Steve Darn - ELT
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First Certificate Gold / TOEIC Preparation CD-ROMs

First Certificate Gold (Interactive) Upper Intermediate (single-user version)
Richard Acklam and Sally Burgess
Pearson Longman 2003
ISBN: 058282575-X

TOEIC Preparation (Interactive) High-Intermediate – Advanced (single-user version)
Lin Lougheed
Pearson Longman 2003
ISBN: 0-13-184357-5

These two CD-ROMS are both designed to provide alternative or supplementary approaches to preparation for specific examinations at upper intermediate/advanced levels, but differ both in terms of the type of examination involved and, therefore, their content and study techniques.

Both CD-ROMS are easy to load and run on most Windows systems. Easy to follow instructions are provided, plug-ins are installed automatically, while a sound-card, microphone, speakers and Adobe Acrobat Reader software are requirements.

First Certificate Gold is based on the popular course book of the same name. The course comprises fifteen thematic units, three progress tests and a final practice examination. Each unit has ten sections, which may be studied in any order, dealing with grammar, vocabulary and the four skills with a clear examination focus and development of a sub-skill in each case. Learners may check their scores in each section and keep an ongoing progress record. Listenings and accompanying tasks are clear and manageable, while speaking activities are closely geared to the oral interview, and include useful examples of other learners doing speaking tasks. There is an impressive amount of learner training. Throughout, learners are able to refer to the Longman dictionary, a glossary of phrasal verbs, and a grammar reference section which is comprehensive if sometimes simplistic. This CD-ROM includes a wealth of material, particularly in the area of vocabulary development, and certainly provides excellent examination practice through the use of pre-tests, post-tests and timed practice tests. An ideal study tool for the computer literate learner. A free downloadable Teacher’s Guide is available at

TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) is a very different type of examination, being a timed multiple choice test of listening and reading comprehension only. In the orientation section of the CD-ROM, learners are provided with some strategies to guide them through the course, including reference to the Longman dictionary and grammar reference material as with FC Gold, although this time the glossary is of vocabulary encountered during the course. Unfortunately, the strategies for test-taking are translated into only eight languages. The ‘course’ takes the form of test-practise-test, beginning with a TOEIC-style diagnostic test to ascertain which skills need to be developed. Certainly, listening and reading sub-skills such as differentiating between similar sounding words are given attention, while plenty of practice is given in areas which form part of the examination such as error recognition and sentence completion. The seven sections of the examination are each given similar treatment – test-taking strategies, practice exercises, a review quiz and further practice. Probably a more enjoyable way of preparing for this examination than ploughing through test-book material.

182 December 2004/January 2005