There are thousands of English coursebooks nowadays, and one might get confused while trying to choose a coursebook for the students. I have faced this problem as well, trying to choose the coursebook for private classes with a 7-year-old student who has already learned some English before.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Elena K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Oxford Resources and Materials
As far as I am concerned, Oxford University Press is known to be one of the best ESL coursebook «producers» in the world. One of their best courses is «Family and Friends» which had been developed into «Family and Friends 2nd edition», a highly-popular course among ESL teachers.
«Family and friends» is a complete six-level course for primary school children. I am going to look at «Family and friends 2». This level includes Class Book, Workbook, Teacher’s book, iTools for using in the classroom, audio CDs, readers, and Teacher’s Resource Pack. The teacher might also consider using «Grammar Friends» as grammar reference and practice.
The course is dedicated to developing both receptive and productive skills. Each unit contains two «Skills time» pages precisely developed to work on the skills. All the tasks and connected with real life. For example, in «Family and Friends 2» Class book page 12 the boy, whose name is Peter, is talking about his school. The students’ task is to read Peter’s story and, after that, circle the correct answer to the questions. For example: How many boys are there in the class? 13/14. The listening task includes numbering the pictures. The speaking task is to ask and answer the questions using the prompts (boys, girls, teachers, windows, doors e.g. How many girls are there?). The writing task is to underline the capital letters at the start of the sentences and circle the capital letters at the start of the names.
To sum up, these pages develop all the skills, and the authors of the course always consider the level of the students. One more advantage of this book is presenting vocabulary. All the vocabulary is introduced with colorful pictures and flashcards within a definite topic - usually a story. The vocabulary is practiced with chants, songs, and motivating classroom games and activities. Speaking of grammar aspects, the children are exposed to the new grammar items alongside the keywords in the unit stories. Afterward, they move on to focused grammar presentation, which is reinforced with a range of spoken and written activities.
Moreover, every unit of the coursebook contains a phonics lesson. In level 2 common consonant blends and long vowels and their spelling are taught. Phonics and many sight words are practiced with phonics chants, which are easy to remember. For example, this is the chant for sounds ch, sh and th. Look at my teacher, Sitting on a chair. Her shoes are blue, She’s got long, black hair. A picture of a bath, And a picture of a fish. Look at my teacher. Her name’s Miss Wish.
The chant is also illustrated on the same page which makes it easier to connect the phonics words to realia.
The coursebook’s base is songs, chants, and drama. Melody and rhythm are an essential aid to memory and getting rid of fears and shyness. This is a strong feature of this book.
Drama in this book is built around Total Physical Response. Stories, which students watch on the screen first, become real-life stories, which motivate children. It is undeniable that the more body is involved in the learning process, the more likely the student is to absorb and retain the knowledge. That is why it is essential to teach a series of actions to accompany stories and songs within this course.
Also, after every three units, there is a Review unit. It provides additional practice of the vocabulary, structures, and sounds presented in the three preceding units. These Review units can be used as progress tests as well.
Another great feature of the coursebook is a picture dictionary, that needs to be colored. It helps kids to review the words learned. There is also a handwriting section that provides an opportunity for children to practice writing complete words. The course also has Values sections, which focus on children’s personal and social development. The themes include following school rules, health, and hygiene, etc.
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In conclusion, I would say «Family and Friends 2» is a great course for young learners. It is interesting, highly-motivative for kids and easy-to-use for teachers. Moreover, Oxford University Press has Readers for each level, that could be used along with the course work.
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