Open Mind Upper Intermediate Review – IATEFL Voices
January - February 2016, Issue 248
Open Mind Upper Intermediate, intended for learners who want to reach B2 level, is packed full of topics that grab learners’ attention and spark debates, including self-awareness, traditions and design. Input is given in a number of adapted as well as authentic texts. Teachers benefit from alternative and extra activities, cultural notes and CEFR unit maps included in the Teacher’s Book, along with a few structures to support cooperative learning.
The units consist of a visually pleasing lead-in page, and listening and reading skills work focused on developing sub-skills, such as understanding discourse markers and inferring opinions. Grammar structures are introduced in context to support inductive learning with an ample amount of controlled exercises.
In each unit, there is a ‘Life Skills’ section on topics easily connected to areas key to personal success outside the classroom, such as ‘Study and Learning’ and ‘Work and Career’. This double-page section examines and gives learners a chance to explore and develop skill sets for managing stress and avoiding distractions, synthesising information, and teamwork, to mention a few. In addition, students are encouraged to do further research and prepare mini-presentations on these subjects, which fosters learner initiative with a clear real-world purpose.
Other elements of life skills development are also present in other segments of each unit. Learners are exposed to a variety of relevant skills work, both reading and listening genres are something that students may encounter outside class, from guide books to blog entries, from interviews to lectures, respectively. Those inspired by the topics discussed in class can also access a range of authentic and adapted videos with self-study worksheets on the online resource centre, accessible to students.
Writing is addressed in ‘Writing Workshops’ in every other unit as well as shorter activities which are connected to the reading text. This helps students identify and produce the characteristics of a variety of genres which ranges from writing website posts, contributions to online debates, essays and articles.
In sum, this coursebook not only addresses the communication needs of 21st century language learners through engaging topics, but also helps them develop thinking skills transferable to other areas of life.
Review of Open Mind Upper Intermediate in IATEFL Voices, January-February 2016 Issue 248
By Zsuzsanna Cipak, EFL Teacher, Portugal
Book of the month EL Gazette, April 2014
“Nowadays, an English language course may well teach more than just language.Open Mind (Elementary) covers professional, academic and personal skills alongside the teaching of English. The twelve units look at grammar, the four language skills and a solid pronunciation syllabus, plus a ‘Life Skills’ strand. This provides excellent input in areas such as time management, working in teams and understanding your own learning style. The book is well supported by a resource centre on the web, an audio CD and video material on DVD-Rom. The topics are engaging, covering films, jobs and great lives. There are frequent boxes called ‘Notice!’ and ‘Reflect’ designed to develop learner independence. This is an ambitious general English coursebook, attractively laid out and full of stimulating ideas and practical activities.”
Review of Open Mind Elementary Student’s Book Pack
Book of the month by Pete Sharma for BEBC - Published in EL Gazette, April 2014
EL Gazette, November 2014
“The twelve units of this general English coursebook cover grammar, vocabulary, language skills and pronunciation. Open Mind (Intermediate, B1+) includes an additional useful ‘Life Skills’ strand to help students in the area of personal development. The input in these ‘higher order’ areas includes thinking logically, developing your memory and becoming self-aware. The topic ‘learning from mistakes’ is potentially quite sensitive and needs setting up carefully.
The book comes with a rich range of resources including an online workbook and a DVD. The look and feel of the material is lively and engaging. An ambitious course, containing thought-provoking and stimulating activities. Recommended.”
Review of Open Mind Intermediate Student’s Book Premium Pack
By Pete Sharma for BEBC - Published in EL Gazette, November 2014
Review of Open Mind Student’s Book plus Online Workbook and Student’s Resource CentreEnglish Language Teachers’ Association Stuttgart (ELTAS) February 2015
Who is it for?
Adults – with a focus on young adults entering the world of work or heading to college with content covering academic, professional and personal skills.
What is the layout like?
There are twelve units which each include all four skills, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and life skills. The Premium Pack comes with a code to access the Online Workbook and Student’s Resource Centre which has videos, word lists for each unit, audio and transcripts. Plus CEFR checklists for students to assess their progress after each unit.
Each unit starts with a double-page spread with huge visuals and theme-focused questions or sometimes a fun quiz. Each unit ends with a focus on a different life skill, a language wrap-up page and a ‘workshop’ which focuses on either writing or speaking.
