New Password 4: A Reading and Vocabulary Text (2nd ed.)
L. Butler. White Plains, New York: Pearson Longman, 2010. Pp. xii + 268.
Reviewed by Tamatha A. Roman
Kanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan
New Password 4: A Reading and Vocabulary Text is the fourth book in a five-level series designed to help English language learners develop their reading skills and expand their vocabularies. To do this, it follows two central ideas: that the best way for students to improve their reading skills is to read at an appropriate level of difficulty and that textbooks should teach vocabulary that is most useful to learners (p. vii).
The book is aimed at helping students with a 1,200-word vocabulary level reach a 2,000-word one and is comprised of five exciting, theme-based units: (1) Into the World of Business, (2) Health Matters, (3) Exploring Technology, (4) The Environment, and (5) Economics, each of which is divided into four efficient chapters and unit wrap-ups full of activities and self-tests to gauge learners progress.
The units themselves are similarly organized. Unit three, Exploring Technology, is a good example. When students approach the unit, they see the first chapter of the unit, chapter nine, A History of Telling Time. This chapter is separated into six sections. This first section Getting to Ready to Read, prompts students to discuss clocks and telling time with their peers. And the second provides a thought provoking non-fiction passage, which contains the same title as the chapter. Accompanying this section are several comment bars and pictures in the margins that help explain unfamiliar vocabulary and a Quick Comprehension Check which asks students a series of true and false questions about the passage.
The third section, Exploring Vocabulary provides two subsections related to the reading: The first, Thinking about the Target Vocabulary, has students divide the bolded words in the text into their subsequent lexical categories, and the second, Using the Target Vocabulary, involves filling in sentence blanks with key vocabulary. The fourth section, Developing Reading Skills, then prompts students to study how the text is organized, scan the text for specific information, and examine the use of reference words.
The fifth section, Expanding Vocabulary, has students use the target words in new contexts by filling in sentence blanks and creating new sentences. And the last section, Putting it all Together, concludes the chapter by providing group discussion questions about the text and inviting students to write a paragraph based on their opinion about the passage.
After the students finish this chapter, they move on to three other similarly organized ones: (a) Out with the Old, In With the New? (b) Appropriate Technologies, and (c) Technology in Science Fiction. And then they move on to a unit wrap-up chapter, which includes three subsections: Reviewing Vocabulary, which asks students to fill in the phrases with the correct vocabulary word; Expanding Vocabulary, which has students fill in sentence blanks with the appropriate antonym; and a Puzzle, which prompts students to fill in a crossword puzzle based on given definitions.
The book also has several ancillaries: a comprehensive index of all the key vocabulary covered throughout the book; a CD which contains mp3 files of the entire Student Book audio program, and a teacher s text that contains the answer keys for all student exercises, unit tests, and a Quick Oral Review for vocabulary drills.
In addition to the book s well-organized units and chapters and many ancillaries, New Password 4 has many positive features that will appeal to EFL teachers. The chapters are well illustrated with a plethora of pictures that help activate schematic knowledge. Second, numerous types of scaffolding tools are included: activities in chapter one, for example, are carefully explained with clear directions and examples, while activities in later chapters challenge the reader to become more autonomous by recalling their previous knowledge. And third, the book incorporates thematic content that reflects an international focus. Chapter 14, Your Trees, My Trees, Our Trees, for example, addresses the topic of disposable chopsticks in Vietnam, Malaysia, and China.
EFL teachers and learners alike will certainly find New Password 4 (as well as other titles in this series) to be a clear and manageable textbook for exposing learners to academic vocabulary and as a foundation for building the skills and strategies necessary for academic success.