Monday, 30 March 2009

Macmillian Dictionary

Try the new dictionary.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Great resource

Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary and thesaurus
Look up words in the Visuwords online graphical dictionary and thesaurus to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate

Friday, 13 March 2009

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Sterling Silver 2-New edition

Sterling Silver 2-New edition –Published by Cornelsen
ISBN -13978-3-464-20411-1

This book is specially written for older learners with a basic knowledge of English. It comes complete with two CDs with the listening exercises and useful phrases.
In the back of the book is a useful vocabulary list with the vocabulary first in Unit order and then in alphabetical order. My students find this choice of methods very useful as some prefer to learn vocabulary before they try the unit and others like to be able to look words up easily as they go through the units. There is also a key to the exercises and to the Home Practice in the back of the book.

As a teacher with very little German knowledge, I find the Information and Tips sections particularly helpful as they give the students confidence that the book is not all strange to them, and they help me with my German sometimes.

The course is clearly presented and there is no sense that the students are in any way being treated like children. The illustrations are modern and colourful but the people portrayed are obviously adults.

Another of the things I like about the book is the story idea, the participants are following a story which leads the students through a realistic holiday in the UK situation and exposes them to real life situations on the way. This would be a good book to use if the teacher was planning to take a group to the UK on holiday or also for students to self-study before such a trip.

Finally, I would like to mention the revision pages at the end of every other chapter, it is an excellent way to go over the language and vocabulary again and check for misunderstandings. They help to build the student’s confidence, which is generally what older students lack and the reason why they are doing the course in the first place.

Better Days by June Tate

Better Days by June Tate

ISBN 0-7472-6324-8 Headline Book Publishing

This is a book for the Cookson and Cox lovers among you. It is set in 1954 and is the story of Gemma Barrett who goes to sea on the Queen Mary as a stewardess. She has two romantic opportunities a goody and a baddy.

This is a well written romantic novel, great to clear away those recession blues.
A good read for the ladies.

If you like romance you will love June Tate’s books.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Business Basics International Edition

Business Basics International Edition –David Grant & Robert McLarty
Oxford University Press ISBN 978-3-06-800050-2

This book is an updated edition of the popular Business Basics focusing it especially on the International market. While keeping the style and features of the previous edition it has added listening material using North American accents as well as non-native speakers of English. This adds realism from modern business life, as most of our students use their English speaking to other non-native speakers.
The free MultiROM has even more language and listening practice and can be played on a computer or a CD player.
It is a good basic book for those students who have done no English since school/ for …years as it revises the basic grammar forms in an up to date business setting. It is suitable for those in work as the activities reflect normal business situations. This business setting is varied but has its main emphasis on representing your company and its products at home and abroad, which are certainly useful topics for a basic or refresher book.
The majority of exercises are of a simple gap-fill type and the practice situations help the learning and revision of appropriate business vocabulary. These types of exercises while less interesting for more advanced students are useful for confidence building in weaker learners. The illustrations are clear and colourful and the grammar tips and language notes are usefully highlighted on the pages.
I tried this book with a group of students who were already using the previous book; we worked on Unit 9, they liked the clear colourful illustrations in preference to those in the older book. The slight language differences were confusing for them as they are used to my British English especially spellings, but they found the listening acceptable and useful.
The language topics were useful and easily transferred to a real life work situation.
I particularly liked the simple writing exercises, as writing is not a popular topic for my students; these are well scaffolded, interesting and most importantly relevant.
One point that they did not like were the games, my students are not fans of this type of activity, but they did like the short reading passages, which had lots of scope for discussion.
I would recommend this book for a false beginners group who you are leading towards BEC Preliminary exams, it would provide a good foundation, or for business people who must start to go on trips abroad, perhaps in a group, who have not travelled on business before.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Hearing by John Lescroart- A great book

The Hearing – John Lescroart ISBN 0-451-20489-1

What an excellent book. It is written by an author who clearly knows his subject-the law, and his location-San Francisco.

If you are a fan of the American court room or legal drama then this is the story for you. For the ladies it has a romantic element too so this is a book you could both read and find something special.

The hero is an ageing detective who is ably assisted by his friend a lawyer. The networking in this book is a model for us all to follow.

Lieutenant Glitsky is well known in San Francisco's world of crime and punishment. But he still has secrets. His illegitimate daughter, Elaine has been murdered and the DA calls for the death penalty. Dismas Hardy, the lawyer, battles to win a fair trial for his client, and finds himself entering a world of corruption.

Treat yourself to a classic tale.

Friday, 6 March 2009

making your mind up

Jill Mansell

Making up your mind - ISBN 0-7553-0491-8

This is an excellent girlie novel, perfect to while away a long hot summer afternoon in the garden or on the beach.
It features Lottie, single again with two children. She is great at sorting things out. Everything except herself. This book will make your day. Pick it up to brighten a wet weekend in March. I am sure it will please you.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Happy for no Reason

Read this book and learn the 21 Happiness Habits that Shimoff has refined from conducting 100 interviews with "deeply happy" people (including actress Goldie Hawn and author Elizabeth Gilbert). Shimoff takes into account mind, heart, body and soul in seven chapters that cover three Happiness Habits each, as well as corresponding anecdotes that "define what it means to be Happy for No Reason." The personal stories of happy interviewees prove enlightening, and the principles they support are sound.

This is a wonderfully compelling book that I have no fear in recommending in these days of depression and deep sadness. Shimoff shows that you can't depend on outside sources for your happiness. It has to come from inside you.

