College Skills: Intermediate English
Posted: July 5, 2018 | Updated: April 25, 2022
Author: Tania Pattison, Coast Mountain College
This book has been written for adult students of English Language Arts at a Grade 10 level. As such, it meets the criteria established by the British Columbia Ministry of Education while providing content suitable for adult learners. The goal of the book is to help students develop skills in reading, writing, language use, and study skills. The book is divided into ten units, each of which focuses on a specific theme; these include food, work, art, money, nature, and more. All units follow the same sequence. Within each unit, students encounter two reading passages; these are followed by questions designed to improve comprehension skills, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. Reading skills sections focus on tasks such as identifying bias, determining author purpose, and making personal connections with the text. Writing skills sections enable students to develop their skills at the paragraph level though such tasks as comparing/contrasting, discussing causes and effects, and writing persuasive pieces; creative writing, blogging, and letter writing are also included. There is work on language use, such as sentence structure, summarizing, paraphrasing, and so on. Study skills are also presented, with guidelines on time management, self-awareness, managing stress, and avoiding academic dishonesty. Where possible, the content is specific to British Columbia, including First Nations peoples. Throughout the book, students are encouraged to think critically about the issues presented to them, whether these are related to dietary habits, worker safety, the value of art, or a variety of other topics. Each unit contains several 'Think about It!' activities, where students are encouraged to share their own opinions, either orally or in writing. The goal is that students finish the book with a greater understanding of reading and writing skills; at the same time, they will develop a greater insight into their own opinions on a variety of topics relevant to their lives.
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4.5 / 5
Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
The text does not have a glossary. This might be helpful for some of the analysis and grammar terms.
I think it would be better to have sections listed on different lines for the index. It is confusing where one section ends and another begins when the titles are broken over two lines of text with the slashes.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
Names section could also include some mention of gender-neutral names for inclusivity.
Reading suggestions - maybe indicate possible meanings for the symbols to give learners an idea of how to use them
pg. 12 Aubrey section - again could directly mention changing names for gender inclusivity and transgendered and non-binary people
pg. 12 Answer key for main ideas?
pg. 21 revising - for coherence and flow of ideas, editing - for grammar, proofreading - for spelling and punctuation
pg.26 really like the line "So, what really matters is not how smart you are, but how smart your habits are."
pg.28 There is mention of "plan your paragraph" but it is only included earlier in the book with very minimal information; does there need to be some more detail before this point?
pg. 36 I like the text about the 100-mile diet. However, in my experience, many learners in adult education are often socio-economically challenged. I just wonder if they would be able to relate to this text. It would be easy to change this reading to something more Indigenous as well.
Since the textbook is OER, I assume that it will be used in many locations. Would it be an idea to make the geographical references broader or more general?
pg. 49 Consider cultural dietary restrictions, allergies, and other dietary considerations
pg. 63 Maybe consider using a different reflection strategy at the end of every chapter like "glow and grow" or "take your temperature"
pg. 86 consider using the acronym FANBOYS to help learners remember the coordinating conjunctions used in a compound sentence.
pg. 88 add in that a run on sentence can be corrected with a semi colon or a semi colon and a transitional adverb
pg.89 use calendar apps to help organize your time - can set reminders, colour code etc
pg. 89 when you get the syllabi for your courses and assignment due dates put them on a calendar and work back blocking off time to complete them
pg. 102 link to video is not live (should it be?)
pg. 109 I think it is a good idea to avoid using the word "moral" when referring to narrative themes. Moral implies something is right or wrong. Instead, consider asking learners to finish the phrase "The author wants the reader to know that..." Then, direct learners to cross out the sentence stem and the learners will have a strong narrative theme statement.
pg. 123 instead of the day my life changed maybe a big event in my life
pg. 139 A really effective exercise to identify bias is to have a news story from different sources. Look at the titles and how they are similar or different. Read the text for similarities and differences.
pg. 155 A fragment can also be that the sentence is not a complete thought. In other words a sentence fragment can be caused by a missing subject, verb, or complete thought
pg. 170 Connections - Text to self, text to world, text to media, text to text - learners can often connect to media - it should be included
pg. 178 why just prisons and addiction treatment centres. Therapy animals are used in many places and situations i.e. airports, schools, counselling etc.
pg. 187 parallelism - look at word endings and verb tenses to make sure they match for parallelism as well
pg. 190 add in presentation body language i.e. don't read off a screen if giving a powerpoint presentation
pg. 190 if using powerpoint make sure to limit slide text
pg. 190 provide an agenda or plan at the beginning of a presentation so listeners know what to expect
pg. 190 indicate the beginning, middle, and end of the presentation i.e. don't just end without making your conclusion clear
pg. 213 are the links supposed to be live?
pg. 215-216 paraphrasing - add in use synonyms, change the sentence structure, used for short pieces of text rather than large pieces of text and summarizing, keep details (unlike summarizing which only includes main ideas)
pg. 216 would it be helpful to have a learning activity/exercise where leaners need to identify an acceptable and an unacceptable paraphrase?
pg. 219 trick to determine whether you need to use "its" or "it's". Use the words "it is" in the sentence. If using both words makes the sentence sound awkward, you know you need to use its rather than the contraction
pg. 228 should the link be live?
pg. 256 study in small chunks of time spread out to make the retrieval of information more challenging - this will make it easier to learn the content, quiz yourself or have someone quiz you, relate the content to yourself
pg. 280 should there be a distinction between persuasive writing and argumentative writing i.e. persuasive writing is opinion mixed with emotion and argumentative is fact without emotion?
pg. 284 why make it specific as a letter to the editor. Learners could be introduced just more generally to writing a formal letter to express their ideas about a topic i.e. to a newspaper, a magazine, a podcast, a politician, a community group, a business etc. Also, it might be more current to have learners practice writing a formal email rather than a formal paper letter. The rules for the structure and style of a formal email are different than a formal letter
pg. 287 I would include more commonly confused words like your/you're, their/there/they/re etc.
pg. 289 Include a sentence or two about different referencing systems that learners may encounter i.e. MLA, APA, Chicago etc. and a couple of resources - mention education institutions will always have libraries with resources and people to help with referencing questions and issues.
pg. 316 note that the last sentence of the introductory paragraph should be the thesis
pg. 316 the body paragraphs should be in the order that the main topics are listed in the thesis
pg. 317 body paragraphs - add that all body paragraphs should have concluding sentences that help transition to the next paragraph
pg. 317 transition words between sentences within body paragraphs as well (just don't overuse them as noted early in the text)
pg 317 conclusion - leave the reader with something to think about
Grammar topics to consider - misplaced and dangling modifiers, subject-verb agreement, and vague pronoun reference
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
Some pop culture references will need to be updated frequently, but should not be difficult to do.
The arrangement is logical and coherent. Predictability of the arrangement is useful for learners.
Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
Clarity is excellent.
Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
Consistency Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
Some references to previous chapters, but not excessive.
Text lengths are manageable and easily modified and reorganized.
Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
Very well done. I particularly like the mix of the topics.
Organization Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
All clear and well laid out
Some links are "live" and others are not.
Interface Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
I didn't catch any.
Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
Some sections at the beginning could be more inclusive. See notes in first section of review.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?
Yes, I would absolutely recommend this book. I think if it had an answer key it could also be used effectively for asynchronous, online learning. It is a good overview of main writing and reading topics. If any additional topics will be considered, I would suggest listening, viewing, and representing as learners will most likely also have to be proficient in these skills for post-secondary education.