Eric H. Glendinning (Series: Oxford English for Careers – Oxford University Press 2007)
ISBN 978-019-456950-7 (SB)
Eric H. Glendinning & Alison Pohl (Series: Oxford English for Careers – Oxford University Press 2008)
ISBN 978-019-456953-8 (SB)
These are both student’s books (each accompanied by a teacher’s resource book and class CD). Book 1 takes learners from CEF level A2 to B1, while book 2 takes them from B1 to B2. Each consists of 15 units containing skills work, technology-related vocabulary, pairwork and a grammar focus. Pronunciation work is appropriate, useful and well integrated, and authentic speaking practice is provided by regular problem-solving tasks to be carried out in groups.
However, where these books truly stand out is in their choice of subject matter and in the exceptionally clear and attractive way it has been presented. The topics and specific technologies examined are general enough to be accessible to anyone with even the vaguest interest in technology, while examined in sufficient detail to provide eye-opening insights. The engineering content is brought to life by well-chosen, up-to-date photographs, cut-away diagrams that are easy to follow, and a good range of illustration styles that draw the user in. The language content is enhanced by judicious use of colour and a very good balance between text, pictures and blank space. My (hard) hat goes off to those responsible for the design and layout.
The listening tasks are varied and often very practical, with barely a gapfill in sight. The level seems to be appropriate, and the listening material itself manages to avoid being too patronising or contrived.
The Teacher’s Resource Books also have a good trick up their sleeves. It is a personal bugbear of mine that most teacher’s books contain pages and pages of notes for each lesson, most of which is of little value to a teacher with a few years’ experience and an ounce of imagination. Nevertheless, there is occasionally a nugget of gold buried in there in the form of an extra idea that I would not have thought of myself, and I thus feel compelled, when planning a lesson, to sift through every word with a highlighter in case I might be missing something. The Technology teacher’s books save time here by leaving a wide, blank margin on the left hand side of the page. When there is a tip or a suggestion for an additional activity, this is placed in the margin, so that the busy teacher can check at a glance for these extra morsels.
As the English for Engineering course is not running this term, I have not had an opportunity to use these books in class. They doubtless do have some fault – I have yet to come across the perfect textbook – but, for the moment, the only imperfection I can see is that they are ESP books. I wish there were more general English coursebooks like this.
English for Everyone, Aberdeen