New Headway Advanced Student’s Book
reviewed by Neil McBeath, Saudi Arabia
Neil McBeath served as a uniformed educational officer in the Royal Air Force of Oman from 1981 to 2005. During that time he gained two Masters degrees and the Omani Dintinguished Service Medal.He refused to renew contract in 2005 and now works for BAE Systems in Saudi Arabia.
New Headway Advanced Student’s Book
Liz and John Soars 2006
Oxford Oxford University Press
Pp. 160 ISBN 0-19-436930-7
This is the latest offering from the Headway series, and it has all the features that EFL teachers and learners have come to expect. The Student’s Book is supported with Class CD’s or cassettes; a Workbook (with and without answers); Student Workbook CD’s or cassettes, and now there is a website that offers a series of interactive exercises.
The Student’s Book itself, moreover, follows the format that has brought such success. There are 12 Units, followed by a fourteen page, unit-by-unit Writing supplement (Pp. 117-131). There is a full set of tapescripts (Pp. 132-146) and then a unit-by-unit, section-by-section Grammar reference (Pp. 147-160). In appearance, New Headway Advanced has the busy, almost cluttered, pages that are familiar from the earlier levels, but New Headway Advanced is subtly different.
The difference is that this book has finally broken free of what Rinvolucri (1999; 14) described as "the soft, fudgy, sub-journalistic, women’s magaziney world of EFLese course materials." The darker side of life is, finally, allowed to intrude.
This is not to say that the book is entirely somber, but from the very first Unit – Our Land is Your Land (dealing with immigration) more adult themes are able to emerge. Unit 2 – Never Lost for Words (Pp. 17-26) introduces Iris Murdoch, and contrasts an authentic(?) piece of journalistic writing with an image of Judy Dench as the writer when she was lost to Alzheimer’s Disease. Unit 3 – Big Business (Pp. 27-36) – has a passage entitled "Eat, Sleep, Buy, Die" and if that title doesn’t make students think, it is hard to imagine what would.
There are, of course, more conventional Units. Celebrity (Pp. 37-46), Love Is… (Pp. 47-54) and The Ends of the Earth (Pp. 99-108) look as if they could be taken from any General English coursebook. But look again. Celebrity actually questions our current obsession with the cult of celebrity, and this theme is revisited in Newspeak (Pp. 55-62) with an examination of how the tabloid press treats a non-story about Prince Harry (teenage boy tries drugs), compared with the less hysterical broadsheet approach.
Love Is… includes an interview with a 102 year old woman, whose husband died just before their 77th wedding anniversary. Her understatement says as much as Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII, printed on the same page (Pp. 52-53)
Even To the Ends of the Earth, the obligatory travel section, features Greenland, Tristan da Cunha and Zanzibar, destinations that offer a change from the pubbing, clubbing, lets-have-fun-in-the-sun locations.
I would recommend this book. It has the linguistic and grammatical thoroughness that have done so much to establish Headway as a leading EFL brand. At the same time, the darker, more serious themes offer something solid for the advanced student. This is a development that may be long overdue, but it should be welcomed now that it has arrived.
Rinvolucri, Mario. 1999. "The UK EFLese sub-culture and dialect." Folio 5/2 Pp. 12-14.
Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Secondary Teaching course at Pilgrims website.