Está en la página 1de 22

SURVEY REVIEW survey review

EFL courses for adults


Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

Introduction

Our intention in this review is to evaluate eight current adult courses published by major British publishers, and to draw attention to the trends they have in common. As such a comprehensive review of coursebooks has never appeared in the ELT Journal before, we have endeavoured to make our review as rigorous as possible, in order to be informative about the particular courses under review, and about course development in general. The courses we have evaluated, which were submitted to us by four leading UK publishers, are as follows: Language in Use and True to Life Cutting Edge and Wavelength Inside Out and Reward Clockwise and Landmark (Cambridge University Press) (Pearson Longman) (Macmillan Heinemann ELT ) (Oxford University Press)

The components of the courses are summarized in Appendix A. NB the edition of Language in Use submitted for review was the original 1991 edition and not the new edition published in 2000. Our team consists of Brian Tomlinson from England, Bao Dat from Vietnam, Rani Rubdy from India, and Hitomi Masuhara from Japan. What we all have in common is that we have worked at the National University of Singapore, and have experience of teaching English as a Foreign Language, of researching approaches to the learning of foreign languages, and of materials development. In order to conduct this review, we rst of all agreed on a list of 133 course evaluation criteria, which were developed from research into what learners, teachers, and administrators want from coursebooks. This research was carried out at the 13th National Conference for Teachers of English, San Jose, Costa Rica (January 1997), at the 8th MATSDA Conference in Dublin (January 1997), at the IATEFL Literature Symposium in Dillingen, Germany ( September 1997), and on a worldwide scale for a major British publisher in 1998. After agreeing on our criteria, each of us independently evaluated the eight courses. We all focused on dierent unit numbers, and started each
80 ELT Journal Volume 55/1 January 2001 Oxford University Press

reviews

welcome

evaluation with a detailed analysis of that unit in each of the course components at intermediate level. We then looked at other units at the intermediate level before repeating this procedure for the other levels of the course. Then we graded the course on a scale of 05 for most of our 133 criteria, but on a scale of 020 for those criteria under the heading of Publishers Claim, and of 010 for those under the heading of Flexibility. Finally, we wrote evaluative comments for each of the headings which the criteria were grouped under (e.g. Flexibility; Teachability; Design). This procedure was carried out independently and in isolation by each reviewer, so as to avoid contamination of judgement. Here is an example of the criteria we used: 2 flexibility (Total grade = /100) a) Would the course appeal to adult learners in any country? (Grade = /10) b) Would the course be useful to adult learners in any country? (Grade = /10) c) Does the course provide opportunities for learners to localize activities? (Grade = /10) d) Does the course provide opportunities for teachers to localize activities? (Grade = /10) e) Does the course facilitate a exible approach? (Grade = /10) f) Does the course provide opportunities for extensive reading? (Grade = /10) g) Does the course provide opportunities for extensive listening? (Grade = /10) h) Does the course provide opportunities for informal acquisition as well as formal learning? (Grade = /10) i) Does the course cater for dierent preferred learning styles? (Grade = /10) j) Does the course prepare learners for the realities of language use in the real world? (Grade = /10) Finally, we collated and then averaged our scores for each criterion for each course, before looking for distinctive convergence and divergence in our evaluative comments.

General review of the We have been very thorough and systematic in our evaluation courses procedures, and have attempted to be as fair, rigorous, and objective as
possible. However, we must start this report on our evaluation by acknowledging that, to some extent, our results are still inevitably subjective. This is because any pre-use evaluation is subjective, both in its selection of criteria and in the judgements made by the evaluators (Ellis
EFL courses for adults

81

reviews

welcome

1998; Tomlinson 1999). We have attempted to compensate for this by establishing a team of reviewers from dierent countries and backgrounds, by evaluating the courses in isolation from each other, and by averaging our scores. But we must accept that the same review, conducted by a dierent team of reviewers, would almost certainly have produced a dierent set of results. It turned out that the four of us diered considerably in many of our prerequisites for a good coursebook, and disagreed completely in some of our responses to the coursebooks under review. But we all agreed that a good coursebook, whilst helping learners to develop their procedural knowledge of grammar, should concentrate on providing learners with engaging and purposeful interaction with language in use. Another group of reviewers might have considered the provision of grammatical information to be pivotal. Only a thorough whilst-use evaluation, and a rigorous longitudinal post-use evaluation, could reveal reliable evidence about the value of the courses in aecting learner attitudes and behaviour, and ultimately in contributing to the development of the communicative competence of the learners. All that we can do in this review is to present our informed and collective predictions as to the likely value of the courses.

Overall course criteria

1 Publishers claims We found that publishers seem to have become more descriptive and less extravagant recently in their claims about what their courses do. For example, Language in Use, Wavelength, Landmark, and Inside Out, were found to be fairly accurate in their claims about what they were providing for the learner. However, it was felt that Reward and Cutting Edge were more form-focusedand less communicativethan they claimed, that True to Life just did not achieve the motivation, realism, and engagement that it emphasized, and that Clockwise made exaggerated and unrealistic claims to be energetic and dynamic, and to provide communicative pay-os and stimulate personal response. Reward and Cutting Edge also make very sensible points in the Introductions to their teachers books, but they do not always help the teacher to achieve what they are recommending (for example, cross-cultural awareness in Reward, and personalization in Cutting Edge).

