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Santa Monica, California attracts artists, scholars, busboys, maids, actresses, models, sales people, mechanics, and film directors from around the world. Naturally, this upscale, coastal city provides many adult education classes, private language classes, and hosts English as a Second language workplace programs. The local newspaper, The Santa Monica Daily Press (SMDP), also covers immigration issues in great depth and publishes articles offering advice to new Americans and citizens.
Last week book editor SMDP Dane Robert Swanson wrote a very positive book review, in simple clear prose, directed at Santa Monica immigrants. Noting the importance of literally speaking English to achieve the American Dream, Swanson suggested immigrants practice their conversation skills and build their vocabulary using Compelling Conversations in their classrooms and in local cafes.
Naturally, I’m very pleased with this long, strong book review written in a simplied English style. As an ESL writing instructor, however, I wish the reviewer had used more transitions between paragraphs to add greater cohesion. English students can read more than simple sentences when collecting information on new books. Still, Swanson’s instincts to write short sentences is spot-on for local immigrants. Consider me grateful and pleased!
Here, without editing, is the entire July 16 book review.
Visit us online at smdp.com FRIDAY, JANUARY 16, 2009 9
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B Y D A N E R O B E R T S W A N S O N
Eric H. Roth and Toni Aberson
America is a great land of opportunity. I am sure we
all want to get ahead in this country. We want to find the
type of employment that is suited for us. We wish to
advance in the work world. We wish to make friends.
The best way to get ahead in the world is to speak the
mother tongue of the country you are living in. In this
case, we are talking about English. With so many
“English as a Second Language” courses being taught
there is no excuse for not learning. The problem is, what
book do you use to learn from?
Have you been looking for a good ESL manual? If you
have, I think this is one to consider. The topics cover:
Your Life, The Civic Life, along with the everyday aspects
as dating, enjoying money, handling stress.
The editors put it together in an easy to use form. You
have conversation starters such as, “How much time do
you spend each week in cars? Why?”
There is a section in each chapter for vocabulary
building. A section on common sayings is included, as
well. To increase the conversation we have such questions
as this: “Do you prefer to drive in the city or the
country? Flat or hills?”
Each chapter in the book concludes with quotations.
An example is this one by Woody Allen, “I have bad
reflexes. I was once run over by a car being pushed by
This manual helps conversation by giving common
subjects to talk about. Since English is one of the confusing,
difficult and strange languages for a foreigner to
grasp and be comfortable conversing in, the compilers
pack in 45 chapters over 30 questions, 10 or more targeted
vocabulary words, some proverbs, and quotations
Each chapter focuses on a promising conversation
topic. They start with easy questions and continue on to
questions a bit more abstract. Each question is there to
allow the speaker to share his life experiences along with
This manual will go best with the advanced ESL student
or even at coffee shop conversation clubs. It will
bring about authentic, not stilted communication, which
should be the purpose of an ESL course. It is easier for a
person to learn a language through conversation rather
than by a given list of vocabulary words. That is what
makes this a welcome addition to the material which can
be used for the immigrant who must learn English to
advance in the world.
Eric H. Roth has taught many ESL courses at Santa
Monica College, UCLA Extension, Cal State Long Beach’s
American Language Institute. Toni Aberson has taught
English and supervised teachers for over 35 years and
holds to the view that when you have a lively classroom
you have optimal learning going on.
This manual is available at Amazon.com. It can also be
purchased on the Web site: www.CompellingCoversations.com.
There is a substantial discount available for schools and bookstores.
DANE ROBERT SWANSON is the best looking book reviewer in Santa Monica and wishes to get feedback from you.
Thank you Dane, for the wonderful review.
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” French proverb