Review ~ New Insight Into IELTSAuthors: Vanessa Jakeman and Claire McDowell Components reviewed: Student’s Book with answers and Audio CD Publisher: Cambridge University Press Summary: A no-nonsense, supportive and well-designed approach to the IELTS exam Review: We’ve all been there. The Director of Studies waltzes into the staff room and tells you that you’ve got a new IELTS group. It’s […]
Authors: Vanessa Jakeman and Claire McDowell
Components reviewed: Student’s Book with answers and Audio CD
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Summary: A no-nonsense, supportive and well-designed approach to the IELTS exam
Review: We’ve all been there. The Director of Studies waltzes into the staff room and tells you that you’ve got a new IELTS group. It’s in-company, the students have very specific needs but they need to take the exam next month, so you’ll be studying intensively with them. Oh, and you start tomorrow morning. Before wishing you luck, the DOS generously points you in the direction of the school’s stock IELTS textbook.
I wish my school had invested in a copy of New Insight… when the above happened to me. Instead of having to spend a frantic evening cobbling together a series of lessons using a mish-mash of activities from a traditional IELTS textbook, I’d have been able to confidently walk into the classroom, assess the students’ strengths and weaknesses with a needs analysis and then decide which sections of the book to study with them, and which to miss out entirely.
It is the way in which New Insight… has been laid out which makes it stand out from the crowd. Rather than following the traditional format of an EFL/EAP textbook (chapters of skills work mixed in with grammar and lexis), this book is split by the four parts of the IELTS exam: reading, writing, listening and speaking. This is a simple concept, and one that is very effective. Somebody at Cambridge seems to have understood that IELTS students are often different to most others – they can take their exam at any time of the year, and sometimes need to focus strongly on one skill and not at all on others to be ready for the test – and this book suits that type of client eminently.
Each section starts with an explanation of what students need to do for the exam. Subsequent units focus on skills specific to that part of the test, which gradually work up to advanced units which are designed to challenge students beyond what they necessarily need for the exam. Each unit is well designed, pleasing to the eye and, most importantly of all, entirely relevant in preparing the student for that elusive and nervy test day. Materials start easy and gradually get harder, test tips offer extra support and guidance, and the speaking and writing sections are replete with sample answers which provide invaluable help to students and teachers alike.
The book comes complete with audio CD and answer key, and the large amount of advice and explanation within its pages make it suitable for students to use independently. As suitable as it is, however, for many IELTS groups/individuals, it may not quite do the job with another type – those studying the course for a longer period of who that also need more work on their general skills. An omission in this book is any specific grammar practice, something not absent from other IELTS books and something I’ve had to add in when using this text.
Overall, this is the best book of its type for dealing with the typical, in my experience, IELTS student – short on time, in need of the qualification by a specific date and with a very spiky profile.
January 2009 | Filed under Exam Materials
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