Monthly Archives: July 2012

EL Gazette Review: English for Life  

We’re delighted to announce that the Collins English for Life (Intermediate) series has received an excellent review in the EL Gazette August issue.

Some highlights straight off the pages of the EL Gazette:

All four titles in this superb, attractively packaged series are written for students at or around CEFR level B1, and would provide excellent support for candidates preparing for the Cambridge FCE and higher.

Speaking gets to the core of what is required to communicate appropriately.

Listening takes extracts of discourse directly from the Cobuild corpus of English in order to integrate authentic examples with tasks on, for example, adapting to local customs.

[The books] may be used in various ways: either by learners alone, by teachers, or by teacher trainers on language development courses.

(…) I would highly recommend to institutions offering skill-based courses.

If you’d like to read the full review – you can find it on p. 11 of the EL Gazette August issue. Click here to download the digital issue of the EL Gazette.

Publishing news: New COBUILD app now available at half price! 


Are you looking for the best, most functional and smartest looking learner’s dictionary for your iPhone/iPad? Good news – it’s available now in the app store at HALF PRICE!
Created especially for learners, the Collins COBUILD Advanced American English Learner’s dictionary app brings together the best ever COBUILD dictionary with new features only possible on your Apple device. With simple, elegant design and clever features, COBUILD is now easier than ever to use.
Watch this video to find what the app can do for you.

Thinking outside the language box: Business Speaking 

How can we help our students to become confident speakers of English? James Schofield, author of Collins English for Business: SpeakingCollins Workplace English and Collins Workplace English 2shares his insights. 

“My problem,” said Bernd sadly. “Is that I’m bad at small talk in my own language, let alone English!” As Bernd’s English teacher should I be worried? Is small talk really that important?

Definitely! Research shows we form our opinions of new people we meet quickly and these opinions are then difficult to shift. If you can influence those opening exchanges, you have a significant advantage. But although TEFL course books provide the language of small talk they don’t link it to strategies for small talk.

With the EFL materials that I write, I try hard to think outside a purely language box. Yes, I make sure that the language and vocabulary is as CEFR* appropriate as is possible but I also want to make sure that the students learn strategies to deliver this material in the best possible way. Because – as with Bernd – students need to learn the strategies as well as the language.

So for the Networking section of English for Business: Speaking for example, I looked at what various communication experts had to say about small talk. Their advice included:

  • Successful small talk is about commenting on and asking about ordinary things with interest and enthusiasm.
  • Match the mood of your conversation partner. If they are smiling and cheerful, be ready to laugh. If they seem serious, be serious too.
  • Ask where your partner comes from and, when somebody asks you the same thing, add something interesting about the place.
  • Ask what your partner does and, when you’re asked the same question add a small piece of interesting or amusing information about your job or responsibility.

Together with my co-writer, Anna Osborn, we wove these suggestions into the conventional language input. Not rocket science, but not something we TEFL teachers normally try to teach our students.  And it was the same approach for the other units. Whether it was making or dealing with complaints, managing teleconferences or meetings, we looked first at how somebody could best manage these tasks and then the language they needed.

Is this approach better? Does it add an unnecessary burden to what a TEFL teacher has to do? Well for me, my mind was made up the day one of my students turned to me at the end of a class and said:

“James, I think I can use this in my German meetings, too!”

* Common European Framework of Reference

About the author:

James Schofield is the author of Collins English for Business: Speaking, Collins Workplace English and Collins Workplace English 2. He has worked in Asia and Europe as a Business English trainer and materials developer for over 20 years. As well as developing in-company training courses, he has written a large variety of teaching materials and regularly contributes to industry publications.

Most Multilingual Workplace in Britain 

To mark the launch of our three new English for Work self-study packs we have teamed up with (leading online resource for those working in, and interested in, the hospitality industry) to search for the workplace in Britain where the highest number of people with different native languages work and communicate in English with each other on a daily basis. Through this, we’d like to celebrate the successful acquisition of English Language skills for work.

Do you think you’re part of the most multilingual workplace in Britain? Find out how you can enter the competition here!

IATEFL videos available 

Did you miss the Collins talks at IATEFL this year? You’ll be delighted to hear that we’ve recorded them for you! The first two talks are now available on the CollinsELT YouTube channel!

Do your learners find certain accents difficult to understand? In Understanding English however it is spoken Ian Badger shows how we can help. Introducing examples from his two latest books Collins English for Business: Listening and Collins English for Life: ListeningIan shows how the use of authentic recordings in the classroom helps students to understand what they hear in the real world.

How do we go about selecting the words that end up in a dictionary for learners of English? How do we go about grading vocabulary items? In Breaking down the AWL Julie Moore shares her experience as Senior Editor of the Collins Key Words for IELTS series of dictionaries.