks and a selection of interesting case studies.
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Elementary Language Practice
Reviewed May 2010 by Glenda Inverarity | Filed under Level A

Elementary Language Practice presents 77 units of grammar practice and 13 “checkpoint” units that consolidate previous units that have been grouped together. The grammar is presented in good progression, beginning with present simple of be before moving onto present continuous, past simple, past continuous, present perfect and future. With the tenses completed, the units then present topics such as passive, imperatives, gerunds, contractions, modals, plural nouns, prepositions, pronouns, possession, adjective order, adverbs, and much more before
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Longman Wordwise Dictionary
Reviewed Nov 2009 by Jennie Roloff | Filed under Reference

Are you looking for a dictionary to recommend to your students that is easy to use, colorful and not off-putting to intermediate level learners? Look no further than the Longman Wordwise dictionary. The 2nd edition of the Longman Wordwise dictionary contains 38,000 words defined in simple, accessible English and highlights
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Review ~ Teaching English with Drama
Reviewed Nov 2009 by William Peters, Ph.D. | Filed under Teaching

This creative resource provides activities and scene performances, which relate to real-life issues, to help students get in touch with emotions and build self-confidence as they fine-tune the craft of acting. Mr. Almond writes that this book is, “designed more with the secondary school or adult learner in mind, although most
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QSE Pre-Intermediate
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Sophie Crowley | Filed under Level B

Most English language teachers find it difficult to find a course book that is both up-to-date and sufficient in its exposure to natural English language. This intermediate course book provides rich practice of the four language skills, whilst exposing learners to modern and controversial topics that are often forgotten about in most course materials, and which foreign students often want
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Apart from boasting one of the longest, most acronym-heavy bibliographic references in the history of TEFL.net reviews, this collection of 22 articles is brimming with ideas and experiences of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) practitioners from across the globe.
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Longman Pronunciation Dictionary
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Carmela Chateau | Filed under Reference

Why do people buy dictionaries? To know what words mean, or to check usage, spelling or pronunciation, or any combination of the above. Most English dictionaries give pronunciation as a matter of course, as English is a tricky language to pronounce, but the fact that there are many varieties of English
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English Out There Intermediate TD4
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Clare Welch | Filed under Level C

This book is comprised of 20 complete lessons, each with brief teacher’s notes and on average 3 task sheets of reading, comprehension and vocabulary activities followed by an ‘Out There Task’ to practice speaking skills. It takes a different approach to materials writing by being fully photocopiable and presenting more real life language and an emphasis on social communication skills, which would definitely be of use to students planning to live in the UK or to socially
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Grammar Practice Activities with CD-ROM
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Alison Susans | Filed under Grammar

This is the second edition of Penny Ur’s grammar practice activities, a reference book aimed at EFL teachers. The book moves away from the dull and conventional grammar exercises found in the majority of text books (gap fills, completion exercises, etc) and introduces innovative and communicative ways of making grammar more fun while getting students to
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MasterTalker
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Paula Swenson | Filed under Games

MasterTalker is a board game designed to give groups of 2-6 players (age 14 +) an enjoyable way to actively use the language skills they have acquired and practice speaking. The game is a professionally produced product: colorful, substantial, and made to last. The language components are well-thought out and, with 900 questions, ample for
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Teaching English One-to-One
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Kathryn Sagert | Filed under Teaching

Teachers new to one-to-one teaching, whether they are new to the profession or have years of classroom experience, are often unprepared to deal with the particular nature of student-teacher dynamics that come into play when the teacher and student must spend hours alone together. In her book, Teaching English One-to-One, Osborne makes it very clear that establishing a working relationship with the student is the most essential element in ensuring the success of the class and that fostering these good interpersonal dynamics is the responsibility of the teacher. That is, no matter how great a teacher you are, if you and the student don’t get on
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Teaching Unplugged
Reviewed Oct 2009 by Saul Pope | Filed under Teaching

It’s the last thing you need isn’t it? You’ve done your teaching qualification, learned all you think you can about the Communicative Approach and strive to make your lessons as interesting as possible, and all of a sudden a bunch of upstarts tell you that CLT is so nineties – nowadays we should be ‘teaching unplugged’, producing lessons that are materials-light, conversation-driven and focused on the English students need to learn rather than what the coursebook deems we should be teaching them today. I was ready to give Dogme short shrift, but
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Defining Twilight
Reviewed Sep 2009 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi | Filed under Vocabulary

