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Great Writing 4 Student’s Book C1

Book Review: ETAS Journal Summer 2018

Keith S. Folse, April Muchmore-Vokoun, Elena Vestri Solomon

National Geographic Learning CENGAGE Learning (2014)

ISBN: 978-1-285-75074-3

210 pages, paperback

With access code for online Workbook

Great Writing(Book 4) is the fourth book, in a series of five, which are designed to train students in carefully graded steps to improve their writing, starting in the first book at a basic level and leading on eventually to research standard at level five. The material presented is well-adapted to teaching students who wish to undertake exams at Upper Intermediate, Advanced level, or even prepare for academic study in institutions of higher learning. To excel in written English, it is vital that students receive as much training and help as possible. 

Great Writing 4 allows teachers to work step-by-step with students as they learn to write essays. The book starts by examining the structure of essays and guides learners through the purpose of an essay, how an essay should be set out and different grammatical structures that can be used for improving and varying advanced level writing. Further units focus in details on different types of essays, such as narrative essays and comparison essays.

Great Writing is not intended to be used as a coursebook, rather as a complementary book to the recommended coursebook. It has been put together in a manner such that material used in improving writing output can also be transferred to other types of writing, such as reports and proposals. The sections on “Connectors”, “Additional Grammar Activities” and “Editing Your Writing” are especially useful for students. I was able to teach them language and skills that they could transfer to other writing tasks, such as book or film reviews. 

However, my favourite chapter was the one focussing on building better sentences. This is a good point to start from when working with inexperienced upper intermediate and advanced level students. Once they have grasped the point about building more complicated sentences from simpler fragmented ones, it is much easier to move onto structures such as connectors. This makes the teacher’s job that much lighter and is a good help for those who are starting out in the profession.

I was impressed by the wide range of resources used by the authors, thereby producing material that exposes students to a wide variety of language and vocabulary, as is required for Upper Intermediate and Advanced levels. For example, feedback was obtained from language professionals who work at Iowa State University, Aston School in China, John F. Kennedy Institute of Languages in the Dominican Republic, and the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. In this way, it is certain that students are also prepared for university writing. In addition, students have the flexibility to write in the book and hence have an all-in-one student and workbook. This is helpful in class as it cuts down on unnecessary pieces of paper being handed to students.

As a teaching resource, I would recommend this book for use as a starting point for teaching Upper Intermediate and Advanced level writing to native and non-native students. The book comes with a presentation DVD that can be easily installed on any computer. Once this is done, teachers can store lessons that they have planned around different sections in the book in an installed folder. The presentation tools allow them to show students the process of achieving required answers on a screen. This saves on having to prepare the same lesson repeatedly. In addition, you don’t have to carry the book around! The dedicated website has a teacher companion site (with answer key) and a student companion site.

However, the book is written using American English. If you are a teacher focussing on British English-based courses, it will be necessary to use a fair amount of discretion to pick out material that is appropriate. One must be aware of the fact that the two types of English can be different and be prepared to explain these differences to students.

For those looking for a starting point for their writing classes, this book is a must-have. You can be assured that by the end of the writing lessons, your students’ writing styles will have dramatically improved.

Grace Hutter

The Language Factory St. Gallen