English for the Financial Sector

Components reviewed: Student’s Book, CD (Teacher’s Book also available) Publisher: Cambridge University Press Author: Ian MacKenzie Summary: A very detailed, narrowly-focused look at the vocabulary of Financial English, with decently presented grammar explanations and a focus on functions. Review Just in time for the big financial crisis of 2008-2009, Cambridge has released its English for […]
Reviewed for Teflnet by Nicholas Whitley

Components reviewed: Student’s Book, CD (Teacher’s Book also available)
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Author:
Ian MacKenzie
Summary:
A very detailed, narrowly-focused look at the vocabulary of Financial English, with decently presented grammar explanations and a focus on functions.

Review
Just in time for the big financial crisis of 2008-2009, Cambridge has released its English for the Financial Sector, a specialized book that shares characteristics with other similar books in their “Professional English” series (English in Medicine, Telephone Communication in English, etc.) These books are aimed at students with at least some knowledge of and experience with the language. In the case of English for the Financial Sector, this means people working in the financial sector with an intermediate or upper-intermediate level of English.

As stated in the summary above, the books aim not only to build vocabulary and develop skills by means of reading texts and listenings related strictly to finance, but also to explain the basic concepts of various areas of finance. This makes it a very attractive option for both teachers unfamiliar with the subject matter (if you’ve found recent news about the crisis impenetrably difficult to understand, have a look at Unit 19 “Derivatives”, for example!) as well as for pre-experience students. The odd-numbered units deal with concepts, vocabulary, and grammar review, while the even-numbered ones focus on the typical array of Business English communication skills and functions-writing e-mails and reports, making arrangements, negotiating, etc.

Of the odd-numbered units, some of these-the more general ones like “Retail banking”, “Accounting” and “Mergers and acquisitions”-could be useful for normal everyday Business English students, while others-“Financing international trade”, “Asset management”-will be a bit too specific for all but the most specialized students. The units dealing with communication skills however are applicable to a wider range of students.

The book is intended mainly for use in a classroom setting with a teacher. Conceivably, though, it could be used as a self-study text. However, the many activities dedicated to developing speaking skills (discussion activities, role-plays, etc.) would in that case be of little use.

English for the Financial Sector arrives at a highly appropriate moment. It offers both teachers and students a better understanding of the concepts of finance and the jargon surrounding it. Its narrow focus may make a large portion of the material inappropriate for use in more general Business English contexts, but it does effectively provide a great deal of input in terms of vocabulary and functional language related to the topic.

Reviewed by Nicholas Whitley for Teflnet March 2009
Nicholas Whitley lives and teaches in Barcelona and is author of the blog Strictly 4 my Teacherz. His interests in the field of language pedagogy include the use of authentic materials in language teaching, ESP and one-on-one methodology.

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