Heather Thomson, a researcher in Canada, has reviewed Bridges: Activities for Thinking, Speaking, & Writing English for a general audience and found the program to be quite applicable even outside the venue where it was created. She used the first unit of the book with a group of senior immigrants in a program in Canada and “found it to be a gentle, motivating transition from the ‘comfortable’ form-based instruction of their past toward more communicative, western learning methods.”
Thomson describes Bridges as a curriculum that
“Conspicuously absent from this curriculum is the grammar focus common to most general language programs but which may, in fact, hinder fluency.
“An analysis of the curriculum design reveals a close adherence to Bloom’s Taxonomy with learner cognition and creativity being at the forefront. Presented with a problem, students are challenged to classify and rank, analyze and compare, then synthesize and create. An analysis of the first four activities in Unit 5 revealed twenty-four instances of this kind of mental operation.
“…While the themes and topics featured in this program may not necessarily be completely novel to some learners, what they are asked to “do” with that content, the cognitive restructuring, invites them to approach the material from a new angle.”
The reviewer scores Bridges on ten criteria for use with audiences in her own or broader context. Although Bridges was created for a South Central audience the program scores very high for general use as well.
According to Thomson, the materials
- promote fluency over accuracy Score: 5/5
- contain language which is useful and engaging to young learners Score: 4/5
- contain authentic learning tasks Score: 5/5
- reflect a range of text types Score: 4/5
- promote schema building Score: 5/5
- promote responsive rather than direct teaching Score: 5/5
- invite deep learner cognition Score: 5/5
- make effective use of texts and visuals Score: 4/5
- invite learners to reflect on their cultural identity Score: 4/5
- make use of available technology as a support to the core language curriculum Score: 4/5