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AMEP Research Centre

English Steps

English Steps
by Jenni Guilfoyle, Jan Livingstone, Paul Learmonth.
Published by AMES, Melbourne, 2 nd ed, 2004, 1-3 (books and cassettes)

English steps are a series of course books in 3 volumes – one for each level of language proficiency.

Each unit in each volume of English Steps focuses on a particular ‘real life' topic and includes specific attention to features of the macroskills, comprehension, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar and common functions. Each unit has also been designed to correspond to specific CSWE modules and learning outcomes. The general organisation of the units is nicely displayed in a tabular ‘map' at the start of each volume. This very logical and functional arrangement of the material is one of the attractive and pragmatic strengths of the English Steps series for any teacher working within the CSWE curriculum.

The texts can be readily used either as basic ‘course books' (but their content would require supplementation, as many topics are very succinct) or as a useful supplementary resource (e.g., as part of a comprehensive cross-textual strategy for developing particular skills towards particular learning outcomes). In particular English Step 1 lends itself to individual learning and therefore can be successfully used as ESL materials in Independent Learning Centres, as the book contains sequences of exercises with answers and cassette tapes.

The layout of the texts is simple, clear, and appropriate to level. However, while the choice of graphics and their content is interesting and adds a nice ‘naturalistic' and even ‘personal' feel to the text, the quality of the photographs is consistently rather poor since tonal balance makes many of the images indistinct. Line drawings are adequate, but some of the maps are virtually illegible. Page headers identifying the current unit would have been a useful addition.

Overall English Steps is certainly a useful, usable and quite well conceived resource tailored to the requirements of CSWE. However it is hoped that the graphics will be significantly improved in future editions, and that the recordings be transferred to CD to keep pace with modern language audio equipment.

Reviewed by Khristos Nizamis, AMEP, Institute of TAFE, Hobart