Just Reading and Writing
Just out from Marshall Cavendish are two nice skills books - Just Reading and Writing & Just Listening and Speaking. Co-authored by the team of Jeremy Harmer and Carol Lethaby, who also created the new Just Right course, these books feature a learner-centered approach and can be used as supplements or self-study materials.
Just Reading and Writing integrates tasks and topics in an engaging way, giving the student plenty of material to draw from to successfully complete the writing tasks. Each Unit is organized with two separate readings on a topic and then a follow-up writing activity. Writing tasks run the gamut of forms found on the major tests (FCE/CAE, IELTS, TOEFL) with some helpful attention to mind maps, using notes, linking and editing. There is also an answer key for the reading activities.
Just Listening and Speaking is organized a bit differently with 18 units of Listening, each with two authentic or "semi-authentic" passages on the accompanying CD. There are a variety of tasks: gap fill, charts, True/False, matching, as well as comprehension questions, vocabulary work and an occasional follow-up writing task. The answer key is included. The Speaking section is divided into 4 parts and relies heavily on listening, repeating, recording and comparing. The big plus, in my opinion, is the variety of speaking exercises the authors have included. From news reports and answering machine messages to interviews and presentations, students have the opportunity to practice speaking in a meaningful way, even if they are studying on their own.
I feel that these two books will be especially good for those students who really want to work on perfecting their skills outside the classroom. They are well designed for self-study and could easily be used to supplement any main course text, including, naturally, the Just Right course. They are a welcome addition to my bookshelf for those students who say "Can you give me something extra?"Paula Swenson has taught English, including Business English, in Poland and Germany, and is currently teaching students from around the world at Language Studies International in San Diego, California. She has a BA in Communications, TEFL/TESL Certification from the International College of Applied Linguistics, and the FCTBE from London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board.