Book Evaluation

Book: Culturally Speaking

Authors: Rhona B Genezel and Martha Graves Cummings


Culturally speaking is a third edition book by Rhona B Genezel and Martha Graves Cummings and published in 1994 in Boston. The book is designed to provide the readers with communicative as well as thought provocative skills for learning diverse communications and culture, particularly in North America. The main target audience of this book is the intermediate level students of ESL.

As the title indicates, the book is designed to facilitate communication with an objective focus on culture among its ten chapters. The third edition nest suits intermediate and advanced university ESL students in the North America region of US and Canada though it can be easily adapted for use in other global learning institutions. In the chapters, there is a major focus on culture ranging from socialization to building friendships and participating in social forums. Every chapter contains a number of activities just similar to those found in other textbooks including discussions and dialogues. In addition, there are quick customs and quizzes within some having multiple choices mainly asking what actions a student would take in case of particular situations hence fostering a better understanding of the likely common difficult scenarios.

Though not definitely defined, teachers who analyze the chapters ought to cover the text in one semester but with other supplementary materials it can be used in one year time. Moreover, the themes contained in this text have a universal appeal that assists in developing readers who are encountering fear, breaking of stereotype form of perception, the world of dreams and the gross inequity in a social setting. The whole language embraces the idea of teaching philosophy which is deemed appropriate in pointing out that the term is more oriented on philosophical than methodological approach. Now that the adopted language works best in communication between the teachers and students, the interaction process is, therefore, relevant, insightfully authentic and hence fulfills the expectations.

The chapters highlight the different North American cultures necessary for the students to know including making food orders at restaurants, shopping at the grocery, asking questions from the instructors and visiting a doctor. Consequently, students can begin to make cultural comparisons and exchanging information regarding cultures and model conversations. By completing each chapter, the student becomes significantly proficient not just in culture but also the use of language. This is more apparent in the section that contains holiday matters for both countries. Also, vocabulary terms used have been updated to capture the current expressions that have been adopted in the modern society. Students can hence express their opinions freely on matters such as credit card overuse and regulation of musical lyrics. To crown it all, the book contains a colorful cover page with numerous faces of the world which emphasize on the cultural sensitivity matters of this text.

Textbook Evaluation Rubric

(1=lowest; 5=highest)

  Questions 1 2 3 4 5
1 The cover of the textbook is appealing.         *
Comment: reinforces on the cultural sensitivity matters of this text in the book
2 The textbook index and table of contents.     *    
Comment: a fairly organized chapter outline
3 The textbook covers variety topics from different fields.     *    
Comment: the text moderately covers different aspects of the North America culture
4 The format and the size of print are clear.     *    
Comment: the cover page and preface page has very clear print, but some other pages have blurred text
5 The information and directions are clearly written and explained.         *
Comment: the directions outlined are well outlined and clearly understandable.
6 The content is suitable for the learners’ level.       *  
Comment: both intermediate and advanced students can comfortably use this content as outlined in its objective
7 The textbook has a good-quality type of paper.       *  
Comment: the quality of the paper is standard
8 The chapters are organized logically.         *
Comment: they are organized in a manner that addresses all the stated social aspects and in an orderly format


The materials in the textbook can integrate the skills and content of the textbook.       *  
Comment:  having addressed cultural matters in full lengths there is a profound integration of skills and content
10 The textbook has adequate exercise and activities.     *    
Comment:  there are enough practice activities
11 The activities are fitting to the lessons goals.         *
Comment: these activities satisfactorily meet the goals and objectives
12 The textbook builds communication skill.       *  
Comment: there is a well-developed communication in all the chapters
13 The exercises in the textbook purposeful to the students.         *
Comment: they enhance good understanding of the content
14 The topics in the textbook are suitable for the students’ culture.         *
Comment: the chapter topics touch on matters of culture hence significantly suitable
15 The visual images and graphics are clear in the textbook.     *    
Comment: most of the graphics and images are clear except for a few which appear a bit blurred
16 The textbook price is suitable for the students’ budget.   *      
Comment: the book is quite expensive for many users to access
17 The textbook covers all the language skills evenly.     *    
Comment: the text focuses on the reading, speaking and listening skills hence not all are covered
18 The textbook includes adequate vocabulary lists in each lesson.         *
Comment: there in an up to date vocabulary use matching the current societal vocabulary use
19 The exercises promote a critic thinking in the textbook?       *  
Comment: they provoke a deeper thinking capability
20 Content is appropriate for the length of course.       *  
Comment: the content sufficiently covers the course work of one semester and when supplemented can cover one-year course work


Text Analysis

The text for teaching American culture at the intermediate level has to a large extent focused on speaking as well as listening skills. The design approaches adopted in addressing the content uses an integration of two major models for the aspects of culture education and learning cycles. The text begins by explaining with a well-structured explanation of the book’s content, the scope of the unit, procedural table of contents and criterion used to select the appropriate activities. Selecting the appropriate text for the right target group goes a long way in attaining the stipulated goals and objectives. It is, therefore, ethical and in good faith to recommend a good textbook for the learners in consideration to vastness and complexity of the aspects being covered.

The issues of cross culture communication have contributed towards exercising the perceptions for many students in North America and will definitely continue to do the same in the coming days. Developing cross-cultural communication is often a factor for developing problems that warrant the attention of linguists. Hence, all these factors among others have been developed in the book and better enhanced by the discussions for which the students are obliged to discuss. The content is equally well articulated for these kinds of students since they are known to enjoy as well as the eagerness for sharing information regarding their cultures. Through this open sharing, promotes an atmosphere of mutual respect and sharing.

Selection of appropriate vocabulary is equally a vital measure in guaranteeing a better understanding of the content. In some situations, idioms, phrases and expressions as well as graphics and images are used all with the end objective of getting the message delivered. Indeed, the students can then make creative imaginations besides being able to get answers to the activity discussions.

Skills and content is better integrated through the provided dialogues and model conversations. It is required that the conversations ought to be orally practiced by adopting the appropriate body language and gestures. The students are then required to engage in a dialogue and hence act out the model’s dialogue by using the right gestures. In more advanced scenarios, the students can attempt dialogues using different body language such as laughing or being serious and then discussing how such approaches change the meaning of words.

In addition, having a colorful cover page makes the book more appealing with faces representing the different world cultures. This is a commendable creative piece of art. There is, however, the need to have clearer words in some sections of the chapters. Also, the table of contents is well organized and written in large fonts hence it’s clear to the readers. On the coverage of diverse topics, the textbook has broadly covered matters of culture for North America. Within each outlined activity, there is a good explanation for the description of what the students are obliged to do. However, the paper used is a standard quality. Finally, this is facilitated by logically organized chapters by having a flow of ideas associated with social matters.


The textbook is basic detail design about an action plan for educating learners about the culture within the context of intermediate listening and speaking skills for North America. It particularly deals with a two cultural matrix for designing a learning course needed during the semester language course as well as the application of learning cycles in teaching culture. These frameworks are described in details and sample units provided within each framework.