Progressive Skills In English: Level 2: Workbook

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  • Number Of Pages 96
  • Publisher Michigan State University Press
  • Copyright 2011
  • Edition Student Manual/Study Guide Edition
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Progressive Skills in English is a topic based coursebook, consisting of five themes: culture and civilization, technology, arts and media, sports and leisure along with nutrition and health. Although each unit focuses on one particular skill, space is given for vocabulary and grammar, and practice of the other skills. The thing I like most about the book is the variety it offers, and the meticulous way it handles all four skills. All skill sections have the five same subsections: Vocabulary for the skill; Real time; Learning new skills; Grammar for the skill, and Applying new skills. The exercise types and layout are varied, the visuals are vivid, and the CDs and DVD are of good quality with different accents. Listening and pronunciation work stand out. In Theme 1, Real time listening, there is a variation on cloze tests which I hadn't seen before. The recording is of a talk where the speaker pauses and students are asked to predict the words. It feels realistic. The listener can complete the speaker's words because they want to show they are interested and following the conversation, or because the speaker can't think of a word. I tried it out with my preintermediate speaking class. First, we personalised the subject of festivals and rituals, then I had them listen to a talk about the subject and complete the sentences in any way they liked. Exact words were not expected but they were still able to predict most of the words. There were a few blanks where we discussed alternatives. Another exercise in this section focuses on understanding spoken definitions, to help avoid communication breakdown. The sub-section, Grammar for Listening, contains time prepositions, linking sentences and alternative ways of expressing ideas, plus word-building and prepositions after verbs. Other listening sections focus on lectures: understanding the organization of a lecture, signpost words, phrases signaling the main topic and sub-topics, differentiating between opinion and facts and making notes. As part of an introduction to our second term programme, I used a lesson on note-taking in lectures. The lecture was about inventions and names and dates were to be matched with visuals. Then there was a follow-up lecture with a chart to fill in. I finished the lesson by working on the pronunciation of some words in the lecture. The speaking sections have similar areas of focus to the listening sections. They include conversations, functional language and the use of academic language in tutorials, plus research and presentations. Progressive skills in English also provides practice on arranging information to help students to give a talk using slides. The Everyday English sections are useful in that they provide authentic dialogues for various situations, give practice to expressions and encourage creativity. Reading practice includes: predicting content and contextual vocabulary; achieving coherence; scanning; and differentiating between fact and possibility with the help of grammatical cues. Comprehension exercises vary from controlled to semi-controlled and free. Vocabulary is revised at the end of each skills section. There is also a knowledge quiz, related to the topics of the reading texts, which also checks vocabulary. The Grammar for reading section includes some very useful subject +verb work. One exercise type used is key word transformation, which I find really improves the students' awareness of grammar. The writing skill sections include exercises on cohesive devices, articles, prepositions and basic paragraph structure. In this part, students are required to add vocabulary to a text, increase awareness of collocation, practise spelling and correct errors. They learn how to organize information, design questionnaires, analyse data and write research reports. In the Portfolio sections there are exercises such as listening to information about a festival, making notes, exchanging information and deciding which event to attend. Learners then take notes again, this time based on a reading text which they explain to their partner who also takes notes. Lastly, they prepare and deliver a short talk on one of the festivals. These are all good ideas. The lessons have a single focus, are well integrated, and activities flow smoothly from one to the other. My one reservation is that there is too much work on the same subject, risking student fatigue and students running out of ideas, although if you're not planning to cover the whole book, this may not matter much. Alternative routes through the material are suggested in the Teacher's Book. The Teacher's Book also includes, among other things, alterative approaches (e.g. getting students to listen only once as in real life) and optional extra activities. One point mentioned in the Teacher's Book is that intonation helps to convey meaning and is not given the importance it deserves. I asked an English colleague of mine for his opinion. His answer was that he is sure that his eyes glaze over when he has a long conversation with someone with poor intonation. On the other hand, when I listen to student presentations correct articulation is important for me. Recently, one of my students pronounced wheel" like "well" and another "source" like "search", which led me to confusion. For me, then, the relative importance of intonation is still an open question. Overall, Progressive Skills in English has given me new insights into teaching skills and is a life-saver withan admirable collection of activities suitable to the level. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes, and this book offers plenty of practice in areas helpful for academic purposes." Modern English Teacher: July 2012, Volume 21, No. 3, Ece Eryendi.

Key Features
  • Number Of Pages 96
  • Publisher Michigan State University Press
  • Copyright 2011
  • Edition Student Manual/Study Guide Edition
Specifications of Progressive Skills In English: Level 2: Workbook
Terry Phillips, Anna Phillips
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