Reviewed by Claire Philip
5 June 2017
If, like me, you are someone who thinks TED talks are a great teaching resource, but sometimes lack the time or inspiration to create supporting materials, then this is the course book for you! For those of you who haven’t yet discovered the world of TED talks, more information can be found at www.TED.com.
Using a TED talk as a spring-board, each unit of this course book exploits a different talk, 12 in total, featuring authentic language from a range of speakers, both native and non-native to English. Each unit covers the 4 key skills as well as grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. The accompanying DVD Rom contains the TED talks, and audio tracks for additional listening exercises. Further resources include a grammar summary with supplementary exercises, and transcripts of the TED talks. The book is also accompanied by additional workbooks both in hard copy and online, and so would support a blending learning approach.
There is a companion website for the series of course books, and this edition contains a password that unlocks some of the content. The online material includes links to audio tracks, video clips, mono- and multi-lingual word lists. The most useful resource here, though, is the range of bonus worksheets. Arranged by topic, such as Human Resources, Manufacturing, Tourism and many more, there are a number of worksheets for additional Ted talks not found in the book.
The book is well presented, with plenty of colourful pictures and diagrams to keep the students interested, although it can sometimes feel that there is too much information on each page. It covers a range of topics but tends to lean towards business and the working world. In fact, many of the activities seem to be aimed at developing business related skills. For example, email writing is a key focus of the writing tasks throughout the book.
An interesting aspect of this text is its focus on authentic listening and pronunciation skills, for example elision, and linking with /w/ and /r/. Another defining feature is the strong focus on developing presentation skills, as well as sections to encourage critical thinking.
One criticism could be that the structure could become a little repetitive. Using a TED talk for every class might eventually fail to grab the students’ attention. However, there is lots of additional material for each unit, which does not rely specifically on the TED talk. Another thing to keep in mind is that this book is not specially pitched at EAP classes and, while many of the tasks are relevant, there are others that would be better suited to a General English class.
Overall, this book is engaging, clear and easy to use. The text would probably be best suited to students who have an interest in business, marketing and finance. It would make an ideal accompaniment to an EAP course for university students, particularly those who are keen to develop speaking, listening and presentation skills.