Clive Oxenden and Christina Latham-Koenig (Oxford University Press 2009)
New English File for Beginners follows the same format as the rest of the students’ books in the New English File series. Seven units cover three topics each. The popular Grammar Bank at the back is followed by the Vocabulary Bank and the Sound Bank. There is a Practical English Section, with lots of useful speaking and listening exercises, at the end of each unit, followed by a revise and check section. Throughout the book, all the files are clearly laid out in glossy colours with plenty of white space. A useful box at the bottom of each unit provides “Words and Phrases To Learn”, and a fun board game at the end is a nice revision exercise of all seven units.
The Grammar Bank devotes a lot of space (2 pages) to the present simple. It clearly highlights the 3rd person change in all forms including short answers. This is handy because students can refer to it time and time again.
I loved the topic used to present adjectives, ‘A man’s car or a woman’s car?’ There are lots of colourful pictures of cars including Ferraris, etc. Although I haven’t used this book before, I can imagine this capturing the attention of my male students – a constant battle at this level.
The book features lots of up-to-date celebrities, e.g. pictures of actresses from “Sex and the City” and “Mamma Mia”, which should help to engage the large number of young students at this level. I-pods, text language and explanations of email addresses are also covered.
I do have a problem with File 6A, ‘On an Island in Scotland’. A couple stay in a hotel on an island in Scotland and have an unhappy experience. They end up leaving the hotel and the island the next day. Although I’m pleased that the authors feature Scotland, portraying Scottish hospitality in this manner is not going to help our tourist industry. Given the global reach of the New English File series, I don’t think VisitScotland will be pleased at the impression this gives potential tourists!
All in all, this book fills a void in the New English File series and, given its engaging layout and appropriate language content, will, I’m sure, become a classic.