Good English Vibes: Learning for a Brighter Future

Book Writer & Publisher: 
Samuel Rose, Asahi Press
Victoria Thomas, University of Shimane

[Samuel Rose. Asahi Press, 2022. (Answer key and tests in the teacher’s manual) p. 90. ¥1,870. ISBN: 978-4-255-15688-0.]

Reviewed by Victoria Thomas, University of Shimane

Good English Vibes: Learning for a Brighter Future is a compact 15-unit English communication textbook. This book is marketed for university-age learners with a TOEIC score ranging between 400 to 500 or an existing English vocabulary of 800 to 1000 headwords. Fourteen units follow roughly the same pattern. The 15th unit is a placeholder for the review test, which is provided in the teacher’s manual.

The 14 units follow a six-page pattern. The first section features a dication exercise on the unit’s topic, consisting of five sentences with an increasing number of missing words. According to Newton and Nation (2021), dictations are an excellent source of practice for listening for details, spelling, and general focus on form. After the dictation, there is a list of 10 vocabulary items, which students are asked to define in English. More advanced students can use this as an in-class challenge, but for less proficient students, it can be an in-class dictionary activity. Instructions can be altered to allow for Japanese translations as answers. Following this definition section is a vocabulary/applied grammar section called Vocabulary Builder in which students have to choose the grammatically correct answer. For example: “You never get a second chance to make a first _____. 1. impressive 2. impression 3. imperative 4. important 5. impress (Rose, 2022, p. 3). This section intrigued me because it is essentially an implicit grammar activity disguised as a vocabulary activity. Overall, the first section usually takes my students about 30 minutes to complete.

The second section contains a reading passage with audio, five true/false questions about the reading, three short discussion questions, and a short Pronunciation Focus exercise with four key words for students to listen to and repeat. The audio for the reading passage provides basic accessibility for students who might benefit from audio-assisted reading. Jackson and Karger (2015) highlighted the benefits of audio-assisted reading for students with vision impairment, visual processing disorders, learning disabilities, and underdeveloped literacy. However, they believed all students could benefit from multimodal access. Students’ reading comprehension is assessed with the true-false questions and the short discussion questions, which appear to be the book’s primary means for developing speaking skills. However, using the sole speaking activity as post-reading questions might not provide enough opportunities for speaking or creativity in a communication class. If using this book exclusively, other speaking activities might be necessary in order to provide a skills-balanced course.

The third section usually contains a two-person dialogue, a short free-writing prompt, a themed vocabulary activity, ending with a useful, ungraded Notes section for students. The dialogues exemplify my major criticism of the book: All audio recordings are completed by the same two native speakers (one man, one woman, both with standard American accents), despite the dialogues being presented as conversations between a native speaker and a Japanese university student. However, the free writing activity is one of the most beneficial communicative activities in the book. Park (2020) noted, free writing provides a space for meaning-focused language production, reducing students’ anxiety about writing and improving their thinking skills. Placing this open-ended activity at the end of the chapter and near the Notes section is a brilliant strategy to encourage student reflection and engagement.

Because textbooks are ultimately a tool for students, I survey my students about their textbook after each semester. This semester, the students’ responses included: “easy to understand,” “very nice,” “very good size,” and “useful.” Movies, music, sports, and foods were specifically praised as topics. As in previous semesters, most students liked the book and considered it an appropriate level. Three students stated that the book was too easy, and eight claimed that certain parts were too hard (usually the dictation or vocabulary definitions, though each section was mentioned at least once). However, each section was praised by other students. These comments indicate that it is well suited for the average student in my class.

Overall, Good English Vibes, along with supplementary materials, provides a simple foundation for teachers to build their students’ English language skills. Its simple layout is clear and easy for students to understand, and my students like the topics. It provides simple pre-designed activities of the variety that might be more tedious to create from scratch (dictations, implicit grammar, readings, and dialogues) while leaving room for teacher expansion and personalization.



Jackson, R., & Karger, J. (2015). Audio-supported reading and students with learning disabilities. National Center on Accessible Education Materials.

Newton, J. M., & Nation, I. S. O. (2021). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Park, J. (2020). Benefits of freewriting in an EFL academic writing classroom. ELT Journal, 74(3), 318–326.