Review ~ Global Pre-IntermediateAn innovative and easily-adaptable textbook that treats adults as such
Global is the new coursebook series from Macmillan. It consists of a student coursebook, an eWorkbook, a teacher’s book with resource CD, audio CDs, a version for interactive whiteboards and a regularly updated website. At first glance, Global doesn’t differ that greatly from the coursebooks that teachers the world over are accustomed to using, in that it is divided into themed units containing grammar, reading, listening, and vocabulary, along with speaking and pronunciation components. At the end of each unit is a ‘functional’ page to practise ‘useful’ English, a writing task and a review section.
So far, so typical. However, as you begin to dig deeper you begin to notice aspects of the book that make it quite unlike other coursebooks of a similar ilk (New English File, Cutting Edge etc). One of author Lindsay Clandfield’s stated aims is “for students to learn about English…We believe that (this subject) is worthy of being touched upon in the language class.” As a result, after they have finished Unit 1 students can do a range of activities based around a text by David Crystal under the title ‘Global English’. Surely this is the first time a coursebook has asked students to consider and discuss the thoughts of the world’s leading linguist.
After this, the students are asked to complete a ‘Study Skills’ exercise, which encourages them to reflect on their learning styles. This continues throughout the book, forcing the student to become aware of their own responsibilities towards their learning. This kind of learner training and reflection is an extremely welcome addition to a mainstream coursebook.
These aspects of the book are examples of how it clearly credits the students with being adults. The subjects are interesting and thought-provoking and most importantly, mature. By this I mean that the book covers topics that should be interesting to most adults, as opposed to the rather vague and bland subjects that are traditionally included in EFL materials. Unit 2 (Hopes and Fears) covers subjects such as children’s hopes for the future, foreign aid, Pandora’s box, dystopias and global warming. The book also contains the very welcome decision to include fiction such as Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Six Degrees of Separation.
A further example of this respect for the intelligence of its users can be seen in the excellent decision to exclude celebrities completely from the book. The plague of the famous that dominates ELT material is an easy way out for material producers and it’s so much better to use a book which doesn’t place itself into a time and location, and doesn’t force a set of assumed tastes and knowledge onto an entirely different cultural group.
To generalise, I think we can teachers can use coursebooks in two different ways. There are those who are reliant on the book and use it as the foundation, framework and content provider of their lessons, and there are those are forced to used a particular book by their administrators and as a result use it as little as they can get away with. I would suggest that the first group is considerably bigger than the second, but the second is much more vocal and vociferous in making themselves heard.
While my sympathies lie with the second group, I have also belonged to the first group. As a result, I reviewed Global with both contexts in mind. Global is a major new publication strand from a major ELT publisher written by a well-respected author, and as such, I think it needs to be able to be used as a “pick and up and teach” coursebook as well as a foundation for the more ambitious teacher.
In my experience of using the book, I found that while it gave me a firm foundation with clear instructions in the teacher’s book, it also gave me ample opportunity to go off on my own tangents and add my own activities as I saw fit. The subject matter was interesting to both my student and myself, and presented me with many chances to embellish the material with things that I thought would add to the overall learning experience. I should point out that this wasn’t necessary, as there is a huge amount of easily available material that the teacher can add, both in the teacher’s book with its accompanying resource CD and on the website.
What really impresses me about the Global series is the amount of obvious care and dedication that has gone into the creation of the materials. There are a huge number of possibilities for both the teacher and the student. The student has, alongside their coursebook, a beautifully presented eWorkbook that includes downloadable content so they can practice at a time and place that suits them. It is attractively presented and it is clear that the author and the publisher have very carefully considered what is required in a modern coursebook. The Global series is a huge step in the right direction, and its combination of a student-centred, contemporary and respectful approach with attractive and plentiful content should be a considerable influence on the coursebooks of the future.