Who are the target students for this course?
Adults and young adults who need a little support, but who also want to be given space to express themselves and their ideas. It’s a tricky balance to pull off, but Breakthrough aims to achieve this by presenting language in context, then practicing it through a variety of linguistic and visual drills, before ending with a personalization task which brings everything together.
What do you think is the main difference between Breakthrough and other rival courses?
The flexibility. No teaching situation is the same, so when developing Breakthrough I wanted to create a course that teachers could easily adapt, but which didn’t lose its integrity. So many textbooks fall apart if you don’t cover every activity in order. Breakthrough is designed to help teachers breathe. Target language is covered in each core unit, and beyond that teachers can pick and mix which activities to use depending on the needs of their students.
Which features of the course do you like most?
The humor. There is usually something amusing in every unit, and this helps to lift the mood and make learning more fun. Oh, and I also like the Challenge! feature. This is an extra activity for students who finish the main activity first. It keeps them busy, while the rest of the students have time to complete what they are doing. Handy in mixed-ability classes!
In what ways do you think the course stands out?
It’s achievable. Language is presented and practiced in such a way that students always have what they need to succeed at each task. Also, the language is authentic and very natural. Every Conversation showcases not just the key language for the unit, but also fillers and idiomatic expressions that native speakers use all the time (e.g., Hey, you know, Really? No way!, etc.). Students like to see and hear all this natural language in context. Oh, and the broad range of accents from people from all over the world (native speakers and non-native speakers) reinforces the emphasis on English as it is really spoken (i.e., outside the classroom).
Which skills and strategies are focused on?
Each unit includes one reading skill (e.g., identifying the topic, scanning, etc.), and one listening skill (e.g., predicting, identifying context, etc.). There is also a Strategy section which introduces speaking strategies such as starting a conversation, or reacting to what you hear, etc. I like this section because it shows students practical ways to help them communicate more effectively.
What is your favorite level?
That’s easy! The Intro level. I loved writing this because it is extremely hard to write a genuine beginner level textbook. Most starter level textbooks begin slowly but then speed up, and become too difficult for many students. Keeping the level down, and yet maintaining interest and a steady progression, was a challenge I loved.
How is Breakthrough Plus different to the previous edition?
Well, the most obvious difference is the new design, but the new edition goes far beyond simply the ‘look’ of the course. There is new and updated content throughout each level, and a whole new level (Intro) for beginner students. The Review sections are different, featuring a new Talk about… activity (which also has a listening model to show students what is expected), and jazz chants. The focus on listening and reading skills now runs across all five levels. All the reading passages have audio. There is a new Skills check that relates learning to the CEFR/ALTE ‘Can Do’ statements. There are videos, of course (one per unit), and a digibook with interactive exercises, photocopiables, tests, etc. There’s a website, too. Overall, the aim has been to keep what everyone liked about the previous edition, while improving and adding wherever possible.