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  • Passages
  • Jack C. Richards and Chuck Sandy
  • Published by: Cambridge University Press
  • Level: Advanced
  • First Published in: 2008

Passages is a course book that comes with a variety of activities to help upper intermediate students continue developing their language skills. In each unit, students will work on activities that will help them focus on all four language skills but a special focus is placed on communication based activities. This is a perfect book for group lessons and self study as well.

Review posted: 02/12/2013
Have you used this book?

Cambridge University Press is the world’s largest publishing house in the world. They are also a publishing company that has education at the core of its publishing business. So then it’s no wonder that when they publish a language book, they mean business.

Passages is a book for relatively advanced English language learners. There are two levels to Passages Second Edition. Level 1 starts out with high-intermediate students, who, in theory, will be low-advanced by the end of it. Level 2 focuses on enhancing the student’s communicative abilities that result in advanced level English by the end of the book.

Passages is a thorough textbook intended for classroom use, probably in a high school setting. The full Passages collection includes a teacher’s manual, workbook, student’s book, and audio program. This helps to fully engage the student and cover all your learning objectives. Whether it’s speaking, reading, writing, or listening comprehension; this book has it covered.

This book engages students through interesting thematic units. In each unit, students are exposed to new vocabulary, grammar, and writing lessons. The units also include sections labeled with tags such as “pair work”, “class activity” and “group work” to be done in the classroom. The units usually include thought-provoking assignments that require the student to reflect and express his/her opinion, rather than just search for static answers. This makes the learning process a lot more interesting both for the student and the teacher.

Passages is a great book for teachers and it is simple to follow. With such an all-inclusive book, prep-time reduces drastically. To be honest, the book is so thorough that if you haven’t even looked at the day’s lesson, you’ll still be able to coast your way through class. Of course, we always recommend having a thorough lesson plan and being prepared for class (but we also know that may not always happen). And when you need to slide by unprepared, you’ll be extra glad to have a book like Passages to help you coast through class without seeming like a completely disorganized teacher.

"To be honest, the book is so thorough that if you haven’t even looked at the day’s lesson, you’ll still be able to coast your way through class."

The other advantage of this book is that it includes step-by-step academic writing activities. If you teach older students, you know just how important that is! If you need to prepare your ESL students for the academic writing challenges they may face while studying abroad, then this course book can help you do that.

The creators of this book estimate that it is appropriate for about 60-90 hours of classroom instruction. You can figure out the pace you want to move through the book by considering the fact that there are 12 eight page units and four review units. If the book is slightly challenging to your students, it’s recommended that you move at a slower pace, even if that means that they won’t finish the book in their time studying with you. It’s always better to go slow and make sure your students really grasp the material than to breeze through it and have your students miss out on really understanding a lot of the content.

Though Passages: Second Edition was probably written to be used in a classroom setting, it’s possible to use it for one-to-one or small group classes as well. You will have to modify things, particularly concerning the group & classroom activities, but since those only make up a small portion of each unit, it’s not much of an issue. Overall, Passages, Second Edition is a very great book to use. I would highly recommend this book to teachers and students alike.



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