Saturday, 24 October 2009

English Result Intermediate

English Result – Intermediate
Students Book ISBN - 978-0-19-430480-1
Teacher's Book with DVD Pack 978-0-19-430242-5
Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald
Also available
Student's Book with DVD Pack 978-0-19-412956-5
Workbook with Answer Booklet and MultiROM Pack 978-0-19-430500-6
Workbook with MultiROM Pack 978-0-19-430496-2
Class Audio CDs (2) 978-0-19-430512-9
Teacher's Pack 978-0-19-430041-4

Elementary, Pre-intermediate, and Intermediate levels are already available. Upper-intermediate available 2010.

I have the intermediate student’s and teacher’s books to review.
Description and Overview
English Result is a four-level adult course with what looks like excellent teacher support and resources. I see this book as General English as opposed to Business English.
First Impression is of clear contents pages, the book opens so that you can see the contents of six chapters at one time. There are 12 chapters. This two page structure is repeated throughout the book. I really liked this style because you go from the warmer to the ‘Put it all together section’ without having to turn the page which means the content is easily accessed and more importantly referred back to during the lesson. The pages are full of colour and very attractively illustrated, this will certainly appeal to the younger learner. For the teacher’s book I really love how the content of the student’s book is repeated in the teacher’s book with the comments and lesson ideas alongside. Does this mean that I no longer have to take two books to the lesson? If so that is a real boon for a teacher like me who is moving around constantly between lessons when carrying the student’s book and the teacher’s book along with the CD player etc becomes very tiring . The chapters contain practical outcomes which are said to take students from how?- to can do in every lesson.
New Teacher Resource Packs (available 2010) include photocopiable activities for every unit.
New Student's Book and DVD Packs (available 2010) include a DVD of culture-rich material
Extras are available on

Who is the book written for?
It is written for adults and young adult learners and focuses on increasing motivation of the learner by inciting curiosity, challenging the student and allowing space for personalization of the content. The idea of this and the other properties in the book is to attract student’s attention thereby increasing their motivation.

Structure of the book
The book is divided into twelve chapters and the contents pages show the Grammar, Vocabulary and pronunciation topics related to each chapter. Each chapter also has an essential review section.
Each chapter has a strong theme and also contains a writing section where the topic is strongly related to the theme of the chapter. At the end of the book there are Pairwork, Irregular verbs, Audio scripts, Grammar Bank and Pronunciation sections.
What do I especially like?
The layout is an excellent feature especially of the teacher’s book, and I really like the way the instructions for each task are place next to a copy of the task. In some books it is very hard to relate the teacher instructions or task answers to the exercise as the numbering systems are not always this clear. This is the best teacher’s book I have ever seen I think.
The review sections are also good features and I appreciate the additional material available on the website. Very few groups are, in my experience, either all at the same level or progress at the same speed, and it is great to have the chance to give the quicker students an extra task related to the topic in hand, without having to design the task yourself on the spot or find something out of the bottom of your bag.

Would I use it for my students?
Yes I would for sure, the next time I am asked to recommend something for a general English class this book will be the first one I will think of.
Unfortunately, it would not have much relevance for my current crop of Economics students but I am sure I will find a use for this book in the future.

New Inside out

New Inside Out – is the revised version of the original Inside Out course.
by Sue Kay and Vaughan Jones, with Peter Maggs and Catherine Smith
Published by Macmillian

Beginner, Elementary, Pre-intermediate, Intermediate, and Upper intermediate are now available.

Future releases: Advanced levels

Upper intermediate
Student’s book ISBN 978-0-230-00914-1
Workbook 978-0230-00923-3

New Inside Out includes the features from the original series - including the personalized speaking tasks - and has been extended with a lot of new features.
For example:
Useful phrases – a language bank of functional English, Vocabulary Extra pages.
Grammar sections – providing support needed for teaching grammar effectively.
New multimedia CD-ROM included with every Student’s Book. The workbook also has its own audio CD which covers the listening elements in the workbook.

