“I may become a better teacher if I worry less about teaching techniques and try to make the enabling of learning my main concern,” brilliantly said Jim Scrivener in his awarded book, Learning Teaching. Now anyone is able to become a better teacher with the Personal Best course. Jim Scrivener is the series editor, and Graham Fruen, Sheila Dignen and Luiz Otávio Barros are a few of the many renowned authors who have contributed to such remarkable learning tools.
Personal Best is Richmond’s new course for young adults. Its greatest strength is its ability to recognise the needs of twenty-first-century learners and give them plenty of meaningful practice in English. The Beginner level, for instance, is divided in ten units, fewer than the other levels, so as to give real beginners more time to develop their learning at their own pace. The other levels are composed of 12 units. Every unit is divided into four lessons. Lessons A and C focus on language development, covering grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation through graded texts and audio which contextualize the target language. Classes B, on the other hand, focus on receptive skills, and both reading and listening lessons develop sub-skills and strategies through Skill, Text Builder and Listening Builder boxes that make the learners aware of skimming and scanning, to name but a few. Finally, classes D are aimed at the productive skills, i.e. speaking and writing. The former is usually introduced with a video that brings functional language and target expressions used in context; likewise, writing lessons present exemplary texts to serve as models for learners’ production. Each speaking and writing lesson ends in a step-by-step personalization activity:
- Prepare – brainstorming, note-taking, planning;
- Practice – act out the conversation or write the text;
- Personal Best – after some feedback has been given, learners have the opportunity to repeat the task in order to improve their performance.
The fact that reading, writing, listening and speaking are taught independently from language work is of paramount importance, because skills are seen as significant as grammar and vocabulary, and are no longer lurking in the background. Also, the aforesaid steps boost learners’ confidence and truly help them achieve fluency.
In the classroom, the Personal Best books offer practice, practice and more practice, with its unique “3xPractice” feature, which makes the language input more memorable and helps ensure that students are actually able to use the language they learn in class out in the real world. Everywhere else, it offers today’s busy students numerous ways to practise what they have learned however suits them best, with the Workbook, the Personal Best Language App or the Richmond Learning Platform. The latter is a fantastically motivating resource for students, as it brings a variety of extra exercises to practice recently taught grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, and extra reading and listening tasks about very interesting topics that are relevant to their age and level.
The material is also marvellous for the teachers. The Teacher’s Book brings everything we need to understand and prepare our lessons, even if we are novice teachers. Every lesson in the Teacher’s Book has a colour copy of the Student’s book page next to a procedure guide that consists of the main aim of the lesson, ideas for warm-up activities, suggestions for patterns of interaction, conceptchecking questions, procedures when presenting new language, answer keys, extra practice activities, among other things. Further teacher support includes Teacher Training videos featuring Jim Scrivener and practising teachers, which can be accessed through the Richmond Learning Platform.
Having used this material for a year, I can assure you that we are definitely able to make learning better with Personal Best.Hello and welcome to Personal Best, Richmond’s brand-new course for young adult learners of English. Developed with award-winning author Jim Scrivener, Personal Best is all about recognising the needs of individual learners and giving them plenty ofmeaningful practice in English. It offers today’s busy students a wealth of different ways to learn so that they can practise their English however, and wherever, suits them best.
ARIADNE REZENDE has been teaching English to teenagers and adults since 2008. She holds a degree in Languages and Literature (UFMS), a Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE), and a CELTA and a CAM certificates. She has worked at Cultura Inglesa as an English Teacher since 2013, and as a Coordinator since 2017.