One consequence of the trend to avoid criticism for unsubstantiated claims seems to be a reluctance to state the learning objectives of the dierent levels of the courses. Instead, most of the courses seem to restrict themselves to a description of the content of units, rather than risk saying what they intend it to achieve. For example, True to Life lists Key features, but does not state its objectives. Reward states task aims in its teachers books, but they tend to be such vague procedural aims as to practise reading for main ideas (Intermediate Teachers Book, p. 43). Also, Clockwise lists Series aims; but they seem to be a mixture of content, procedures, and vague aims, such as to enable students to perform English in a more natural way (Teachers Book, p. 4). 2 Flexibility Whether one is drawing the content of courses from message forms which are contrived exemplications of the code, or from the message
82 Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

reviews

welcome

forms which are sampled from actually occuring text, they need to be made real for the learner. The message forms have to be made locally appropriate to the dierent classroom contexts in which learners nd themselves. (Widdowson 2000: 30) This is the ultimate challenge for the global course, and it has to be said it is not one which most courses have achieved. Some of the courses in this review focus the learners attention on contrived exemplications of the code, and make little attempt to make them real for particular groups of learners (e.g. the short passage about hating Christmas in Clockwise Intermediate (p. 36), and a text about weather in the Pre-Intermediate Personal Study Workbook for True to Life (p. 54). Others do give attention to message forms sampled from actually occurring text, but often manage to make them unreal by using them in activities which have little apparent appeal or value to the adult learner (e.g. an extract from Jane Eyre in Reward Upper Intermediate Students Book (p. 38), which is followed by vocabulary and true/false questions). However, some of the courses do succeed in making their texts and tasks locally appropriate (especially Wavelength and Inside Out), and all of the courses try to personalize their activities by inviting the learners to use their own lives, views, and feelings, as content to comment on (e.g. Interview each other about your plans and ambitions. Make notes under the following headings. Cutting Edge Intermediate, p. 50). We felt that most of the courses give little opportunity or encouragement to adapt the materials to the needs, wants, personalities, or styles of the learners or teachers. Most of them favour analytical learners who like to focus their conscious attention on discrete learning points, but few of them provide activities for experiential learners, and none provide activities for kinaesthetic learners, who prefer to learn through physical activity. The emphasis in most courses is on explicit teaching of declarative knowledge, followed by controlled or guided practice. In other words, PPP (presentationpracticeproduction) still rules, but with the emphasis now very much on the rst two Ps. A lack of extended texts and tasks makes it very dicult for the teacher to try to cater for experiential learners by changing the order or focus of the activities. As the above comments suggest, we were disappointed that contemporary courses do not seem to have taken the advice of researchers and methodologists, which is to cater for dierent teaching and learning styles (e.g. Masuhara 1998; Oxford 1997) and to design books which can be used dierently in dierent circumstances (e.g. Maley 1998). We were particularly disappointed to nd that: extensive reading and the use of ction is almost non-existent in many courses; the claims made by many courses that they follow a discovery approach usually disguise an attempt to get learners to nd a pre-determined answer (e.g. the discovery activities in Landmark Upper Intermediate Students Book, p. 47, are trying to get learners to nd the answers which are in the Language commentary on p.129); text length is constant and brief; choices are hardly ever given to learners;
EFL courses for adults

83

reviews

welcome

when communication activities or tasks are provided, they nearly always have an overt language practice point (e.g. in Reward Upper Intermediate Students Book (p. 35) a ghost story writing activity is used to practice linking words, and on pp. 967 of Cutting Edge Intermediate Students Book, a lottery money task is used to practise Giving and explaining opinions, and Agreeing/disagreeing). However, we did agree that Language in Use, Landmark, and Inside Out, especially, do try to ensure some exibility by providing experiential activities and opportunities for informal acquisition, and by encouraging learners to personalize and localize their responses. 3 Syllabus A quick glance at the course overviews at the beginning of the students books reveals how language-focused the syllabus of courses has become. In most of the courses grammar is signalled as the main focus of most units, in fact, True to Life only has two columnsLanguage focus and Topics. Although the main column in Reward is grammar and functions, 35 out of the 40 units in the Intermediate Coursebook focus on grammar. The exceptions are Inside Out and Landmark, which provide ample grammar practice, but put the initial emphasis in each unit on skills. Most of the courses give much greater prominence to listening and speaking than they do to reading and writing (with the exception of Landmark), although some of them have decided to focus on speaking and listening in the coursebook, and as in True to Life, to limit the amount of reading material in the Class Book (but increase it in the Personal Study Workbook) (Teachers Book p. iv ). The decision seems to have been taken that, in most of the courses, classroom time should be spent in listening and speaking practice, but that for those who want it, provision should be made in workbooks for reading and writing practice. Inside Out and Cutting Edge, for example, have a writing course syllabus in their workbooks, and Wavelength has a reading course in its workbook. One of the consequences of downgrading reading is that in most courses there is no substantial content for the learners to respond to. The reading texts which are provided are usually too short and bland to provide anything to think or talk about. The listening texts also tend to be fairly mundane interviews, or monologues about hobbies, jobs, journeys, customs, routines, etc. Many of them are quite realistic (and even interesting) but responding to them calls for very little cognitive or aective engagement. An engaging poem or a controversial article would not only provide opportunities for developing the skills required in experiential reading, but could also provide meaningful content on which to base subsequent speaking and writing activities. In our comments when reviewing these courses, we kept using such terms as trivial, bland, dull, and not engaging about the topic content. Also, we felt that many adults would feel intellectually and emotionally insulted, as a result of being constantly asked to discuss such topics as birthdays, mobile phones, hairstyles and the most foreign place you have been to (Clockwise Pre-Intermediate Classbook, p. 47). The one
84 Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