The book contains remarkable first-person stories of many happy people and Shimoff relates these stories to her ‘7 steps to being Happy from the inside out.’ Read the book and find out what she means. I loved it. It contains a holistic 7-step program which encompasses Happiness Habits for all areas of life: personal power, mind, heart, body, soul, purpose, and relationships. You'll learn practical strategies that will help you experience happiness from the inside out.
You don't have to win the lottery, or lose twenty pounds. By the time you finish this book, you will know how to experience happiness.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Business Benchmark

Benchmark written by Guy Brook-Hart
Pre-Intermediate to Intermediate-BEC Preliminary. (B1) ISBN 3-12-534303-8

Who are these books for?

Benchmark is a new three level series aimed at those students taking a Cambridge ESOL exam, either the new BULATS exam or the Business English Certificate series. The student’s books and CD’s are specific to the exam but the teacher’s books cover both exam types. They are suitable for working with a teacher and self-study too though many of the speaking exercises require a partner.
One useful feature of the students books is the Exam skills and exam practice section that contains a clear description of the exam as well as some testing material for each specific question type. There are also sample answers to the writing questions for the students to use to compare their own answers.

Pre-Intermediate – Intermediate

I have been teaching the Cambridge suite of exams for many years and have had my best successes with books that were tightly focused on the exam syllabus and contained regular exam practice. However, the books I have been using are starting to become a little dated and so I was very interested in looking at this new series.

Structure of the book
The book contains twenty-four topic-focused units that have reading, listening, speaking and writing components. Not all components are covered in each topic however there are also additional vocabulary and grammar sections.

In the exam section the exams are explained and skills necessary are discussed, there is also a practice exam for each section in the back of the book. Following this are the full answer keys for the book and the exam, a unit-by-unit vocabulary section and the tape scripts. Unfortunately the vocabulary is only explained in English which will mean more dictionary work for the students As well as the student’s book there is also a personal study book that contains additional exercises for revising the vocabulary of each unit. This also has its own key making this useful for homework exercises and self-study.

The book contains an interesting variety of exercises that make it suitable as a general course book the main components that I miss are exam type question in the normal units and notes tying the tasks to actual parts of the exam. The teacher’s book confirms that the tasks in the units do not replicate exam activities. This might make it more difficult to use for the student working alone or a teacher unused to the exam style. The occasional task tips are a useful addition also.

Would I use it with my students?
Yes, I think I will be trying it, with a group who have a longer time to study than my normal groups. I like the additional photo copy able activities in the teacher’s book and the modern layout of the student’s book.

Upper-Intermediate (BEC Vantage)

Upper-Intermediate - BEC Vantage. (B2) ISBN 3-12-5343131-5

The layout of the book is essentially the same as the preliminary version, with each chapter containing some of the essential elements for the exam. In my opinion there is too little writing practice, many of my students find this the most difficult aspect of the exam. The Vantage book especially pays too little attention to the writing of reports. This has become one of the favoured exam questions at Vantage level recently and it is not covered in enough detail here as far as I can see. Again this is acceptable for an experienced teacher who can add additional material but would be a problem if the student were working alone or perhaps with a less experienced teacher.

Will I use it with my students?

Yes, I will, I think it will prove an acceptable source of material and refresh my BEC classes, it so easy to become stale when using the same books over a long period. Thanks to Guy Brook-Hart for giving us this reasonable alternative resource.

This review was previously published in English Teaching Matters.

Double Dealing - Pre Intermediate

This book is one of a series of business English books with a difference written by James Schofield and Evan Frendo. There are pre-intermediate and intermediate editions of the book available and they are published by Summertown books and available via Amazon. Business English with a difference I hear you say, yes it really is true these books are different. The main difference between them and the other Business English books available is the theme or story, which runs through the book and ties the chapters together. The story in the pre-intermediate edition revolves around Aurora and the Grand Hotel and the things she has to deal with, customers, complaints, presenting the hotel internationally, all sorts of situations, which the students can relate to and of course use at work. The students are treated to little bits of real life conversation showing emotions as well as language as the plot of the story is revealed.

In his recent presentation for ELTAS James Schofield talked to the participants about how stories provide ‘mental scaffolding’ for the language being learned as well as helping them ‘absorb the skills and the language in a meaningful and motivating context.’

I found, the students I tried the book with, were easily and enthusiastically able to relate how far the story had progressed to those who had missed the session. The exercises work with the situations and so extend the use of the vocabulary. They were always keen to learn more of the story.

Two other aspects of the books that I really liked were the cultural case studies and the personal data banks at the end of each chapter. The cultural elements were included in a lighthearted style that also appealed to my learners, and I used the personal data banks as a revision element for the unit. They are especially useful for those students who have done no learning for some time and so are not used to recording vocabulary in other ways. They make them aware that they cannot expect to remember vocabulary without making some sort of effort. The books are modern and well illustrated an appeal across the student age range.

A further advantage of these Summertown books is the availability of a multi lingual vocabulary on the company web site, very useful for vocabulary testing and revision. I can thoroughly recommend these books for use in the business English classroom.

This review was previously published in English Teaching Matters.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

The secret of life

Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937, does that mean it is out of date? No it is the number one success book of all time.
This little book has had influence on success and lifestyle writers ever since.
It is totally approachable and it should be on everyones book shelves.
I read it at a time when I was looking for guidance and I have it at my bedside still today.If you are looking for some good advice in these days of crisis this is the place to start looking for success.

The edition I have contains 14 chapters plus a forward from Vic Johnson a life style Guru. If you would like to try this book for the cost of the postage click on the link below.

click here for your free softback book

Have a great read