Review ~ Business AdvantageA complete business course, presenting practical language through authentic contexts.
Business people studying English as a second language have specific language needs, and it’s crucial that these language students can express themselves clearly and unambiguously in their working lives. Cambridge’s latest Business English course is dedicated to teaching English through authentic, realistic contexts and is engaging and practical for students of Business English.
The three levels of student’s books reviewed here all offered a range of interesting reading texts linked to the business world. I loved the wealth of areas covered, drawing on various contexts in many different professions and industries. The listening texts also appeared to be useful, but please note these CDs don’t come with the course books and haven’t been reviewed.
Throughout the books a good mixture of exercises are included. Some draw on receptive reading and listening/video passages, and others encourage productive skills such as note-taking, brainstorming, presenting and debating. In terms of the language points covered, while tenses and other specific grammar points are reviewed, there is also a focus on practical language such as expressing feelings, opinions and negotiating. Additionally, language areas such as evaluative idioms and metaphors are introduced.
I have some reservations about the sheer amount of information presented on each page: a little more white space might have made this a little less crowded and therefore less daunting, particularly at Intermediate level. However, the books are modern looking and make excellent use of visuals, so this helps to break up the high volume of text in each unit.
In each unit there is a “Case Study” utilising the grammar presented in the unit and/ or key vocabulary connected to the unit’s theme, or connected to some receptive skills work. After every two units there is a writing task offering practical usage of business skills, including designing presentation slides, describing a process or a graph, or writing emails or summaries.
A highlight of this series for me is the case study video at the end of every two units. These consist of a six- to ten-minute video followed by a two minute discussion or comments from students at a business school. These are really useful resources. However, given that the DVD ROM comes with the Student’s Book, it would have been useful to have some exercises or material in the book related to the video. The only DVD worksheets I could find were at the end of each Teacher’s Book. While these offered some comprehension checks and extensive teacher’s notes, at one page only there was possibly more that could have been exploited through the video.
The Teacher’s Book begins each unit with an overview and gives the layman teacher some useful background information and theory related to the business topic. The suggested teaching methods are useful and nicely structured. Audio transcripts are helpfully included in the teacher’s notes in each unit, without the needs to turn to the back of the book. There are additional worksheets and materials, including progress checks, at the back of the book. One criticism is that I felt the Teacher’s Book “Table of Contents” could have had clearer language references for each unit, which would have made it a quick reference for the busy teacher.
The Study Book is another valuable resource and offers a range of exercises practising reading and listening skills, grammar and vocabulary linked to the units in the Student’s Book. It comes with a CD ROM covering the listening in the study materials. There are word lists, progress checks, an answer key and transcripts for the audio at the back of the book.
It would be a particularly useful book for students who wanted to follow a longer term, more complete course, simply because of the quantity of material covered. It could also be useful for more intensive business classes, as the materials are varied and engaging. Overall, I really like this series and would recommend it as it draws on a wide range of authentic situations, intellectually stimulates the audience, and offers practical business-focused language usage.