reviews

welcome

outstanding exception is Language in Use, which stimulates the expression of thoughts and feelings about controversial issues (e.g. Life on Earth pp. 1069 of the Intermediate Classroom Book). Moreover, it does so without imposing a correct attitude, and even, apparently, without any hidden agenda. The language content of the courses focuses typically on language for cooperationpoliteness and harmonyand rarely includes lexis or strategies which could empower learners in situations involving competition or conict. Combined with the brevity and blandness of the texts, this results in the creation of an EFL world which is bland and dull and in which there is very little excitement or disturbance to stimulate the emotions of the learner (Tomlinson 1998c: 20), which is safe, clean, harmonious, benevolent, undisturbed and PG-rated (Wajnryb 1996: 291), ultimately reduces and trivializes the content and the process of learning. For example, Clockwise Pre-Intermediate Classbook has consecutive units on Social Life (making arrangements, invitations, and suggestions), Meet the Family, and Nearest and Dearest, and the nearest it gets to discord is teaching polite forms of disagreement in a unit called Out of Touch (pp. 323). Clockwise Intermediate does, however, have one unitTemper and Tears (pp. 445)which is full of anger, temper, and complaints. Wavelength and True to Life are mainly peopled by nice young men and women getting on well with each other, but the Wavelength Pre-Intermediate Coursebook does have a sudden outburst of Jealousy and revenge in Unit 10, and the True to Life Upper Intermediate Class Book does include some angry people on p. 75, some others having arguments on p. 85, and a mother and son getting irritated with each other in a scene from Harold Pinters A Night Outa rare inclusion of literature (p. 90). The prominence given to grammar in most courses has led to a decrease in the attention given to skills development, to functions, to communication strategies, and to learning strategies. There is a token, and often rather fragmented attempt to include these important aspects of a language course, but in most cases not enough attention is given to them to facilitate useful learner development. This is particularly true of Clockwise and Cutting Edge, but less so of Landmark and Inside Out. Of course, this does raise the crucial question of how many facets of a language course can be covered in a principled, coherent, thorough, and systematic way in a coursebook. In opting for the centrality of grammar, most of these courses have inevitably marginalized aspects of learning which researchers and methodologists would consider to be important features of language learning. A number of the courses include a teachers resource pack of photocopiable materials. Most of these packs feature communication tasks which can be used to supplement the coursebook (for a discussion of tasks see Rubdy 1998). However, in most of these courses (e.g. Reward and Clockwise) the activities provide guided practice of grammar and vocabulary rather than the opportunities to use language to achieve intended outcomes which they seem to promise. This is true also of the tasks in Cutting Edge, which claim to be authentic, and to give students
EFL courses for adults

85

reviews

welcome

the opportunity to develop their speaking skills in real life situations, but which in most cases simply provide practice of given language. For example, in the Module 9 Part B Task of the Intermediate Students Book, the learners are told to Discuss how you think the money should be spent and agree on a budget together. Look at the phrases in the Useful language box (p. 97). Many of the courses include cross-cultural awareness activities, but in most cases they are UK-centred, they describe English peoples reactions to exotic places they have visited on holiday, they depict stereotypical and often clichd behaviour, and they tend to portray non-Western cultures as eccentric, and even bizarre. For example: In the Language in Use Intermediate Classroom Book, the learners listen to people from dierent countries comparing their countries to Britain (p. 60). In the Wavelength Pre-Intermediate Coursebook, Julia tells her friend about a holiday she had in India where the immigration ocials laughed at her, and made her get back on the plane, because she did not have a valid visa (p. 39). The Clockwise Pre-Intermediate Classbook includes clichs about greetings in dierent countries (p. 47). The Reward Pre-Intermediate Students Book states that people sit on the oor in Japan (p. 2) and that men usually go to restaurants on their own. The most noticeable exclusion is extensive reading. All the way up to Upper-Intermediate level most courses use very short reading texts on which to base intensive reading questions. Reward claims to encourage the learner to respond to the reading passage in a personal and genuine way before using it for other purposes, but often the reading tasks discourage experiential reading (e.g. Read Family life, and match the questions with each paragraph. Reward Pre-Intermediate Students Book, p. 21). The one noticeable exception to this focus on intensive reading of short passages is Wavelength, which has a supplementary extensive reading book containing four short stories. 4 Pedagogic approach None of these courses really tries to cater for dierent learning styles or personalities. The emphasis is on the analytical learning of discrete features through practice and memorization (an emphasis on vocabulary memorization at word and phrase level (Clockwise Intermediate Classbook). There are very few activities for experiential learners, and hardly any at all for the majority of learners who prefer kinaesthetic learning. Learners are rarely given choices of content or activity, and there is little scope on most courses for teacher initiative in providing learner choice. However, Landmark does provide some learner choice in its Speaking personally sections, and Inside Out and Wavelength often ask learners to give extra examples for themselves (for example, in the Wavelength Pre-Intermediate Coursebook (p. 68) learners are asked to persuade the class to get rid of one modern invention or gadget which really irritates them).
86 Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

reviews

welcome

Not all these courses attempt to engage the learners aectively through excitement, emotion, or fun, which often do provide a stimulating but achievable challenge (Arnold 1999; Tomlinson 1998c). In fact, many of them have an almost exclusively cognitive approach, and we all agreed that most of the courses underestimate the learners, and make most of the activities too simple (especially True to Life). The exceptions are Wavelength and Inside Out, which often provide a stimulating challenge, and aim at aective engagement (Inside Out, is often also funny), while Language in Use and Landmark respect the learners as individuals, and seek to engage them personally in many of their activities. The most obvious pedagogic feature of many of these courses is that they are teaching-centred, and seem to assume that what is taught will be learnt. There seems to be a reaction against the freer, open-ended, learner-centred days of the Communicative Approach, and a fear that unless language is seen to be taught, books will not be bought. This might appeal to those administrators and teachers who blame the Communicative Approach for causing learners to use inaccurate English (a view which is prevalent today, for example, in Singapore), but it in no way does it agree with what we know about learners having their own syllabus, and only learning what they need, and when they are ready to learn (Tomlinson 1998a: 1012). Most of these courses use the PPP (PresentationPracticeProduction) approach, which makes it clear what is being taught. However, it has been criticized by many methodologists (e.g. Willis 1996) for imposing a uni-modal learning style, and for not reecting the natural tendency to learn what you need to use rather than what you are told to learn. This focus on teaching rather than learning is particularly evident in True to Life, and in Clockwise, which despite its claims to develop fluency and to provide clear communicative payoffs in every lesson (back cover of class book) actually gives much more attention to teaching language forms than it does to helping learners to acquire communicative competence. Some of these courses do use awareness approaches and task-based approaches, in addition to explicit teaching of language, but Cutting Edge, for example, puts more emphasis on language practice and language summary than it does on its language awareness activities (e.g. Intermediate pp. 623), and actually preteaches language items before asking learners to do tasks (e.g. Intermediate pp. 645). Wavelength and Inside Out are exceptions to this teaching centredness, and we all agreed that, although they provide useful teaching of language items, their main focus is on meaning and communication, and on encouraging learners at all levels to actually use the language. 5 Topic content We all agreed that the topic content of many of the units, in many of the courses, is distinctively trivial for adult learners. Topics tend to focus on everyday routines, such as sleeping, going to work, watching television, and eating out, and most attention is paid to normal behaviour rather than to interesting divergence (e.g. in the Map of the Book for Reward Pre-Intermediate, the word typical, routine, and customs is
EFL courses for adults

