Book Reviewed by: Victoria Rowe
27 February 2013
Oxford EAP Upper Intermediate prepares students to study at a university in English. The book is an integrated skills course, which develops students’ skills in an academic context at a higher level.
This coursebook consists of twelve units. Each unit has an academic focus, including describing and defining, identifying evidence in a text and developing an argument. In other words, the students acquire the skills in preparing for their academic studies to learning how to study independently. In addition, each unit looks at a specific academic topic, starting with Education and finishing with Independence.
Each unit is divided into four skills with an additional section for vocabulary. Within each unit there is a section for listening to lectures which encompasses understanding the structure of a lecture, recognising the language used in lectures, listening to main ideas and identifying supporting evidence, and taking notes. The DVD rom included in the book provides lecture extracts and class audio MP3 files with student presentations and seminar discussions. These are particularly useful for the students. The speaking section in the unit covers seminars, tutorials, presentations, informal discussions and at the end of the book video and audio transcripts are included. The reading section focuses on a variety of academic texts from different disciplines taken from authentic Oxford University Press publications (academic textbooks and journals). These are well-written. The writing module covers the start of the writing process from understanding essay titles through to referencing, and answering examination questions. The units look at different types of essays and at the end of the book sample answers are provided which is always helpful.
What sets this coursebook apart from other books I have used is that each unit has a box containing academic language for that particular topic; this links to the language reference section at the back of the book.
Having a glossary of grammatical and academic terms towards the end of the book along with a reference guide to language terminology – meaning, form and use of each area of language is a useful tool for students to have. Additional reference material is given such as information about plagiarism and referencing sources.
The book is well structured, easy to use and student-friendly. The design and layout of the book is modern and clean. It is useful as a core textbook as well as a resource for self-study and homework tasks. The texts are of interest to students allowing them to discuss the topic. The authors have chosen culturally neutral topics, allowing students to focus on the practical and functional side of EAP with relatively ‘light’ language theory The book is an excellent compromise to bridge the gap between weaker and stronger students. However, the texts are relatively short but for this level the texts are appropriate. Teachers can supplement with additional activities and longer texts if they wish. The writing activities are good but a greater number of more in-depth activities would be welcomed. The book does not go into too much depth, for example, the book provides only very superficial exercises on paraphrasing. It may be that there is more focus on some areas in the other level of this series. The chronology of the book may not necessarily tie in with how teachers have devised their EAP syllabus but it certainly does allow teachers to pick and choose what is relevant for their syllabus.
It can be said that this book clearly ‘prepares learners to study effectively in English at university level, whatever their chosen subject, from pre-sessional courses to postgraduate research’ (de Chazal & McCarter, 2012). Nevertheless, like any coursebook it requires additional authentic and topical material to supplement the activities in the book.
De Chazal, E. & McCarter, S. (2012) Oxford EAP A course in English for Academic Purposes Upper Intermediate/B2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.