17 Nov 2010

The Fabulous Functionall Resource Review #2

One of the goals of this blog is to help you sort through the overwhelming number of language resources available to choose the materials that are right for your language learning or teaching journey. Not only is there a plethora of resources, they don't come cheap. Let this old hat do the research and save you time and money. Lord knows, we teachers need more of both! - Fiona

for more information about my reviewing approach click here

Book for Review: Jason's World
Author: Gerry Luton
Resource Review @ a Glance:

In Depth Resource Review:

Before I get down to the nitty-gritty, I have to confess that I ADORE Jason's World. Author Gerry Luton and I are kindred spirits when it comes to a real language approach, a teacher- and student-friendly format, and relevant, current contexts.

Now to business: Jason's World is first and foremost a listening course, an 8-episode audio soap opera for intermediate ESL students to be exact. The text is accompanied by a CD that includes tracks of each episode plus corresponding vocabulary review listening exercises.

The introduction includes notes on methodology, teaching tips, and activity guides. Each unit or Episode includes:

  • Introduction to Vocabulary
  • Finding Meaning From Context
  • Vocabulary Practice
  • Before You Listen
  • Listening Comprehension Worksheet
  • Class Discussion Topics
  • Vocabulary Review Listening Exercise

Some units also include various activities such as, Find Someone Who..., Personal Opinion Survey, Crossword Puzzle, Word/Definition Matching Exercise, and Trivia Game to get the students up and moving while reviewing and reinforcing the vocabulary in a fun way. In addition, the book offers a glossary, transcripts, a "parts of speech" table AND a website with supplementary exercises: jasonsworldonline.shorturl.com

The assignments and activities are somewhat standard but the content is certainly not. The contexts and vocabulary are so authentic and natural that it is impossible for teachers and students not to relate to it on some level; this is a lively dialogue excerpt from Episode 2 - "Cheated":

Jason: What the hell is going on here?

Layla: Cool it, Jason. It's no big deal. We were only kissing.

Jason: Only kissing! What do you mean, only kissing? I thought you were my girlfriend.

Layla: Yeah, well, you don't own me, you know. I can kiss who I want to.

Go on and blush, Betty Azar.

The format is clean and well-organized with clear instructions, although the images are few and not-so-fabulous. The book itself is spiral-bound, so it is very easy to handle (read: flip through, search, and generally manhandle in a loving way).

There is really not much I don't like about this listening course. I have to confess that I didn't get access to the audio CD in time for this review but I have been told by colleagues that it is of very high-quality and that their students love it as much as they do. If I were pressed to find one flaw with Jason's World, it would probably be that there isn't more of it. It is worth being fleshed out as a fully integrated textbook including grammar, pronunciation, reading, and all the other bells and whistles. That I would like to see.

Teachers, even if you don't have a listening lab or other audio capabilities to use this as a listening book, it still has great value on its own as a vocabulary and discussion text. If you are an ESL or EFL student reading this review, go right now and ask your teacher or school administrator to order it for your class! Click for more information about Jason's World (or its high-intermediate sister book, Judy's World).

Please leave comments below and especially if you have used Luton's book, let us know what you or your students liked. Please also feel free to suggest another title for my next review. Thank you to Christy Sebelius for this great recommendation!

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