87

reviews

welcome

mentioned in the content description of six of the rst 20 units). While these safe topics have the advantage of familiarity, they are hardly likely to engage the learners aectively or intellectually. True to Life and Clockwise were considered to be particularly bland and conventional in their choice of topics. Reward, Landmark, Cutting Edge, and Inside Out include some potentially engaging topics (e.g. Social matters. Society and the future, Rules and freedom, and Dilemmas and decisions in Cutting Edge Intermediate). However, we often felt that the texts related to these topics were used mainly as examples of language features, and that the activities were often supercial, and generally failed to exploit the aective and intellectual potential of the topics. By contrast, we thought that Language in Use and Wavelength not only included many important and provocative topics, but also exploited them in ways which encouraged aective and intellectual engagement. 6 Voice In general, the voices of the authors in these courses are neutral and semi-formal. The learners are given instruction(s) impersonally in the voice of an expert talking to a novice and the author rarely talks to the adult learners as equals, or shares experiences with them. This approach avoids the risk of learnersespecially those from authority-respecting culturesbeing irritated or oended by a quirkily personal voice, but it misses the opportunities for engagement and stimulation which have been found to result from authors chatting to learners in personal ways (Beck, McKeown, and Worthy 1995; Tomlinson 1998a: 89). True to Life was considered to be patronising at times (e.g. p. 44, Task 2 of True to Life Elementary Class Book), while Clockwise was thought to be sometimes brusque and unfriendly, and Cutting Edge, Inside Out, Reward, and Landmark were described as neutral, but not unfriendly or disrespectful. However, we agreed that Language in Use and Wavelength managed to be neutral, yet at the same time friendly and supportive in their authorial voice. 7 Instructions We were surprised at the lack of clarity and specicity in many of the instructions. For example, Landmark and Inside Out were criticized for their ambiguous use of pronouns, lack of clarity in reference, insucient separation, lack of specicity about what to do and how to do it, lack of examples, and insuciency of signalling and highlighting. Pages 423 Landmark Upper Intermediate Students Book and Unit 1 of Inside Out Workbook Intermediate (both chosen at random), illustrate most of these faults, and some of them can also be found on almost every page of most of the other courses. However, whilst sharing many of the negative features mentioned above, Reward and True to Life do at least clearly signal and highlight their instructions, and Wavelength usually achieves clear highlighting, separation and staging. 8 Teachability Teachers can be said to be the central gures in materials development, and yet their needs and wants are rarely given much consideration in coursebook development (Masuhara 1998: 23940).
88 Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

reviews

welcome

Not surprisingly, many of the courses reviewed did not satisfy all of our criteria for teachability. Although most of them consider the obvious need to help teachers to minimize their preparation time, very few provide help in adapting the global course to specic situations, or cater for dierent teaching styles or personalities, or (most important of all) make eorts to make the courses interesting for the teachers. We found that most of the courses (especially True to Life) impose an approach on the teachers, and we agreed that many of them (especially True to Life, Clockwise, and Reward) would not be very interesting to teach. However we agreed that: Language in Use gives some useful advice to teachers in its teachers books; Cutting Edge facilitates some adaptation through useful cross-referencing and suggestions on how to use the additional material in the Resource Bank and Workbook; Wavelength oers the teacher a choice of interesting extra materials; Landmark oers the teacher some scope for localization and adaptation; Inside Out makes clear to the teacher the principles and objectives of its activities, gives helpful suggestions, and provides some scope for teacher adaptation.

Coursebookspecic criteria

1 Appearance It is surprising that with the exception of Landmark and Reward, very few of these courses have made any serious attempt to appeal to adults, and that some of them (especially Clockwise) seem almost childish in appearance. In fact, a teacher visiting our offices flicked through the coursebooks and commented that they looked just like school textbooks. We considered most of the coursebooks to have unattractive covers (especially Landmark and Inside Out) but to be very visually attractive throughout especially Landmark and Inside Out. We considered Language in Use to have an attractive cover, and to be visually very attractive throughout. Whereas Cutting Edge was thought to have a rather gaudy cover, and not to be very attractive inside. A distinctive feature of most of the books when we icked through them was how European they look. Despite what seems to be a token attempt to include a few photographs of other continents and cultures, this was particularly true of Reward, Clockwise, Cutting Edge, Landmark, and Inside Out. 2 Design Some of the courses were considered to be cluttered and dense, with too much text crammed onto each page, and not enough white space to provide relief and clarity. Clockwise Intermediate and Upper Intermediate, and Cutting Edge were thought to be particularly guilty of such clutter, and also of a lack of clear separation and sequencing, so that we found it very dicult to focus our attention on some of their pages (e.g pp. 501 of Clockwise Intermediate Classbook, and pp. 367 of Cutting Edge Intermediate Students Book). On the other hand, we found that Reward, and Language in Use made good use of white space, and
EFL courses for adults

89

reviews

welcome

always made the sequence and separation of their activities clear (e.g. pp. 245 of Reward Upper Intermediate Students Book). 3 Illustrations One distinctly positive feature of most of these courses is the use of interesting illustrations. Language in Use, in particular, has a rich variety of modern, attractive, and intriguing illustrations (including photographs, drawings, cartoons, and art), which give the books an aesthetic appeal, and are often used to stimulate curiosity and engagement. This is particularly true of the Upper Intermediate Classroom Book, which, for example, uses intriguing modern paintings as the basis for personal interpretation activities (pp. 20, 39, 89, 90, 94). The same is also true to a lesser extent of Inside Out, Cutting Edge, and Landmark. However, we found that Clockwise has only a few rather small and unattractive illustrations (except in the Pre-Intermediate Classbook) and that the illustrations in True to Life are neither interesting, attractive, or functional. A number of other courses contain many illustrations which have no apparent function other than to decorate the book. This is particularly true of Reward Upper Intermediate Students Book (e.g. pp. 12 and 77) and Clockwise the Intermediate Classbook (e.g. pp. 44 and 623). On the other hand, some of the books use many of their illustrations as a resource for language activities, especially Wavelength (e.g. pp. 401 and pp. 667 of the Pre-Intermediate Coursebook) and Inside Out (e.g. pp. 545 and pp. 93 of the Intermediate Students Book. 4 Reading texts We all agreed that the most notable and regrettable features of the reading texts are their brevity, and the restricted range of text types. Even at Upper Intermediate Level the typical text is no more than half a page long, and either describes a person, place, or routine, or narrates an event. Rarely are the learners encouraged to read extensively for pleasure, rarely are they invited to engage with argumentative or provocative texts, and rarely are they given opportunity to enjoy a story or a poem are equally scarce. Instead, most units in most courses ask them to read a very short text intensively before answering related comprehension or language questions. There is little attempt to help the learners to develop reading skills and condence, and hardly any attempt at all to help them develop the positive approach to free reading which has been shown to facilitate language acquisition (Elley 1991; Krashen 1993; Tomlinson 1998b). The notable exceptions are Language in Use, which does provide some provocative texts, and invites the learners to respond to them personally (e.g. p. 68 of the Upper Intermediate Classroom Book) and Wavelength, which provides opportunities for reading for pleasure (e.g. p. 53 of the Pre-Intermediate Coursebook).