The workbook is broken into 40 groups of vocabulary words which all come from the novel. Each word is accompanied with the corresponding page number in the novel so students can read the relevant section and see the word in context and can then go on to complete vocabulary exercises. The good thing about Brian’s approach is that students are not overloaded with words as there are only eight words in each group. This makes it easier to concentrate and learn the words and
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Interactive Games and Activities for Language Learning
Reviewed Sep 2009 by Lydia Schrandt | Filed under Games

We’ve all been there. It’s Sunday night and you sit down to plan your lessons for the week. You open up the textbook to find a less-than-compelling lesson on past tense grammar rules. Yuck! To make matters worse, there is NOTHING communicative about the book’s activities at all. It’s late, you’re tired, and you simply don’t have it in you to stay up all night preparing materials for some grand lesson to make up for a lackluster curriculum. What do you do?
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New Penguin Readers (2008)
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Dave Allen | Filed under Skills: Reading

Here I will review three Graded Readers from the ever-popular Penguin Series. All published last year, these new additions to the collection span a range of levels from pre-intermediate to advanced. For the first two, I shall review them with additional comments by students from my reading classes; and for the third one, one of my students has contributed a review.
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Topic Talk Issues 2nd Edition
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Jennie Roloff | Filed under Skills: Speaking

Topic Talk Issues is a textbook designed for a conversation course at the high-beginner/low-intermediate level. I think it is best suited to high school students and adults at these ability levels, with junior high (11 to 13) maybe not the right fit. One of its stated objectives is that this text is designed with the Japanese student (rather than the pan-Asian market) in mind. It does this very well, using references to Japanese culture, society and conceptions throughout in a deliberate and thoughtful manner. By starting “locally” and gradually going “global” it helps students relate their life to something bigger than themselves in a way that avoids pontification.
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English for Management Studies
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Kathryn Sagert | Filed under ESP Materials

Having spent many hours looking for the elusive perfect book to help students prepare to undertake English-medium university studies, I was excited to receive the a copy of one of Garnet Education’s series of subject specific English for academic purposes (EAP) texts, English for Management Studies. This short text offers a coherent framework of materials for a very specific target market: English-language learners planning to enter a university level English-medium program in management studies on a short (50-80 hour) pre-sessional course. The publisher specifies that the book is appropriate for students who have a minimum of a high intermediate (CEF B2, IELTS 5+) level of English and who have previously
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Aviation English
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi | Filed under ESP Materials

I will admit I was nervous about reviewing this book as I didn’t know much about Aviation English and was expecting a lot of difficult terminology but I was pleasantly surprised. The text is so well set out and developed it was actually interesting and fun to look at. The first few pages contain an easy to read introduction
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Oxford Picture Dictionary Second Edition
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Alex Case | Filed under Reference

The absolute basics of this book can be easily understood from its title- it has 4000 pictures spread over 12 categories and about 120 subcategories that are meant to illustrate the meanings of nouns, verbs, and the occasional adjective and preposition, and almost always does so unambiguously. It looks slightly different from other picture dictionaries, in that it uses what seem to be computer generated pictures (for better or worse) and doesn’t look childish at all. The fundamental differences between this book and other picture dictionaries I have used lies
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Review ~ IELTS Target 4.5
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Clare Welch | Filed under Exam Materials

The IELTS exam has been growing in popularity and is now a commonly used marker of a students’ level of English, especially for universities and employers. As a brief background for those not familiar with this exam, there are two different IELTS exams that you can do- Academic and General. Assessment is based on a scale from one (low) to nine (high) and as a rough guide universities generally require a score of 6.5 or above on the Academic exam from non-native speakers, while lower scores on the General exam are sometimes okay for less academic studies
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New Scholastic Readers
Reviewed Aug 2009 by Dave Allen | Filed under Skills: Reading

The growing interest in graded readers for language learners, driven in part by academic work (e.g. Edinburgh Project of Extensive Reading) and the burgeoning Language Learner Literature campaign which promotes the development of quality literature for language learners, is also a reflection of the improved quality of
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Phrazzle Me
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Alison Susans | Filed under Games

Phrazzle Me is a word game made up of 200 wooden blocks. Each side of every block has a word on it – most of them are in black, some in red. Each player picks 7 blocks out of the bag and tries to make a sentence. The next person can then either add to the sentence(s) already on the table or create a new one. Each word gives you points; if you use a red word you get double points and if you manage to use all 7 blocks in one go you get 50 points. The player with the highest number of points at the end of the game wins. The only rules are that the sentences
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BEC Higher Testbuilder
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Tom Alder | Filed under Exam Materials

