Talk It Up! Oral Communication for the Real World

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Spring 1999 39REVIEWSTalk It Up!, the first book of an oral com-munication series for intermediate- andadvanced-level adult ESL students, is basedon a model of oral communication thatincludes skills such as listening, speaking,accuracy, pronunciation, and fluency. Eachchapter contains activities that focus on eachof these elements separately, leading to activ-ities that require students to incorporate all ofthe oral skills. An audiotape accompanies thetext, with recordings of dialogues for listen-ing comprehension practice and portions ofthose dialogues for pronunciation practice.The eight chapters are titled Friends, Feelingat Home, Making Connections, The World ofWork, School Choices/Life Opportunities,Money Matters, Help, and ConsumerDecisions. Each is divided into five mainsections: Introduction (with prelisteningactivities), Listening Activity One (furtherdivided into Pronunciation Activities andTalk It Up!), Listening Activity Two (alsodivided into Pronunciation Activities andTalk It Up!), Listening Activity Three, andFurther Practice.Pronunciation is making a strong come-back in the ESL classroom. It is encouragingto see that Talk It Up! includes a number ofthe components that Morley (1998) proposesfor effective speech and pronunciationinstruction. Two of these are to set realisticlearner goals and include speech-monitoringactivities in the curriculum. This text accom-plishes both. It begins with a discussion ofstudent goals, includes a fluency and pronun-ciation pretest for the student to complete,and continues to encourage student self-moni-toring with a periodic self-evaluation.Another of Morleys recommended compo-nents is a focus on suprasegmental features,along with consonant and vowel sounds.Again, this textbook includes both, with thePronunciation Activities section moving frompractice on segmentals to practice on sayingthose individual sounds within sentences.Two beneficial features of the text are itsflexibility and its variety of communicativeactivities. It is flexible in the sense thatteachers are free to choose to focus on theskill(s) that their particular students need, beit pronunciation, listening, or speaking. Theactivities focus on one or more communica-tion skills, such as listening, and provideextensive practice. In-class practice includespair work in which thestudents are obliged tolisten attentively totheir partners, and theirpartners, in turn, arerequired to pronounceprecisely. The book alsocontains a number ofinformation-gap exer-cises. Activities outsideof the class involvewatching television pro-grams and conductingpersonal interviews.The topics and life skills covered in TalkIt Up! are contemporary and practical (e.g.,cyberfriends and credit vs. debit cards) aswell as culturally informative. In one listen-ing activity, students listen to and talk aboutseveral different answering-machine mes-sages. In another activity, students discusswhat to say in difficult social situations, forinstance, upon learning of the death of afriends father. Additional cultural topicsinclude greeting cards, small talk, and eti-quette for dinner guests.Of particular value to the student are thecharts and illustrations that appear through-out the book showing the speech organs,accompanied by explanations of how to formthe particular sounds of English. In addition,the first chapter discusses strategies that stu-dents can use to improve their pronunciation.The Instructors Resource Manual con-tains an answer key as well as the rationalebehind topics and exercises in the text. Inaddition, it offers useful teaching suggestionsto assist the novice instructor.Talk It Up! OralCommunication forthe Real WorldJoann Rishel Kozyrev.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.Pp. xvi + 144.Reviewed by Ann E. Roemer40 TESOL JournalThe only possibleshortcoming of Talk ItUp! is that the listeningpassages use scripteddialogues rather thanauthentic speech.Unlike the recordingsfor the second book ofthis series, Talk It Over!,the language in some ofthe dialogues soundssomewhat unnatural.This probably would notbe detected by students,however, and so shouldnot detract from theoverall quality of thebook. I would recom-mend Talk It Up! to anyESL program that has literate adults who areliving and working in modern-day NorthAmerica. The book would especially benefitthose learners who need to improve their pro-nunciation, fluency, and listening compre-hension in English.ReferenceMorley, J. (1998, January/February).Trippingly on the tongue: Putting seriousspeech/pronunciation instruction back in theTESOL equation. ESL Magazine, 20-23.AuthorAnn E. Roemer is principal lecturer atUtah State University, in Logan, in theUnited States, where she teaches ESL in theIntensive English Language Institute.Editors NoteDuring a masters course on TESOL cur-riculum last year, two of my graduate stu-dents, Pan Qing-sheng and Van Sinh Ha, hada vigorous debate on whether curriculumshould be constructed from a grammatical ora lexical perspective. Later, during thecourse, class discussion broadened toencompass a range of ways for tackling cur-riculum planning, but the debate remindedme of Lewiss book, Implementing theLexical Approach, which had crossed mydesk earlier. Why not, I thought, offer Panand Ha a chance to continue their debate?Pan and Ha read the book, noted it, andheld several discussions on the issues itraised about language learning and teach-ing. The following is but the bare bones oftheir recorded discussions, yet it representspart of a continuing dialogue among EFLteachers, as Ha returns to Vietnam to incor-porate case study research on teaching intohis professional life and Pan completes aminor dissertation on how Chinese studentschunk English language input in the lan-guage classroom.Jill BurtonReviews Editor, TESOL JournalUniversity of South AustraliaImplementing the Lexical Approach cov-ers theory and practice through the followingtopics: basic concepts (Chapters 15) teaching techniques (Chapters 67) teachers reflections on theapproach (Chapter 8) language content implications forteaching (Chapter 9) suggestions for teacher training(Chapter 10) new ideas on dictionaries, grammar,and teaching methodology (Chapter11)Two EFL Teachers Explorationof a New Lexical Approach toTeachingPan: Lewiss interpretation of vocabularyis innovative. In both of his books, TheLexical Approach (1993) and Implementingthe Lexical Approach (1997), he highlightsthe teaching of meaningful chunks.Teaching meaningful language chunks willhelp communication, even if the speakerhas a poor knowledge of grammar of thetarget language.Ha: But what he wants to stress is theimportance of lexis in teaching and learning asecond language (L2). And this is not new.The Concept of NoticingPan: Lewis argues that teaching encour-ages the transition from input to intake.Noticing is an important strategy, in whichlearners attention is drawn to lexical featuresof input which the teacher expects them tolearn. Thus, noticing is a teaching strategy.However, learners, once motivated, will payattention to whatever interests them, not nec-essarily to what the teacher expects them to.In such cases, noticing becomes a learningstrategy.Implementing theLexical Approach:Putting Theory IntoPracticeMichael Lewis.Hove, England: Language TeachingPublications, 1997.Pp. 223.Reviewed by Pan Qing-sheng and Van Sinh Ha


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