The book “Communicative Activities for EAP” by Jenni Guse and Scott Thornbury is an English book meant for EAP teachers of both ESL and EFL that encompasses the framework for the four macro skills; speaking, listening, reading and writing. The writer chose the four resource model developed by Freebody &Luke 1990 as a framework for organizing these macro skills.
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This model is the primary model for working with literacy education. The reason the author puts across for adopting this model is to fit not only to listening but also to the productive skills of writing and speaking. In addition to the four macro skills, are the framework for vocabulary and grammar which have been organized into three learning phases namely: noticing, experimenting and producing. The phases trace the development of vocabulary and grammar from input, through to acquisition and finally to access and output (Guse & Thornbury, 2011).
The activities have been organized into six chapters namely, speaking, listening, reading, writing, vocabulary development and grammar. The chapters on the four skills are organized into activities that focus on these different roles. This becomes helpful for the teachers in organizing activities based on the roles they wish to develop. For example, if a teacher’s aim is to help the students infer information from a given written text, the section in the reading chapter on ‘Text participant’ would be the teacher’s point of reference. Practically, these terms may be difficult to comprehend (Guse &Thornbury, 2011).
A real understanding of the different roles is salutary for the teacher to successfully help the students in the areas intended. In all the activities listed here, the focus is on communication (Guse &Thornbury, 2011). The writer has realized this methodology through teamwork, individual work, and whole classwork or through tasks such as discussions, interactive games, information gap activities, problem-solving tasks, project work or role-plays. The Four Resources Model, which acts as a framework for speaking, listening, reading and writing inspires activities that engage students in thinking critically about texts. These activities add to their sense of autonomy and empowerment and equip them with the critical thinking and analytical skills essential to academic study.
The activities are numerous and are widely varied. It is very commendable that the writer could write such a book with many roles. This helps the students in understanding what they are taught and assist them to gain knowledge not only in communication but also in presentation. The roles also assist in ensuring that the students develop an interest to learn. Many students like being engaged in activities during learning rather than listening to a teacher all through the lesson. It also minimizes boredom and increases attention (Guse & Thornbury, 2011).
A grey box is inserted before each numbered activity. This grey box gives the focus of the task, the level, the time needed, preparation required and a justification for the practice. Essentially, this gives the learners an overview of what they are expected to achieve after the completion of any given task. The box is followed by staged instructions which have been made easy to identify and follow. In addition, it is a CD-ROM that accompanies the book. Therefore, teachers can print out texts and materials easily hence reducing the time meant for preparation. Those teachers, who have classrooms with projectors or whiteboards, will find the CD very useful and will not incur any expenses in printing. Since the CD contain audio excerpts, it becomes easier for the students to understand the concept they are taught (Flowerdew, 2008).
The title of the book suggests that each task is communicative. There is limited time to turn a classroom that is supposed to be for disseminating information into an interactive session given that each lesson has a fixed duration of time. The tasks are given a duration of 20-30 minutes. It is almost impossible to complete such a task in the stipulated range of time. This is made more difficult by the fact that there are many students in the class and their levels of understanding differ (Guse & Thornbury, 2011).
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There are some activities that I feel are not relevant to university students. For instance, the first activity in the book where the aim is to develop speaking skills whose emphasis is correct to stress and rhythm. It requires students to create and perform a rap using the vocabulary on a relevant topic. This would not work well for them since they feel they are grown-ups and such activities are best suit learners at the elementary level. For me I think this activity is most suitable for younger learners who have all the joy to sing and dance as much as they can without feeling intimidated.
The writer says that the audience of this book is the EAP teachers of both ESL and EFL students. Having looked at the contents of the book critically, I think it was supposed to be for all the English teachers. This is because of the content of the book. The book encompasses all the aspects of English: speaking, listening, reading, writing, vocabulary development and grammar. All these are necessary for any English learner regardless of the level of learning (Flowerdew, 2008). In fact, it would also be more applicable to young learners since some activities in the book are favorably designed for young learners. An illustration of this is the instance where the learners are supposed to compose a rap. Young learners would seriously enjoy such an activity as compared to grown-up learners.
The book is an ideal curriculum as it encompasses all aspects of English. It meets the role of a curriculum in such a way that by the time you are through teaching using this book, learners would have gained a wide knowledge in English both in communication and writing. Moreover, the participatory approach that gives the learners an opportunity to be involved in various activities, assist in improving the understanding of the language. Curricula design and development involves policy-making, needs assessment, design and development, teacher preparation and development, program management and evaluation. Having these steps in mind, then the book can be used as a tool for the development of language curricula (Flowerdew, 2008).
The book has a wide variety of teaching aspects that can be offered to students including vocabulary, reading speaking, and grammar just to name a few. It also assists the teacher in preparation as it has guidelines on how the content should be disseminated while in the class. The needs of the students are accessed and this book meets the majority if not all of the students’ needs. In career development there is also the aspect of different approaches integration. This book as seen previously has varied approaches in information dissemination. The activities in the book allow for skill-based and procedural curriculum.
Flowerdew, J. (2008). English as an Additional Language. University of Leeds: University of Leeds Press.
Freebody, P. & Luke, A. (1990). Literacies programs: Debates and demands in cultural context. Prospect: Australian Journal of TESOL, 5(7), 7-16.
Guse, J. & Thornbury, S. (2011). Communicative Activities for EAP. Cambridge University: Cambridge University Press.