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Review ~ EAP Essentials

A great introductory handbook to EAP, with useful extra resources on the CD ROM
Reviewed for Teflnet by Kaithe Greene

EAP Essentials provides an excellent introduction to EAP, and is particularly useful for any teacher new to English for Academic Purposes. This book aims to provide a guide to principles and practice, and is designed to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It achieves these aims through a measured blend of rationale, practical tasks and a selection of interesting case studies.

Although there are now a number of EAP manuals on the market, this volume has the merit of addressing itself to this field in general rather than being subject specific. This is a particularly useful approach for students starting out on an EAP course in preparation for further study, and teachers teaching such courses for the first time. Having grasped the underlying principles of academic English, both students and teachers can then move onto a deeper insight into the language of specific disciplines; and how to do this is outlined in the chapter on course design.

One of the things I really like about this book is the way each chapter is independent. If faced with a text analysis task in a study skills course book one can simply read up on text analysis in chapter two, grasp the basic principles and apply them to the material and class – perfect for a last minute recruit to an over subscribed pre-sessional course (and it does happen!) Another particularly useful feature which appears in the first part of the book (To the Reader) is the brief overview of the chapters, which consists of two or three sentences outlining the contents of each – just in case one isn’t sure exactly what critical thinking and student autonomy involve.

I also loved the CD ROM for its great worksheets, which not only print out rather nicely (well-presented and professional looking) but can, of course, be projected onto a screen if you should be fortunate enough to have an IWB (interactive whiteboard) or data projector in your classroom.

What could have made this book better? Personally, I hate CDs being in a soft envelope stuck in the back cover – mine got broken by a cat who curled up to sleep on it! A rigid plastic box would have afforded better protection. But, more seriously, this is a general book so don’t expect it to bale you out of the need to know your stuff, or at least where to access it, for discipline-specific EAP courses. It is also short on ideas for remedial work where indicated, such as the difficulty in understanding complex academic texts often experienced by students whose first language has an ideographic orthography, like many Asian languages, rather than an alphabetic orthography like most European languages.

So, all in all, great introductory handbook to this area of EFL and useful resources too.

If you are recruiting inexperienced teachers for short term contracts and you don’t have the time you would like to spend introducing them to academic English, make sure a copy of this book is available in the staffroom.

If you are interested in teaching EAP (and I can recommend it), read this book before you interview for your first summer EAP job, keep it around during the course, and dip in and out of it whenever necessary.

Reviewed by Kaithe Greene for TEFL.NET June 2010
Having been in the EFL industry for nearly twenty years Kaithe is currently working for Language Link Vietnam where she is Head of Teacher Training and Development. When not working she can be found grannying in Devon or Australia.

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