Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Book Review: 'IELTS Express' by Hallows, Lisboa & Unwin

IELTS Express
Intermediate & Upper Intermediate Coursebooks
Richard Hallows, Martin Lisboa & Mark Unwin
Heinle Cengage Learning 2011
ISBN 9781133313069 / 9781133313021

Publisher's Website
From the blurb: "IELTS Express is a two-level preparation course for candidates studying for the International English Language Testing System examination (IELTS). IELTS-type tasks and practice activities provide students with the essential skills they need for exam success. 

It's a funny old exam, the IELTS, and quite a tricky one if you ask me. Because it's testing both English language skills and aptitude to study or survive abroad in an English speaking environment, it's sometimes difficult to know where it's coming from, or in any case how to approach it.

Oh well, that's probably just me, and of course it's part of the Cambridge ESOL stable so its credentials are impeccable. You just have to pass the thing, and to do that you need to prepare, in this case, as much for this particular exam as for the English you are likely to be tested on.

IELTS Express does a good job of this using a resonably clear and attractive layout - i.e. not too cluttered - and certainly covers all the question types you are likely to come across in the test itself.

Each of the two books can be used on a typical 30-40 hour short preparation course, and extended by many more by using the accompanying workbook and teacher-found supplimentary exercises.

The intermediate book covers both the General and the Academic exam, while the upper intermediate book focuses more on the latter, both books providing practice tests for their areas of concern.

Each book is divided into eight units, with the lower level volume understandably covering more general topics such as Studying Overseas, Shopping and the Internet, Transport and Inventions, and Attitudes to Food.

The higher level book takes more serious, or at least more businessy topics as its unit starting points, including Education, The Workplace, Climate and the Environment , and Growth and Development.

Needless to say, each unit has sections devoted to a couple of the skills - that is to say papers - tested in the exam - reading, writing, listening and speaking, all closely integrated into exam-type exercises.

Regular 'in the exam' and 'exam strategy' boxes inform the future candidates of the sort of things to look out for.

Each book also has a couple of pages of 'language bank' containing many beautifully concise yet sophisticated expressions to help students' written and oral presentations flow with ease. If they only mastered all of these how much better their English would be just from those two pages!

All in all, then, IELTS Express seems to be an excellently written and presented brace of titles ideal for anyone going for a satisfactory grade in this more and more popular English test, especially for those hoping to study, live and work abroad.


Sab Will is, or has been, a freelance teacher, teacher trainer, director of studies, ELT writer, fanatical blogger, Facebook freak and website weirdo. He is also a well-known street photographer, abstract artist, poet and Paris city chronicler. The 'well-known' bit only applies to those who know him well, however.
Hotch Potch English: 'The ELT Resources Review Blog' ~ Book Review: "IELTS Express"
© 2012 Sab Will / Hotch Potch English

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