Cassettte/CD ROMspecic criteria

One of the components of global courses which has become more interesting and eective in the current generation of language teaching materials is that which provides the learners with opportunities to listen to the language being used. Many of the courses in this review have managed to provide listening material which is realistic (if not always authentic), varied, and sometimes engaging. This is especially true of
Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

90

reviews

welcome

Language in Use, which sounds natural even at the beginners level, which includes a variety of genres, text types, voices, and accents, and which does provide some experience of extensive listening. The same also applies to Inside Out and Wavelength, although these courses were sometimes criticized for sounding obviously scripted and acted. Unfortunately, it cannot be said that the listening material in Reward, True to Life, or Clockwise is particularly natural, varied, or engaging. We found Reward lacked spontaneity, variety, and aective appeal (though it does include some non-British accents); True to Life struck us as rather monotonous and Cambridge upper middle class, and we thought that Clockwise was contrived, obviously acted, and not very engaging.

Teachers Bookspecic criteria

We found that there were basically three types of teachers book: Those that give very little useful information or advice to the teacher and are uninteresting to read (i.e. True to Life and Clockwise). Those which give clear and detailed procedures to the teacher for using the book but do not provide many extra possibilities, or do anything to help the teacher to adapt and localize the course (i.e. Reward, Inside Out, and Landmark). Those which provide useful suggestions for adaptation, as well as useful additional activities for the teacher to choose from (Cutting Edge, Wavelength, and, especially, Language in Use). Unfortunately, except those for Language in Use, all of the teachers books are unattractive in appearance and poorly designedthe almost inevitable consequence of being a nancially unprotable component of a global course.

Workbookspecic criteria

The workbook is another course component which seems to have improved in the current generation of global adult courses. We liked the fact that many of the activities in many of the courses are personalized, that the reading and writing activities are quite interesting, that there is a variety of activity types, and that there is varied revision of what has been taught in the coursebook. These qualities are particularly evident in Landmark, Language in Use, and Inside Out, but not quite so evident in Wavelength, or in Cutting Edge, which was considered to have too many form-focused activities). Only two of the courses have video components. The Reward video component was considered to be boring, to use a very restricted number of genres and text types, and to concentrate far too much on a running story about a very corny TV company staed by a number of gross and unconvincing character types. The True to Life video was thought to be rather amateurish in its acting, and the script was thought to lack clear principles and objectives. It does, however, have some potentially interesting scenes. We all asked the question, What is the point of including an expensive video component when so much interesting material is available o-air these days? Nobody could think of a convincing answer.
EFL courses for adults

Video-specic criteria

91

reviews

welcome

Specic evaluation of the individual courses

All of us independentally agreed that Clockwise is disappointing, and that it satises very few of our criteria. What we all liked about Clockwise was:

The attractive and supportive design, lots of white space, clear divisions Clockwise between activities, and clear indications of sequence in the Pre(Oxford University Intermediate Classbook. Press) Some fairly realistic and quite interesting listenings at the Intermediate level (e.g. in Unit 06 Change of State, and Unit 07 Taking Chances). What we all disliked about Clockwise was: The excessive focus on language form, and the consequent neglect of communication. The textbook-centredness of the approach: although it gives information to the learners, it does not provide them with enough opportunities to use it for communication, and does not encourage them to think or discover for themselves. The lack of potential for aective engagement in most of the activities. The lack of challenge oered to the learners. The triviality of much of the content. The neglect of writing skills. The consistent brevity of the reading texts, and the lack of variety of text types and genres. The obvious scripting of the listening texts at levels below Upper Intermediate. The minuteness and lack of function of many of the illustrations. The ambiguity and lack of clarity of many of the instructions, none of which are supported by highlighting or examples. The exaggerated claims made about the approach and potential value of the course. We gave Clockwise an overall average rating of 54.1%

Cutting Edge (Pearson/Longman)


Some of us liked Cutting Edge more than others, but none of us rated it very highly. What we liked about it was: The respect given to the learners. The opportunities for personal response. The attempts to engage aect. The opportunities for choice oered to teachers and learners. What we did not like about Cutting Edge was: The excessive focus on language form. The lack of real-life tasks. The lack of opportunities to use language for communication. The limitations imposed by the short texts and the guided activities. The way the engagement potential of the reading and listening texts is ignored in favour of text-based language work. The very heavy units, which have too many unconnected activities. The way every page is cluttered with text, and devoid of any white space. The ambiguity and lack of clarity of the instructions. The apparent assumption that teaching = learning, made evident by an approach which is based on giving information about grammar and vocabulary, and ignoring everything we know about the need to motivate
Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

92

reviews

welcome

and engage the learners, and to provide them with comprehensible input and with opportunities to use language rather than to just practice it. We gave Cutting Edge an overall average rating of 64%.

