English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 27.2
English Australia Journal Volume 27 No 2 73 well-constructed web projects, which provide an excellent opportunity to practise and extend the core skills which the course seeks to teach. Apart from the course itself, the access to the additional 469 Grammar Reference activities is a great benefit, covering a wide range of grammar points in a helpful manner, with both commentary and practice activities. The online dictionary is another extremely useful learning support, as is the users’ ability to construct their own wordlists. My only reservations concern the IELTS practice activities, grouped together in sections at the end of units 3, 6, 9 and 12. Unlike the EAP content, these practice activities are not supported by the same degree of teaching input and, as regards the reading and writing activities, contain some material that is relatively poorly designed and some (too much, in my opinion) which is just not authentic as IELTS practice material. For example, in Unit 3, the third part of the reading activity does not contain an actual question, but simply asks the learner to click on the correct answers – clearly there is some text missing. In Units 6 and 9 there are multiple- choice questions with far too many choices for an authentic IELTS exercise. Finally, the Task 1 Writing activity uses the old ‘Write a report . . .’ rubric rather than the current ‘Summarise the information . . .’ version; the feedback is provided according to what seems like the criteria for Writing marking for Cambridge tests, not the correct IELTS Writing marking criteria; and I find it highly unlikely that the writing sample would have scored as high as a 6 in a real IELTS test, contrary to what is stated in the commentary. An additional criticism relates to the functionality of Upper Intermediate EAP Online. In the sections containing writing samples, it is impossible to move from one activity to the other without reloading the particular unit’s ‘Resources’ page where the samples are listed. Also, in the listening activity about Gandhi in Unit 2, there is a glitch with question 10. The program deducts a mark for the correct answer, while at the same time both ticking it correct and stating that a wrong answer is the correct one. This sort of problem really should have been ironed out at the beta-testing stage. Upper Intermediate EAP Online, therefore, should prove extremely valuable in ‘enhancing classroom teaching’ of EAP for its target learners, as the Macmillan Practice Online website suggests. However, the bolted-on IELTS practice activities fall somewhat short of the high standards set by the remainder of this online product and should be re-visited by the publisher. Macmillan Practice Online is being relaunched in autumn 2012 with an all-new look and updated products. Simon Burrell is an Academic English Teacher and exam trainer. He works in both the UK and Australia.
English Australia Journal 28.1
English Australia Journal 27.1