[Carmella Lieske. Tokyo: Cengage Learning, 2013. pp. 3 + 111. ¥ 2,074. ISBN: 9781285197500.]
Globe Trotters is a captivating textbook specifically aimed at the development of students’ speaking and listening skills, as well as other communication skills by engaging them through a multicultural use of English. Using pictures, audio and video from National Geographic, the book represents a global perspective on the varieties of English, and focuses on how learners can communicate effectively by incorporating a variety of skills in both academic and real-world language use. Globe Trotters is comprised of 13 units, each addressing the culture of a different region or country. The complementary DVD contains one video per unit that concentrates on different aspects of each unit’s topic, such as dance, music, or architecture. The DVD also complements the textbook by incorporating a listening section, language lab, travel adventures task, and a listening section for conversation practice. Although the guidebook is aimed at Japanese learners, it is not necessary to rely on the Japanese language explanations as teaching points.
Each unit in the text begins with a Warm-Up exercise that encourages discussion and vocabulary practice by using pictures. This is followed by a Before You Watch prediction activity that instructors could use to further connect students with the upcoming content and lesson. All subsequent sections require the use of the supplementary DVD, which is narrated in a clear, moderately paced conversational style by American-English speakers. The text provides students with both during and after task exercises focusing on comprehension and sentence formation. Building on these activities, the book turns to students’ listening comprehension by taking a particular audio excerpt from the video and slowing it down. This allows students to pay particular attention to a conversation, without the assistance of visual aids.
Each unit also includes a Language Lab task that is complemented by audio on the DVD. This segment incorporates a short conversation between two individuals about an everyday topic such as being absent from “swim practice” (p. 29). These conversation segments help the learner to identify phrases in everyday English use, for example the expression “huh?” (p. 29). After the conversation, there is a communicative task designed to enhance learners’ understanding of the phrase’s meaning and use.
The final two sections of each chapter seem to be the most engaging and interesting for students. The penultimate section, Travel Adventures, engages learners in multiple tasks dealing with a specific aspect of travel, such as getting directions. These sections provide learners with authentic knowledge and communicative practice that will be useful in the real world and contribute to the use of task-based language teaching (TBLT) in the classroom (Long & Crookes, 1993). The final section in each unit is Engaging in Conversation, and learners use previously acquired information to complete a conversational activity representative of real-world contexts. There is a gradual increase in task complexity throughout each unit, with each unit culminating in holistic, practical, and authentic tasks, an approach which has been shown to be beneficial for L2 development (Robinson, 2011).
This textbook also includes review sections that are composed of games (for example, crossword puzzles), daily English listening practice, and communication activities, each acting as a cumulative review of the previous six units.
Although my students found the content of the textbook to be interesting and relevant, and though the text is clearly informed by TBLT pedagogy, I did not rely on the guidebook as my main resource. Rather, it served as an accompanying text to provide learners with extra practice. The supplementary teacher’s manual primarily acted as an answer key to each unit and did expand to activities beyond the textbook.
The textbook is reasonably priced, and the complementary DVD acts as a useful resource for students to receive listening practice in different content. Overall, I found the text to be useful and it fit quite nicely into my course. It exposed students to practical uses of the language through common phrases and tasks applicable to life outside the classroom. Because of its clear layout, well-defined objectives, multicultural material, and focus on TBLT through communicative practice, I would highly recommend Globe Trotters as a textbook for a speaking and listening classroom, particularly in the EFL setting.
Long, M. H., & Crookes, G. (1992). Three approaches to task-based syllabus design. TESOL Quarterly, 26(1), 27-56.
Robinson, P. (2011). Second language task complexity: Researching the cognition hypothesis of language learning and performance. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.