Kansas TESOL

Home KATESOL News Links Book Reviews KATESOL Executive Board Constitution and By-Laws Member Application ESOL Library
Book Review
January 2002

Now and Then:  Reading and Writing about the American Immigrant Experience.  N. Reich
New York, St. Martinís Press, 1996 

Intended skill area/level:  Advanced ESL Reading (Level 6)

 Format:  Now and Then is organized into twelve chapters, each with a unifying theme on the immigrant experience in America:  leaving home, the journey, first days, learning English, culture changes, photographs, friends and family, places, at work, and issues in the news.  Students begin to examine the theme of the chapter by reading and analyzing a piece of professional writing through a series of activities:  establishing the context, discussion, reading, response, analysis, further exploration of language and literature, and vocabulary.  There is also a section which presents an authentic student essay (edited for correctness) accompanied by a response and analysis section encouraging personal response, analysis and strategies for peer revision.  Each chapter finishes with suggestions for writing assignments.

Indices and charts:  A detailed nine-page table of contents in the front, and a helpful index at the back. 

Critique:  Now and Then features high-interest material for students who are themselves immigrants, thematic organization for whole-language instruction, authentic student essays which encourage personal response to the theme, a process approach to writing with aids to generate ideas and revise essays, a logical transition from personal to academic writing, the integration of reading and writing, and the exploration of literature.  In addition, the wide diversity of the backgrounds of the authors helps students see that their experience is not unique-people of all languages and cultures have similar experiences upon arriving in a new country.  On the other hand, students can see that each immigrant group has a different world view, and that we must all learn to live and work with people who often donít see life the same way we do.  And Neil Reich accomplishes this balance without preaching tolerance. The texts speak for themselves, and the discussion questions encourage authentic discussion, not biases rhetoric.  I hope to try some of these lessons with my advanced reading class this fall.

Reviewed by:
Peggy A. Hull, Assistant Professor of ESL
Dodge City Community College

Making Connections 2, An Integrated Approach to learning English
Carolyn Kessler, Linda Lee, Mary Lou McCloskey, Mary Ellen Quinn, Lydia Stack.
Boston, Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 1996.
 

Intended Skill areas/level:  Middle and High School ESL students.  This text is very well suited for the Adult intermediate learner in level 3.  

This text is set up in Five units which are broken down in smaller subject areas.  All Units can be used for adult students without any modification to fit age and maturity levels.   

The table of contents is very easy to read and the break down of topics is concise. 

This text is very well suited for upper level two and three ESL students in Middle and high School as well as the Adult learners.  Its use will advance the level two student into level three understanding and reading ability.  It gives practice at reading and understanding as well as listening and writing skills.  This text will also assist students in matching information learned in the native language with general knowledge information used in this text to learn English. 

I also find this text to be excellent for use by students who are speakers of other languages to use as a bases for learning leading to preparation for entrance into higher levels of education.  This text is an introduction to writing in a higher form in which ever language the student chooses to write in besides English.  Expressions of thoughts in writing from any language into that same language or another, is the prized accomplishment of all language learners.   

Reviewed by:
Donald E. Blackman, USA Retired, DAV
Garden City Community College
Finney County Community Learning Center
Garden City, KS