Connecting People Through Language and Culture
The algorithm required to answer the question: “Can you recommend a text for me to Teach English as a Second/Foreign language?” is normally complex. I calculate location, native language, course objectives, and teacher experience; I sift through the existing texts; and then I have to explain why no text is adequate to accomplish the task. That calculation just got much easier, thanks to the introduction of the New Bridges curriculum. Written by Nancy Cheek and Kathryn Herbert, New Bridges showcases the best of interactive teaching methodology in a relevant topical format without sacrificing the grammatical and linguistic foundations that students need to become confident and competent interlocutors.
The New Bridges curriculum is comprehensive. The five levels of the curriculum span the spectrum from middle novice to upper intermediate, and the accompanying placement test allows the teacher to analyze a student’s capabilities in reading, writing, speaking and listening for accurate placement in the appropriate level. Each book in the series contains eight units which include three two-hour lessons for a total of 48 teaching hours. The teacher’s manual mirrors the student’s book, and both books can be supplemented with well-integrated conversation cards, game cards, and a teacher’s resource packet. Gwen Turner’s charming line-drawings illustrate the texts with pictures of modestly-dressed individuals from multiple cultures.
The New Bridges series states that the two authors have a wealth of cross-cultural experience, curricular development, and many years of teacher-training between them, and it shows in the finished product. For the past ten years, I have been training undergraduate ESL/EFL teachers-in-training, and this series has proved to be clear enough for even my newest trainees to use in multiple educational, religious, and ethnic contexts, including urban U.S. multi-lingual classrooms and mono-lingual settings in Tanzania, South Africa, Thailand and Central Asia.
The New Bridges series is also simple to purchase and transport. Although the series is available in hard-copy, spiral-bound texts, the publisher, Interlink Resources International, also offers bulk licenses for electronic editions. My teachers who travel internationally can take the entire series on a flash drive and print the texts locally for a fraction of the cost of transporting heavy texts.
After a year of working through these texts with my teachers and their students, now when I hear the question: “Can you recommend a text. . .?” I unhesitatingly recommend New Bridges.