Vol. 1. No. 4 R-2 June 1995
Return to Table of Contents Return to Main Page

LifePrints: ESL for Adults (Books 1 and 2)

C.M. Newman, A.G. Grognett, and J. Crandall (1993)
Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press
ISBN 0-88336-034-9 (Book 1, paper)
0-88336-035-7 (Book 2, paper)
US $8.00 each

LifePrints: ESL for Adults (Teacher's Manuals).

J. Podnecky, A.G. Grognett and J. Crandall (1993) (Book 1)
J. Varamendi, A.G. Grognett, and J. Crandall (1993) (Book 2)
Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press
ISBN 0-88336-044-6 (Book 1, paper)
0-88336-045-4 (Book 2, paper)
US $12.00 each

LifePrints: ESL for Adults (Audiocasettes 1 and 2)

Syracuse, NY: New Readers Press
ISBN 0-88336-047-0 (cassette 1)
0-88336-049-7 (cassette 2)
US $12.00 each.

Newman, Grognett and Crandall's LifePrints, an ESL text aimed specifically at the adult learner, is based on a very definitive theoretical perspective which holds that the diverse life experiences of adult language learners are rich sources of authentic input and should be incorporated into adult ESL classes. LifePrints combines these experiences with the current needs and desires of adult learners and allows the adult learners to maintain their dignity--a necessity far too often overlooked in ESL textbooks aimed at the older audience--while learning the new roles which will be required of them. As the authors remind us: "[Adult learners] do not necessarily want to learn about the English language; they want to learn to use English in performing their various adult roles. For them, English is not an end in itself; it is a tool with which to do something else.... LifePrints gives [adult learners] the ability to start transferring to a new language and a new culture what they have done and can do as adults (Newman, Grognett & Crandall, p. 4).

Each unit in LifePrints is a separate, authentic context which is not only relevant but also rich in linguistic and cultural skills which are easily transferable to the daily life of the adult ESL learner. Although each chapter in the book contains a different "unit" or "context," they may be used both interchangeably and repeatedly. For example, the contexts or units of "Families," "Feelings," or "Asking for Help" could be taught in any order, since each contains skills and knowledge the learners need to know and can apply to their daily lives. Each repetition of a particular unit can focus on one of several aspects. The context or unit "Getting a Job" (Book 2), for example, can focus on function, which includes everything from asking and answering questions to expressing ability, likes and desires. A second passage of this context could [-1-]focus on life tasks, which includes reading job notices, filling out forms and being interviewed. A third passage could incorporate the structures learned in that unit, such as can, WH-questions, have you...? and used to...., and the final passage could focus on the cultural aspects, which include ways of finding a job, dressing and acting at interviews, and the notion of equal opportunity employment.

Each of the two LifePrints texts is accompanied by a teacher's manual, which outlines the focal points for each unit and give suggestions for warm-up activities, different ways of presenting each unit, and expansion activities for the students to do in class or at home which reinforce what has been learned. The role of the teacher is clearly that of facilitator, as the LifePrints classroom is to be student-centered, low-anxiety and purposeful. As the authors explain, in an adult learner-centered class,

...learners and teacher become partners in a cooperative venture. The teacher creates the supportive environment in which learners can take initiative in choosing what they want to learn and how they want to learn it [and] the teacher must structure and order the learning process, guiding and giving feedback to learners in such a ways that learners have the right amount of freedom. (Podnecky, Grognett & Crandall, p.7)

Both Book 1 and Book 2 of LifePrints are packed with 128 pages of interesting and useful information and there is no doubt that it will be of interest--and use--to its intended audience. The accompanying cassette tapes offer clear and remarkably authentic conversations to accompany each lesson. Although the illustrations are extremely simplistic in their black and white design, they are worthy of credit in that every attempt has been made to incorporate all the culturally diverse groups in society, and several of these illustrations show women in what have typically been male roles. In fact, this textbook is as devoid of stereotypes as any I have seen.

I would highly recommend LifePrints for any adult ESL learner. It promotes conversation, teaches necessary skills, points out cultural differences and addresses topics typically not seen in textbooks, but which nevertheless are foremost on the minds of adults new to an English-speaking country. I would also recommend LifePrints to teachers, both in and out of the USA, as a rich source of purposeful topics to incorporate in the adult classroom. Many may argue that the contexts, or units, in LifePrints are very USA-centered, and, as such, do not apply to adult ESL learners in other countries. One example is the unit on "Driving a Car." It is this reviewer's opinion that while forms to fill out or office titles may be slightly different, the overall procedures, as well as the language required to complete them, are so similar that even [-2-] adult ESL learners in Canada, Australia, New Zealand or England can greatly benefit from this book.

Deborah Levy
University of Arizona


Return to Table of Contents Return to Top Return to Main Page
© Copyright rests with authors. Please cite TESL-EJ appropriately.

Editor's Note: Dashed numbers in square brackets indicate the end of each page in the paginated ASCII version of this article, which is the definitive edition. Please use these page numbers when citing this work.