Shape It! It’s Your World 1

Book Writer & Publisher: 
Claire Thacker, Daniel Vincent, & Melissa Wilson. Cambridge University Press
Joel Post, Junior and Senior High School of Kogakuin University

[Claire Thacker, Daniel Vincent, & Melissa Wilson. Cambridge University Press, 2020. (Teacher’s books, workbook, project book, and digital resource pack available) p. 144. ¥3,200. ISBN: 9781108847018.]

Shape It! It’s Your World is a four-level series of English as a second language (ESL) books for advanced beginners to proficient users (CEFR A1+ - B1+) that aim to improve reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills. Many of the activities and readings are designed around global topics. This highly adaptable set of textbooks is designed for high school students, but it can easily be used at the college level. Our school has been using it at the junior high level with some success. The series makes available a student’s book, teacher’s book, workbook, project book, and a digital resource pack. The student’s book also includes a digital activation code. Teachers can set up a class on the Cambridge One online learning platform and have students join to get extra practice and assignments.

Each textbook has 10 chapters (one review/welcome chapter and nine regular chapters). Each regular chapter consists of twelve pages broken down  into two introduction pages, two vocabulary, two grammar, a reading, a listening/conversation, and a writing page. The end of each chapter contains a review page that includes a short self-assessment for the students. Each chapter has four to five videos. The grammar videos are particularly helpful as they use teenagers to model how the grammar is regularly used in real life, and there are practice questions at the end to allow the class to try answering together. Alternate chapters include a content and language integrated learning (CLIL) project that encourages the students to use the language topics and phrases learned in the textbook to make projects, often incorporating other subjects (Genesse & Hamayan, 2016). The remaining chapters have an Around the World section that has a reading and video to develop cross-cultural awareness. This section has a culture project idea, so there are plenty of project-based learning (PBL) and peer-instruction learning (PIL) opportunities throughout this series. The book also has many Learning to Learn sections that help students develop metacognition and give tips on how to become more efficient language learners (Haukås et al., 2018).

Our school has been using this series in our junior high for the last two years. The series uses a spiral structure as topics get harder throughout the courses, which allows students to revisit grammar that they might not have mastered the first time around. For example, in Unit 7 in the level one book, simple past tense is introduced. This grammar point comes up again in the level two book with a few more nuanced example sentences. This gives lower-level students a chance to reinforce language while maintaining the interests of higher-level students and reinforcing their skills.

Although the organization of the textbooks and the activities are appropriate, a point needs to be raised about the reading sections. The texts are often too advanced for the students or outside the students’ previous knowledge. For example, in the first level of Shape It!, there is a chapter that includes vocabulary about towns with beginner vocabulary (e.g., hospital, post office, etc.). The next page contains a 4-paragraph online travel article complete with a few user comments describing a town in Argentina that was abandoned because of flooding, all using advanced vocabulary. Our students found both the content and the reading level difficult to follow. Teachers would do well to supplement the chapters with easier outside readings. Another small criticism is about the writing activity at the end of each chapter: The teacher’s edition has a worksheet to help students complete their writing, but the content and structures are often different from what is required for that activity.

The extra practice and assignments on the Cambridge One platform are well-designed and interesting to the students (Stanley, 2013). Each assignment includes approximately ten questions that often have different formats, some being multiple choice, gap-fill, and even listening items. The students can receive medals according to the percentage of correct answers they get. The site allows students to retry sections if students make a mistake, but many of our staff complain that the site does not give the correct answers, even after several attempts. Teachers must find answers in the Teacher’s Resource section of the site or do the assignment with students to give them the correct answers.

Overall, the Shape It! series is good for teachers and students. Most students said the textbook was manageable, but it was not their textbook of choice. The large visuals and interesting global topics keep the students’ attention. The textbooks and digital resources are easy to navigate. The workbook and online resources give students enough opportunities to practice what they have learned in class.



Genesse, F. & Hamayan, E. (2016). CLIL in context: Practical guidance for educators. Cambridge University Press.

Haukås, A., Bjørke, C., & Dypedahl, M. (Eds.). (2018). Metacognition in language learning and teaching. Routledge.

Stanley, G. (2013). Language learning and technology: Ideas for integrating technology in the classroom. Cambridge University Press.