Review ~ English in MindA variety of interesting, thought provoking topics for teenagers with videostories including a “videoke” function for students to record their own voices.
English in Mind (Second Edition) is a course that the publishers claim is fresh and inspiring, especially designed to motivate teenagers, with 100% up-to-date content and extra attention on developing fluency. It has a Student’s Book DVD-ROM that contain games, extra exercises and video dramas featuring the photostory characters. The photostories also have a “videoke” function for students to record themselves taking part in the dialogue.
The books are level 3 which is B1 council of Europe level. They are standard A4 in size with a purple jacket. Inside, the student book is divided into 14 sections, with each one covering a different aspect of grammar, based around different topics. The first section is a recap of tenses previously learnt. The topics are varied and up-to-date, covering Facebook, the effect of cell phones and mysterious places to name just a few, and offer plenty of opportunity for practising speaking. There is then a progress check after every two sections which can also be given as homework. At the end of the Student’s Book there is a vocabulary bank and a number of project ideas that can be used for group work. The book also covers different situations in the form of a character storybook. Together with the student book there is a DVD-ROM containing extra exercises and videos of the storybook characters.
The workbook gives extra exercises to cover the units covered in class. There are also a number of tips on how to study more effectively, covering listening and writing skills. Extra Skill Checks are provided.
The Teacher’s Book is very comprehensive and breaks down each section into smaller parts and gives a lot of background information required for the different topics, and extra communication activities can be found at the back. There is also an audio CD/CD-ROM with the teacher’s book which allows the teacher to create their own tests.
I enjoyed the variety of topics, which are very up-to-date and should therefore hold the interest of young learners. The book could be used for quite a wide age range as some of the sections deal with subjects such as fear, the paranormal and anger which would be of interest to older age groups as well. The language used is relevant and important pronunciation points like stress and pronunciation are also dealt with. The photostories offer variety and cover everyday situations, and can be used together with the ROM making the situation more realistic for the students. I particularly like the group project ideas as they offer variety and a break from the routine of the book, and allow room for some creative work.
One of the disappointing aspects of the book is that I don’t feel there is a lot of substance in some of the units; the topics often feel as though they have been skimmed over with not very much depth and having used the book I felt at times it needed supplementing. Some of the listening material also feels unnatural and at this level I think the listening should be moving away from the ‘radio interview’ style to be as realistic as possible in both speed and substance.
Having said that I think this a sound book which has a lot to offer to the student The DVD-ROM will also appeal to young learners and encourage them to study English. The extra study tips and progress checks also aid independent study.