Inside Out (Macmillan Heinemann ELT )

In general we like Inside Out, and would be happy to teach it. What we liked about it was: It stands out as being dierent from the stereotypical coursebook. The authors excitement and enthusiasm are evident. It makes use of current insights from learning research. It respects the learners. It promotes learning rather than teaching. It includes a varied range of interesting spoken and written texts. It attempts to engage the learners both aectively and intellectually (especially in the listening activities). It encourages personal response. It encourages student initiative. It promotes creativity and independent thinking. It gives priority to meaning.

What we did not like about Inside Out was: That the engagement potential of a text is often ignored in favour of textbased language work (e.g. Pacic Heights on pp. 778 of the Intermediate Students Book). The lack of attention to communication skills. The paucity of the writing tasks. The poor quality of the instructions. The lack of opportunity for extensive listening and reading. The underuse of ction. The orientation towards western culture (e.g. Intermediate Student Book, Unit 3, p. 28. Chat up lines, and Intermediate Workbook, p. 13). We gave Inside Out an overall average of 73.8%.

Language in Use (Cambridge University Press)

We are very impressed by the 1991 original edition Language in Use, and would recommend its use. N.B. We would like to emphasise that our evaluation above (and in Appendix B) is of Language in Use (1991) and not of the New Edition of Language in Use (2000).We have all seen a copy of the New Edition of Language in Use Pre-Intermediate and we are all agreed that this edition would not have been evaluated as highly as the original if we had subjected it to a criterion referenced evaluation. We are all disappointed that the New Edition seems to have lost the aesthetic appeal, the potential for engagement and the encouragement of creativity of the orginal. It has also lost nearly all the reading texts and gained lots of little bits of language for study instead. What we liked about it was: It encourages creativity. It aims at aective and intellectual engagement. It encourages personalization. It treats learners as individuals.
EFL courses for adults

93

reviews

welcome

It tries to cater for students of mixed backgrounds and abilities. It aims at skills development. It contains a rich variety of real world spoken and written texts. It is very attractive in appearance. Its attractive illustrations are often usefully functional.

What we did not like about Language in Use was: It is too form-focused. It does not contain enough communication activities. It does not have enough experiential activities (despite its claims to do so). It gives little attention to extensive writing. It neglects extensive listening and reading. It does not use enough ction. We gave Language in Use an overall average score of 74.5%.

Landmark (Oxford University Press)

We liked Landmark, and would recommend its use, especially for learners who want to be stimulated to think for themselves as well as to learn language. What we liked about Landmark is: It respects the learners and the teacher. It has an adult tone. It encourages learner enquiry, and provides opportunities for selfdiscovery (e.g. Upper Intermediate Students Book, p.9). It attempts to engage aect. It provides potentially motivating exposure to English in use through a diverse range of realistic listening and reading texts. It provides some opportunities to develop the skills of extensive reading. It has a potentially useful writing component which has just the right balance of guidance and freedom. It helps to develop thinking skills in English. It provides some extension activities for ambitious students. It has an aesthetic appeal. What we did not like about Landmark was: The predominant focus on language forms. The lack of attention to communication skills. The excessive control and guidance provided in many of the activities. The limitations imposed by the brevity of the texts. The unrealistic harmony of the world created by the course. The Anglo-centricity of the listening texts. The lack of opportunities for localization. The poor quality of the instructions. The underuse of ction. We gave Landmark an overall average score of 73%.

Reward (Macmillan Heinemann ELT )

We all agreed that Reward is in many ways the stereotypical middle-ofthe-road language course which is unlikely to disturb or delight anybody, and is therefore likely to sell very well.

94

Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

reviews

welcome

What we liked about Reward was: It attempts to raise cross-cultural awareness. It attempts to engage aect by giving opportunities for personal response. It gives respect to the learners. It chunks the course in a way which makes it manageable for teachers and for learners. Some of the listening and reading texts are potentially motivating. What we did not like about Reward was: The limitations imposed by the short texts and the guided activities. The way the engagement potential of a text is often ignored in favour of text-based language work. The excessive focus on the the explicit teaching of grammar rules. The de-contextualized presentation of vocabulary and grammar. The lack of opportunities for learners to make discoveries for themselves. The lack of attention to communication skills. The low priority given to writing. The cursory, rather supercial, coverage of most of the teaching points. The underuse of ction. We gave Reward an overall average score of 62.4%.

True to Life (Cambridge University Press)

We were all very disappointed by True to Life, as we had had quite high expectations of it when we read the title, noticed the authors, and skimmed the coursebooks. What we liked about True to Life was: Some of the scenes on the video. Some of the listening material. The title. What we did not like about True to Life was: The absolute centrality of grammar. The almost exclusive focus on language form. The neglect of spontaneous communication and uency activities. The discrete nature of most of the activities. The lack of any attempt to engage aect. The exclusive catering for analytical learners. The lack of interesting texts. The lack of variety of genres and text types. The lack of imagination and creativity. The triviality and lack of apparent transferability of many of the activities (e.g. in Task 2, p. 29 of the Pre-Intermediate Class Book, learners in pairs are invited to ask the teacher 15 questions about his or her shoes). The neglect of writing skills. The lack of opportunities for extensive listening and reading. The potential for boring both learners and teachers. We gave True to Life an overall average score of 54.1%.

EFL courses for adults

95

reviews

welcome

Wavelength (Pearson Longman)

There are many things which we liked about Wavelength, and we would happily recommend it and use it ourselves. What we liked about Wavelength was: It attempts to engage aect by giving ample opportunities for personal response. The respect given to the learners. The way that grammar is given major attention, but is not allowed to destroy the reality of texts and tasks. The priority given to meaning. The realism of the world created by the course (e.g. arguments and competition, as well as agreement and cooperation). The use of narrative and of humour to engage interest and attention. The many interesting and useful suggestions, and the optional material oered to the teachers. The scope for learner choice, initiative, and personalization. The provision of some extensive reading activities. What we did not like about Wavelength was: The predominant focus on language. The lack of attention to communication skills. The limited range of genres and text types. The limitations imposed by the brevity of many of the texts, and the inadequate guidance provided for many of the activities. The mechanical nature of many of the exercises in the workbooks. The low priority given to writing. The predominance of conversational English in the listening texts. We gave Wavelength an overall average score of 70%. After our rigorous evaluation of the eight courses, our conclusion is that we would all be happy to teach or recommend Inside Out, Landmark, Language in Use, and Wavelength, they are all genuinely adult courses, and have the potential to motivate both teachers and learners. See Appendix B for a summary of the scores which each course was given for each criterion heading.

