One of the IGCSE’s (the International version of GCSE’s) that my daughter is planning on writing is English Language. And I thought that finding some sort of course work (ie activities to work through before we focus on past exam papers) would be easy to find, because it is English Language, but actually this has been one of the subjects that I have really struggled with. Right from the beginning I knew what I wanted – a student book which discusses the different topics that we need to work on (ie how to structure a diary entry or synthesising information) and then a linked workbook which had practice activities on the student book. I wanted the student book and the workbook to be linked, so that I could easily say go to the activities in the workbook and complete them, and my daughter would be able to easily find them. I did not want her to have to rely on me searching and finding everything on the internet and then waiting for me while I figure out what we needed to do next. I had already spent quite a bit of time looking at English Language past papers so I knew what we were working towards and what sort of activities I was expecting to see.
Anyway after quite a bit of searching (and I looked at books for GCSE English language as well) I decided that the Collins Cambridge IGCSE Student book and Workbook looked good and I approached the publishers to see if I could get a review copy (they kindly sent us these).
So First Thoughts on getting our books – I loved the format, the pages just looked easy to use and immediately I could see how well the workbook and student book fitted together. I knew straight away I was not going to waste time searching for anything. It was laid out in a very easy to use manner. I was also impressed with how much they have covered and after going through the contents there were no major gaps that I could think of (as we work through the books I will let you know if I find gaps).
What exactly does this student book (and workbook) cover?
That is really all that you want to cover in your Year 10/ Year 11 course work. And I have to say I like the way they start the book by focusing on key skills needed for the questions (this is actually what I felt like a few other books missed out).
Student Book Layout. Very user friendly. Pages are inviting, they tend to have smaller paragraphs, or bullet points, there are headings which help to break it down into nice manageable chunks, they include pictures and they use subtle colours to highlight items. So overall the pages are easy to navigate and in no way overwhelming.
Workbook Layout. The workbook is black and white but they still keep it very user friendly by limiting what is on a page (there is no cramming too much onto one page in this workbook). They do highlight important parts in grey. But the main thing that I really like is at the top of the page they tell you very clearly which page in the student book the activities are linked too. (I know this sounds very simple but you would be amazed at how many books do not do this).
I know everyone will be wanting to know – what about Answers. I have double checked with the people at Collins and answers for the Student Book activities are included in their Teacher’s Guide. I have not seen the Teacher’s Guide but the feedback I did get about it as that there are some suggestions in the Teacher’s Guide on how to extend the activities that are included in the Student Book (again I want to stress I have not personally seen the Teacher’s Guide). But it does sound like it may be a useful resource. Then I have been informed that you can request the answers for the questions in the Workbook and they will be given to users.
Okay so we have only just started using this but so far – my daughter is finding it easy to use, she is working through the first chapter independently. She tends to do a double page out of the Student Book one day and then on the following day she will work through the linked pages in the Workbook. She likes the explanations and the layout and is happy with the activities. I will admit that we have already done quite a lot of work on the first 7 topics covered in chapter 1 so I have not felt like we needed to extend it in any way (ie I have not felt like I needed to find her extra activities on what has been covered). However whether that will be the case as we progress I am not sure about. I think with some of the topics I may want to give her extra practice, but only time will tell if we do.
We do have the answers for the workbook questions, so she marks those herself and I must admit I find having those answers very useful so if you do get the workbook I would strongly suggest requesting the answers.
We do NOT have the Teacher’s Guide and at the moment I am reading through the answers she writes for the activities from the Student Book and then giving her any feedback that I think she needs.
So far this is ticking all the right boxes for us and I actually feel like they have taken a bit of a weight off my shoulders. We have a clear logical guide on what we need to work through, I feel like it build nicely, we have explanations, examples and then activities to practice. My daughter is happy with the structure and I am thrilled that we found these two books.
Admin – Like I mentioned above I approached Collins to ask if we could these books for a review because I thought they looked good. All opinions expressed are mine or my daughters. This is NOT a paid for post.
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