BEBC book review – In Company 3.0 Upper Intermediate Student’s Book


           

Title: In Company 3.0 Upper Intermediate Student’s Book

Publisher: Macmillan

Author: Mark Powell/ Simon Clarke/ John Allison/ Ed Pegg/ Edward de Chazal

Reviewed by: Jon Clayden, Academic Manager, Eurocentres London

© 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

“Have you ever worked with someone you don’t like?” (p55)

Frequently, throughout In Company 3.0 Upper Intermediate, learners are asked to reflect on the importance of good rapport in business and liking (and being liked by) colleagues and clients. The coursebook is very much focussed on how to make a good impression on people while at work whether that be when networking, presenting, selling and so on. The course is designed for ‘established business professionals’ and the short, skills-based units seem appropriate for working people pushed for time – rather than university students who may eventually get an office job.

In Company presents learners with interesting, current work issues such as ‘death by powerpoint’ (p26) – highlighting how quickly the audience loses interest when a sequence of bullet-pointed slides appear – and ‘How to get rid of chatterboxes on the phone’ (p31) which looks at diplomatically managing calls to avoid wasting time too much time. The course often takes one aspect of business life and breaks it down to fundamentals in order to engage the learners and initiate discussion. For example in a text on behaviour in meetings an anthropologist highlights the typical failure of people to listen effectively to each other and suggests:

The quality of communication in most meetings is roughly comparable to the quality of arguments that you used to have with your ten-year-old brother” (p39)

Most business professionals should, I think, be able to relate to the majority of topics and material. The lessons introduce learners to challenging vocabulary – often jargon or business phrases such as ‘transitioning’, ‘ramp up’, ‘drill down’ or ‘paradigm shift’ – and lead relevant role-plays and other fluency activities with a link to practical business skills.

Every three or four units, learners come to a double-page spread with a ‘Management scenario’ which are case studies with situations such as managing change or pitching for funding. Learners are presented with background information about the scenario through reading texts and video clips, which learners then need to discuss. They then complete tasks such as writing an email or role-playing a meeting. These lessons are intended to provide extended fluency practice and offer learners a greater sense of how they would communicate outside the classroom using English at work.

Practicality

5

The learning objectives of each short unit are clearly presented to learners and although the material mostly deals with skills and vocabulary, there are some grammar exercises at the end of each unit. I like the way the approach is expressed in the Teacher’s book (p8): “…there are no long detours in the units themselves into structural matters”. If learners require more grammar practice they can use the online workbook, which can be accessed using a code that comes free with the student’s book.

In addition to the online workbook there is an online Resource Centre for students (there is also one for teachers). This contains extra vocabulary and skills exercises and all the audio needed for the student’s book (no need for CDs!). It also includes two types of video material (interviews with ‘experts’ and clips that help establish the ‘Management scenario’) both of which have accompanying worksheets available. These additional online components allow teachers to adapt more easily the course to the teaching context and their learners’ needs and give students self-study options depending on various factors such as their level of motivation and how ‘time poor’ they are.

Presentation

4

The majority of the visuals included in In Company 3.0 Upper Intermediate are amusingly inauthentic photos of people pretending to work. These fake business people are usually seen gesturing, either pointing or shaking hands, clapping, waving, reading a letter or screen, having lunch or of course telephoning (all ‘stock’ business English images that now seem clichéd). Other slightly more original choices are no less uninspiring – an example is the too-literal photo of two British relay runners passing on a baton positioned under the title “Delegation: provide a clear action plan” (p96).

The choice of photo on the front of the coursebook is an odd one giving us a confusing image of glass stairs leading upwards – perhaps suggesting career progression – yet on closer inspection we can see reflected some windows which look like those found in prison (what sort of company are we in here and what have they done wrong?).

Generally, the layout and labelling of the book are effective and straightforward for a learner to follow. A sense of seriousness is conveyed visually so learners shouldn’t feel patronized or that their time is being wasted. However, there is a good balance of images and text, with a magazine-type look, intended to keep the learner involved and awake.

Overall rating

5

What outstanding strengths/ weaknesses do you feel this title possesses?

Strengths

  • Excellent selection of current business topics and issues
  • Sensible focus on skills and vocabulary building rather than grammar presentations
  • Flexibility offered through numerous additional online components
  • Audio for student’s book available to students online
  • Emphasis on skills and language to develop rapport and relationships (including raising cultural awareness)

Weaknesses

  • Some teachers may have to adjust to having extra resources and the workbook online (and not physically on their desk)
  • To be exploited effectively the material is only really suitable for learners who work in a business context. 
Other comments

 Additional Components available:

  1. Online Workbook
  2. Student’s and Teacher’s Resources Centres
  3. Teacher’s Book Pack (includes online access code)

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

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s