The Testbuilder series from Macmillan comprises collections of practice tests for various English exams -FCE, CAE, IELTS and the like. What makes them different from the official exam books is that they include additional materials- the ‘testbuilding’ aspect- which focus on exam skills and analyse the various part of the test in detail. They are intended to be, as the covers announce, ‘tests that teach’.
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From Corpus to Classroom
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Glenda Inverarity | Filed under Linguistics

This textbook is an important new contribution to the discipline of linguistics because it considers corpus from a speaking point of view and, drawing on corpora of both spoken and written texts, explains comparisons between the features of spoken English and written English. Furthermore, this book incorporates a thorough literature review of all major texts written about using corpora, and as such represents an up-to-date bibliography of previous work on the topic, and presents the latest
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Languages Out There
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Clare Welch | Filed under Websites

There is a growing market for online language teaching and learning. Do a Google search for online materials and you’ll find a motley collection of grammar overviews, games and ideas. What online teachers, myself included, are looking for are easy to access, easy to use, informative and well structured
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Review ~ National Geographic Footprint Reading Library
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Kaithe Greene | Filed under Student Materials

This series ranges from pre-intermediate/A2 through intermediate levels to Advanced/C2. The catalogue lists five themes – Incredible Animals, Fascinating Places, Amazing Science, Remarkable People and Exciting Activities. It includes such unlikely titles as Blue Cows? and Flying Pumpkins, as well as more ordinary sounding titles such as Gliding Across the Gobi and Saving the Pandas. The titles I reviewed are Volcano Trek (A2), Cheese Rolling Races (A2), Wind Power (B1), Polar
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Edufire
Reviewed Jun 2009 by Christine Story | Filed under Websites

A few years ago, a group of fourteen Bangladeshi engineers contacted me about the possibility of teaching them English. The engineers, who all worked together, had become fed up with the local EFL institutes and wanted to hire an English teacher directly. While I was eager to teach them, I couldn’t figure out a way to accommodate a large group without using an institute as the middleman. Renting and outfitting a teaching space was a headache and expense I didn’t want to deal with, and the engineers didn’t want to pay for a space that they would
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Spotlight on FCE Exam Booster
Reviewed May 2009 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi | Filed under Exam Materials

The Spotlight on FCE Exam Booster is designed as a supplement to the Student’s Book by the same name, and is really good. Like the Student’s Book, it is well set out- but I actually found it much easier to navigate. It is jam-packed with useful
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Spotlight on FCE Student’s Book
Reviewed May 2009 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi | Filed under Exam Materials

I will admit that before opening this text I had to look up what FCE actually was. FCE stands for the Cambridge ESOL First Certificate in English, which made me apprehensive about opening the textbook as there are so many test preparation books on the market that I was prepared to ‘yawn’. I was pleasantly surprised. It is very colorful and extremely easy to follow and full of
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Multilingualism and Assessment
Reviewed May 2009 by Lara Promnitz-Hayashi | Filed under Linguistics

This book is one of many in Cambridge’s Studies in Language Testing series. This volume is compiled of 20 edited papers that were presented at the 2nd ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) Conference in Berlin, May 2005. At first glance it is aesthetically simple and very academic in appearance. This made me very apprehensive to open it as I wasn’t sure
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New Framework Elementary and Pre-Intermediate
Reviewed May 2009 by Lydia Schrandt | Filed under Level A

If you ask any English language teacher what they find most frustrating about their textbook, many of the complaints would probably be the same: it’s outdated, the language isn’t natural, it doesn’t have enough material, etc. This new edition of the Framework course has updated content and artwork that give the material
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Review ~ The Business Advanced
Reviewed May 2009 by Kaithe Greene | Filed under Business Materials

Publisher: Macmillan
Authors:
John Allison et al
Components reviewed:
Student’s Book, DVD-ROM and online components

This is a smart and well presented, thoroughly modern Business English course book which addresses all the difficult and dubious issues of BE at advanced level with accuracy and
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TEFL Videos
Reviewed May 2009 by Assumpta Biosca Taronger | Filed under Websites

Being a good teacher of English is a challenge many teachers face nowadays. Teaching English not only implies presenting content to the students and correcting their production, but also having the students engaged in a thrilling learning process that they need to feel as their own. Teachers often need to attend courses or seminars in order to exchange innovative ideas that colleagues have succeeded in using. Now, TEFL Videos presents a very practical, versatile and easy-to-access pack of teaching techniques and their
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Teacher Development Interactive
Reviewed Apr 2009 by Lydia Schrandt | Filed under Teaching

Full title: Teacher Development Interactive: Fundamentals of English Language Teaching
Components reviewed:
Online course for teachers
Publisher:
Pearson Longman
Summary:
A good crash course in ESL theory and methodology for teachers new to the field of English language teaching.

