Newly-revised Versions of an All-Time Favorite
By Todd Jay Leonard

Newly Revised Versions of the All-Time Favorite—Talk, Talk:  American-Style—Now in Two Volumes

 

      As an EFL teacher in Japan, I know quite well how important it is to have a textbook that is functional, practical and teacher friendly.  When I first started teaching English in Japan (nearly twenty years ago), I had a difficult time finding a textbook that incorporated all the components I felt were necessary in giving students a well-rounded course in English conversation. This is precisely why I created the original Talk, Talk:  American-Style textbook. 

      Over the years, this textbook certainly has filled a need in English education in Japan, being used by teachers all over who have found it appealing and useful for their own classroom needs.  Naturally, then, it made sense to revise the original by updating the material to anticipate the needs of teachers today, while keeping the basic premise the same. 

     Welcome to Talk, Talk: American-Style—Meeting People and Talk, Talk:  American-Style—Going Places. These newly modified and updated textbooks employ innovative and challenging approaches to language learning and vocabulary building through dialogues and activities that incorporate authentic American English in interesting and practical contexts.

    Talk, Talk: Meeting People is organized around three unit themes that emphasize functional English in situational contexts: Meeting People, Making Plans, and Giving Information. Talk, Talk:  Going Places focuses upon the areas of Going Places, Everyday Activities, and Taking a Trip.  Both texts are designed to address the needs of Japanese university students who have had from six to eight years of intensive English grammar study in junior and senior high schools. Each of the 12 lessons in both textbooks provide practice in all four communication skills, with a fifth skill—the cultural component—included to expand students’ understanding of American culture.  The lessons contained in these textbooks have been extensively piloted in Japanese university classrooms, making the material quite effective and beneficial to Japanese students of English.   

     Special concentration and focus is placed upon speaking and listening. Grammar is not emphasized because it is assumed that students have already had ample exposure to and previous instruction in English to be able to discern adequately and correctly recognize the basic grammar structures. This text, however, does emphasize putting all of this previously absorbed knowledge in English to good use by allowing students first to learn, then to practice, and finally to create meaningful and authentic utterances via situational contexts. An exciting feature of this text is the wide array of expressions, idioms, and new vocabulary that are not seen in more traditional types of textbooks.

    Students best acquire and later retain a second language if the vocabulary presented is in situational contexts which they find interesting and can relate to through active participation. When dialogues are presented in meaningful and practical settings, the structure and vocabulary become real to the students. They are then able to more readily “contextualize” the meaning by relating it to the “situation”. This type of teaching method excites students, who after so many years of grammar-based language instruction are more than ready and willing to speak and listen actively as participants in authentic dialogues. The primary goal of the majority of learners is to be able to communicate with and be understood by native speakers of English. These textbooks offer an avenue to accomplish this goal by incorporating everyday, practical and useful English in real and meaningful activities.

    Both Talk, Talk: American Style—Meeting People and Talk, Talk:  American-Style— Going Places generously provide opportunities for varied student participation and active interaction through student-centered activities. Each lesson is built around a useful vocabulary base with all the idiomatic vocabulary and important phrases thoroughly reused throughout each lesson. This repetition exposes students to the target vocabulary and common phrases in order to prepare them to graduate gradually from the initial task-oriented exercises to the more challenging open-ended activity of creating their own authentic dialogue to practice and present to the rest of the class.

 

Explanation of the Text

 

    The student book engages students in communicative conversation by introducing dialogues in situational contexts. The target vocabulary and phrases are then practiced within the lesson through activities carefully designed to support the student. Pair/group work offers students an opportunity to use and practice the language actively with their peers. In large classes, where individual interaction with the teacher is difficult, this type of pair/group work encourages students to take the initiative in speaking with their classmate(s).

 

    There are eight sections to each lesson:

1. Dialogue

2. Vocabulary Expansion

3. Comprehension Questions

4. Matching

5. Mini-Dialogues

6. Cultural Close-up [Main Reading]

·        Vocabulary Builder      

·        Short Answer

7. Extended Practice Task [in the teacher’s book]

 

        Students are given a chance to hear a variety of American voices, with varying accents. The conversations are spoken at natural speed with correct intonation and inflection. This is especially important when considering that most students do not have many opportunities to hear English spoken by a native speaker.

           Each lesson has been newly updated to reflect current usage, as well as incorporating a variety of new activities to further expand the Cultural Close-Up section of each lesson.  The changes that have been incorporated in the newly revised editions of Talk, Talk:  American-Style reflect the wishes of teachers who have used the original textbook over the years, making the material more practical and easy to teach. 

         Each lesson is designed to fill a normal 90-minute class.  There are twelve lessons in each textbook, allowing the teacher to exploit the text completely during a 15 week term – the first lesson as an orientation class; a speaking mid-term offered in the middle of the semester; and a final speaking test at the end of term.