English Out There Intermediate TD4A new approach using colloquial English with a focus on social interaction.
This book is comprised of 20 complete lessons, each with brief teacher’s notes and on average 3 task sheets of reading, comprehension and vocabulary activities followed by an ‘Out There Task’ to practice speaking skills. It takes a different approach to materials writing by being fully photocopiable and presenting more real life language and an emphasis on social communication skills, which would definitely be of use to students planning to live in the UK or to socially interact with Britons.
These materials have an extra dimension in that they are designed for use both in the classroom and outside of it. The task sheets are more classroom-based language input activities but the Out There tasks encourage students to speak with others, either face to face in a public venue or using VoIP technology such as Skype in order to speak with a partner or small group.
There are many things that I like about these well-structured worksheets. There are a mixture of activities, such as work-definition matches, sentence gap-fills and picture descriptions which get the students practicing the target language. Vocabulary expansion and speaking skills are core components of this course which I think would be very useful to many students.
The topic areas covered are interesting and relevant, introducing everyday language and colloquial and idiomatic expressions to students. The thematic worksheets include a wide range of topics including travel, music, technology, beauty, fears and idioms/slang. The length of the reading texts is good, giving students a real opportunity to get their teeth into a text and a larger context in which to work out the meaning of not just individual words but complete phrases. I also like the fact that it keeps teachers who are often living abroad up-to-date on the common phrases used in everyday British life.
On the other hand, I feel that some of the language would be a little challenging for students of this level and so a fair amount of teacher guidance might be needed. Perhaps some of the grammar pages could have had more explanations or a link to supplementary grammar references. For newer teachers the brevity of the teacher’s notes might be a drawback.
Having said that, I think this would be excellent material for students looking to interact with British people, to live, work and/or study in the UK. Also, for those who want a less formal course of study or those only on a confidence boost style short course or summer course, these would be interesting and useful worksheets. I would recommend this course to be used as supplementary material to a main class course book for groups aged in their mid-teens onwards. In particular this would be a fun and more light-hearted look at the English language for exam groups: an end of week treat!
I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking for a new, vibrant and engaging approach to learning English and look forward to using these materials in more of my own classes.