Connect, Grow, Thrive

Keynote Intermediate

Book Review: ETAS Journal Volume 34 Number 3 Summer 2017

Paul Dummett

Helen Stephenson

Lewis Lansford

National Geograpic Learning (Student's Book with DVD-ROM)

United Kingdom (2015)

ISBN: 978-1-305-39909-9

181 pages, paperback

Keynote Intermediate

Lewis Lansford

National Geographic Learning (Work Book with 2 Audio CDs)

United Kingdom (2015)

ISBN: 978-1-305-57832-6

144 pages, paperback

Keynote Intermediate

Daniel Barber and Karin Richardson

National Geographic Learning (Teacher’s Book with 2 Audio CDs)

United Kingdom (2015)

ISBN: 978-1-305-57841-8

246 pages, paperback

The Keynote series, which recently won a British Council ELTons Award for excellence in course innovation, is aimed at working adults and young adults in higher education. The Intermediate course is made up of the Student's Book, the Workbook, and a very comprehensive Teacher's Book. According to the authors, approximately 90 to 120 hours of work is provided. This can be shortened or extended depending on how you make use of the resources. Audio CDs and a DVD ROM are included and you have access to online video, audio and textual material. I was particularly thrilled to see that the audio and video clips are available online with clear labels. Many of my students either use iPads, or laptops without an integrated CD player, so this is certainly an advantage as it enables everyone to access the recordings. 

Keynote utilizes Ted Talks as a starting point for each of the 12 Units in the Student's Book. This is the reason I wanted to review these books for ETAS. I have been incorporating Ted Talks into my language classes for a while and was interested in exploring how these resources have been integrated into an Intermediate course. If you are unfamiliar with Ted Talks, these are unscripted presentations that in most cases are delivered with enthusiasm, passion, and skill. I find them excellent for exposing students to different varieties of English as well as engaging them in interesting, real-world topics. Thus, from a language teaching perspective, these talks provide a very rich source of authentic material for the classroom.  

Overall, I feel that Keynote is well balanced in terms of activities for listening, speaking, reading, and writing with an emphasis on authentic listening. The units are designed as five double-page lessons with a review lesson after every second unit. Grammar does not fall short and is presented through the use of infographics. My students found these visually appealing. They also found the concept questions, grammar boxes, and grammar activities, including the guided discovery exercises useful in assisting with understanding the meaning and form of the grammar point being presented. A grammar summary section is at the back of the Student's Book and a host of extra activities are included in the Workbook. Where necessary, this can easily be supplemented with additional material.

Not surprisingly, Keynote Intermediate has a presentation skills section in each of the units in the Student's book and every second unit in the Workbook. In the latter, useful frameworks are provided as well as tips for presenting. I piloted a couple of units with one of my classes and although I needed to adapt the presentation frameworks and the way the tasks are scaffolded to suit my students' needs, I found the basis of the design helpful. 

Pronunciation activities are integrated into the grammar and speaking section of most units and are accompanied by communicative activities and opportunities for free production of speech. There are additional pronunciation activities in the Workbook that align well with what is presented in the Student's Book. For further practise you can encourage your students to make use of the audio CDs or online recordings and work through these tasks at their own pace. Irrespective of whether you find these activities suitable or not, the models are useful as a template and as such can be adapted as required.

In regard to authentic listening tasks, the authors provide numerous tips and strategies for approaching these activities in the Teacher's Book and the Student's Book. Listening tasks are designed so that keywords and discussions relevant to the topic precede the longer listening activities. The intensive listening tasks are sectioned into smaller chunks. I needed to reduce some of these to 30 seconds rather than a minute and asked additional concept questions. Despite my tweaking, I felt the approach used in Keynote is well scaffolded which is essential when working with resources such as Ted Talks. It is not only the varieties of English that can challenge language students but in some cases the content.

In keeping with the authentic listening section, the readings are also based on real-world issues with the content relating to the Ted Talks. Therefore, the language presented is recycled in other ways, which draws on different literacy skills. These themes are further expanded on in the Workbook. All in all, there is plenty of material to work with during and in between classes. Similarly the writing tasks, which in this level involve primarily the writing of emails, help students build skills that are useful both personally and professionally. Models are provided which can be adapted as necessary and of course, you can design other writing tasks appropriate to your students' syllabus.

In addition to the extra print, audio and video resources, there is a host of additional material online for all levels, including business students. I particularly like having access to Word versions of the audio and video scripts and the reading texts. Having this format means it is very easy to adapt and design resources to meet students' needs. These can be saved, and then adapted and reused for other classes. So in this sense, they become a more sustainable and personalised resource. Furthermore, the progress tests from the Teacher's Book are also in word format. This enables you to customise and deliver these as you see fit and in alignment with your students' progress. In relation to assessment for learning, it is worth noting that there is an online space for teachers where assignments can be scheduled, delivered, and graded. It looks quite user friendly and support is provided in the way of video tutorials and user guides.

In my opinion, teachers of varying experience will be able to use this series. The Teacher's Book is very clear and detailed and is full of pedagogical tips and extra activities. Before you commence using Keynote, It is worth taking the time to explore all the material, including the online space for assignments. This will enable you to exploit the materials optimally. Personally, I find that the flexible formatting of the multimodal materials is a real plus point. This means that you can select and customise activities to complement your own syllabus and students can be more mobile and flexible with their learning due to the online audio and visual resources. This is certainly a step in the right direction and I am sure many teachers will appreciate this opportunity to take ownership of some of the course materials.

Patricia Daniels