General trends in current courses Positive trends

We all agreed that we had noticed and welcomed the following positive trends in course development: An increase in attempts to personalize the learning process by getting learners to relate topics and texts to their own lives, views, and feelings (especially in Language in Use and Inside Out). An attempt to gain the aective engagement of the learners by involving them in texts and tasks which encourage the expression of feelings (especially in Language in Use and Wavelength). A greater attempt to create reality in the texts produced for the audiovisual components of many of the courses. A greater potential for engagement in the audio-visual components of many of the courses (especially in Wavelength). A larger range of accents, genres, and personality types in the audiovisual components of many of the courses. Better quality teachers books, which are easier to use (e.g. by having a
Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

96

reviews

welcome

page from the students book, and a guide to using it on the same double-page spread), more respectful to the teacher, and more useful as a source of additional material, and ideas for alternative or extra activities. Better quality workbooks, as regards the engagement value of the content, and the attractiveness of the appearance (especially Landmark and Wavelength). A multiple trialling of the materials, as evidenced by the lists of acknowledgements to the institutions involved in the trialling. All the above are welcome trends, but we all agree that most of them need to go even further. This is particularly true of the trends towards the personalization of activities, and the engagement of aect.

Negative trends

We also agreed that we had noticed and regretted what we considered to be the following negative trends: The insistence on a return to the central place of grammar in the language curriculum (Soars and Soars 1996), which seems to contradict what many of the teachers and learners in the research referred to on p.1 said they want from a course. This goes against many of the ndings of Second Language Acquisition Research (see Tomlinson 1998a, pp. 522), and in some of the courses reviewed often resulted in the sacrice of the potential cognitive and aective engagement of a text or task in order to focus on the explicit teaching of a new feature of grammar, this is also noticeable in the new edition of Language in Use Pre-Intermediate which is far more grammar-centred than the original 1991 edition. The assumption that adult learners are mainly interested in listening and speaking, and a consequent neglect at reading and writing (activities which can be extremely valuable for facilitating language acquisition, even if the skills developed are not the priority needs of the learners). The assertion that authenticity of text and task is not necessarily valuable for the learner, and that a reality which is contrived to match the level of the learners is likely to be more benecial in terms of language learning. The assumption that todays adult learners have short attention spans, can only cope with very short reading and listening tasks, and will only engage in activities for a short time. The neglect of extensive reading and extensive listening as a means of engaging the interest and attention of learners, and as a source of exposure to language in use (with the conspicuous exception of Wavelength and Inside Out). The assumption that most adult learners do not want and would not gain from intellectually demanding activities whilst engaged in learning the target language. The absence of controversial issues to stimulate thought, to provide opportunities for exchanges of views, and to make the topic content meaningful to adult learners (with the notable exception of the 1991 edition of Language in Use). The lack of adult content, and especially of topics which require intellectual and/or aective investment from the learners. The scarcity of real tasks which have an intended outcome other than the practice of language forms.
EFL courses for adults

97

reviews

welcome

The token attempt to make use of a discovery approach, which usually consists of being helped to reach a pre-determined answer, and then being asked to check the answer in a grammar summary (e.g. Cutting Edge). The neglect of literature as a source of potentially stimulating texts, and as a means of engaging learners in meaningful interaction with the target languagedespite the many claims by methodologists of the potential value and appeal of literature (e.g. Du and Maley 1990; Lazar 1993; Tomlinson 1994 ,1998b) The apparent abandonment of the extended project as a means of engaging learners in motivated and meaningful encounters with the target language in use. The continuing predominance of analytical activities, and a neglect of activities which could cater for learners with other preferred learning styles (e.g. kinaesthetic activities). The neglect of activities which could make full use of the resources of the mind by stimulating multi-dimensional mental responses which are at the same time sensory, cognitive, and aective (e.g. Masuhara 1997 ) The lack of activities aiming to stimulate the imagination of the learners. The excessive increase in the number of course components (Reward, for example, has seven components per level) with a noticeable drop in creative energy for the multi-component courses (either from author fatigue or from bringing in extra writers to write workbooks, etc., who may not be initiating members of the team). This last point prompts us to ask What is the rationale for multiplecomponent courses? and What are the eects of multiple-component courses compared to the eects of courses which have only a few components? A number of publishers have told us that they only publish multiple-component courses because their rivals do, and that they would be happy to jettison many of the money-losing components (such as videos and resource packs) and to return to the days when a course consisted of a students book, a cassette, and a teachers book. The most apparent eect of multiple-component courses seems to be writer, learner, and teacher exhaustion. So perhaps we should go back to the cheaper, simpler, and more coherent days of three component courses especially as the courses which we liked best in this review seem to be those with the fewest components.

Conclusion

We all admitted at our nal meeting that we had been pleasantly surprised by the qualities of many of the components of the courses we have evaluated. We were all delighted by the move towards stimulating more personal responses from the learners, pleased by the attempts of many of the courses to encourage humour and fun, and impressed by the realism of many of the audio components of the courses. However, we would all welcome a greater provision of extended experience of the language in use, a reduction in the attention given to explicit knowledge of grammar, and an increase in the attention paid to helping learners not only to achieve accuracy, uency, and appropriacy, but to achieve eect as well. And, nally, we would all be delighted to welcome back literature and other genres which give adults something to think, talk, and write about.
Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

