Top Notch Fundamentals
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  • Top Notch Fundamentals
  • Joan Saslow and Allen Ascher
  • Published by: Pearson Education
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2011

Top Notch Fundamentals is a course book that helps beginner level students work on all four language skills while learning how to communicate with English speakers in travel, business, or social situations.

REVIEW BY Tracy Lee Thomas Book EXPERT
Review posted: 29/10/2013
Have you used this book?

As an ESL teacher, I would not recommend Top Notch Fundamentals as the core of your teaching material for beginner level students. I would however recommend it as an accompaniment to other work books or personal lesson plans.

The structure of each unit is very easy for the teacher to follow as the activities are on one side of the page and the details and teacher references on the other side. The units are divided into lessons and each lesson has been given an estimated time allocation which is useful if you are under a time constraint. One major area that I feel is lacking, specifically for beginner students, is the area of vocabulary. I found during some of my lessons using this work book, that students often battled with a section or took longer to complete a unit due to lack of vocabulary attached to each unit. It may vary from teacher to teacher, but I find that increasing a beginner student’s vocabulary is a vital way of increasing their confidence and comfort levels with the new language. This book also relies heavily on a good teacher as the lessons are sometimes fairly vague in some cases, and the activity is not always appropriate for adults.

"the lessons are sometimes fairly vague in some cases, and the activity is not always appropriate for adults."

There are many good ideas for activities and most of the small written activities in the work book are beneficial for grammar practice. This work book is productive in terms of covering the four learning areas of speaking, writing, reading and listening. It encourages students to develop their basic skills in these four areas. Each unit has a fairly big topic to cover such as weather, family and time; the units are good but in some cases, too short. Each unit aims to cover a specific topic entirely, but often by the end of the unit students do not feel confident enough to move on straight away, like the flow of the work book suggests. I often had to concoct spontaneous activities to help the students before moving onto the next unit.

Overall, this is a solid work book that is easy to use as a teacher. From a student’s perspective, a teacher is vital for the use of this work book. The themes chosen for the units are all relevant and vital for a beginner student. The pages of the book are attractive with colorful imagery and broken up sections with sub-headings dividing each section. This work book is very much dependent on a teacher and therefore it could range from being average to very good, depending on the teacher using it.



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