Author interview transcript


Ben Goldstein talks about Framework

My name is Ben Goldstein. I live in Barcelona in Spain. I’ve been living in Spain for about 20 years. And I’m a teacher, teacher trainer and materials writer. And I’m the main author for Richmond’s adult course, Framework. I’ve taught in Spain and England. I’ve also taught in Hong Kong. I teacher train as well, and I’m a teacher trainer for Richmond, in Latin America particularly.

Framework is a six-level adult course, well, for adults and young adults. It is based on a lexical approach to language learning, and that means we focus on the vocabulary and the structures that are very frequent, and that students need to use in their daily lives. It has a major focus on world English, in Framework as well, English as an international language. We use a number of non-native speakers in our materials, and this is something fresh and new. And the other aspect which makes Framework different is there’s a major emphasis on learner autonomy – there are a number of different components in the course – CD-Rom, the DVD, and this allows a student to become an independent learner. We’re trying to focus really on encouraging students to become language users, focusing on what they can actively do with a language, not what they just passively know about it.

Each unit usually begins with a reading or a listening task, and a lead in, which activates the students’ interest and personalises the topic. Framework is a very content-driven course, very topic driven, so the students are engaged at the beginning to get interested in a particular topic, and the reading and listening is aimed to activate that even more. And then the language focus, the structures and the vocabulary emerge from that task. And then other elements such as the Real Thing, which is this element with focus on spoken language. It’s a panel that focuses on highly frequent elements of spoken language. All of this emerges from a context – a real world context.

New Framework is different from the original Framework. Firstly, there are fresher, more contemporary topics. The topics have been updated; the images are looking more up-to-date. Secondly the language focus boxes are more concise and easy to use, and thirdly the practice activities are more personalised and there’s extra work for students to practise the structures.

What I particularly like about New Framework are the contemporary topics and the images that are very striking. I think even more than the original version we’ve really found engaging topics, engaging angles and very exciting, striking images. Young people these days, I feel they need that kind of visual stimuli and I think so often the kinds of materials that teachers and students have in class are just not motivating enough for them visually, so one of the aspects I like about Framework is that the visual dimension, the impact it makes when you open the book.

The topics in Framework are very contemporary, they’re designed to appeal to young people, to young adults, who have perhaps been using English coursebooks for many years and are accustomed to seeing the same treatment of topics and structures. Of course, here you’ll find topics which you’ll see in other coursebooks, for example money is one of the topics which I think is one of the most interesting, but here we’ve taken different angles on that topic, so when we’re talking about money we’re talking about anti-globalisation, we’re talking about advertising, we’re talking about status symbols, and this approach we feel is a way to really get the students motivated and active in the classroom, and to bring in topics from the real world that are meaningful for them, and that’s going to motivate them to communicate.

There’s a lot of support for both teachers and students in Framework. For teachers in particular the website includes a lot of documentation, Common European Framework mapping, extra tips and Web Quest searches and so on. For the student, the workbook includes a ‘how to’ section which focuses on strategies, learning strategies and this is becoming increasingly important for students who want to become independent learners and users of English. And there’s also a section called the Language Passport, which shows the student his or her progress in the language, but through the Common European Framework ‘can do’ descriptors. Here the learner is seeing how they can progress in a language actively with what they can, or what they feel they can do after each unit, and I think that’s very positive, for the learner to see their progress in that way.

Framework 1 and 2… the New Framework 1 and 2 will be out in April 2008 and Framework 3 and 4, the following year in April 2009, and I very much enjoyed being involved in the course and in the updating of the course. Looking back on my time working on Framework I can say that it’s been a very interesting adventure to be involved in, it’s a very new and very dynamic approach and its very contemporary in its outlook and I feel very happy that Richmond have supported a course of this nature. It’s certainly something new in the ELT world.

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