Monday, February 23, 2009

Textbook Review: "Cause & Effect" and "Thoughts & Notions"

Check out these links  Cause & Effect  and Thoughts & Notions for information about these books. They are from Heinle & Heinle and are designed to work on reading skills. There were also optional writing exercises that I assigned for homework. I used them recently in an intensive, 2 week winter camp at my university and was overall very impressed with them. I would use them again in a university or high school setting without any hesitation. I think they really did expand the active vocabulary of my students in an interesting and engaging kind of way. And it was easy to use them to work on different reading skills, such as skimming or reading for detail. The students, despite working with these books for 3 hours everyday, for 10 days in a row, didn't appear that bored at the end! Cause & Effect particularly had a very high degree of variety in the practice exercises to keep it interesting.

The only drawback that I can really think of is that the end of the books is significantly harder than the beginning, particularly Thoughts & Notions. While this is okay for a class that happens over a semester, it didn't really work that well in an intensive camp setting because the students wouldn't really have time to master the material between sessions and just got kind of lost at the end.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Interesting Article is a bonus update for ya'll, despite my promise of no updates while I'm on vacation in Europe. For updates of vacation, check here on my other blog. And now for the update related to teaching Enlish: I ran across this interesting article on the Marmot's Hole about the legal issues surrounding the HIV/Drug tests recently (de?!?) introduced for E2 visa holders as well as a host of other issues related to this. It's a long read, but well worth it.