“The Whole Story BY by Longman” is a collection of 12 short stories from around the world, carefully selected and adapted for English language learners at an upper-intermediate and advanced level. The book is published by Longman, a well-established publisher of English language teaching materials, and aims to provide learners with engaging and accessible reading material that can help them improve their vocabulary, reading skills, and critical thinking.
The stories are written by a diverse range of authors, including African, Indian, Caribbean, and Australasian writers, and cover a variety of themes, such as family, identity, love, and social issues. Each story is accompanied by pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading activities, which aim to activate learners’ schemata, facilitate comprehension, and encourage language production.
In this review, we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the book, focusing on its content, pedagogical approach, and relevance to English language teaching and learning.
One of the strengths of “The Whole Story” is its content. Which offers a rich and varied representation of English-language fiction from around the world. The stories are well-written, engaging, and culturally authentic. And can provide learners with a valuable exposure to different literary traditions and perspectives.
Moreover, the book’s selection of stories covers a wide range of themes and genres. Which can cater to learners’ interests and needs. For example, the first story, “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” by Arthur Conan Doyle, is a detective story that can appeal to learners who enjoy mystery and suspense. On the other hand, the last story, “A Pair of Jeans” by Qaisra Shahraz, is a realistic portrayal of a Pakistani family’s struggle with gender expectations. Which can resonate with learners who are interested in social issues and diversity.
Another strength of “The Whole Story” is its pedagogical approach, which integrates pre-reading. While-reading, and post-reading activities that aim to scaffold learners’ comprehension and language production. The activities are well-designed and varied, and can cater to different learning styles and strategies.
For example, the pre-reading activities focus on activating learners’ prior knowledge and interest in the theme and language of the story. They include brainstorming, prediction, and discussion tasks that can help learners connect with the story emotionally and culturally.
The while-reading activities aim to facilitate learners’ comprehension of the story and its language features. They include vocabulary building, comprehension check, and inference tasks. That can help learners understand the plot, characters, and language of the story.
The post-reading activities aim to consolidate and extend learners’ learning through reflection, analysis, and language production. They include discussion, writing, and speaking tasks that can help learners relate the story to their own experiences and opinions. And practice using the language in a meaningful context.
Relevance to English Language Teaching and Learning:
“The Whole Story” is a relevant and valuable resource for English language teaching and learning. Particularly at an upper-intermediate and advanced level. The book’s content and pedagogical approach align with the principles of communicative language teaching. Which emphasize the integration of language and content, the activation of learners’ schemata. The promotion of learner autonomy and critical thinking.
Moreover, the book’s selection of stories from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds can promote intercultural competence and empathy. And help learners develop a global outlook on the English language and its cultural contexts.
However, the book’s level of difficulty and linguistic complexity may pose a challenge for some learners. Particularly those who are not familiar with the cultural and linguistic features of the stories’ origins. Therefore, teachers may need to provide additional support and guidance to ensure learners’ success and engagement with the book. Additionally, some of the activities may be too prescriptive or formulaic, which can limit learners’ creativity and language use. Therefore, teachers may need to adapt the activities or provide alternative tasks that can foster learners’ autonomy and linguistic flexibility.
Overall, “The Whole Story” is a valuable and engaging resource for English language learners and teachers. Who seek to develop their reading skills, vocabulary, and critical thinking through the exploration of English-language fiction from around the world. The book’s content and pedagogical approach offer a rich and varied representation of different literary traditions and perspectives. And can help learners develop their intercultural competence and empathy. However, the book’s level of difficulty and prescriptive nature may require additional support and adaptation from teachers to ensure learners’ success and engagement.