March 1998 — Volume 3, Number 2
Apply Yourself: English For Job Search and Success
Lisa Johnson, Lynne Levey, and Elizabeth Chafcouloff (1996)
White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman Inc.
ISBN 0-201-87684-1 (paper)
Pp. viii + 232
Apply Yourself was written for English speakers who are seeking jobs in North America. The language structures and vocabulary are appropriate for first-time job seekers at an intermediate level of English. The book treats four basic job-search themes: Getting Ready for and Starting Your Job Search, Calling About a Job, Filling Out Job Applications, and Interviewing. With pair work, games, role plays and exercises, the book combines several different teaching methods. Students will gain the most when they participate actively rather than just completing exercises, so teachers should encourage interaction.
The book opens with game instructions. The games, which appear at the end of every unit, could probably best serve younger learners, perhaps those completing their final year of high school. I believe the games would be less effective with adult learners, who will probably be immigrants and perhaps from “non-game-playing” cultures.
The first unit, probably the strongest of the eight provided, presents some clear, thought-provoking exercises in which students are asked to consider their job goals, personal qualities, work skills, and life skills. With some creative planning, this chapter could be expanded to address specific language-related issues.
In unit 2 the authors discuss ways for beginning the job search. Advertisements, announcements, and the entire networking process are explored here. The book helps learners understand cultural issues, such as the fact that networking is culturally linked, by providing “Culture Notes” with clear explanations. “Body Language and Personal Appearance” (p. 36) is one of my favorites. I found these to be extremely useful in preparing students for various situations and conversations that may arise. They can also be used as helpful hints for role-plays.
Unit 3 successfully covers telephoning and messages, and also includes introducing oneself to a receptionist. Because this unit is of great importance, the culture note “Tips for Telephoning” (p. 70) should not be overlooked.
Unit 4 covers calling about a job and talking to a manager. This chapter focuses on introducing oneself and getting information. [-1-]
Units 5 and 6 cover how to complete extensive job applications, an important part of the job search. These are key chapters for those who have not completed forms in the U.S., and teachers should not overlook the importance of these forms nor the important vocabulary they contain. These units present clear examples that should be used for instruction. Unit 6 also covers writing a resume and a cover letter.
Unit 7 deals with the interview process. Basic interview questions are highlighted here, in addition to ways for preparing for an interview and “Talking about Money” (p. 164).
Unit 8 wraps up the process by describing ways in which to discuss one’s experience, strengths, weaknesses, and career goals, as well as thank-you letters and follow-up calls.
Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is that it uses a step-by-step approach from early and simple job search tasks to more complex ones. It takes learners through a clear sequence and also forces them to think and consider various aspects of their lives.
Role-play techniques could be quite effective with this book. For example, on page 74 there is an excellent, clearly displayed box with a situation about leaving a message with a receptionist. This would be an excellent situation to role-play, as would a situation where students introduce themselves to a manager. The teacher can explain that these are very real situations that one encounters throughout the job search process.
The book provides several realistic suggestions for finding a job. However, it is weak in some areas. In unit 6, the section on writing a resume seems to be a bit limited and includes a very basic sample that lacks much critical information. In America, a resume is the first look that a potential employer gets. Therefore, I believe a fair amount of time should be spent teaching about resumes. The following section on cover letters could also have been expanded, and both sections could have used additional samples.
While the book aims to increase the potential for job search success, it seems to be a bit limiting when addressing language-related problems. Some language skill building is incorporated into the book with various listening, writing and “words for success” sections. This book is not a traditional language learning textbook, however, and does not include any special sections on vocabulary or grammar, nor does it have extensive language examples. As a result, I would suggest using additional English language resources. Moreover, I would suggest that this book be utilized for workshops and for short-term courses that focus on assisting learners who are seeking entry-level employment. I would recommend the book for professionals teaching high school seniors who do not intend to go [-2-] to college, technical-school graduates, adult immigrants, and possibly community college students.
Overall, I believe this book can be an effective tool for learners who are seeking entry-level employment within the United States and who already possess at least an intermediate to upper intermediate level of English. Integrating other references and various approaches in delivering the material could make it a very useful resource for this population. Apply Yourself reflects the corporate culture that is prevalent in the United States, and this should be carefully considered before considering the book for learners seeking jobs in other countries.
Wendy B. Schatzman
Everything English, Inc., Brussels, Belgium
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