The purpose of the second part of this essay is to evaluate New Headway intermediate students book, one of the course books used at many of the foreign language institutes around the world. The evaluation will be based on an external and an internal evaluation of the book. The external evaluation will give us a brief overview of the materials from the outside (also known as factual information) and the internal evaluation will give us a closer and more detailed look at Units 1 and 2.
The new headway course book is meant to be suitable for adults undertaking a general English course. It is the third edition, which means that the book is very popular and published many times.
Liz and John Soars are the authors of this book. There is a note at the back of the book which states: Liz and John Soares are internationally renowned authors and highly experienced teachers and teacher trainers. This statement indicates that the authors are recognised in an international basis.
The publisher is the oxford university press; A widely known publisher which has published thousands of books. There is a website link in the front and in the back of the book which you can access it online. The one link contains exercises you can do online and the other one has different English Books it has published so far.
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This single course book costs £22.00, without the supplementary materials. If you want to buy the whole package, you have to buy each material individually. However, the whole package includes: class CDS/cassettes, a workbook (with or without key), the students workbook CD/cassette and a DVD/Video with student’s activity book. There is also a teacher’s book in print and locally available. Thus, the student edition will not be difficult to work with. However, if you go online at Amazon, you will see that if you want to buy together the teacher’s book, the workbook and the class audio cds, costs £68. It is very expensive for someone who cannot afford it economically and he will be dissuaded from selecting it. In my opinion I would not buy the single book for only £22 pounds as I would definitely need a workbook for supplementary exercises. However, it is not included in the package and it costs £12.50. Also the course book does not provide any audio material in the back as many do. I think that it is essential to provide this extra material in order to use the textbook more successfully in self-time study.
The front cover is colourful with nice pictures, but in my opinion it is not very inspiring and attractive for learners. If you would take off the title I will take it as a science or a maths book.
When opening the contents page, language is presented and organised into teachable units. The contents page illustrates the general organisation of the material, which is based on topics. Under each unit there is an established topic. Meanwhile, the importance of form is also made obvious by the prominent placement of grammar in the second column. It is now clear that the content is sequenced on the basis of the grammar complexity. It starts from a more simple grammar form and then progress to a more complex grammar form.
The contents are divided broadly into language input and skills development. Under language input there is grammar, vocabulary and everyday English. Under skills development there is: reading, speaking, listening and writing.
We can now continue to the next stage of the evaluation by performing a more deep investigation into the materials. I am going to examine Unit 1 and 2 in order to perform an effective internal inspection of the materials.
Both units start with a presentation of the grammar which will be the focus of the unit and provides an engaging start. Looking the units as a whole all the language skills including grammar, vocabulary, reading, listening and speaking are all covered.
Usually after the ‘test your grammar’ part which engages you into the main focus of the units, there is a text. It is good that the unit starts with this way because it is helping them to remember thing they have done previously but also is going to introduce them of what grammar is going to follow.
In unit 1 the grammar is very simple. It starts with auxiliary verbs, naming the tenses, questions and negatives, and short answers. Tenses and auxiliary verbs are integrated into a quiz which they have to complete and then listen to it in order to check their answers. Then there is the grammar spot and then there is a practice section where they have to practice negatives and pronunciation. Then follows some exercises on short answers where they have to notice differences between the two conversations. This is followed again by a grammar spot and then a practice activity based on short answers. It is obvious that it gives more emphasis on grammar. However, then follows an information gap speaking activity. In the next page follows a reading and a speaking activity where the students have to read a passage on the wonders of the modern world and answer some questions based on the text and then discuss some other questions. Further down there is a freer listening and speaking section which consists of listening about wonders of the modern world and a discussion based on inventions. Then, follows a vocabulary section with different exercises based on what it is new in a word. This part includes some spelling and pronunciation exercises. Additionally there is a reference to page 159 where you can find all the phonetic symbols. At the end of the vocabulary section there is a writing exercise in page 103 based on correcting mistakes and finally there is the section every day English where students practice social expressions through exercises.
