Steve Darn - ELT
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Business English Handbook

Paul Emmerson
Macmillan, 2007, 128 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4050-8605-9

Business English Handbook is for students and business professionals at upper-intermediate or advanced level and is primarily designed for self-study and reference.

This is very much a book of language rather than a course, concentrating on intensive lexical input. The book is divided into two. The first twelve units are devoted to business topics ranging from globalisation and operations management to distribution and financial markets. The second half of the book concentrates on language required for effective communication. Cultural awareness and aspects of appropriateness and style are also considered. Listening practice is provided by way of ten recorded interviews with a variety of business people, while Website references are given at the end of each of the topic-based units to facilitate follow-up.

The book adopts a style and layout which is simple but hardly eye-catching. Each unit begins with a full page of text covering aspects of the topic area. The texts are not authentic articles, thus avoiding the problem of becoming dated. Large amounts of information are given, often in bullet-point format. In the second section of the book, explanations and examples of language use constitute reading texts in themselves. Each text is followed by two pages of exercises designed to practice lexis from the text. The overall appearance of the material is dense, and the use of colour limited to grey, blue and black. Perhaps the most significant feature of the book is the use of mind-maps, which are produced on the page facing the text in each unit, the main idea being to make new vocabulary accessible and memorable.

There are suggestions to the classroom teacher as to how to make some of the material communicative, such as brainstorming mind maps and predicting topic content, but these are very general pre-reading tasks and would require more structure and guidance to make them effective. Assumptions are made about the learners’ skills in note taking and mapping texts. The speaking and writing tasks are also very general and presented almost as afterthoughts with little guidance given to the teacher in terms of structuring discussions, extending language input or giving feedback on tasks.

The introduction to the book tells the teacher and learner to ‘think of it as a super-charged workbook’. Certainly this is very much a book for the dedicated language learner.

201 March/April 2008