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By chance, two articles I had been working on lately came out this week. And they couldn’t be more different.

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Alcohol Really Does Make you Better at a Foreign Language (Sometimes) appeared on the Lexicon Valley blog on Slate.com. It was challenging writing about language learning for a generalist audience, as I’m used to talking shop with other teachers or linguists–see article above. (Though I admit it was fun to let loose with the clickbait!) As of today it’s been shared 10,000 times on Facebook, so that’s also a novelty.

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I wrote  a review of Scott Roy Douglas’s EAP text Academic Inquiry which appears in the latest issue of TESL Canada journal. It’s interesting going back and reading this article, which I wrote and submitted during a busy time this summer. In hindsight, I would tighten up the wording a bit in the first paragraph at the top of page 95, where I refer to the genre approach as a “current trend in EAP research” (and promptly support this with a definition of genre from Swales from 1990)! I realize the genre approach isn’t new, and what I was getting at here was that several newer EAP textbooks incorporate genre (Pearson’s LEAP series, etc.). I probably should have swapped out the word publishing for research! In any case, I maintain my point that more EAP texts need to break out of the constraints of the 5-paragraph essay.

Addendum: Scott Roy Douglas has let me know via Twitter that there are genre-based writing resources available in the book’s online teacher companion website (pic below). (I was unaware of this when I wrote the review, as I only had access to the book itself.) This is good to know, as it does make the textbook a more well-rounded offering. The question still remains, though: why did the publisher choose to put the genre-based writing tasks online, and give a privileged position to essays in the physical book, and not vice versa? It looks like a really well thought-out sequence of genres, and its inclusion in the book would have made it an EAP text that really stands out.

It raises the question: what is a textbook nowadays? There could be the book, the teacher’s book, the online resources, the CD-Rom, the companion VLE… for the sake of reviewing purposes, or for a course leader who’s choosing a course text, what’s the core, and what’s the frill? Should reviewers get full access to all resources outside the book? 

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