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Can you please let me know what you think about the SpeakOut book for level 3?

My feelings toward the new book being introduced to Level 3 are mixed. It is clearly designed
around functional grammar, sometimes at the expense of developing a theme more fully. However,
it is my opinion that many teachers do not dedicate nearly enough time to ‘Focus on Form’, or
vocabulary acquisition, and that this could be a way to redirect them. One of the book’s strongest
features is Vocabulary with the explicit teaching of fixed expressions to help achieve each sub-units
individual aim.

Advantages over existing book

The book has a clear focus on Vocabulary and Grammar and the addition of a much needed
“workbook” for self-study. There is also an Appendix with explanations for key grammar in each unit,
as well as a verb list on pg. 127 to help students memorize V1 and V2. Each individual sub-unit has a
clear language focus. With some supplementation, an experienced teacher should be able to use
the text to achieve the Level 3 SLOs.

Disadvantages

Many of the reading texts are quite short as the book often favors functional language over
developing the thematic content of each unit. **Please see my comments regarding SLOs below.

The text has been organized into 6 Main units, each containing 4 sub-units. However, the
relationship between sub-units is sometimes superficial. This is not necessarily a disadvantage, as I
believe the book was deliberately designed so that sub-units could be taught independently of each
other. Normally, this could offer flexibility for teachers to select sub-units depending on learner
needs and the learning objective(s).

Unfortunately, given the nature of our current teaching environment, such flexibility might not be
well-received. American Speak Out is not a text where you can simply teach units in a linear fashion.
Some teachers may need retraining to be able to use the text effectively. The sub-units will
sometimes require supplemental materials and additional planning and preparation to fit our SLOs.
Some teachers may be unhappy with the added complexity and choose not to supplement. It is my
opinion that some teachers will be very resistant to the new materials and/or not use them correctly.

In short, American Speak Out may or may not be an improvement over the existing text depending on
who is using it. If I were to continue as the Level 3 coordinator, I would only want to use the new
text if I were also given free reign to choose the teachers working within the level.
Do you think that it will work for the class, the themes, and the SLOs?

The SLOs that I think may not be fully supported by the book are as follows.

SLO 1: Identify main ideas, details, and purpose in written texts


Skills: Reading-

SLO 1, and the linked sub-skills could present a problem. Many of the texts are quite short and
might not have enough content for learners to:

1.1 - Identify structure of a written text and create a basic outline

1.2 - Identify words and phrases that indicate details supporting main idea

Interestingly, many of the reading texts from the “workbook” are longer than those in the textbook.
It might be a good idea to incorporate some of them into courses, as well as supplement from outside
the textbook.

SLO 3: Interpret and explain main information from simple diagrams


Skills: Reading / Writing / Speaking

I did not find anything in the books which would help learners achieve this SLO. Teachers would
have to supplement with charts/graphs so that students could learn the language to:

3.1 Use information from title, axis, and legend to explain scope

(i.e., what the diagram is about)

3.2 Use diagram information to identify trends and make conclusions

SLO 4 - Produce a well-organized paragraph using simple, compound, and complex sentences
Skills: Writing

The book does appear to offer enough content for SLO 4 to be covered, although the writing models
are rather short. It would be highly recommended for teachers to supplement with additional
models to help students visualize the final written product. This is particularly the case if SLO 8:
Express agreement and disagreement appropriately will be evaluated through the writing
assessment.

8.1 - Use appropriate vocabulary to express agreement or disagreement in an organized


presentation or writing
There are some good model of fixed expressions used to agree and disagree in Unit 11.3. However,
these are limited to speaking and I did not find any for writing in the text.

SLO 9: Ask for and give advice

I did not see any materials in the book which are directly linked to this SLO. However, it would be
quite easy to bring in additional materials to achieve this SLO.