When I was asked to review this new teacher’s resource book, I felt both excited and apprehensive - not only because it is my first ‘official’ review, but also because of my connection to the Work It Out series (Prosperity Education). Hence, my concerns: will I be able to cover all aspects expected in a review of this sort? Will I manage objective and detached feedback? Ultimately, will I be capable of doing this book justice? I’ll leave it to you to decide.
Work It Out with Business Idioms is the second book of the Work It Out series published by Prosperity Education. It is a teaching resource book, which provides new and experienced teachers with all the tools they need to teach business and work-related idioms to learners at B2-C1 level.
The author and the publisher have definitely spotted a gap in the market, as business idioms are a useful topic to focus on. This area is something that hasn’t been developed in such a comprehensive and exhaustive way in a long time, as my (quick) online research shows.
This resource follows its predecessor’s clear and linear style: 12 units (called Work Outs) with lesson plans, teaching tools and handouts.
The bulleted instructions for teachers are easy to follow, and every lesson includes boxed suggestions for fast finishers, extra support, extension/alternative activities, digital options and, of course, answer keys. The suggested times for each lesson stage are highlighted by a clock - always a nice touch.
Introduction & Topics
The intro section (Preparing to work it out) gives a brief and simple overview of the book and of business idioms. The real gem here is the addition of strategies (clues) on how to understand unfamiliar business idioms: invaluable guidance to promote independent learning.
The topics are typical of non-specific Business English coursebooks (e.g. meetings, communication, problem solving, job interviews). However, there are some new refreshing additions (e.g. soft skills, global branding, corporate social responsibility), in line with the requirements of Business English lessons in the 21st century.
Lessons & Activities
Each lesson starts with a communicative and/or kinaesthetic activity, through which learners delve immediately into the topic of the lesson - some of the lead-in questions are very thought-provoking!
The lessons continue with a range of well-thought out and highly communicative activities for controlled and semi-controlled practice - from table completion to jigsaw reading to questionnaires. These have been cleverly designed to develop students’ language skills as well as their critical thinking abilities. Generally speaking, the activities are challenging enough for the recommended level (B2-C1).
Occasionally, however, some of the correct answers in the multiple choice exercises can be easy to spot. It can be a bit of a giveaway when the same/similar word is used in the question AND in the correct answer - e.g. finish line/final effort; all the boxes/all the requirements; ahead of the curve/ahead of current thinking. Nevertheless, this doesn’t affect the purpose of the exercise, and it can be easily rectified in future editions.
There is plenty of student interaction in the consolidation part of the lesson, which often includes a game or some sort of group task. Though very effective, some of these activities might still feel ‘too’ controlled to be classed as ‘true’ free practice. Saying that, I do understand why the author has made this choice: it is quite difficult to rely on students to use the target language spontaneously, as they tend to revert to the language they know, unless they are guided (read ‘forced’) to do so.
All in all, this is a clearly staged and user-friendly book, that guides teachers and students through the baffling world of business idioms in an interactive and engaging manner. With its flexible structure, Work it Out with Business Idioms could be used as a standalone resource or as a coursebook supplement. At just over £2 per Work Out, for a total of £24.99, this book should be a staple in every language school. The e-book is available at £19.99 and the workbook at £9.99.