In this article we’re going to review the very popular kids ESL textbook “Let’s Go” published by Oxford University Press. The “Let’s Go” series has over seven textbooks that cover the ages from 3 to around 12 years old. To call the “Let’s Go” series a textbook would be mistake, it is more a suite of Kids ESL resources that are based around the textbook/student book. There is a teacher’s guide, workbook, CD, student cards, full-size teacher cards, wall charts, readers, songbooks, picture dictionary, grammar and listening textbook and finally an interactive CD-ROM. That is quite a lot. In this review we’re going to take a look at the student book, workbook, teacher’s guide and CD. We will go over the other material at a later time in a different review.
The “Let’s Go” series is a total English skill course. The textbook will go over everything from basic vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The 7 different leveled textbooks in the series do share a similar structure but as each textbook is targeting a different level there are some key differences. Each textbook has 8 units. Each unit will introduce the topic, basic vocabulary related to the topic, basic questions and replies to those questions. The latter half of the unit generally will build upon the first half’s questions and replies. For example, in the first half of one unit the students might learn words describing various occupations. After that they will learn the question “who’s he?” and the reply “he’s a taxi driver.” After that, the textbook will move on to “yes/no” questions. So in our example “Is he a police officer?” And the reply “Yes, he is.” Then the second half of the unit will teach variations of the previously learned basic sentence structures. For example, in the second half of the occupation unit the students will learn “Who are they?” Interspersed in the units are sample conversations, singing exercises, exams, listening exercises and review exercises as well. After every two units there is a review chapter that has some basic quizzes.
Around the third book in the series you will see some basic phonics and reading exercises. Generally each chapter will have one each of these. The reading activities get progressively more difficult and build upon previously learned vocab and grammar.
The workbook is pretty basic but very valuable. For the most part it is made up of basic reading and writing exercises that reinforce the textbook’s units. The workbook’s units are pretty extensive with each unit getting about eight pages of questions.
The CD is very good and can be useful in the classroom but you have to buy it separate. There is also no transcript of any of the recordings in the student textbook so if you want to do any of the listening exercises you will need to buy the CD.
Student Age Range: 3-13
Author: K. Frazier/B. Hoskins/ R. Nakata/ S. Wilinson
This is probably the most popular ESL Kids textbook series on the market and has been for many years. There are many reasons for this. The series has quite a lot of strengths.
The curriculum for the most part is very good. What they decide to teach and when and in what order to introduce everything is very well thought out and logical. The workbook is a great resource and is a great way to assign homework. The reading activities are well-crafted and get progressively more difficult from textbook to textbook. The reading passages are also limited to any previously learned grammar, structures and vocabulary so that the student not only improves their reading skills but also can review previously learned lessons. Each reading passage also has comprehension questions that can be used to test the students’ understanding. Without a doubt the main strength of the series is its flexibility. Whether your students need to focus on phonics, writing, speaking or any other skill you can use the textbooks and supplementary material to help you.
I have a couple of minor complaints with the series. One of the major weaknesses of these textbooks is that they really don’t give you any activities or games to use when teaching the various key points. One of the worst things you can do for most kids classes is have the students sit down at a desk and simply go through the different grammar and vocabulary and robotic methodical way. Most of the practice and reinforcement of any lesson key points should be done through some kind of game or activity. You can take a couple of minutes to explain the sentence structures and grammar to the student but after that you really need to have some kind of fun activity or game to reinforce and practice everything. This textbook doesn’t give you that. If you are an experienced teacher then really it’s not a problem because you already know how to use that lesson’s key point in other games and activities that you have done in previous classes. But if you’re a beginner teacher then it might be a little difficult at first. The teacher’s guide does provide some basic games and activities for each unit but these are a bit simple and the directions for them are very brief.
The teacher’s guide on the whole would be useful for any new or beginner teachers but there are some problems. For the lower level textbooks there is too much reliance on chants and songs. Songs can be useful but they could easily be replaced with a game, picture book or other activity. A lot of teachers I know hate singing and dancing. It would be nice if they had some alternatives for those teachers. Also, some of the suggestions in the teacher’s guide seem to envision perfect, well behaved students who have unlimited amounts of concentration. Real classes are different and you can only have the students do so much personalization and vocalization of the key points before they start to drift off. The teacher’s guide gives you a very good foundation for your classes but as you gain more experience you will want to replace some parts of the lesson plan with activities and techniques that you feel more comfortable with.
The last thing is not really a problem but a pet peeve of mine. The fact that you have to buy the CD separate frustrates me. Now only do you have to buy the CD separate but there is no transcript of the recordings so if you want to use any of the listening exercises you have no choice but to purchase another product. I can understand purchasing the workbook or CD-ROM separately but CDs and transcripts should be included with the student textbook.
Would I recommend this textbook? Absolutely. This is one of my favorite textbooks that I’ve used over the years. It’s great for high schools, it’s great for adults, it’s great for any students that have a basic understanding of grammar and vocabulary but no experience actually using English in conversations. Even if the rest of the book was terrible (which it’s not) I would recommend this textbook simply for the exercises and activities.