Progressive Skills in English 2 Paperback – 31 Mar 2011
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"Progressive Skills in English is a topic based coursebook, consisting of five themes: culture and civilization, technology, arts and media, sports and leisure along with nutrition and health. Although each unit focuses on one particular skill, space is given for vocabulary and grammar, and practice of the other skills. The thing I like most about the book is the variety it offers, and the meticulous way it handles all four skills. All skill sections have the five same subsections: Vocabulary for the skill; Real time; Learning new skills; Grammar for the skill, and Applying new skills. The exercise types and layout are varied, the visuals are vivid, and the CDs and DVD are of good quality with different accents. Listening and pronunciation work stand out. In Theme 1, Real time listening, there is a variation on cloze tests which I hadn't seen before. The recording is of a talk where the speaker pauses and students are asked to predict the words. It feels realistic. The listener can complete the speaker's words because they want to show they are interested and following the conversation, or because the speaker can't think of a word. I tried it out with my preintermediate speaking class. First, we personalised the subject of festivals and rituals, then I had them listen to a talk about the subject and complete the sentences in any way they liked. Exact words were not expected but they were still able to predict most of the words. There were a few blanks where we discussed alternatives. Another exercise in this section focuses on understanding spoken definitions, to help avoid communication breakdown. The sub-section, Grammar for Listening, contains time prepositions, linking sentences and alternative ways of expressing ideas, plus word-building and prepositions after verbs. Other listening sections focus on lectures: understanding the organization of a lecture, signpost words, phrases signaling the main topic and sub-topics, differentiating between opinion and facts and making notes. As part of an introduction to our second term programme, I used a lesson on note-taking in lectures. The lecture was about inventions and names and dates were to be matched with visuals. Then there was a follow-up lecture with a chart to fill in. I finished the lesson by working on the pronunciation of some words in the lecture. The speaking sections have similar areas of focus to the listening sections. They include conversations, functional language and the use of academic language in tutorials, plus research and presentations. Progressive skills in English also provides practice on arranging information to help students to give a talk using slides. The Everyday English sections are useful in that they provide authentic dialogues for various situations, give practice to expressions and encourage creativity. Reading practice includes: predicting content and contextual vocabulary; achieving coherence; scanning; and differentiating between fact and possibility with the help of grammatical cues. Comprehension exercises vary from controlled to semi-controlled and free. Vocabulary is revised at the end of each skills section. There is also a knowledge quiz, related to the topics of the reading texts, which also checks vocabulary. The Grammar for reading section includes some very useful subject +verb work. One exercise type used is key word transformation, which I find really improves the students' awareness of grammar. The writing skill sections include exercises on cohesive devices, articles, prepositions and basic paragraph structure. In this part, students are required to add vocabulary to a text, increase awareness of collocation, practise spelling and correct errors. They learn how to organize information, design questionnaires, analyse data and write research reports. In the Portfolio sections there are exercises such as listening to information about a festival, making notes, exchanging information and deciding which event to attend. Learners then take notes again, this time based on a reading text which they explain to their partner who also takes notes. Lastly, they prepare and deliver a short talk on one of the festivals. These are all good ideas. The lessons have a single focus, are well integrated, and activities flow smoothly from one to the other. My one reservation is that there is too much work on the same subject, risking student fatigue and students running out of ideas, although if you're not planning to cover the whole book, this may not matter much. Alternative routes through the material are suggested in the Teacher's Book. The Teacher's Book also includes, among other things, alterative approaches (e.g. getting students to listen only once as in real life) and optional extra activities. One point mentioned in the Teacher's Book is that intonation helps to convey meaning and is not given the importance it deserves. I asked an English colleague of mine for his opinion. His answer was that he is sure that his eyes glaze over when he has a long conversation with someone with poor intonation. On the other hand, when I listen to student presentations correct articulation is important for me. Recently, one of my students pronounced "wheel" like "well" and another "source" like "search", which led me to confusion. For me, then, the relative importance of intonation is still an open question. Overall, Progressive Skills in English has given me new insights into teaching skills and is a life-saver withan admirable collection of activities suitable to the level. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, and this book offers plenty of practice in areas helpful for academic purposes." Ece Eryendi for Modern English Teacher, Vol. 21, No 3, July 2012
About the Author
Terry Phillips has worked in ELT for more than 35 years as a teacher, teaching supervisor, manager and language school owner. As a consultant, he has worked in more than 20 countries in all parts of the world, advising state and private language institutions on all aspects of school management. For the last ten years, he has been a full time freelance writer with his wife Anna, producing more than 160 published books in ELT. Although he and Anna have worked for all the major publishers, all recent works have been for Garnet Education, including the multi-level EAP course, Skills in English. The course was highly commended in The Duke of Edinburgh s English Speaking Union Award for 2004. It is taught in a large number of universities in the UK and around the world. Terry and Anna are currently working on New Skills in English, a fully revised and updated version of the course. Terry is also the series editor of the new English for Specific Academic Purposes series for Garnet Education, which aims to prepare students to entry into a particular faculty for English-medium tertiary education. The series recently won the ESU award. Anna Phillips has worked in ELT for more than 30 years. She has worked as a teacher of both multilingual and monolingual classes, with teenagers and adults, in both the UK and abroad. Anna began writing materials for special courses as a senior teacher working for the British Council in Oman. Later, as Director of Studies and Owner-Manager of the International House school in Oman, she spent much of her time adapting and developing materials, owing to the lack of suitable course books for the needs of the students. During this period Anna was also extensively involved in teacher training, both in-service and also for CELTA and DELTA. She was also an examiner for CELTA and travelled extensively throughout the Gulf region in this role. In 1989 Anna completed her MA (TEFL) from Reading University. Since returning to the UK, Anna has worked with Terry Phillips on a large number of textbooks for a variety of publishers. Most recently, she and Terry have been working on the Skills in English series. Anna s particular interest is making course books more user friendly for teachers who are not native speakers of English, and so she has been very much involved in developing resources for the teachers using the UAE version of Skills in English. Anna is currently working on New Skills in English, a completely revised and extended version of the current series. Nicholas Regan is an ELT writer and teacher trainer. Since 2002, he has worked as an independent consultant for teacher development in the primary and secondary sectors, covering teaching in under-resourced and crowded classrooms, and working with Ministries of Education, Universities and schools in China, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the EU. He has also been involved in the evaluation of state provision of English teaching. For several years he taught English at secondary school level in Latin America. In 2008, he co-authored the Garnet Education ESP course Take-Off, and has also contributed to the UAE English Skills series and the English for Libya series. He has also written materials for ELT training at Diploma level. His other work includes examining and assessment design for ESOL teaching qualifications; pre- and in-service training; and supervision of dissertations for MA TESOL students at the University of Birmingham. He holds the Trinity College London LTCL DipTESOL and an MA in Applied Linguistics from the University of Reading, UK.
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