[David Bohlke. Boston, MA: National Geographic Learning, 2017. ¥2,780 [Includes: MyELT, DVD and CD package, teacher’s book, and CD-ROM ExamView] ISBN: 978-1-337-10410-4.]
Keynote 1 is an integrated-skills textbook that uses TED Talks for teaching learners of English at CEFR levels A1 to A2. It is a global textbook, which is not designed for a specific learning situation or culture (Bell & Gower, 1998). My university chose this book because the content matches our program objectives. This includes content centered on passions, technology, environment, challenges, art, and social changes. The materials can be adapted to an academic year of 30 weeks with two 90-minute sessions per week. There are 12 units and three model presentations, with each unit consisting of the following subsections: Warm Up, Lesson A, B, C, D, and E
Warm Up contains a preview of the TED Talk followed by discussion questions about the topic. Lesson A focuses on listening. A pre-listening activity introduces target vocabulary, and the listening materials include interviews or narratives of people from different occupations, such as a musician and a TV host. The post-listening activity requires students to discuss a question related to the text with partners. It ends with a speaking activity in a dialogue format that models the target vocabulary and grammar points. In Lesson B students incorporate target grammar points in writing and speaking activities. Lesson C contains a reading passage, comprehension activities, vocabulary practice, and a discussion question. In Lesson D, students focus on vocabulary through the TED Talk summary, watch video excerpts, and discuss related questions. The presentation skill section introduces one skill in each unit, such as introducing yourself and getting the audience’s attention, followed by an activity for practicing the skill. Lesson E concludes the unit with a communicative task, such as a role-play, or a writing task.
The above lessons provide a task-based teaching approach aiming to engage learners in real-world language use through meaningful tasks, with assessment based on both completion and outcome (Willis & Willis, 2007). To facilitate understanding of authentic language, students are first exposed to vocabulary, natural expressions, and target grammar through listening, speaking, and writing activities. Then key vocabulary items from the TED Talk are highlighted in a reading activity to prepare students for understanding the excerpts. This approach is effective, as it provides material that engages students in meaningful communication, discussing their opinions using target language and skills.
The materials in Keynote 1 are flexible and easy to use. The vocabulary is recycled throughout the units, and the transcripts of the video excerpts are included in the textbook. The TED Talk topics are engaging. The videos with English subtitles can be accessed online on MyELT and the Classroom Presentation Tool, or using a DVD player.
One downside of Keynote 1 is that, as the book progresses, the TED Talks involve more complex topics that are hard for university students to relate to, such as how to “revive” a neighborhood. In addition, Lessons A and B tend to be easier for higher level students, while Lessons C and D tend to be more difficult for lower level students as the texts involve more difficult words, complex sentence structures, and unfamiliar concepts. Another downside is that presentation planning and writing (e.g. organization) is not addressed.
My approach to using the book is to apply the task-based teaching principles by revising the speaking activities to include reporting and language focus activities. The readings are simplified for lower level students. Watching the TED Talks is assigned as homework before group discussions, which aim to relate the content to their experience. Additionally, presentation writing materials are supplemented, with the students giving presentations every other week.
Many of my students found the class useful for improving their listening, speaking and presentation skills. They reported that they enjoyed the speaking activities and felt more confident giving presentations at the end of the course. Some students stated that TED Talks are difficult to understand, but many said they enjoy learning new ideas from them.
Overall, Keynote 1 has appealing content and it makes TED Talks accessible to lower proficiency learners. The language is authentic and gives students experience with real life English. However, it might take additional effort for instructors to make the content relevant to all students. As the readings and the talks are challenging, I recommend it for A2 level learners.
Bell, J., & Gower, R. (1998). Writing course materials for the world: A great compromise. In B. Tomlinson (Eds.), Materials development in language teaching (pp. 135-150). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Willis, D., & Willis, J. (2007). Doing task-based teaching. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.