“If you are going to write another coursebook for the English language, please try to do something a bit different.”
…one of the quotes accompanying the new Global 6-level multi-media coursebook series from Macmillan. In many ways, Global has succeeded in meeting this anonymous teacher’s request. Written by a team of award-winning EFL authors, with Lindsay Clanfield as lead writer and contributions from David Crystal, the book promotes global situations, cultures and English. I sampled the Pre Intermediate version (Int-Adv versions out 2011, 2012) aimed at and quite suitable for adults with more mature attitudes, including older learners. It has a strong focus on lexical, phrase-level teaching with many personalised, meaningful practice opportunities in often more abstract contexts. The digital components seem to be different, too, and it is these I will turn to first
Students should appreciate the eWorkbook (a first in the EFL world, approx. £5). Easy to navigate, giving a wide, varied language practice resource, students can also choose to print worksheets off. Exercises range from language practice to numerous audio and video clips (humourous, engaging and of a high quality, with a limited number of audio voices), downloadable to portable devices for learning ‘on-the-go’. Tests are automatically recorded for reference, a nice feature. The eWorkbook does provide choice and flexibility to choose what, how, when and where to learn.
The Global website is essentially an online EFL teachers’ community with free audio, video and worksheet resources for teachers (the ones I sampled looked good quality) plus author and teacher blogs. It was TEFL.net’s ‘Site of the Month’, Feb 2010 and I would recommend it: macmillanglobal.com. The platform neutral IWB package (Digital Book, £250 per PC) allows you to display coursebook pages as interactive versions, with audio, video and reference material. The Teacher’s Area of this allows you and the students to create digital materials – this does seem attractive and new.
So, the eWorkbook and IWB package come at a cost, but should ensure your teaching is more current and authentic.
The student’s book:
Ten units are divided into six, two page lessons; the first four being the core material. These contain a good balance of skills, promoting oral and written fluency. Speaking sections have task choices for flexibility, with segmental and suprasegmental level phonology integrated to help students achieve ‘international intelligibility’. Texts (often literary) are authentic and ‘information-rich’, adding to students’ motivation. Non-literary texts are mostly about real people, with listenings featuring native and non-native accents. I was impressed by the range of abstract, global topics alongside everyday topics like illness and free time, all of which are celebrity-free. Unit 4 topics include working for NGOs, then famous dystopias in literature – topics to communicate about. The units may ‘drag out’ these topics a little, but the variety of sub-topics should maintain interest.
Extra materials include a unique ‘Global English’ section with authentic, unscripted recordings of international speakers (often with errors left in), or stimulating texts about the English language by Crystal (5 in pre-int). A function section has everyday communicative contexts. Each unit concludes with a writing (e.g. CVs), review and Study Skills section.
The general layout is pleasing to the eye, with contemporary production values (calm greys and pastels). Thankfully, the visuals do not mean that pages are input-light.
The teacher’s book:
Unusually, the teacher’s book begins with ten short methodology essays by leading EFL authors (David Crystal to Scott Thornbury and more), which are bite-size and stimulating. The main sections of the teacher’s book seem standard enough, with good ‘Teach Global, Think Local’ practical tips boxes. A teacher’s resource disc contains a wide range of useful-looking tests, video and printable worksheets.
The contents pages are in a disappointingly small font, making it hard to read. The Teacher’s book, despite the essays, gives limited detail as to what methodologies and theories most influenced the authors. Also, while the course promotes English as an international language, the default standard for the book is British English, albeit minus topics or language that are too Anglo-centric. But that’s it really.
In summary, I would use and recommend Global with, or without, the IWB resource and eWorkbook, although these will enhance the course. The student’s book claims Global is ‘a ground-breaking 6-level adult course for today’s learners of English’ and I think this is a justified claim in many areas. It is the topic, text choices and technology that makes the series most different, not the grammar syllabus or exercise types, so not everything about the series is ground-breaking. But there is enough which is different to make it a very interesting and worthwhile resource addition for teachers of adult learners.