[Anderson, J., Graham-Marr, A., Howser, R., & Sato, A. Tokyo: ABAX ELT Publishers, 2016. ¥2,450. ISBN: 9781896942919.]
NEW TOEIC Skills is a three-level TOEIC test textbook series developed to guide students through the new TOEIC test, revised in May 2016. Level 1 of the series is targeted at a TOEIC score of 300 to 450, level 2 at 450 to 600, and level 3 at 600-750. The aim of the textbook series is to help EFL students in university or business contexts improve their TOEIC scores, ideally, in the EFL classroom setting in Asian countries in which simple English structures are used for instruction (Anderson, 2016).
Each textbook in this series has ten units, which are divided into Section A and Section B, and each of these ten units focuses on a topic that matches topics found on the TOEIC test. Each section is further divided in two parts: Focus on the Test and Focus on Language. The Focus on the Test parts are TOEIC style questions, and Focus on Language focuses on vocabulary, listening phonology, and grammar instruction. It includes speaking activities in the sections Pairwork and Let’s Talk.
All student listening material is online, accessible via a password provided. The students have access to the audio scripts in the back of the textbook. The website for student access provides no extra material for practice. Teacher support is available on the same website also with a password. There is no separate Teacher’s Book. As with the student materials, the extra support for the teacher is also lacking, merely containing the textbook audio tracks, mini TOEIC tests, and answer keys. The website in English for teacher support could also use some editing, specifically with the quiz material inaccurately being labelled as Teacher’s Notes.
What distinguishes this textbook from other TOEIC textbooks I have used, is that it provides a lot of test-taking practice. Each unit has a mini simulated TOEIC test, so students will get a lot of TOEIC test-taking experience. On the other hand, some teachers may not like the fact that no TOEIC test-taking strategies are provided in this series except what is covered in the About the TOEIC test section.
I like the speaking practice provided in this textbook series. In Pairwork 1, students take turns dictating sentences to each other as a simulation activity for part 2 on the TOEIC test. After they write sentences, they put them in the correct order to make a conversation. This conversation matches the unit theme, and also includes the unit vocabulary. The teacher can use this conversation in different ways, like in speaking games or oral speaking performances. In Pairwork 2, students read a paragraph to each other and answer questions about the paragraph. This is a simulation activity for part 4 of the TOEIC test. The Let’s Talk activities simulate the speaking interview part of the TOEIC test in which test takers are required to answer questions about their opinions or explain how they would handle a problem or conflict in a business situation.
The students in my university classes like the speaking activities. As the writers of NEW TOEIC Skills 2 and most EFL language teachers today would agree, learning a language by only input is very difficult. Output is necessary for language development (Anderson, 2016). And also, as Omaggio (2001) stated, students need to know how to use the language they have learned in authentic communication situations.
In summary, this textbook series is a very user-
friendly TOEIC test textbook, providing the student with plenty of practice taking the TOEIC test in classroom situations. Although TOEIC test taking strategies are not included, the grammar and vocabulary exercises are tied in well with the speaking activities. Other than the addition of some extracurricular website study materials for the student, and some minor changes to the teacher’s website in English being required, this is an excellent recommendation for any EFL classroom teacher in Asia.
Anderson, J., Graham-Marr, A., Howser, R., & Sato, A. (2016). New TOEIC skills. Tokyo: Abax ELT Publishers.
Chastain, K. (1976). Developing second language skills: Theory to practice (2nd Edition). Chicago: Rand McNally.
Omaggio, H. (2001). Teaching language in context (3rd Edition). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.