Review
When I began teaching English as a foreign language in Korea, I found myself thrown in front of a class on my first day on the job with very little training and no idea what to do. I had some good ideas for lessons, but I had no conception of what makes a good language teacher or a positive language-learning environment. I was unfamiliar with a majority of the terminology being thrown around on ELT websites, and I did not know why I should choose one type of lesson over another. Basically, I was clueless! It took me months of trial and error to gain some of the insights presented in the Fundamentals of English Language Teaching.
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Teaching English with Information Technology
Reviewed Apr 2009 by Anton Elloway | Filed under Teaching

Authors: David Gordon Smith and Eric Baber
Publisher:
Keyways Publishing
Reviewed by:
Anton Elloway

Teaching English with Information Technology (2005) is a practical book which explains how to use the internet and IT when teaching English. Aimed primarily at English teachers who have little or no experience of using Information Technology (IT) in their teaching, it offers a fairly comprehensive – if not entirely current – overview of what IT is and how it can be utilised by English language teachers.
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MyNorthStarLab
Reviewed Apr 2009 by Christine Story | Filed under Teaching

Components: Online course management tool
Series Editors:
Frances Boyd and Carol Numrich
Published by:
Pearson Longman
Summary:
MyNorthStarLab is a great resource for NorthStar teachers looking to add a customizable online component to their courses.

Review
MyNorthStarLab is an online course management tool for the NorthStar academic English series. Similar to WebCT or Moodle, it allows teachers to electronically manage course content, assignments, quizzes, and student grades.

A sleek, streamlined, interface makes MyNorthStarLab easy for students to navigate intuitively. After logging onto the course via the MyNorthStarLab website, students view upcoming assignments and complete them directly on the site. Students can also read announcements, send mail, and respond to discussion topics
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Review ~ IELTS Foundation Study Skills
Reviewed Apr 2009 by Dave Allen | Filed under Exam Materials

Full title: IELTS Foundation Study Skills: A self-study course for General Training Modules
Authors:
Amanda French, Rachael Roberts, Joanne Gakonga, Andrew Preshous
Publisher:
Macmillan
Components:
Textbook and Audio CD
Summary: A basic self-study text for IELTS learners at around the IELTS 4.5-5 bands, including all four skills and aimed at General Training Exam

Review
When I received this text and saw the word ‘foundation’ I was reminded of the conundrum facing many teachers in the UK and probably all around the world too: A prospective student comes into the teachers’ office and says something like ‘me… (points at own chest)…IELTS’. Now, as the teacher you have to fill in the blanks. Is this student doing a Tarzan impersonation or does he/she want to take the IELTS exam but can barely string a sentence together? (Answer: It is most often the latter.) After trying to dissuade them as best you can, you will probably end up agreeing to a general English language course with a bit of IELTS exam training thrown in. If there are enough of these students you have what some teachers lovingly refer to as a ‘baby-ielts class’
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Review ~ Kid’s Box 2
Reviewed Apr 2009 by Kaithe Greene | Filed under Young Learners

Like many other good young learner courses this book takes us through the basic language you would expect; colours, family, numbers and alphabet, classroom and household vocabulary, prepositions of place, food, animals, clothes, hobbies and sports. The great thing about this is that the pages are so well designed, with the target language foregrounded as colourful illustrations, that the language is really attractive rather than looking like
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Review ~ Common Mistakes at IELTS Advanced
Reviewed Mar 2009 by Saul Pope | Filed under Exam Materials

Full title: Common mistakes at IELTS Advanced…and how to avoid them
Author:
Julie Moore
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Review by:
Saul Pope
Summary:
An important component of any advanced IELTS course

Review
IELTS can be a notoriously tricky course to teach, especially for the more inexperienced teacher. You’re almost guaranteed to have a mixed ability group, students may want to take the exam at different times to one another, and some will simply not be capable of reaching the lofty targets their future place of learning has set them in the time you have. On top of this, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to concentrate upon as spiky profiles are often the order of the day, and, unless you’re an IELTS examiner, it can be tricky to know where students tend to go wrong in these exams. Common mistakes at IELTS Advanced cannot solve all of these problems, but it is very useful in
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World Englishes
Reviewed Mar 2009 by Eric Roth | Filed under Linguistics

Full title: World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching
Author:
Andy Kirkpatrick
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Reviewed by:
Eric Roth

