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Proficiency Gold is a paperback coursebook first published in 2001 and is written by Jacky Newman & Judith Wilson . The book teaches English language and grammar to students learning English as a Second Language (ESL) at an advanced level in preparation for taking the CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) exam. When purchased in the shops, this book originally came with a cassette tape to be used alongside the book, but, as I acquired this book from my partner the cassette tape has been misplaced somewhere over the years, however after almost 6 months of successful use of this book without the cassette I don't feel it is 100% necessary although at times it would have made life easier! There are newer versions of this book available which come with an audio CD.
As some of you may know, I am currently living in Krakow in Poland working as a Private English Language teacher giving one to one personal English lessons to my students of all ages and ability here in Krakow. Before I moved here I had never taught in my life, so not only was this a big change in life, but also a whole new career too and as a result of this I found myself in need of a few language books to aid me in my lessons and help my students to learn English in an interesting way. I gained this book because my partner studied for and passed the CPE exam and therefore no longer needed the book so it soon got added to my growing pile of resources.
Gold begins with a brief explanation of the CPE exam and some guidelines about what to expect while you are studying for it as well as what will be expected of you in order to pass the exam.
The book is then sectioned into 14 Units and each unit is split into 7 sub sections,
Reading: This part of the unit usually contains either one reasonable length article or a few shorter ones for the student to read and then either answer some questions or complete an exercise to show they have understood the text correctly. Due to the level of the exam these texts usually contain more advanced words and I am slightly embarrassed to admit I have had to look up some words in the dictionary myself!
Writing: The writing areas mainly consist of filling in the gaps or rearranging sentences, more complex writing tasks are given in the unit review at the end of the unit.
Use of English: As it sounds, this area covers the different ways the English Language is used in the unit in both spoken and written formats.
Listening: The listening part of this section would usually involve playing the cassette tape that originally came supplied with the book, however as I do not have these I have been doing a bit of improvisation with my students and where the conversation is also printed I have read it out aloud to them as I appreciate it is also important for them to be able to listen and understand as well as being able to read, write and speak.
Speaking: Usually the speaking area contains a few exercises to get my students to answering a questions about the unit topic and having conversations with me to practice their conversation. I often find that this section is a firm favourite with my students as they really enjoy speaking in English.
Grammar: The grammar area concentrates on various components of grammar and the numerous tenses used within the unit. It uses a variety of practice exercises throughout the book to ensure that the students not only know the grammar but they also understand why and where to use it.
Vocabulary: The vocabulary area usually consists of any possible new vocabulary learnt in the unit and a couple of pages of gap filling exercises to ensure the students have a good grasp of the correct word meanings.
Finally after working their way through all of these sub-sections my students should be ready to move onto the Unit Review where they will put all of the sub-sections into use together and complete a practice exam exercise. The unit reviews are really well laid out in the same style as the CPE exam paper and in my opinion they are providing excellent practice for my students in preparation for their exam.
The units in this book cover a lot of everyday life activities such as friends, family, education, sports and travel. Gold uses a huge variety of articles and exercises to keep students attention and interest which I think makes it easier for them to keep focused on learning English and the bonus for me is that it also keeps the lessons interesting for me as students are often very keen to talk to me about their experiences in the different subjects which the book covers.
The feedback I have received from my students is, so far, all positive. None of my students have taken the CPE exam yet but I have been told that they feel much more confident about taking it since we started working with this book.
The last few pages of the book are filled with additional materials which consist of grammar and writing references for all of the units, speaking prompt cards and some additional communication activities.
Price & Availability
This Gold coursebook is currently available on Amazon for £14.99 for the book or £19.99 with the audio included.
Although there are newer and more up to date versions of this book available the language in this book is still English, perfectly comprehensible and of great use to my students who want and need practice for their exam. I would recommend Gold to anyone else teaching English in the world of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and of course to anyone who is studying English as a Foreign Language.
Thanks for reading! :)