Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Book Review: 'Business Result - Intermediate & Upper-intermediate'

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Business Result
by John Hughes & Jon Naunton
Oxford University Press 2008
ISBN 9780194768009

Business Result
by Michael Duckworth & Rebecca Turner
Oxford University Press 2008
ISBN 9780194768092

Business Result Web Site
From the blurb: "Learn the communication skills you can take to work today with Business Result.
- Communicative syllabus provides pick-up-and-use business skills
- Interactive Workbook on CD-ROM offers flexibility and self-study options
- Real-world case studies include the Expert View - professional commentary from experts at Cranfield School of Management
It so happens that I was dithering recently between these two titles (Business Result Intermediate and Business Result Upper-intermediate) for use with a private business client , so I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts about them in the review section on Hotch Potch English.

First of all, these books are part of what Oxford calls a super-series. It's the first time I've seen this term applied to ELT and I found it rather intriguing. It turns out that instead of having as many different styles of English course as there are flavours of English, the publisher has opted for a single in-house style for three whole series of books.

As well as the Business Result family, which has five books from Elementary to Advanced, there is the English Result series (Elementary to Intermediate) and the Exams Result series (FCE and CAE) at the time of writing this review, with other titles to follow in 2010.

In the constant battle to invent new ways of selling (let's face it) pretty much the same old stuff, year after year, I find this super-series concept quite cool. It seems that Oxford have found an approach which they are so confident in that they are willing to bet whole series of books on it, along with the massive investment that entails.

So what are the book actually like? Well very good actually. The layout is crisp and fresh-looking, with just enough white space to allow the pages to breathe without sacrificing the all important content.

Furthermore, the chapter themes are bang up-to-date, without falling into the trap of being too weird just to attract attention. My aforementioned client is in charge of an important customer satisfaction project for a large chemical company, so I was immediately attracted by the upper-intermediate book's units Customer service and On schedule, which deals with project management.

In her role as an instigator of (not always welcome) change, the units on Change and Motivation should be of strong interest, and the Ethical business chapter covers a topic with is totally relevant to all industrial companies today. On balance, in terms of topics covered, and general level, I think I'll go with upper-intermediate for this particular client, who found the listenings in the intermediate book too easy. Indeed, the recordings at the intermediate level seemed unnaturally slow, but this was almost the only weak point worth mentioning.

There are sixteen 6-page units in each book, each of which finishes with an interesting case study featuring a company relevant to the chapter's main theme. Oxford has enrolled experts from the Cranfield School of Management to provide authoritative commentary which adds to the richness and authenticity of the section.

Regular Tip boxes and in particular the useful Key expressions panels are welcome inclusions and even more appreciated by both teachers and students alike I imagine will be the two-page Practice files to be found at the end of the book and which can be used for personal extra study/revision or assigned for homework without the need for an additional workbook.

Which leads us on to the CD-ROM which comes with the book and includes not only all the listening material from the units but also provides an interactive workbook with practice exercises, sample e-mails and tests for each unit and an interactive phrasebank and glossary.

It was high-time we got away from the ridiculous number of add-ons and extras which seemed to be obligatory with every new English course. Of course, most of them are still there, but at last they are supplied in a single volume, giving the student the chance to finally get their hands (eyes, ears, tongues...) on a large amount of relevant material with the minimum of fuss.

There is, inevitably, a teacher's book with a rather interesting addition in the form of a Teacher Training DVD (which I haven't seen yet) which apparently shows 'Business Result in action in the classroom'.

And finally, certainly there's an accompanying web site which does feature some genuinely useful free content, such as a well-designed needs analysis form, a placement test and speaking test to help determine students' levels, reading and writing files linked to the student's book, printable vocab and useful expression cards, BEC exam practice files, a close maker, and... well, you get the idea! Hat's off to Oxford and ten out of ten for effort I would say.

So in conclusion, if you're looking for a modern, comprehensive and stimulating business English course, with heaps of back-up materials, you may need to look no further than this totally up-to-date offering from one of the leaders in the field... and may the Business Results be with you.

Hotch Potch English: Serendipity 2 ~ Book Review: 'Business Result - Intermediate & Upper-intermediate'
Created & written by Sab Will
Copyright 2009 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English
Visit Hotch Potch English ~ The Unique English Teaching Website

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