New English File Pre-Intermediate

Title: New English File Pre-Intermediate
Author: Clive Oxenden, Christina Latham-Koenig, Paul Seligson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Reviewed by: Marji Napper
Review date: March 2006
Summary: Comprehensive, well-organised, and provides materials for a good progression through this level.

New English File Pre-IntermediateNew English File Pre-Intermediate consists of a Student’s Book, Teacher’s Book, Work Book with key booklet, Student’s MultiROM (PC and Mac compatible), class audio CDs and video.

The Student's book is a general English text which is designed for group classes but which can be effectively adapted for one-to-one teaching. There are nine units, all except the last divided into four teaching sections. Each teaching section covers a grammar point. At the end of each unit there’s a “Practical English” section, which puts the grammar and vocabulary into a practical context and gives the student the opportunity to practice. Further practice is provided on the MultiROM disc and the video. A more substantial writing exercise (for example: an e-mail, a letter or a description) and a well-designed revise and check section are also included at the end of each unit.

There is a strong emphasis on pronunciation and word and sentence stress throughout this series and the Pre-Intermediate level is no exception. As you would expect from a text with this focus, the listening exercises are well thought out with a good mix of comprehension, production (repeating words for pronunciation and sentences for stress) and pre-listening analysis. And if the student needs to concentrate more on the grammar and vocabulary, the teacher can omit the work on language rhythms without detracting from the main point of the lesson. The Student’s Book also contains grammar and vocabulary banks, extra communication exercises and tapescripts of the class audio CD’s.

The Teacher’s Book contains the answers (cheers!) and a suggested lesson plan for each teaching section. The lesson plans come with optional lead-ins, suggested methods for the presentation of the grammar points and the exercises. They also contain specific and comprehensive references to the supplementary materials like the video and the Student’s Workbook. There are also photocopiable activities which can be used for reinforcing language points or for reviewing them at a later date. I moved from disliking the lesson plans initially to really appreciating them. I’ve found the photocopiable activities excellent ­ students enjoy doing them and as reinforcements of the grammar and structures they work very well.

The Workbook is comprehensive in that it gives the student practice in all the grammar structures and vocabulary from the main text. However, unless the class is an intensive one or the students are particularly keen, it’s best to set homework selectively otherwise the amount of marking becomes impracticable ­ or the students start to suffer from homework overload and the focus of their language learning turns to formulating plausible excuses for not doing it.

The student’s MultiROm disc provides listen, repeat and answer exercises when used in a CD player and quizzes, vocabulary and video sequences when on a computer.

The video “presents functional and everyday language” to the student. Points at which it can be used during lessons are flagged as “Study Links” in the Teacher’s Book. The second section of each episode ­ the main functional section ­ is reproduced on the MultiROM so that the student can practice at home. The language is clearly presented in useful situations and you can, of course, choose whether or not to display the subtitles. To be honest, I found the video with its studio minimalist presentation style disappointing. It’s true that there’s nothing to distract one from the language, which is and should be the main focus, but I think videos should be visually stimulating and this is a missed opportunity for getting the student involved and excited ­ a bit like visual Ryvita.

The last, however, is a minor criticism. Overall, I think this is a very good pre-intermediate level text. It is sound, challenging and stimulating for the student and can be easily tailored to meet an individual student’s needs. The supplementary exercises and activities are easily set up, the students enjoy them and they work. From the teacher’s point of view, it’s very well organised and there is enough variety and range to appeal to most general English students at this level. ESL Reviews & ArticlesMarji Napper