Sheila A. Scott, Ottawa University in IATEFL Voices (2011)

This four-book series provides students with numerous opportunities to practice English vocabulary and structures by providing a wide selection of ESP activities. The expressed objective of these texts is to draw students’ attention to particular aspects of language as they focus on their listening and speaking skills.

Each 18 unit text includes themes which provide a backdrop for structure and skills practice. There is a strong focus on phonetics and students are taught the use of sentence stress, blended sounds, strong and weak vowels, and contractions.

All chapters contain four different Spotlight sections: listening, memory, speaking and vocabulary. There is a useful activity at the beginning of each book in the series which assists students in navigating and demystifying it. This provides them with a glimpse of the exciting themes and language activities that await them. Each subsequent unit begins with a warm up activity, setting the stage for that unit’s theme and ends with a review activity, often a board game to further encourage listening and speaking.

The Spotlight sections are worth looking at individually. Spotlight on Listening is built around short conversations which draw the student’s attention to a particular language function and its corresponding register. Pronunciation points such as reduced vowels are highlighted and while the texts are clearly scripted, the language is quite natural sounding.

Spotlight on Memory encourages students to remember the essence of each dialogue and provides oral speaking practice. Students listen for content and vocabulary, as well as intonation and pronunciation patterns and then replicate it, applying their meta-cognitive skills in the dissection and reconstruction of the dialogue.

The Spotlight on Speaking focuses on accuracy and exercises are often built around examples of incorrect usage which the students must correct. This allows them to monitor the structures they use in their L1 and compare it to the appropriate structure in English. Other speaking activities include guided conversations based on illustrations. 

Spotlight on Vocabulary introduces recording techniques. A notebook at the back of the book provides students with a template which encourages learners to identify parts of speech, number of vowels and the syllables in each word as they record it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the materials and format of these texts and suggest you include them in your library too!