Rosemary Aravanis and Stuart Cochrane (Macmillan 2010)
ISBN (SB): 978-960-447-293-2
This is a professional-looking book aimed at teenagers taking FCE in the not-too-distant future. No mention of the exam appears on the back cover, but the four content pages make it clear that this is a coursebook for FCE preparation. There are twelve units and a number of supplementary sections including grammar reference, vocabulary file, oral pairwork activities and a writing bank. There are extras such as CDs, workbooks and an IWB version.
The units begin with reading texts used for exam practice, followed by a page of exercises on predictable grammatical forms. There is then a page of vocabulary practice, usefully including a focus on collocation. After Skills development for Listening and Speaking there is more grammar before Writing finishes the unit.
I find the book disappointing. This is not because of the quality of the texts or the exercises but the book is not really different to others I have used at this level for the last 20 years. The authors have made an effort to focus the material towards teenagers, but all the typical themes (sports, careers, crime, unexplained mysteries, etc) are present, as is the usual emphasis on individualism, unusual jobs and celebrity status. There is, in fact, a reference to an office worker in the careers unit, but the text offers only comments on personality, nothing about the work itself. Of course, this is pretty much what FCE requires so we shouldn’t expect anything different. If getting teenagers ready for a full-on FCE course is what you do, this might be the change of coursebook you’re looking for. If it isn’t, you might do as well with some or all of the following: a collection of short stories, Google images, a grammar exercise book and a desire to learn about the students.
University of St Andrews