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Ludi Sun

INT615

Contact USA

<Ludi Sun>
INTR615
Dr. Alan Seaman
September 14, 2016
Book Review
Contact USA is a reading and vocabulary text written by Paul
Abraham and Daphne Mackey for all age ESL/EFL students. It is
composed of twelve chapters that talk about different aspect of America,
such as Cities in America, Food in America, Contemporary
American Society, Racial Issues, and Freedom of Religion, etc.
Each chapter is divided into four parts i.e. A First Look, Look Again,
Contact A Point of View, and Look Back. The main reading text
(approximately 500 to 700 words in length) is in the first part, and a short
timed reading text (250 to 300 words in length) is put in the Contact A
Point of View part. Every part in each chapter consists of various
exercises and activities to help students build vocabulary, improve
reading skills and develop critical thinkings. This text book is not simply
a reading book, but its also an instruction book providing foreign readers
with background knowledge of American culture and society. I read some
of the texts and found them interesting and helpful to people who havent
been to America or just arrived in America. For example, the text
Culture Shock is what I am experiencing now since I just lived here in
the U.S. for one month. That passage analyzed different stages of culture
adjustments, reasons for why culture shock happens and how to confront
that in a positive and long-term way. When the reading texts become
practical to readers, the readability is naturally improved. The exercises in
each chapter are related not only to the passage but also to the students
own experience and are quite thought-provoking about culture and
society.
Contact USA contains many reading skills. To begin with, building
vocabulary is an obvious characteristic of this book. As Mikulecky talked
in his book, Improving reading depends on vocabulary development
(Mikulecky, p116), Contact USA serves this aim by offering different
types of exercises (e.g. matching, multiple choice, word scanning, and
word analysis) These exercises help readers learn about the spelling,
the form, the meaning and the usage in a fun way. For instance, in the
Vocabulary Preview section, readers are asked to write down what shorter
words they can see in those words on the exercise list selected from the
reading text they have read. (employ in employment, move in movement,
count and less in countless, and vitalize in revitalize, so on and so forth.)
Another skill used in Contact USA is scanning which is also aiming at
building students vocabulary. Students are expected to find the words

Ludi Sun

INT615

Contact USA

chosen from the passage and write down the number of the line where
those words appear. Some words are listed in parallel in order to help
students compare their meanings and better remember them. Contact
USA starts each Chapter by introducing several provoking questions to
the student and leaving blanks for their answers based on his or her own
experience and observation before reading the texts. I think that this book
encourages top-down approach rather than bottom-up strategy because
most of the exercises are meant to check a students understanding or
comprehension of the whole story without requiring them to read every
word in a passage. Except for the skills I mentioned before in this book
review, skimming, previewing, and summarizing skills are all applied in
each chapter of Contact USA.
This book is ideal for intermediate teenage readers or high-beginning
adult readers who are interested in knowing about the life in the United
States or have just started their life or journey in the U.S. One of the
flaws as I see it is that all the readings are too simple and superficial. If
the students want to know further about America, they have to refer to
other specialized books on certain topics for in depth learning. However,
Contact USA provides a general picture of Americas life, culture, and
society for people who are preparing to come so that they wont be too
surprised or disappointed when they see so many differences between the
American daily life and their life at home. Another flaw is the limitation
of the topics. Since most EFLs/ESLs live or intend to live in English
speaking countries, this book Contact USA can only serve those who are
interested in topics about America. Therefore, some EFLs/ESLs might
think that the other English speaking countries are the same as the U.S.
Nevertheless, this problem of potentially misleading students can be
guided and corrected by an ESL/EFL teacher. If Im using this book, I
will encourage students to complete the exercises as well as do the
readings in this book actively. Furthermore, I will persuade them to pick a
certain topic in Contact USA and do a small research referring to other
books, either comparing that aspect in the U.S. with their own country or
comparing it with another English speaking country, or just writing about
that topic more specifically by introducing their own experiences in the
U.S. or the contents in other books they read. The last but not least flaw is
the out-of-date information in this book. As the American society
develops rapidly, this book is in need of constant revising regarding to the
latest changes.
Regardless of its flaws, Contact USA is such an excellent book that
stands out among other intermediate reading books with proper length of
each text and corresponding exercises. I chose a passage among the
former chapters, two passages in the middle of the book and a passage in
the latter chapters, and calculated Contact USAs reading level of about

Ludi Sun

INT615

Contact USA

10 using the Fry graph in the readability assessment.


To sum up, Contact USA not only shows students a general picture of
the U.S. but also help build students reading skills and vocabulary by
exhibiting many kinds of exercises. Thus, Ill definitely use this book in
my class and provide certain guidance for the students. My target students
are Chinese teenagers, and this book is of more importance and suitability
to my classes. Since there are numerous Chinese young people willing to
study or live in America nowadays, introducing a reading book with
topics about this country is very appropriate in lessons. I can imagine
students reading and completing each chapter in Contact USA eagerly in
my future classes.

Cloze Assessment:
Wok__ a very important part__ life in the United States. ___ the early
Protestant immigrants ___ to his country, they__ the idea that work was
the___ to God and heaven. This attitude, the Protestant work ethic, ___
influences America today. Work is not___ important for economic
benefits, the salary, but also__ social and psychological needs, the feeling
of doing something for the___ of the society. Americans ___ most of their
lives working, being productive. For most Americans, their work___
them: They are___ they do. What happens, then, when a person can
no___ work?
Most Americans stop working__ age 65 or 70 and___. Because work
is such an important part of life in this culture, retirement___ be very___.
Some retirees feel that they are useless and unproductive. Of____, some
people are___ to retire; but leaving ones job, whatever it is, is a difficult
change, ___ for those who__ forward to retiring. Many____ do not
know____ to use their time, or they feel lost____ their jobs.

Ludi Sun

INT615

Contact USA

(optional) Word Bank


look happy is without how define difficult
longer what
America brought When of only good spend even at course
came way still for retire can retirees