Who is the book written for?
I have the Upper-intermediate to review, this book is written for adult students at the B2 level. In my opinion this is an excellent book for a higher level general English or conversation course. Perhaps also as a pre Cambridge FCE course. The workbook mirrors the topics in the student’s book and provides a good extension of the topics.

Structure of the book

The book contains 12 chapters covering a wide variety of general English topics, ranging from the historic story of the American Gold Rush to the pop queen Madonna, touching on the way some useful general topics such as charity, weddings and eating out. After each three chapters, there is a very useful review section.

What do I especially like?

I really like the illustrations; they are modern, colourful and interesting, including Obama and the very topical Secret DVD. I think they would interest and attract younger students who seem to expect more colourful books.

Would I use it for my students?

Yes, I think I would, if I had the correct type of group. Most of my students are older and more interested in Business English or English for Specific Purposes, so at the moment I do not have a suitable group.

East of the Sun

East of the sun- Julia Gregson ISBN 978-1-4091-251-9

East of the Sun Julia Gregson’s second novel is a wonderfully engrossing novel, telling the story of three young British women who leave cold cheerless England in search of a new life freedom and hopefully love in 1920s India. Gregson writes characters you can care about and this is what makes her writing such a pleasure to read.
In this book it is 1928, the three women are Rose, a beautiful but na├»ve bride-to-be, who is anxious about leaving her family, in particular her father who is ill, and also not sure about marrying a man she hardly knows. Victoria, her bridesmaid, she is a buxom but beautiful girl, who couldn’t be happier to get away from her overbearing mother to whom she will always be a disappointment. Victoria is determined to find herself a new future and a husband in India. Finally Viva, their totally inexperienced chaperone, is in search of the India of her childhood, trying to lay ghosts from the past and make a new life for herself. In order to pay her way she also take charge of a young man recently expelled from school who becomes an very significant figure in her future life.
They are each totally unprepared for the reality of the voyage and for the difference of life in India, even though Viva lived there as a small child. Reading this novel, written about the last days of the Raj is a wonderfully exotic experience as you read you can almost smell the spices and feel the summer heat.

The Water Horse

The Water House– Julia Gregson ISBN 0-75286-580-3

Julia Gregson’s first novel is the story of Catherine Carreg who comes from a beautifully described small Welsh village, it is set against the background of the Crimean War and sheds wonderful light on the position of a nurse in Florence Nightingale’s days. In fact Florence Nightingale herself is an important character in this novel which shows a side of this heroine of medicine which I had never even thought of before having been brought up to accept the accuracy of the historical accounts of her methods. However, this impression does have a ring of truth and perhaps draws back the curtain a little on a period of history.
Catherine was a wild child, a tomboy, who had been allowed to ride her ponies as she wished and who had developed a relationship with Deio who was the son of a cattle drover. Her life of freedom was about to change for ever and she decides to escape to London where via a position in a rest home for sick governesses in Harley Street, she eventually meets Florence Nightingale.
The war in the Crimea breaks out and reports of the conditions for the soldiers shock people, including Miss Nightingale who sets up an organization to send women of many classes out to Scutari . Catherine volunteers as a nurse and despite those around her, she manages to get to Scutari where the conditions are too horrible to believe. It is a living nightmare. Her idealistic notions are swept away as she battles first to actually be allowed to help and then to try to relieve the suffering of the dying men. Growing up quickly and painfully, and learning the hard lessons of war.
It is at this point that Deio comes back into her life and the love story begins again. …………….
The characters are very well drawn, and the writing is very skillful and quite unusual for this type of story. It is very hard to put down once you have started to read it. Julia Gregson writes a fabulous historical novel and I will look out for her future books.

