Key Business Skills 
Barry Tomalin
Collins 2012

This book is aimed primarily at students looking for a self-study business communication course, but it would also make a useful resource for any teacher- led business English course. It has 12 units divided into four key skills areas: networking, presentations, meetings and negotiations. Each unit is then subdivided into two parts, which follow the same basic structure in all the units. 

Part A has: aims (unit objectives), a quiz to activate prior knowledge, a briefing section presenting the target communication skills, a listening section with the opportunity to interact with a speaker on the accompanying CD, a business practice section, which presents key language and gives speaking and vocabulary practice, and a business culture section, with information on how the target communication skills may differ in various international situations. 

Part B has: a briefing section to present the target skills in this part, a listening section giving the opportunity to hear the skills being used, a business practice section with the key language accompanied by speaking and vocabulary practice, and a business writing section with tasks associated with the unit topic. This part ends with a reflection section to encourage students to record what they have learnt and to make plans for how and when they will implement their new skills. 

At the back of the book is an answer key to the activities, the transcripts of all the listening material and a business file, which gives additional reference material for some sections of the units.

Books with a rigid unit structure, although very easy to find your way around, often risk appearing rather dull and inflexible. However, I think there is plenty of variety in the tasks and activities to avoid this accusation. It is also important for a self-study book to be very transparent in its structure so it is easy for students working on their own to navigate their way through the different sections and to locate the material that is most relevant to them quickly and easily.

Students will find the focus on listening and speaking quite challenging but incredibly helpful. The opportunity to interact with the speakers on the CD by means of cunningly-conceived exercises, where the speaker’s words are given and the student is provided with short clear instructions about how to respond, will also be very welcome to those with few opportunities for speaking practice. The fact that they can repeat the activity again and again until they are happy with their performance will be a great confidence booster, I believe. There is plenty of helpful advice and information in this book and I think that students at B1 to C1 level of the CEFR will find it extremely useful. 

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