Reviewer: Victoria Rowe
28 February 2013
The purpose of Cambridge Academic English Advanced is to prepare students to study at university level in English. It aims to develop students’ language and key academic skills such as critical thinking, paraphrasing, referencing, writing a proposal and listening to lectures. The book is an integrated skills course, developing students’ skills in an academic context at proficiency level.
This coursebook consists of ten units. Each unit has an academic focus, ranging from critical thinking to writing up research. In addition, each unit looks at a specific topic, starting with Advertising and finishing with Communicating science.
The topics and texts are of interest to students from various disciplines, designed to develop and improve on the language and skills students will have acquired in previous levels. In addition, the book provides guidance for students thinking of writing research proposals or projects.
The book starts with an introductory unit entitled Academic Orientation. This is designed to develop students’ skills for higher education, for becoming an independent learner and for fostering good study skills.
The skills are integrated. Lecture skills and seminar skills are introduced four times in the book as separate skills, accompanied by an audio CD and DVD (not included in the coursebook). Each unit ends with a Grammar and Vocabulary section with practice exercises.
The audio CD has recordings for the listening and speaking sections as well as focused practice to develop strategies for participating in tutorials and group work. These recordings were done at the University of Cambridge with native and non-native speakers of English. This gives the book its authenticity. There are also full length University of Cambridge lectures, complete with worksheets for students available at: www.cambridge.org/elt/lectures.
The reading texts in the book are authentic and of a reasonable length to challenge the students. They provide sources at the end of each text and in-text referencing is evident in each text. The Academic Word List has been compiled by Averil Coxhead (www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/resources/academicwordlist/). The writing tasks are suitable for the needs of the students at this level providing them with sufficient writing practice. The final writing task in Unit 10 requires students to write 1,500 words. Tasks in each unit are varied ranging from matching exercises, ordering sentences to answering comprehension questions. These exercises allow students to employ their critical reasoning skills and discuss in some details topics of academic interest. The book does allow the students to be flexible
Additional features include the Study tip boxes containing practical advice for students to improve in their studies. Focus on your subject boxes allow students to apply what they have learnt to their own discipline by finding relevant journal articles and abstracts. Corpus research boxes present useful findings from the CAE Corpus: www.cambridge.org/corpus. There is a word list at the back of the book along with appendices which include academic concerns students may have such as in-text referencing, writing an introduction and avoiding gender-specific language in formal, academic essays.
This book is clearly part of a three level course. It allows students to progress and develop their skills in English for academic study. The student can “dip into the book” but there are some instances where they have to refer back to a previous unit. The book is well structured, and the tasks in each unit are clearly presented, easy to use and student-friendly. It is useful as a core textbook as well as a resource for self-study and homework tasks. The book is an ideal accompaniment to an EAP course for University students, particularly more proficient students. This final part of the series goes beyond the classroom to allow students to communicate in academic tutorials with their supervisors, arrange meetings and edit their work in confidence.
The student’s book is accompanied by a comprehensive teacher’s book: Cambridge Academic English Advanced Teacher’s Book by Matt Firth, Chris Sowton, Martin Hewings & Craig Thaine. This book provides support with advice on using the student’s book to its full potential, and for students to acquire additional information. There is an answer key, texts for extended writing tasks and activities and lecture slides which are photocopiable.