Susan Lowe and Louise Pile
Reviewed by Helen Ray, IH Santiago
Another one to add to the series of business communication skills books from Delta publishing, which already includes telephoning, socializing and emailing. This short book, again for Pre Intermediate – Intermediate level students, concentrates on the language and strategies for conducting negotiations and comes with a CD, tapescripts and full answer key which makes it suitable for self study or use in the classroom. While there is an obvious logical order to the units they are self-contained and the teacher can pick or choose which to use. It could be used to teach a short course on this area or as a supplementary book for any general business course.
Areas covered include: preparing to negotiate, opening negotiations, making proposals, reaching agreement, involving others and concluding the ideas. Another feature of the books in this series is the initial needs analysis and learning journal. What is maybe missing in a self study book is a focus on or discussion of vocabulary learning and recording techniques. Although there is no specific focus on grammar, the present simple / continuous, first conditional and verb forms come up and the vocabulary is related to word form, common verb – noun collocations and common business terms. There is a lot of room for a teacher to extend and focus on these language points, although no teacher’s guide as such to suggest how and where to do this. Personally, I would like to see a little more emphasis on the area of collocation and word form and verb patterns which aren’t included in the reference page at the end.
One of the strengths of the text is that the contexts are both varied and in several cases non-specific; many of the topics and contexts here will be of use to students from very different areas, useful and practical in classes which often have students from different departments or even different companies. Several of the topics are relevant to many different kinds of business, for example a delivery negotiation and those dealing with suppliers. A weakness is in the layout which is not that inspiring. The general appearance does little to draw student interest into the topics focusing heavily on the short grammar exercises with little relief.
General features of the book include; listening to dialogues and completing activities such as comprehension questions, matching sentence halves or ticking sentences which you hear. These listenings include a variety of accents with many non-native speakers and some of them are fairly long and I would say challenging for the average Pre Intermediate student. The focus on useful language arises from these conversations. There is a good focus on pronunciation with exercises on highlighting sentence stress, intonation and word stress on verbs and nouns. All units include short practice exercises which may be gap fills, error correction or ordering of dialogues with a good focus on common errors. At the end of each unit is a reference page with useful language. There is some focus on formal and informal language, making something more diplomatic and vague language. The unit ends with consolidation ideas or tips to encourage students to apply what they have seen to their real work situations.
The final task of each chapter is always a freer practice activity in which the students prepare for a negotiation in their own company in the near future. They focus on the stage of the negotiation taught in the unit and if using the whole book, for example as a regular part of their language course, will complete every stage by the end of the book. Using these final tasks would allow the teacher to set up their own role plays for the class.
The reference and review sections which complete each unit are practical and will prove useful to students studying alone or as additional practice for teachers to set as private study. The tasks are not merely grammatical exercises but include puzzles, free practice activities and listening tasks. There is also an emphasis on study skills and ways to remember vocabulary, pronunciation and useful grammar structures.
For the teacher using the book there are a few resources at the back which are mainly worksheets but do include some activities with cards. As a book both for self study and use in the classroom, this is another area a teacher would need to supplement with the creation of speaking activities / role plays for use in class.
In conclusion, another useful book from Delta publishing, to add to the supplementary business resources.
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