Vol. 8. No. 4 R-3 March 2005
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Happy House 1, Class Book

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2000)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pp. 79
ISBN 0-19-433825-8
£8.15

Happy House 1, Cassette

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2000)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-433828-2
£10.50

Happy House 1, Teacher's Book

Lorena Roberts (2000)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pp. 109
ISBN 0-19-433827-4
£7.65

Happy House 1, Teacher's Resource Pack

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2000)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-433829-0
£11.90

Happy House 2, Class Book

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2003)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pp. 47
ISBN 0-19-431819-2
£8.15

Happy House 2, Cassette

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2003)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-433818-4
£10.50

Happy House 2, Activity Book

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2003)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
Pp. 72
ISBN 0-19-431820-6
£7.65

Happy House 2, Teacher's Book

Lorena Roberts (2003)
Oxford University Press
Pp. 96
ISBN 0-19-431821-4
£4.70

Happy House 2, Teacher's Resource Pack

Stella Maidment and Lorena Roberts (2003)
Oxford: Oxford University Press
ISBN 0-19-431822-2
£11.90

Happy House is a "story-based course for young children with very little or no previous experience of English" (Roberts, 2000, p. 7). Emphasizing the receptive and productive areas of listening and speaking, the curriculum of Happy House 1 is divided into seven units, each of which is broken down into five lessons that follow the same structure. Happy House 2 follows the same structure, including six units and two supplemental holiday plays. The authors elaborate on the lesson structure in the introduction to the Teacher's Edition. Each lesson has five steps: introduction, presentation, exploitation, practice and individual activities.

In Happy House 1, the teachers are primarily modeling basic vocabulary and phrases. Teachers elicit student responses through pointing to pictures and repetition. The use of consistent picture support is congruent with the needs of beginning English language learners (ELLs). In addition, teachers are encouraged to bring in authentic items, such as birthday cards and photos of the children, which are known to be excellent ways at supporting ELLs in accessing content and information.

The benefits of this series include age-appropriate instructions, which provide tips such as, "Do not insist that the class repeat the words when you first play them. Give the children lots of opportunity to hear and assimilate the words first (Roberts, 2000, p. 22). This focus on input allows students the time to adjust to their new language and culture and also is inclusive for children who are in a silent period of their English language development.

As with any series, some of the teacher resources are better than others. At times, the teacher's book states the obvious, telling teachers to monitor student progress and spend time with weaker students. However, the benefits outweigh the potential limitations. This teacher's book appears to be an excellent resource for those who are new to the field of English language instruction, as well as those who are unfamiliar with the developmental needs of elementary aged students. The authors provide frequent reminders about best teaching practices and the need to use repetition and hands-on learning techniques.


   The flashcards that supplement each lesson are full-color, clearly drawn images of each of the key vocabulary words introduced. These are a true asset to the Happy House series and are made of a durable card stock laminate that appear substantial for manipulation during Total Physical Response activities. Also included in each Teacher Resource Pack is the poster of the Happy House, each character and an illustration of the house (which is where all of the action goes on in the series).

In the Teacher Resource Pack for Happy House II there is a Photocopy Masters Book. This book is highly useful, with a minimum of two supplemental activities for each unit. These are based on sound teaching strategies such as partner jigsaw activities and sequencing stories. In addition, to support the reading and writing component of Happy House II, word cards for each key vocabulary item are included.

The cassettes are of good quality, and are available for purchase in CD version, as well. Songs are sung clearly, and response activities are modeled before student responses are elicited. Perhaps the best aspect of the tapes are the "stories" that are told. Students then "read" the pictures in the class book as the story is told, modeling social-interactive language in use. For example, in Happy House 1, Unit 3, the phrases "Please be quiet!" "Stop it!" and "Here's a ____" are used in context of a story, with familiar characters Jack and Daisy in a common situation. Therefore, the class book and cassette are truly valuable resources.

Perhaps the only complaint one may have is that the Class Book is consumable in Happy House 1, but it is not in Happy House 2. In Happy House 2, the Class Book is read-only, with vocabulary and picture support. However, the Activity Book is completely consumable. This could be cumbersome for young students to work between two books, both of which look identical with their orange covers depicting the Happy House.

In all, the series is a cohesive set of valuable resources that are both developmentally appropriate and interesting for young English language learners. With the focus on authentic language, movement and songs, teachers are bound to have success with young English language learners at a variety of levels.

Dana Horning
ESL Teacher, Arlington Public Schools,
VA, U.S.A.
<Dana_Horningapsva.us>

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