The Water Horse on Amazon

Saturday, 4 July 2009

With Love From Ma Maguire

Ruth Hamilton –With love from Ma Maguire

Ruth Hamilton is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. She writes sagas about Northern England going back to the previous century. Ruth Hamilton is the bestselling author of A Whisper to the Living, With Love From Ma Maguire, Nest of Sorrows, Billy London's Girls, Spinning Jenny, The September Starlings, A Crooked Mile, Paradise Lane, The Bells of Scotland Road, The Dream Sellers, The Corner House, Miss Honoria West, Mulligan’s Yard, Saturday’s Child, Matthew and Son and Chandler's Green. Born in Bolton, which is the setting for many of her novels, she has become one of the north-west of England’s most popular writers. Ruth Hamilton has spent most of her life in Lancashire. and now lives in Liverpool.

With love from Ma Maguire is a saga which spans 40 years of life in the Lancashire cotton mills. This book tells of the lives and loves of two families from different backgrounds, the rich Swainbanks and the poor Maguires.

Those of you who like Catherine Cookson will love the Ma Maguire story it contains all the ingredients you and I look for in a book to relax with at the end of the day. The characters are well drawn and the plot complicated and believable. It is one of those stories which you don’t want to stop and I am sure the characters would make an interesting television programme for family viewing.

Read and Enjoy.

Ma Maguire

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Webquests in the Busines English Classroom

The pedagogy of WebQuests and their place in the Business English Classroom.

Sheila Vine

1. Introduction to this article
2. What is a WebQuest?
3. Why use WebQuests for language teaching?
4. What WebQuests are not
5. Relevance and Business English uses
6. WebQuest production
7. Webquest evaluation
8. Webquest trouble shooting
9. Bibliography


This article is based on a talk I hoped to give at BESIG in Berlin in 2007 but had to cancel as the conference clashed with the Cambridge BEC Exams.

Webquests have been an important topic in online and blended English language teaching for some years now. However, they tend to be a misunderstood tool and are often dismissed by many Business English teachers as ‘some sort of quiz using the internet’, and a ‘good idea for children but unsuitable for adults.’

Those teachers who have taken onboard the pedagogy of the WebQuest find that they are an engaging topic both in the writing for teachers and in the completion for students of all ages.

What is a WebQuest?

Bernie Dodge of San Diego State University defined a WebQuest as ‘an inquiry-orientated activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet…’ Bernie Dodge is the father of the webquest and although many others have written on the subject, it is his ideas that underlie the WebQuests in use today.
One way to think of them is as a type of project where students complete a task using the internet rather than books as their source material. These ‘projects’ can be designed for group work, pair work or for one student working alone. They are very useful in a situation where the students do not have regular class meetings or are working entirely separate from each other, and then the Internet allows an exchange of ideas, which can often be missing from other forms of online learning.
The WebQuest is an entirely modern way of learning but it is underpinned by many pedagogical theories. For example constructivist theory, the tasks are framed by open ended questions and so simply to know the facts is not enough the students must be able to use them. When a WebQuest passes John Keller’s ARCS, Model of Motivational Design the students will be much more motivated to complete it. Attention and Relevance come from the choice of topic the more relevant to the students needs the better. Confidence comes from the scaffolding and support provided by the group and the design and the teacher and Satisfaction comes from completing a task with ‘Real World’ feedback.
The webquest is like a complicated recipe and a good result depends on the preparation, a well-prepared webquest can motivate and encourage the students a badly prepared one is simply an excuse to use the Internet in class time.
Why use WebQuests for language teaching?

WebQuests provide a way to introduce the Internet into a conventional classroom setting. The Internet is such a part of most people’s lives today that the idea of education without involving it is becoming more and more outdated.

Well designed WebQuests involve the learners in communication exercises and the sharing and transformation of knowledge these are principle goals of language education and teachers make use of a variety of methods to encourage them. In this way, WebQuests can act as a simple linguistic tool, which the students can follow at their own pace investigating the language via online dictionaries and by actually seeing the words in context.
Students who are not yet involved in the business world can role-play the tasks that they will be expected to perform in the business world in a safe environment.

What WebQuests aren't.

A webquest is not a book that has been years in the writing, publishing and distributing to the learners and teachers, it is an up to the minute resource its use to the student can easily be understood. They, when they are well designed, are not activities where the students can simply copy and paste information or regurgitate half-digested facts in an exam situation. The information they find has to be transformed to answer the question.

