The first thing about this book: it looks for all the world like a reference book, and I assumed that it was a reference book for teaching English.
Turns out I would have named it “Learning English from A to Z” because it’s for students. It has a reference-y feel to it and also has many exercises and an audio CD.
I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. Let’s move on.
I decided to skim through the book even though it’s not like the other books I’m looking at. I’m trying to decide what the intended usage niche for this book is. There’s not enough explanation through words or through pictures for it to be a primary text. There are nice dialogues, lists of examples (i.e. list of synonyms, antonyms, etc.) that would make great references, and exercises for practice. I guess it’s extra, self-directed learning for people who already have some English. My immediate questions:
- do students use this?
- do schools use this?
- how can my learning center and my students use this?
- I should see if the library carries this, and suggest it if they don’t.
The idioms and slang section is particularly interesting to me. The workbooks we use at my learning center avoid slang like “funky,” “nasty,” “screw up,” “homey,” and “crap.” They’re usually skipped because they can get uncomfortable, but I think students do need to learn them at some point. This book also lists “to pass wind” as an idiom, which I don’t think I’ve seen before. Makes me think we should just have an entire unit on bodily functions euphemisms. We Americans love our euphemisms.
Glancing through the grammar pages, which include Sentence Structure and Tenses, I think I should read them this evening. They’re simple, so it’ll be a quick read to make sure I know the most basic metalanguage cold. I mean, I know it, but whenever it comes up in class a part of me is nervous that I’m getting something subtly wrong.
In the Study Tips section, the phrase “miss pelt words” appears. I hope on a deep level that this was intentional.
I wouldn’t have put this book on my syllabus if I’d realized that it was geared toward students and not toward teachers. Still, I’m glad I paged through it. Now I know what kind of a resource it is for students, and I can at least get some basic English grammar review out of it for myself for the purpose of being a better teacher.
(I’m also thinking that I might like to dig more carefully through my learning center’s books. Maybe learning about our book collection could be another 5-week course. I could assess more of our books the way I assessed this one, plus maybe add a summary section listing strengths, weaknesses, pictures, niche, audience, and so on. I might have to make a page of additional 5-week courses that come to mind – my mental list is already quite long.)