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Unit 2 starts with a short “Test your grammar” exercise which is to guide students into the focus of the unit and provide an engaging start. Following this is a picture presentation of different people having fun and here students have to talk about what makes them happy. Then there is a textual representation incorporating pictures and a written text on the theme of what makes people happy, which talks about Sidney fisk and below some comprehension questions focusing on conceptual aspects of the target language. The target language has been embedded in the written text .The object is that learners are given some exercises where they have to opportunity to practice how the present tense is used and why. These rules are reinforced in a “grammar spot” section under the passage and in the grammar reference in the back of the book where learners can look for help. This is followed by a listening and speaking controlled practice activities, the first two focusing on present tenses. Both of these exercises use information and examples from the presentation of grammar. Then students listen and read a conversation which is based on ‘simple or continuous’ and they have to practice similar conversations with the one they have listened to including different jobs. This is followed by grammar practice activities, where in the first one they have to indicate whether the sentences are correct or not and in the second to complete the sentences with present simple or present continuous. Then, the reading and speaking section is about ” I am a clown doctor”. The unit here includes some pre-reading activities; mainly questions which are said to motivate learners. Then learners have to read the text and answer some questions. Following this is a grammar spot exercise which focuses on present passive. Students have to complete sentences from the text and then if they want they can go and see the rules on how and when to use present passive on the grammar reference part. Some more exercises follow. The one is related to the text and in the other one you have to format some questions in order to complete the interview. Then there is an activity where students have to discuss some questions in groups. Exercises on vocabulary and listening are in the next page, based on sports. There are pictures of different people doing different sports and a warm-up activity in which learners have to make a list of as many sports and leisure activities they can think of. They can use the pictures for help. When they finish, there is an exercise where they have to match some sports with the verbs do, play or go. Then follows an activity in which they have to complete a chart using activities from the list they have made before. Meanwhile they have the opportunity to use a dictionary to look up any words they need. Then they listen to different people talking about a sport activity they enjoy and take notes. In a freer activity they can ask their partners some questions based on sports. For writing they have to write letters and emails. The unit finishes by everyday English which is based on numbers. They will learn about money, fractions, decimals and percentages, dates and phone numbers. Then they will listen to some conversation and write the numbers they hear.
In my opinion it would take me 18-20 hours to teach both units in this course book.
New Headway Intermediate is attractively laid out, with glossy pages and plenty use of colour and photographs which inspires the student. The strong visual element is likely to attract students. However, the cover does not really remind you of an English book, but the inside is different. I think that the new headway intermediate book is well organised into units and sub-sections and it is easy to follow. There are headings or labels for each section and exercises and activities are always introduced with clear instructions. The book clearly arranges the contents, and cross references indicate where learners can find further grammatical information, typescripts, pair work activities, irregular verbs, verb patterns and phonetic symbols in the back. Still, it does not include any revision or recycling sections and this is a disadvantage because students will not have the opportunity for self study in order to check the skills they have learnt. I would provide them with some revision activities with every 2 or 3 units so that they will do revisions and refresh their skills. However, I find the way that the materials are sequenced logical, because intermediate learners need to work their grammar. Some people may find this as a limitation but I believe that it is a good for intermediate learners that the content is based on the complexity of grammar. Moreover, there is a varied mix of activities, like grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, and functional English, but it lacks on pronunciation activities. Even if it provides phonetic symbols in the back of the book it does not include material for pronunciation work, and it is essential for this level of students to practice their pronunciation. The material for vocabulary is adequate in terms of quantity and range
It offers a good balance of work on all skills and they are adequately covered .Also, there are some points where there are materials for integrated skills. I think that there are not enough activities associated to the text in each unit. In unit 1 and 2, they have to read the passage and then answer some comprehension questions. There are not exercises or suitable texts that will help students to improve their reading skills (scanning, skimming, intensive reading, and extensive reading). As homework I would give students extra reading exercises to do in order to practice their reading skills. The other skill that lacks in practice in the unit is the listening skill. I believe that again the book does not provide learners the opportunity to expand and practice their listening skills. The exercises provided for listening does not help students to expand their listening skills, and thus I would give them different listening activities to do within a lessons in order to practice their listening. Grammar, writing and vocabulary are well covered. Speaking activities can equip them for real-life conversations.
The topics are motivating for the adult learners and suitable for their language level. It covers a variety of interests and it gives them the opportunity to expand their awareness on some topics and enrich their experiences. Other groups of people are also presented in the topics.
On the whole, New Headway Intermediate course book is perceived as a well designed and a well written book which supports English language learning. It is also used in many schools which teach English as a foreign language. It is suitable for learners, and regarding the disadvantages mentioned above they can become overcome through supplementary activities.
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