Thursday, 9 August 2012

Book Review: 'Campaign - English for the Military' by Mellor-Clark & Baker de Altamirano

English for the military
Simon Mellor-Clark
Yvonne Baker de Altamirano
Macmillan Education 2004
ISBN 9781405009805

Publisher's Website
From the blurb: Campaign is designed to meet the English language needs of military personnel engaged in all operations, including peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and training exercises.

I know it might look like I'm living behind the times, reviewing a book first published in 2004, but it's new to me, ok, and I'm always on the lookout for interesting materials to review I haven't come across before.

Which is why I was intrigued by the somewhat ahead of its time Campaign: English for the military, Student's Book 1.

It's actually a fascinating book, which cleverly weaves the English language and the needs of the military together with aplomb. Admittedly, the 'From the blurb' section doesn't mention one of the key eventualities of military personnel in the form of soldiers - combat - but practically everything around the topic is covered in appreciable detail for this level, elementary, and much more besides.

Each of the 14 units is cunningly divided into Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot and Golf sections.

Alpha introduces the topic and the key vocab in typical English language course book style.

Bravo and Charlie cover basic grammatical and lexical areas.

Delta deals with everyday English including non-military situations like shopping and socialising.

Echo and Foxtrot move into more functional language as well as more advanced vocabulary groups and pronunciation.

Golf, finally, revises the language learnt and provides consolidation of structures 'n' stuff.

As for the topics themselves, I'm no expert, so I couldn't claim for an instant to know whether they are the most relevant, but they've been 'vetted by officers from the American, British, French and Spanish armies', according to the publishers, and provide an accurate reflection of military life and language, so who am I to argue?

Indeed, they sound fascinating, and would be a welcome change from teaching bankers or lawyers (sorry guys). Random headings include Military Inventions, The Assault Course, Casualty Evactuation, Rules of Engagement, Working With People From Other Countries, Crash Landing, Terrain Analysis, The History of NATO, Aircraft, Vehicles and Naval Ships, and the eyebrow-raising Camp Orders.

I was disappointed not to see what I would consider vital expressions in this last section, such as 'Ooh, straighten your helmet, lovey, it's all wonky..' (cue canned laughter), but seriously, the book's got all angles covered as far as I can see, for an introductory, low-level text.

I just have one nagging question, despite wishing I'd had this book when teaching officers and soldiers from the French army at Versailles a few years ago: how many army personnel actually have the time to do '120 hours of classwork in the Student's Book backed up with 80 hours of revision in the Workbook?

Well, maybe they do for all I know, which is little, and in any case this is an excellent resourse to consider for any teacher working with the military needing inspiration and extra materials over and above what they may have been provided with or are able to produce themselves.

As ever I welcome any and all elucidating comments below to fill in the glaring gaps in my knowledge of military English, whether you've used the book or wrote it. At ease.

P.S. Watch out for a review of the sort of sister volume English for Law Enforcement, also from Macmillan Education, coming on these pages shortly.


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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