Review ~ ESOL Activities: Pre-entryA strong addition to an already strong series
This title was of particular interest to me: I am head of an institution with a considerable number of ESOL learners at Pre-entry level, and there seems to be little suitable published material available for them. As well as being too high level, many materials are also cultural-specific: beginner-level course books tend to assume a working knowledge of Western culture and values, which is an incorrect assumption with many learners at Pre-entry level.
The book is divided up in the same way as most of the photocopiable Cambridge ESOL resources – theme-based chapters that each have three units (speaking and listening, reading, and writing). The themes have been chosen sensibly – starting with classroom language and college life, and progressing on to jobs and transport – and each section is mapped to the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. Within the units themselves there is a lesson plan for each activity that includes resources needed and suggested differentiation activities.
The teaching materials have been designed to appeal to all types of learning style: plenty of images for visual learners; listening activities for auditory learners; cut and glue activities for kinaesthetic learners. If there is a weakness with this resource it is perhaps these exercises, as staff I have spoken to found them slightly awkward and tended to avoid the gluing activities on the basis that they took longer that was necessary to make the learning point. However, they do provide the learner with a take-away record of the correct answers.
There is also self-study work to go with each unit (ideal for quick finishers or for homework) and an appendix that includes alphabet cards and a writing sheet. Teachers of Pre-entry learners will know how valuable this is, as many learners at the level cannot read and write in their own language, and so need such support with literacy before they can realistically tackle more complex ESOL activities.
So, overall, this is another great addition to the Cambridge ESOL portfolio which I find my institution is making increased use of. The well-selected themes are ones entirely relevant to ESOL learners’ everyday lives (no more teaching them who Harrison Ford is before you can do the reading task about his acting career…), there is a good variety of activities and they appeal to various learning styles. Although clearly aimed at the UK ESOL market, I would recommend this as a useful addition to teachers elsewhere in the world who are working with learners that are absolute beginners – in particular those not familiar with Roman script.