Who did you try it with?
I tried out different sections of the student’s book with my adult students, using parts of units, not going from page to page. I also used some of the online content, specifically the videos.
What feedback did you get?
My students enjoyed the topics as they are thought-provoking and stimulate more engagement than your everyday themes. Their favourite was the Think Again unit where they completed a quiz to find out if they were a left-brain or right-brain thinker. This stimulated a lot of vocabulary, questions and interest from my learners.
• The modern feel – everything is linked to our online world (blogging,
internet safety, etc).
• The attractive, huge visuals to get learners talking at the start of each unit
• The videos are really professional and you can access them online or with the DVD that comes with the book – very handy
• You can use small sections of each unit and even the videos on their own without having to work through the entire unit – it does not feel incomplete using the book this way which allows you to tailor it better to your learners
• Some of the elements and themes are definitely for younger adults
• It takes time to figure out all the elements – the Online Workbook and the Student’s Resource Centre so you need time to really go through it all before using it which takes more time (although I guess we will have to get used to this with coursebooks adding more and more online content)
• Sometimes the pages within the units feel a little busy and packed, especially when you turn from the double-page visual to so many activities
on the next page.
Would you recommend it?
I highly recommend it! Even if your students are older, there is something here for nearly everyone. You can use the Life Skills sections with business managers, e.g. to talk about memory skills and development. Use the CEFR checklists with students who need a confidence boost or an awareness-raising session. Or use the quizzes as warmers or for groups that need a fluency session with an engaging topic.
I give it four stars (out of four) ****
Reviewed by Jennie Wright, InCorporate Trainerorks, Target Training, Germany
For ELTAS News, February 2015
“It’s been wonderful to use Open Mind”
“Open Mind is really easy to follow and lays out tasks in a straightforward way. This eases pressure somewhat in terms of lesson planning, and is always varied enough to ensure that students are constantly engaged. The Presentation Kit (for interactive whiteboards) is the icing on the cake in this regard. The software is incredibly easy to use and is of real benefit in the classroom, allowing me to highlight particular points such as grammar, vocabulary, etc, without fumbling around for a hard copy of the book. Additionally the online materials – the Online Workbook, videos, additional Life Skills lessons – give a huge amount of bonus content to make sure we cover something new each day. It’s been wonderful to use Open Mind at Elementary level… my students are all very keen on the book and I’m looking forward to using Pre-intermediate level in the coming months.”
Review of the Open Mind course
By Shane Rynhart - Teacher at the Cavendish School of English, Bournemouth, UK
“Teachers appear to be huge fans of Open Mind”
“Teachers appear to be huge fans of Open Mind pre-intermediate so far! The reflection points are great for consolidation and the language wrap-ups are excellent for reminding them of their goals and what they have achieved. It’s a really good series, teachers are delighted with it, even the teachers who are against textbooks!”
Review of the Open Mind course
By Dr. Rachael Fionda - Director of Studies at the Swan Training Institute - ELT, Dublin, Ireland
“My favourite features are the inductive grammar and life skills”
At SBL and ELTC Language Schools in Algiers, we’ve been using all levels of Open Mind and the Mind Series. Most of our students need English for work, and also their studies – in Algeria and abroad. Classes are of mixed ability, but all students are interested in learning and curious. Most of our teachers like the easy-to-use methodology and the instructions, which are well laid out. My favourite features are the inductive grammar and life skills sections from the series. The books are colourful, visually attractive and pleasant to teach from. Of everything, the life skills and the inductive grammar inspired me the most.
Read the full case study here.
Rabie Oumoussa - School Director and Owner, SBL and English Language Centers, Algiers, Algeria
They are simply fantastic!
I am writing to you to congratulate on the textbooks 'Open Mind - Upper and Advanced, which I have been using with my classes since October 2015. They are simply fantastic! My students and I are enthusiastic and I can say that we have been given very good opportunities to discuss topical matters as well as teach and learn very useful 'Life Skills'. Furthermore, your representative Casimir Kiukelka has been very helpful, serious and fast to understand what I needed. Thank you very much.
Alba Dello Iacono English Teacher, Italy