Pete Sharma for the Bournemouth English Book Centre
The highlight of this adult general English coursebook is the focus on ‘Life Skills’, higher-order skills students need to succeed in their professional, academic and everyday lives. This strand covers areas such as plagiarism, evaluating arguments and developing empathy.
The twelve units are attractively laid out and full of interesting texts. One article includes ethnic jokes to get students thinking about stereotyping, a topic which obviously needs careful handling. This course for students working towards B2 includes online resources and a DVD. Updating the 2010 edition, masterMind is refreshing and stimulating. Recommended
Dr. Josefina C. Santana University of Panamericana, Language Centre, Guadalajara, Mexico
The Mind Series is a six-level series for adults and young adults. It is designed to take students from A1 to the C1 of the CEFR, and it is notable for focusing not only on language skills, but on life skills, as well. That is, the series includes language the students will need in their social, academic and professional lives in the future.
The series is divided into openMind – the first four books – and masterMind – the final two. It is currently in its second edition, and can be found in American or British versions (The British version is a new edition from 2014 and is called Open Mind). This review is based on the American version.
The components include a Student’s Book (in Premium version with Online Workbook code or standard version), Student’s Workbook, an Online Workbook, interleaved Teacher’s Book, online Student and Teacher Resources, a class presentation tool for IWBs, the Teacher’s Presentation Kit.
Each book is divided into 12 units, and each unit includes Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections, as well as the Life Skills sections.
The Reading sections focus not only on developing comprehension skills, but also on subskills, such as inferring, and understanding text organization, or critical thinking skills, such distinguishing fact from fiction.
The Listening sections go beyond the traditional listening for gist and listening for main idea. They include understanding rapid speech, and notetaking, among others.
In the same manner, the Speaking and Writing sections offer a variety of contexts and styles, both formal and informal.
Finally, Life Skills include such topics as thinking more logically, understanding graphs, and recognizing plagiarism, which are useful beyond the classroom.
This final Life Skills section is one of the three elements which really make the series stand out. The other two are the inclusion of Kagan Structures and the choice of topics in each unit.
Kagan Structures are structured collaboration activities. Most current textbooks include collaborative activities for learners, but Kagan Structures are more structured activities, designed to promote more interaction. These are explained at the beginning of the Teacher’s Book – though there there doesn’t seem to be additional explicit follow up in the textbook itself.
Finally, the real standout is the choice of topics. The Mind Series avoids falling into what I call “the three Fs” of English language textbooks. These are Fashion, Friends, and Football. Many textbooks writers consider that these are the topics that young adults find engaging, and thus, that is what the students will find in their books. I believe, however, that real engagement comes from learning about something new, or learning something new about topics we already know. The Mind Series includes topics that are timely, universal, and thought-provoking.
As with most textbooks, there are many activities included in each unit, possibly, too many to actually be able to cover in the classroom. However, this means that the teacher can select what to do based on the needs and interests of the students. It also allows for differentiated learning, where students can work on different activities on their own, or with more guidance, according to their needs.