Vol. 3. No. 4 R-1 January 1999
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Let's Talk

Leo Jones (1996)
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
Pp. v + 71 + C20
ISBN 0-521-46753-5 (paper)
US $13.95

Let's Talk consists of speaking and listening activities designed for learners who are at the intermediate level of English proficiency. As stated at the beginning of the book, Let's Talk aims to improve English learners' speaking and listening skills by various communicative and information-gap activities. There are fourteen units, including the following topics: Food and Cooking, Leisure Time, Games and Sports, Arts and Entertainment, News and Current Events, Travel and Transportation, and Comedy and Humor. Every unit has pair work and group work activities, listening exercises, readings, and communication tasks.

In pair work and group work activities, students are asked to share their ideas on various topics, such as people, families, jobs, travel, and environment, so that they have a chance to hear one another's opinions and express their own. In most of the units, fill-in-the-blanks, note taking, matching, and completion of the charts are used as listening exercises, and they follow pair work and group work activities. The listening exercises are presented in dialogs and they are recorded on cassette. Reading activities include reading a newspaper or magazine article, or reading an advertisement. The reading texts in Let's Talk are followed by discussion activities that require learners to share the information in the readings and express their own ideas. However, these activities are not presented in every unit.

Finally, there is a communication task in each unit that allows for additional pair work or group work. Learners engage in information-gap activities in which each participant is given different information and is expected to complete the given task by exchanging information. The communicative tasks are presented on different pages of the book, so learners will not see each other's information. Let's Talk also offers lists of structures and expressions that can be helpful for learners to carry out discussions. These are used to increase grammatical accuracy and foster communication among learners.

The communication activities are useful in encouraging learners to listen and speak in order to understand their peers' opinions and share their ideas. Let's Talk supports the interactive and communicative use of English, so that pair and group work activities play a significant role in the book. These activities create an opportunity for learners to listen to and speak about feelings and opinions in authentic and meaningful contexts. [-1-]

One significant feature of Let's Talk is the use of authentic materials, such as newspaper and magazine articles, pictures and photographs, in reading texts and listening exercises. These authentic materials will be effective in increasing learners' interest and facilitating group discussions. By providing current information, the authentic materials motivate learners to exchange ideas and opinions, and thus lead to interesting discussions in listening and reading exercises.

Let's Talk will help learners improve their vocabulary in several ways. For instance, there are review puzzles at the end of some of the units. There are also reading texts and listening exercises that are beneficial in enriching learners' vocabulary knowledge. Vocabulary-building exercises will be useful in developing learners' vocabulary and will help them gain confidence while listening and talking about a topic. The words in each unit are arranged around topics such as family, job, travel, sports, and leisure time, and these topic areas are all relevant for learners of English in order to enlarge their vocabulary.

Cross-cultural information and the wide variety of communicative activities in Let's Talk will also be beneficial in widening learners' cultural understanding and will help them develop intercultural awareness. Learners will also have a chance to compare and contrast their cultural beliefs and values with the target culture. They will not only practice their English, but will also obtain new information about various kinds of cultures and people.

In conclusion, Let's Talk can motivate learners in using the target language and can encourage them to create a communicative classroom. The tasks in Let's Talk are so engaging that learners will want to speak and listen to English. This text will invite learners to use English creatively by increasing interaction among learners in different communicative activities. Overall, Let's Talk can be considered a valuable and beneficial ESL/EFL textbook that will help learners improve their oral communication skills and make them more confident language users.

Sumru Akcan
University of Arizona

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