The BEBC Review Panel have given their insight into Ready for First, the new third edition Student’s Book


Ready for First Student’s Book third edition helps to prepare young adult students in training for the Cambridge FCE exam. This book is specifically used for the 2015 First(FCE) exam.

                     

Title: Ready for First Third Edition Student’s Book

Author: Roy Norris

Publisher: Macmillan 

Reviewed by: Alex Warren, Academic Director, British Study Centres, Bournemouth        

© Copyright BEBC REVIEW PANEL 2014 – this review may be reproduced but only with this acknowledgement

 Criterion  Grade: 5/4/3/2/1          Comments:  (5 being the highest grade and 1 the lowest)
Originality         4 When a coursebook hits a 3rd edition, you know that it has to be doing something right. This new edition of Ready… has been updated in line with the 2015 revisions of the exam, though in practice these changes have had little impact on the actual content of the exam or FCE coursebooks. As such, this is very much an update rather than a book that has had a radical overhaul. That said, there is plenty of new material spread across the units – indeed the vast majority of the reading texts, audio and Use of English activities are brand new – while many of the writing and vocabulary tasks have been reworked and reinvigorated. It retains all of the features from previous editions yet it does so while simultaneously feeling fresh. Among these are different tip boxes giving advice to the students, as well as the supplementary Ready For… sections presenting each of the papers in detail.

Where the course has been developed is with the addition of an online component, accessed through the Macmillan Practice Online (MPO) portal. Here the students are able to download the audio for the book and complete full online tests. From a teaching point of view, it also contains video of the Speaking exam, which is always a useful teaching tool in preparing the students in what to expect.

Practicality          5 In preparing students for the FCE exam, Ready… leaves no stone unturned. Each of the 14 topic-based units is well organised and deals with a task type from each of the exam papers as well as having a concerted Language Focus sections dealing with the grammar. This is dealt with well, generally integrated with a text or listening script, and with an inductive methodology. This is then put into the context of the exam through appropriate Use of English tasks. Similarly, there is also a concerted vocabulary focus in each unit, be it developing vocabulary connected to the topic of the unit, phrasal verbs or word-building. As such, each unit covers all the skills and a thorough mix of systems, all the while building student confidence. However, the key to any exam based coursebook is practice of exam tasks, on which Ready…does not err, with every unit ending with a two page review including Use of English and Writing tasks.

Whilst it is primarily a coursebook for the classroom, there is no reason why students couldn’t use it for self-study should they need to. The language focus sections and grammar reference give more than enough support and along with the answer key and the online accessible audio, means that it could be used independently of a classroom environment, if so desired.

With all this taken into consideration it would be fair to say that it is a very practical coursebook for students and teachers alike.

Presentation          4 All the while the information is presented in a visually stimulating fashion, with plenty of colour photos and animations to help motivate the more visual students, especially in regards Speaking Parts 2 and 3. The overall design is good – it’s well organised and there is plenty of signposting along the way, ensuring students know what they will be doing and how it relates to the exam. It also makes good use of colour shading, mind maps and boxes to divide the pages up into more manageable bite sized chunks, so the student never feels overwhelmed with the amount of information. In this respect the design is an aid to student learning.
Overall rating                                   4.5        
What outstanding strengths/ weaknesses do you feel this title possesses?

The course is exceptionally thorough, covering every exam paper in real detail as well as covering the necessary grammar and vocabulary in real depth.

On which courses do you envisage being able to use this material?

Due to the wealth of material available it would suit any FCE course, though maybe there’s too much for an intensive 4 week summer course.

© Copyright BEBC REVIEW PANEL 2014 – this review may be reproduced but only with this acknowledgement

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