98

reviews

welcome

References Arnold, J. 1999. Aect in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Beck, I. L, M. G. McKeown, and J. Worthy. 1995. Giving a text voice can improve students understanding. Research Reading Quarterly 30/2. Du, A. and A. Maley. 1990. Literature. Oxford. Oxford University Press. Elley, W. 1991. Acquiring literacy in a second language: the eect of book-based programmes. Language Learning 41: 375411. Ellis, R. 1998. The evaluation of communicative tasks in B. Tomlinson (ed.). Materials Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. Krashen, S. 1993. The Power of Reading. Englewood, Colarado: Libraries Unlimited. Lazar,G. 1993. Literature and Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Maley, A. 1998. Squaring the circlereconciling materials as constraint with materials as empowerment in B. Tomlinson (ed.). Materials Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. Masuhara, H. 1997. Factors Inuencing Reading Diculties of Authentic Materials for Advanced Learners of EFL . Unpublished PhD thesis. University of Luton. Masuhara, H. 1998. What do teachers really want from coursebooks? in B. Tomlinson (ed.). Materials Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Oxford, R. 1997. Language Learning Strategies Around the World: Crosscultural Perspectives. Manoa: University of Hawaii Press. Rubdy, R. 1998. Task. ELT Journal 52/3: 2645. Soars, J. and L. Soars. 1996. An introduction to New Headway Intermediate. Headway Teachers Magazine 5: 25. Tomlinson, B. 1994. Openings. London: Penguin. Tomlinson, B. 1998a. Introduction in B. Tomlinson (ed.). Materials Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. Tomlinson, B. 1998b. And now for something not completely dierent. Reading in a Foreign Language. 11/2: 17789. Tomlinson, B. 1998c. Aect and the coursebook in IATEFL Issues 145: 201. Tomlinson, B. 1999. Materials development for language teachers in Modern English Teacher 8/1: 624. Wajnryb, R. 1996. Death, taxes and jeopardy:
EFL courses for adults

systematic omissions in EFL texts, or life was never meant to be an adjacency pair. Sydney: ELICOS Association 9th Educational Conference. Willis, J. 1996. A Framework for Task-based Learning. Harlow: Longman. Widdowson, H. G. 2000. Object language and the language subject: on the mediating role of applied linguistics in The Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 20: 2133. The reviewers Brian Tomlinson is Reader in Language Learning and Teaching in the Centre for Language Study at Leeds Metropolitan University, and Founder and President of MATSDA (the Materials Development Association). He has worked in language education and teacher development in Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, Singapore, Vanuatu, and Zambia, and has given conference presentations in over 40 countries. His numerous publications include Discover English and Openings and Materials Development in Language Teaching. Boa Dat is a Fellow at the National University of Singapore, where he teaches Vietnamese. He has previously taught English at the National University of Vietnam, and is currently working for a PhD with Leeds Metropolitan University. He has published a number of articles on speaking skills, and given presentations in The Philippines and the USA . He is also a well-known cartoonist in Vietnam and Singapore. Hitomi Masuhara is Lecturer in Lesser-Taught Languages in the Centre for Language Study at Leeds Metropolitan University. Previously she was a Fellow at the National University of Singapore where she taught Japanese and Cross-cultural Studies. She has also taught English at Nagoya Womens University, and on the MA in L2 Materials Development at the University of Luton. She has published a number of articles and books (including Use Your English and Active Japanese) and given conference presentations in every continent. Rani Rubdy is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English Language and Literature at the National University of Singapore, where she teaches undergraduate and postgraduate courses on language education and the teaching of ESP. Prior to this she taught at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages in Hyderabad. Her current research interests are classroombased research and curriculum innovation, and she has published a number of articles and reviews, including some for the ELT Journal.
99

reviews

welcome

Levels

Brian Tomlinson, Bao Dat, Hitomi Masuhara, and Rani Rubdy

Components

100

Appendix A: Summary of course components reviewed (further components may now be available)
Cambridge University Press Language in Use 1991 1995 Kay, S. V. Jones Greenall, S. McGowen, B. Haines, S. V. Richardson; B. Stewart. W. Forsyth.; J. Naunton. Young Adults 2000 1995 2000 2000 1998 2000 Do, A. C. Jones True to Life Inside Out Reward Clockwise Landmark Cutting Edge Wavelength Macmillan Heinemann ELT Oxford University Press Pearson Longman

Publisher

Course

Publication of First Level Student Coursebook Authors Gairns, R. S. Redman; J. Collie, S. Haines.; S. Slater. Adults Young Adults/ Adults Young Adults/ Adults Young Adults/ Adults Young Adults/ Adults

Cunningham, S. Burke, K. P. Moor. J. Brooks.

Target Learners

Young Adults/ Adults Advanced Upper-Intermediate

Young Adults/ Adults

Intermediate Pre-Intermediate

reviews

Elementary Beginner Starter Students Book Teachers Book Resource Book Class Cassettes Class CD Rom Workbook Student Cassettes Student CD Rom Tests Reader Reader CD Rom Video

welcome

Appendix B: Summary of evaluation


Clockwise 54% 440 40 100 65 45% 60% 60% 59% 48% 64% 58% 63% 58% 58% 53% 63% 53% N.A. N.A. N.A. 58% 64% 81% 69% N.A. 68% 80% 64% 79% 68% 77% 60% 78% 73% 75% 74% 69% 70% 75% N.A. 69% 74% 66% 65% 77% 72% 35% 76% 79% 74% 73% 76% 73% 73% 71% 76% 72% 71% N.A. 58% 66% 64% 75% 58% 70% 65% 65% 70% 80% 83% 75% 66% 75% 74% 81% 62% 75% 71% 58% 65% 67% 64% 72% 66% 65% 61% 66% 63% 53% 62% 68% 73% 73% 53% 35 10 20 40 20 135 25 45 30 35 55 45 25 30 56% 65% 66% 75% 70% 55% 39% 51% 61% 62% 66% 51% 57% 67% 79% 80% 78% 67% 51% 39% 52% 45% 54% 68% 70% 53% 59% 58% 54% 74% 52% 46% 60% 70% 65% 44% 50% 57% 68% 71% 72% 57% 49% 64% 74% 73% 75% 62% 54% Cutting Edge Inside Out Landmark Language In Use Reward True to Life Wavelength 70% 66% 70% 61% 71% 65% 69% 73% 70% 62% 69% 66% 70% 65% 67% 65% 68% 69% 66% N.A.

Course

Total Grade

Overall Course

1 publishers claims

2 exibility

3 syllabus

4 pedagogic approach 110

EFL courses for adults

5 topic contents

6 voice

7 instructions

8 teachability

9 durability

Coursebook

1 appearance

2 design

3 illustrations

4 reading texts

Cassette (& CD Rom)

Teachers Book

reviews

Workbook

Video

101

welcome