Vol. 7. No. 4 R-2 March 2004
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American Headway Starter: Teacher's Book

Liz Soars, John Soars and Amanda Maris (2002)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pp. xiii + 143
ISBN 019-4353893 (paper)

A teacher's book is always important to assist a teacher in satisfactorily presenting lessons, and maintaining students' interest.

The Teacher's Book provides an exact copy of the outline of the Student Book. This allows teachers to refer to, and be familiar with the progression of the Student Book, in order to eliminate confusion.

The "Introduction" presents the American Headway Starter series to teachers. It does so by explaining the books available in this specific category and looks at how the units are organized. It also shows this series in relation to the other books in the American Headway family.

"Teaching Beginners—tips and techniques," provides teachers with different suggestions and ways to make teaching interesting and beneficial. Emphasis is placed on conversational practice, and the authors suggest "open pair work" (engaging two students at a time); "closed pair work" (students interact with each other), and "chain work" (using flash cards to interact with students in a circle). They further advise establishing familiar routines to make students comfortable in the classroom, and even provide suggestions on how to use the students' own language in class.

The units are given a brief description, and between them appear "Stop and Check" quizzes (four in total) and "Progress Tests" (three in total). The first quiz covers units 1 to 3; the second 4 to 6; the third 7 to 10; and the final one, units 11 to 14. These quizzes are based on the units and should, therefore, not be of any surprise to the students. They consolidate the students' understanding in order to tackle the following units. The tests encompass a larger number of units. The first test compromises units 1 to 5, the second units 6 to 10, and the last test units 11 to 14. They are, in fact, extensions to the quizzes without incorporating the same material. The first quiz, for instance, requires students to correct the mistakes in the proposed sentences, circle the correct word that fits the sentence, match questions to answers, ask questions about someone, write sentences in the negative and the plural, match numerals to written numbers, as well as spelling numbers, without forgetting vocabulary exercises as well as translating sentences into their own language. The test, on the other hand, includes conjugating the verb to be in the affirmative, negative, and in questions, matching the question word to the right questions and to the correct answer; writing words in the correct order; using a or an; completing sentences with the verb to have; filling in sentences with the correct form of the verb in the present simple; etc. The quizzes and tests both offer approximately the same number of exercises. [-1-]

The "Photocopiable Material" section offers teachers eight pages of extra ideas and fun ways in which to incorporate the lessons. It provides flashcards, nametags, and reading material. "Stop and Check," and "Progress Tests" follow this section. An "Answer Key" provides the answers for these three sections. A "Workbook Answer Key" ends the Teacher's Book, with answers to the students' Workbook.

The layout for the Teacher's Book consists of a heading with the subjects the unit will deal with and its topic. The left-hand margin provides an "introduction to the unit," which gives teachers more information about the unit as well as its focus. To the right, and at the same level, is "Language aims," which gives a brief description of the subjects that will be taught in the unit. This is followed by "Notes on the unit," which follows the exact order of the Student Book giving details for every exercise, and the ways in which to present and explain them. For instance, for the "Grammar Spot" that appears on page 2 of the Student Book, the teacher is encouraged to "focus attention on the contractions. Ask students to circle the contracted forms in Exercise 1. Demonstrate this by writing the conversation on the board and putting a circle around the first contraction I'm" (Teacher's Book, 3).

This approach is carried over into "Additional Material" which deals with the respective Workbook exercises. Every unit finishes with a "Don't forget!" reminding teachers to inform their students of the material at the back of the Student Book and of additional exercises in their Workbook.

Overall, the Teacher's Book is complete and coherently structured. Teachers do not need to use the Student Book in order to complete their lesson.

Panagiota Dimakis
Université de Montréal

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