Vol. 5. No. 1 R-2 April 2001
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Facts & Figures: Basic Reading Practice (3rd ed.)
Patricia Ackert, with Nicki Giroux de Navarro and Jean Bernard (1999)
Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xv + 267
ISBN 0-8384-0865-6 (paper)
US $19.00

Thoughts & Notions: High Beginning Reading Practice
Linda Lee and Barbara Bushby (2000)
Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xi + 225
ISBN 0-8384-8222-8 (paper)
US $19.00

Cause & Effect: Intermediate Reading Practice (3rd ed.)
Patricia Ackert, with Nicki Giroux de Navarro and Jean Bernard (1999)
Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle
Pp. xi + 317
ISBN 0-8384-0874-5 (paper)
US $19.00

Facts & Figures, Thoughts & Notions, and Cause & Effect comprise a recent reading skills series from Heinle & Heinle. Facts & Figures consists of 35 readings organized into 7 theme-based units. Thoughts & Notions and Cause & Effect each contain 25 readings in 5 theme-based units. All books have an accompanying teacher's edition. Audio cassettes and videotapes are also available.

The series seeks to create a well-informed world community through English language learning. Activities and readings focus on global issues; thus the materials are appropriate for students from any culture. The material is directed at both ESL and EFL learners from low beginner through intermediate levels. The books are particularly appropriate for students intending to use English for academic purposes. Facts & Figures, Thoughts & Notions, and Cause & Effect respect the dynamic nature of reading by combining reading material with videos and audiocassettes. The teacher's editions contain suggestions for using the authentic CNN videos. All reading selections are short informational passages. The selection of a particular genre for each reading passage prepares students for normal academic reading. Each book contains many different exercises within every unit that encompass a variety of reading skills. By emphasizing many different approaches to reading skills development, the books manage to cover all bases. Exercises include: using context clues, pre-reading questions, three types of vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, finding the main idea, word study, and writing practice. Additional dictionary use and extension activities encourage students to embark upon further learning. The activities alternate between top-down and bottom-up processing in order to abide by the commonly accepted interactive model of reading. Teachers can choose whether to include more or less discussion about subjects covered in the series, depending on time constraints. [-1-]

The unique three-book combination creates transitional stages that any teacher will find easy to follow. Reading and exercises gradually lengthen and increase in difficulty throughout the series. Learners will benefit from the smooth development of the material. Facts & Figures utilizes straightforward material for the beginner. The books intend to aid students in building the relevant and useful vocabulary that they require to continue their language study. Thoughts & Notions intends to begin a process by which students acquire the critical thinking skills necessary for academic work in English. Cause & Effect encourages the process of critical thinking in English by adding more challenging texts and subjects.

Teachers and students are expected to use the books in order. The series creators have carefully sequenced vocabulary and grammar for learners. Each book contains specifically selected vocabulary considered essential by the authors. Facts & Figures and Thoughts and Notions introduce approximately 12 words per lesson. Words are recycled naturally to keep vocabulary active in students' minds. Some educators may find the series' highly structured format somewhat limiting. However, the books' organization will make planning simple for any educator, especially since supplemental activities are provided.

Overall, the series integrates interesting subject matter with skill building to create a successful EFL/ESL textbook. Students will find they are able to comprehend the interesting material, thus increasing motivation. Educators seeking a clear text for beginners will find this series practical for classroom situations.

Carol Foye Eyal
University of Hawaii

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