Do the English in England speak the same English as the Americans, the Jamaicans, the South Africans, the Australians, the Irish, and the Indians? Do they even speak the same English as they did 100 years ago before radio, television, and the internet? Should there be a global standard for all English speakers? Linguist Andy Kirkpatrick raises these and many other provocative questions in his exceptionally documented book “World Englishes: Implications for International Communication and English Language Teaching” published by Cambridge University Press. What does it mean if a majority of English speakers are actually English as a second language speakers? Can we actually assert that one version of English is more correct, formal, or proper than
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Learning and Teaching English / Learning to Teach English
Reviewed Mar 2009 by Darren Elliott | Filed under Teaching

Learning and Teaching English: A course for teachers
Authors: Cora Lindsay & Paul Knight
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Components: Teachers’ Resource Book with Audio CD

Learning to Teach English: A practical introduction for new teachers
Author
: Peter Watkins
Publisher:
Delta Publishing
Components:
Teachers’ Resource Book
Summary:
Two more teaching books fight to make themselves heard in a crowded niche of the market.

Review
Every publishing house (or at least the best known ones) currently in the ELT market needs to have its introductory guide for teachers, aimed at CELTA participants or those at a similar level of experience. The books are usually described as
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CAE Gold Plus
Reviewed Mar 2009 by Jesús García Laborda | Filed under Exam Materials

Components reviewed: Student’s Book, Exam Maximiser with answers and audio CD, Audio CD, iTestsAuthors: Nick Kenny, Jacky Newbrook, Richard Acklam and Elaine Boyd
Publisher:
Pearson Longman
Summary:
Many new elements make this pack attractive for both teachers and learners. Do not miss the computer- and web-based practice.
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English for the Financial Sector
Reviewed Mar 2009 by Nicholas Whitley | Filed under Business Materials

Components reviewed: Student’s Book, CD (Teacher’s Book also available)
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Author:
Ian MacKenzie
Summary:
A very detailed, narrowly-focused look at the vocabulary of Financial English, with decently presented grammar explanations and a focus on functions.
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Lessons in your Rucksack
Reviewed Feb 2009 by Lindsay Clandfield | Filed under Teaching

Author: John Hughes
Publisher:
Keyways Publishing

On my office wall I have a painting done by a very good friend of mine. It shows two young men walking along a cobbled street in Mexico. Both are wearing casual western clothes and large hats to protect themselves from the sun. They are both carrying large backpacks (or as our British colleagues would say, rucksacks) with Canadian flags embroidered on them. One is carrying an open map and the other has some books in his hand. The title of the painting is “Los maestros llegan” (The teachers arrive). The two young men are my friend and I, about to start our first ever teaching job at a university in a mountain town in
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Teaching English One-to-One
Reviewed Feb 2009 by Janis Crolla | Filed under Teaching

Components: Handbook for English language teachers
Author:
Priscilla Osborne
Publisher:
Keyways Publishing Ltd

This book is aimed at English language teachers who want to get the best out of their one-to-one classes and is packed full of ideas and suggestions to make the one-to-one teaching experience enjoyable and productive. The first few chapters offer basic information about the fundamental differences between one to one and group classes and sound advice for getting started-. meeting your student and first impressions, needs analysis, and writing course programs. The book then focuses on teaching techniques covering all the skills: vocabulary, speaking, listening, reading and writing. There are also chapters devoted to giving feedback to your students, teaching Business English, teaching teenagers, homestay teaching, lesson
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Business Basics International Edition
Reviewed Feb 2009 by Karen Thomas | Filed under Business Materials

Authors: David Grant and Robert McLarty
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Components reviewed:
Student’s Book, multiROM

Summary: Business Basics (updated for the international workplace) is a communication-based, user-friendly, highly visual and attractive introduction to ‘the language of business’.

Review:

What is new/different about the materials
The most obvious change in the latest edition of Business Basics is that it says that it has been ‘updated for the International marketplace.’ Although it does mention companies with an international profile, I feel many of the examples and situations are still rather North American in context; however this is likely to be useful for
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Meetings (Effective Communications in Business English)
Reviewed Feb 2009 by Paula Swenson | Filed under Business Materials

Components: Book and integrated Audio CD for Classroom use or self-study
Author:
David King
Publisher:
DELTA Publishing

Summary: An excellent learner-centered resource for ESP learners at the Pre-Intermediate to Intermediate level.

Review:
Part of the DELTA Business Communication Skills series, Meetings fills a definite niche by bringing all the language needed for various aspects of meetings into one resource, with a strong listening-speaking emphasis.

Well-organized and interesting material provides a solid foundation for the way people actually use English in meetings and a sturdy jumping-off platform for extension into role plays and real life. Using the book with in-company clients, I received great feedback from students who were pleased to report having immediately
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