Interchange is a four-level, multi-skills English series for adult and young-adult learners. It was written by Jack C Richards and is published by Cambridge University Press (CUP) and is currently in its 4th edition.
The series comprises a large number of components. There are 4 levels confusingly called:
- Level 1
- Level 2
- Level 3
So if you are starting out, make sure you get the Intro before you move on to Level 1. A number of schools have started out with Level 1 only to discover it’s not the first in the series.
Then, each level comes with a whole array of products such as workbooks, teachers books, CDs, videos and so on. There has been a lot of confusion of what contains what and many teachers bought the CD to use in class only to find that it doesn’t contain all the listening examples. This has led to a lot of frustration so make sure you test out what you have before using it in class.
It is easy to get the impression that CUP have taken a good product and then piled on as many extras as possible (with a hefty price tag) to turn this into a money making exercise more than anything else.
To take an example, the Intro level has 27 different products ranging from $10 to $400 – there is a CD Rom for over $40 and whiteboard software for $400; there is a DVD for $158 with the basic student’s book at just over $30.
However, the series has garnered a lot of praise and is very popular with both teachers and students. The four main language skills are covered well and the series is designed to (and does) appeal to adults and young-adults both in class and in 1-to-1 lessons.
It is generally aimed towards American pop culture and some teachers have found that the cultural references are tied to a particular time and age group which means they do not necessarily appeal to some learners. For example, it includes references from Eminem to Celine Dion to try and cover as wide a base as possible and obviously these will be alien to some users and uninteresting to others.
Because of this it’s often useful to adapt some exercises in order to appeal more to the interests and needs of your specific students.
Generally, the tasks encourage students to use language actively rather than to be listeners. This is a good thing as the more opportunities students get to express themselves in L2 the more likely they are to learn it more successfully. However while Interchange caters for more involvement of the learners in the classroom activities the majority of tasks (at least in Interchange 3rd Edition) require learners to «respond» and only a much smaller proportion require students to «initiate» using the language. This defeats the aim of getting an active class.
Another drawback that has been noticed by users is that while the series tries to draw on meaning as the basis for the learning, the activities with focus on both form and meaning are not that frequent (at least in Interchange 3rd Edition).
Interchange Intro on Amazon.com
Interchange on CUP