INPUT (from Internet) - TRANSFORMATION – OUTPUT (real world document)

Relevance and Business English uses

Webquests are a very good example of an interdisciplinary approach to education. When we are teaching Business English we are quite often actually teaching doing business in English, this is very different to just learning the language for its own sake. Teaching doing business in English involves intercultural knowledge and business skills, which are often out of the reach of the typical language teacher. A well designed WebQuest that has been put together by someone who is aware of other cultures and ways of doing business can open the students eyes in such a way that potential future or past problems are understood and can be avoided. Exposure to websites from different cultures can improve the students ‘Real World’ understanding, as the examples are not from dry textbooks.
Webquests encourage critical thinking skills including, comparison, classification, and analysis of findings. When the questions are well set, the students cannot simply copy the information they must transform it to answer the question. These motivational aspects encourage learners to make greater efforts increase concentration and give them a real sense of a job done for a purpose.

Examples of real world business English skills which can be taught via a WebQuest- CV writing and job hunting and interview skills, email netiquette, marketing a product, environmental purchasing, planning a business trip.

WebQuest production

While producing a webquest may not call for detailed technical knowledge, it does involve the teacher in developing a completely new set of skills involved with computer and Internet usage. For example-research skills, analytical skills, word processing skills, planning and production skills, this can turn out to be a very time consuming business. The resulting WebQuest will then need to be transferred on to a suitable server for online use.
Whilst it is possible to find many already constructed WebQuests on the Internet and simply adapt them to your situation these may also need a large amount of time input to check and update. However, if you are able to make a reasonable investment into the project there are organisations that will develop WebQuests to your specific requirements. See bibliography.

Webquest evaluation
Webquests are good for helping learners to evaluate their performance in a non-threatening way. They give students a way of assessing their own contributions (self-assessment). Where appropriate the teacher can show what is required by including an evaluation step – allowing learners to view this before they embark on the webquest can help them focus on the skills and language that they will be using. Several rubrics to help novice teachers are available on the internet www….

Teachers using WebQuests and modifying existing shared WebQuests will find Tom March and Bernie Dodge’s criteria for assessing the best WebQuests useful.

Webquest trouble shooting
Anachronisms Web resources come and go and some have a risky shelf-life. If the teacher checks all the links just before designing the webquest, trouble should be avoided.
Emergency: As with all ICT activities, a fallback option or flexibility is essential.
Management: Webquests can be difficult to conduct in certain settings. When you are not face to face with your learners you should anticipate possible problem areas if you are going to succeed. Make sure that you can communicate with everyone by email or instant messaging before you start. For large classes or in a row-by-row PC lab where computers are not available around the room, careful classroom management is needed especially in blended learning contexts. The teacher will obviously have to manage the movement between web-based and non-web based activities carefully, which itself is a skill and takes time/experience/training to acquire. But haven't nearly all teachers always had to cope with problems like this in a traditional setting? When WebQuests are carried out at a distance, forum space can be included for asynchronous feedback and email tasks can be used to keep the group working at the same pace and on track.
Language: Some learners may feel that WebQuests lose sight of the language-learning aspect of a Business English classroom. Please remember, the best WebQuests are never driven by neat grammatical areas or airtight vocabulary areas. It will be appreciated that in the end the more realistic mixed use of language is beneficial even if it is daunting for some people at first. The teacher must be aware of this. At the very heart of WebQuest learning is the idea that learners can make their own vocabulary lists, etc. or carry out interesting interactive manageable tasks, and in doing so focus on their own success. Nevertheless, when relevant language support is required, the teacher should know how to give the right feedback.

Dodge, B. (1995) Some thoughts About Webquests .

Rubrics for Web lessons

March, T Design Process

Webquest Portal

Webquest Maker

What's a wiki-for those who keep asking me

Wiki what is that? By Sheila Vine,

In this article, I would like to introduce you to a web tool. I am sure most of you have heard of the ubiquitous ‘Wikipedia,’ the free online editable encyclopaedia. Wikipedia is the most famous example of the use of a wiki. Wikipedia has been criticised in many areas however, it does provide an excellent example of what can be done with wiki technology. However, Wikis used for educational purposes do not have to be anything like as complicated as wikipedia.

