MegaGoal Intro: International Edition
[Manuel dos Santos. New York: McGraw-Hill ELT, 2010. pp. vii + 106. ¥1,995. (Includes CD-ROM). ISBN: 978-0-07-131224-0.]
Reviewed by Jason White, Himeji High School
MegaGoalis a complex and dynamic four-skills EFL textbook series intended to guide teenagers and young adults from absolute beginner to a high-intermediate level. The series is specifically designed to be engaging to teenagers and young adults through the use of attractive, visually-driven material based on real life situations. MegaGoal Intro is ideal for students with less than two years of English study. The content is entirely American English, and is intended for international communication. Although each book in the series contains exercises for building all four skills, the earlier levels have a listening and speaking focus, while the emphasis shifts to reading and writing as students progress through the series.
MegaGoal Introconsists of 12 six-page units, with each unit following a regular pattern that begins with the introduction of vocabulary and structures, followed by grammar points, reading and writing activities, and finally ending with a project that allows students to apply the knowledge they have gained throughout the unit. MegaGoal Intro also contains four 4-page expansions that work to reinforce the material learned in each 3-unit block. These expansion units contain review exercises, thematic readings that challenge the students, and simple, user-friendly songs to be used as sing-alongs that help to maintain students’ interest. The final component of the textbook is an 8-page picture dictionary of illustrated vocabulary. The picture dictionary is divided into eight general topics, such as Family, Clothes, and Teenagers’ Favorite Things (p. xi). Each student book also comes with an accompanying workbook and audio CD.
There are two key characteristics of the MegaGoal Intro book that make it worthwhile as an ELT textbook. The first aspect is the organization within the text. Each unit contains a carefully selected amount of material that is appropriate for achieving the main goals presented in the Scope and Sequence section of the Table of Contents. This is shown in the conversation exercises, which contain short, focused dialogues with no more than a few pertinent sentences per participant.
The second key aspect is the support materials provided to students and teachers. There is a comprehensive teacher’s guide (interleaved), EZ Test CD-ROM with Test Generator, and online activities available for students from the Online Learning Center: <mcgraw-hill-educacion.com/megagoal_olc>. The series can be implemented into the classroom using any given unit within the various levels as a starting point because of the placement test provided in the EZ Test CD-ROM with Test Generator. This flexibility is a high point for the series because it allows teachers to begin at an appropriate level rather than reviewing materials that have been mastered previously. In my classroom I was able to bypass the early units, which were absolute beginning level featuring alphabet, names, and numbers, and begin with later units featuring food, directions, outdoor activities, and shopping. In regards to the Test Generator; there are many convenient options that can be used to change the tests so that they are better suited to the specific material that the teacher wants to focus on, such as editing, rearranging, adding, or subtracting questions. I found the test materials to be adequate for evaluating learning without editing or rearranging, but it was reassuring to have options.
The colorful, eye-catching illustrations that accompany the text are undoubtedly the most alluring characteristic of MegaGoal Intro. After completing the unit on foods I had a discussion of the content of the book in order to get some constructive feedback from the students. Their responses varied slightly, but for the most part the students were engaged by the illustrations. Several students expressed increased enjoyment in using the textbook. Furthermore, some students specifically talked about the quality of the pictures and how they helped them understand the material.
Despite the many positive aspects of MegaGoal Intro, there are a few drawbacks. The main negative in using the textbook is the time needed to complete all the activities. As in most Japanese high schools, my classes meet once a week. This schedule prevented me from fully utilizing all the elements of each unit. Although there were several reinforcement activities that I was not able to complete, I still believe the MegaGoal series is exceedingly valuable, especially for classrooms that meet multiple times per week. This textbook series is one of the better ones I have been exposed to, and MegaGoal Intro is one of the highest quality textbooks I have used. Over the course of a semester or multiple semesters I believe MegaGoal will help increase students’ skills and enjoyment in learning English.