face2face (Pre-Intermediate)

Title: face2face (Pre-Intermediate)
Author: Chris Redston & Gillie Cunningham
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Course Components: Student's Book with CD-ROM/Audio CD, Workbook with Key, Teacher's Book, Class Audio Cassettes, Class Audio CDs, web support
Summary: General English course for adults and young adults, based on the communicative approach
Reviewed by: Agata Wasielewska
Review date: May 2006

face2face (Pre-Intermediate) is divided into 12 units, each unit consisting of 4 double-page lessons + Review and Progress Portfolio. At the back of the book there are also sections such as: Songs, Pair and Group Work, Language Summaries, Recording Scripts, Answer Key (to quizzes and questionnaires), Phonemic Symbols and an Irregular Verb List. With the book you also get an interactive CD-ROM/Audio CD, which includes a great number of additional exercises, videos, games, tests, etc. The book provides the material for about 80-120 hours.

Having a close look at every unit we can observe that they are all organized in a similar way. Exercises are labelled 'Vocabulary', 'Help with listening', 'Help with grammar', etc. so that students know what aspects of English they are learning at the moment. At the beginning there are 'Quick Review' exercises where students revise the material (usually vocabulary and grammar) from the previous lessons. At the end of each unit there are 'Review' lessons thanks to which students can check what they have learnt in a given unit, they can comment on their progress ('Progress Portfolio'), or find out where in the book they can find an appropriate 'Language Summary'.

Students practise receptive skills (listening and reading) usually in connection with grammar or vocabulary tasks. As the book is strongly based on the communicative approach there are lots of speaking exercises requiring students to work in pairs or groups. This is a good idea if a teacher has a group of students willing to talk and communicate in a foreign language many times during the lesson. On the other hand, this can be a bit of a problem if the group consists of students who prefer writing and working individually.

I would like to comment a bit on the skill of 'writing'. In the book I did not notice any exercises practising this skill. From the 'Content page' I get the idea that this productive skill is practised only in the additional 'Workbook'. However, I cannot comment on the writing (and also reading) tasks included there, because I only had a look at the 'Student's book'. This lack of writing exercises in the coursebook could be a problem for teachers whose students are not eager to buy anything apart from the student's book (this often happens to me when I teach young adults who are just starting their first job).

Moving on to other types of exercises, I would like to point out that I like the way vocabulary is taught here. Most vocabulary items are introduced in thematic blocks (e.g. Work, Relationships, etc.) and they are taught using different techniques. 'Help with vocabulary' exercises help students focus on and practice more difficult vocabulary items such as 'phrasal verbs', 'articles', etc. There are lots of useful 'Day-to-day phrases'. However, the thing I miss here is an additional 'Word List' at the end of the book. The book also provides some pronunciation exercises – students repeat the sentences focusing mostly on the word stress and intonation.

Finally, the thing which I always check in the coursebook before choosing it for my students is the way grammar is introduced. I am in favour of 'inductive grammar teaching' and it is quite nicely done in face2face. Before the students are given the rule (in the 'Language Summary') they have to look at the examples, notice the similarities and try to come up with a set of general assumptions.

In conclusion, I would like to say that the book is worth recommending to use with young adults and adults who like talking and using the language in 'real life' types of exercises and because of its clear layout, clear and short instructions, communicative exercises, focus on teaching vocabulary in thematic blocks, inductive grammar teaching, interactive CD ROM and web support.

Agata WasielewskaTEFL.net ESL Reviews & ArticlesAgata Wasielewska. Upper-secondary education teacher from Poland. agata@interpress.pl