Macmillan Education 2013
As the Cambridge English: First exam is changing from January 2015, this review is one of a series of coursebooks designed to prepare learners for the exam. Reviews are also available for:
The book I looked at was the version containing the 2015 exam specifications.
Aimed at B2 level students, it comes across as quite an adult orientated book, though young adults would also no doubt be able to access the content. There is also quite a lot in there – depending on how you teach the book I would say there are about 5-8 lessons per unit, or somewhere between 80 and 120 hours of material, not including any supplementary resources.
I only had access to the coursebook and the workbook. There is also a teacher’s book with a DVDROM and each coursebook comes with an access code to the Macmillan online practice site.
All of the skills work is, as you might expect, contextualised towards exam structure and content. Reading tasks have a very clear “pre-task / task / post task” structure and one of the little touches I particularly liked was that the post reading task requires a personal reaction from the student towards the text or the content of the text. They also do this with some of the listenings. Writing seems to be dealt with mostly through a process of model analysis.
There are some nice review activities in the post-unit revision sections and I quite liked the organisation of the language input which seems to be more categorised by use than by specific language point (e.g. “talking about habits” rather than “the present simple”). That said, the language input is mostly rule based derivation and application. PPP without the final P – I fail to see why it is not possible to include open productive tasks in these sections. As it is they contain quite a lot of input & practice and I don’t know how “teachable” they would be.
Generally quite good – it looks nice and engaging, there’s not too much on the page. At least as far as the skills and exam focus sections are concerned. As soon as you hit a language input section however, the text tightens up, becomes denser and more impenetrable. The topics are, as you might expect, the same old faces, but are dealt with as well as can be expected. More adult than teen.
6/10. This was the first book I looked at and originally I was quite impressed – I still think it is a good book, but I would not like to teach from it in my context. There is too much in there to deal with effectively within the time frame (100 hours) I have available and unless the book expects me to simply motor through the language sections without worrying about learner take up of the target language, I really wouldn’t like to have to teach them. The rest of it’s good though.
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