The name wiki originates from the Hawaiian “wikiwiki” which translates as “very quick.” Steve Jones (UIC) defines a wiki as “Web-based, Interactive, Kollaborative, and Iterative” .
This ICT tool can be used to exchange, store and contribute to the construction of knowledge collaboratively.

A wiki is a collection of editable pages, it looks like a website but it allows the users to add to and edit the content. Users do not need any knowledge of web page authoring. The “no HTML required” has great appeal; the easy to use font buttons alongside ‘Edit’ and ‘Save’, mean that students who can use ‘Word’ can use a Wiki. The ability to edit content is the main difference between a wiki and a website, because on a website only the owners can edit the information.

The flexibility of the wiki has led to a huge development in the use of Wikis for educational purposes. They are used in a wide range of settings, from schools and EFL learners to the Open University Masters Programme.
Creating your own or a class wiki
Anyone can set up a wiki by using one of the many free services that are available. The leading ones are Wikispaces , and Peanut Butter Wiki negative side to using a free service is that you will often have to accept advertisements on your site.

Wikis can be open to all, others are closed, or password protected, relying on invitations to access, this is dependent on the way the wiki is set up. Because a wiki is web based, interactive, collaborative, and iterative, it changes over time.
Wikis keep a chronological history for every page, so nothing is lost forever, no changes can be completely destructive, and changes can always be undone; this is known as version tracking. This means that, you can revert to an earlier version of the wiki or wiki page by simply accessing the history section and using a fetch-back button.
Another key feature is you can monitor a wiki or a particular page and receive notification of any changes to that page (by email).

How will it help teachers/learners?

Recent years have seen a huge uptake of wikis for educational purposes. The main reasons are related to increasing the opportunities for collaborative constructive authoring. Nowadays the freely available software means any teacher can set up wikis, which allow for two students, a whole class, or multiple classes to work together. This can lead to exchanges and develop a worldwide audience or simply be a useful system for connecting a closed group of learners. A wiki is a great place for learners to start posting their work so that peers and teachers can correct, improve, and discuss ideas online with them. Wikis are not based on hierarchy – all contributors are equal and can be easily accessed at any time from any online computer.
So if your class are preparing a journal article or report, putting any sort of list together or sharing project resources this could be a useful tool.

Try this video link for a simple explanation of a wiki.

What I like about Wikis
 They are simple and quick to set up, which means that the technical side is a minor aspect.
 They add an element of technology to a face-to-face course without stretching the students’ resources and time too far.
 They encourage collaboration and peer correction, which is often missing from ‘normal’ classes.
 They make it easy to set up team and group working.

What I am less happy about
 The advertising pop-ups, which it is possible to avoid by paying for a premium service.
 Once the students start to experiment themselves, the basic design is often a little limiting.

Some ideas of how to use Wikis
 Uploading documents that contain the types of errors your students often make, and setting them the task of editing the documents. Different students could use different colours for example or they could each have their own version on the document on their own page.
 Collaborative story telling - Give the title of a story and let the students continue it sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph. You could give them a vocabulary list of words to use. Or set up a beginning and an end for them to work between.
 Set up a page for typical errors, which you could list without identifying the students concerned but using quotes form their work and asking for corrections.
 Make a list of idiomatic expressions or phrasal verbs that the students could add to as they come across them during the course. Individual students could print this off at a later stage.
 Encourage the students to share pieces of writing they are proud of with their colleagues on the course, get the students to vote for the best piece and award a small prize.

Using Wikis can make education two-way; they open up new possibilities for collaborative writing projects and can capture and disseminate knowledge in unexpected ways.
Wiki wiki! What are you waiting for? Encourage your learners to participate! The power of “wiki” technology lies in flexibility and multi-dimensionality.

Thanks to Valentina Dodge and Nik Peachey for some of the information in this article.