Communication Beginnings: An Introductory Listening and Speaking Text for English Language Learners

January 15, 2020 | Updated: September 15, 2020
Author: Della Jean Abrahams, Portland State University

This textbook is designed for advanced beginning-intermediate English language learners in an academic English program. It is composed of 7 chapters, each of which covers specific speaking and listening learning objectives and includes dialogues, interviews, discussions and conversation activities. Each chapter also focuses on 10 target words from the New General Service List of English vocabulary and reviews basic grammar points. The textbook includes an audio component that consists of recorded conversations of native and non-native English speakers, as well as links to additional listening resources on the web.

Subject Areas
Language Learning, English Language

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Communication Beginnings: An Introductory Listening and Speaking Text for English Language Learners cover is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/).

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Communication Beginnings: An Introductory Listening and Speaking Text for English Language Learners by Della Jean Abrahams, Portland State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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Reviews (2) Avg: 4.55 / 5

Matthew Michaud

Institution:Capilano UniversityTitle/Position: InstructorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

Regarding a listening and speaking textbook, “Communication Beginnings” does an excellent job of appropriately providing an effective index. Moreover, there is a very concise glossary, but it could be better served at being places towards the end of the textbook.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The content has appropriate diagrams and photographs that coincide correctly with details found within the chapters. Moreover, the photographs are generally clear, error-free, and unbiased. Additionally, photographs used are diverse and extremely colourful. Also, the scripts and answer key at the end of the textbook are correct and help with reader awareness.

Content Accuracy Rating: 5 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

Overall, the content is up-to-date and should be relevant for quite some time. Generally, the content is pertinent and generally straightforward for a textbook of this kind. The reader/user would be able to use the textbook relatively easily. Moreover, any updates that would have to be made to the textbook would be easy to implement.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The textbook is written succinctly. Overall, an English language learner who is looking for an introductory course to listening and speaking would find this textbook easy to us. The glossary helps with this as does all of the white space on each page that would help assist students vis-a-vis note-taking.

Clarity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Each chapter follows a consistent pattern. There is a large picture to start the chapters followed by comprehension questions. Then there are tips sections followed by listening practice. Subsequently, there are vocabulary building and additional speaking activities. I found that each chapter flows easily into the next; thus, aiding in student ease of use.

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.

The textbook does not have a lot of large chunks of reading as it is a listening and speaking textbook. I found it to be an excellent introductory listening and speaking textbook that could be seamlessly used in any ESL classroom.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

For an ESL textbook, especially regarding listening and speaking, the topics in the text are logical and clear. Moreover, the topics are quite traditional for an introductory ESL textbook. Chapter 1 deals with learning how to speak and listen in English, Chapter 2 - introductions, Chapter 3 - travel, Chapter 4 - food, Chapter 5 - describing places, Chapter 6 - hobbies, Chapter 7 - jobs and majors; hence, it is pretty clear that the author has not added any difficult topics in the textbook and I believe this is the point of such a textbook.

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

Generally, the textbook is fine regarding its interface. There should not be any display features that distract the reader. However, there is one map on page 57 that could be of better quality. I am not totally sold on the cover page of a desert, I wonder if the author could make the meaning of this choice more obvious or perhaps change it to something regarding communication. When I think of a desert, I think of a lack of human communication.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The textbook does not contain any grammatical or spelling errors.

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

The textbook reflects diversity and inclusion well enough but could include an image of LGBTQ, Asian, Indigenous, and disabled peoples. I believe it does not include insensitive or offensive language.

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?

I recommend this textbook to anyone looking for a simple yet effective textbook for beginning English language learners to study listening and speaking. I would very much agree with the textbook's title that it very much is an "Introductory Listening and Speaking Text for English Language Learners" as the topics found within are straightforward and common in the level. The 7 chapters in the textbook would be an excellent choice for an introductory ESL classroom in a university where the students didn't know each other, say in a fall semester because paired with other ESL materials it would be a very effective accompaniment with grammar, writing, and reading texts at the similar level. Overall, the useability and clarity found within the textbook would be well suited for beginner to experienced ESL teachers who are looking for a barebones listening and speaking text.

Jyoti Kohli

Institution:Vancouver Premier CollegeTitle/Position: College InstructorCreative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

This book offers a good range of topics that people come across in their day to day lives (hobbies, food, jobs, etc.) Each of the seven chapters provides enough room for the speaking and listening activities with clear guidelines. The vocabulary in each lesson is relevant to the specific topics covered in the book. In terms of vocabulary and discussion questions, the book aims at intermediate to high-intermediate language students, not beginners. On the other hand, the grammar part is very basic, for example, forming yes/no questions and WH questions, which help beginners. For beginners, I would introduce these vocabulary words with more pictures. Pictures will help them imagine real-world scenarios and react to them more naturally. Illustrations are attractive to all and provide a talking point for everyone. For instance, creating exercises such as match the picture with the word, and multiple-choice questions where students are asked to choose the best word for the image given are always good ways to remember the vocabulary.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

In general, the content is error-free. I did not notice any bias. However, there is an issue regarding grammar usage. Chapter 5(page. 62) mentioned that all regular verbs end with 'ed'. Still, there are some very important spelling rules/tips that should be included with this topic for example, if a verb ends in -e, you add -d(agree->agreed, prepare->prepared), If a verb ends in a consonant and -y, we take off the y and add -ied (fry->fried, carry->carried), etc.

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

The book covers universal and fundamental topics, and they are not likely to become obsolete. Most of the topics would be interesting and relevant to young
adult EAL/ESL learners.

Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

The directions and explanation of some sections were a bit hard for a beginner level student. For example, a beginner student may find it challenging to understand the need "to change the form of the words" (referring to page 39). I would provide a sample answer or some example that students can use as a model.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

The book is designed consistently, and it follows the same pattern in terms of the use of the listening and speaking activities and vocabulary exercises.

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.

The book is well designed into seven stand-alone chapters that could be introduced in almost any order. The modularity of the book gives the author enough flexibility to add more supplemental material if required.

Modularity Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

This book is logically structured and the text is written in a lucid manner.

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

The book has an excellent interface except some of the minor formatting issues, such as inconsistent capitalization used in certain sections' titles.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The book contains no grammatical errors as far as I know except one concern I mentioned(above) in the Content Accuracy rating.

Grammar Rating: 4 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

The book is very inclusive of several cultures and backgrounds. The author has done an outstanding job connecting lessons to the students' social communities to make it more contextual and relevant (primarily through the discussion questions in speaking activities).

Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 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 will strongly recommend this book.