EF – English Course Book Unit (SPEC)


EF English First is a global leader in English language learning, both online and face-to-face.


EF was developing a new intermediate EFL course book for small teen classes and wanted a news-themed unit, aligning with varied content and objectives from Common European Framework (CEFR) for language teaching. They needed engaging activities in spoken and written communication, listening, reading, and pronunciation – while also being adaptable for varying student maturity levels and teacher experience. The prototype needed to meet these specifications for standardized testing preparation and include all the target language:


Leveraging my English-teaching experience, I created a unit plan of four 2-hour lessons, each featuring dynamic, communicative activities. A large part of the writing project involved studying the specifications, mapping them out, and planning effective lesson sequences. After that, I created the following unit plan and fully developed key sections of the proposed course book unit:

Then I chose key lessons to fully develop and send to the designer for mockup. These included the student book lessons, corresponding teacher book pages (with answers included and teacher’s notes), and appendices.

Engaging Students:

To captivate diverse student groups, the unit starts with a quiz about students’ engagement with the news, encouraging peer discussion. It then transitions to a fictional podcast interview by a young journalist. In writing the podcast script, I aimed to draw teens into the topic by using a young journalism student as the interviewer, and an interviewee who speaks about how he got interested in the news as a teen.

Simplified, Teen-friendly Language:

The unit uses simple language and short sentences, maintaining the specified sixth-grade reading level (for non-native learners, this can be challenging). I avoided complex sentences and long paragraphs to keep students moving forward, using appealing text formats and topics. While this is content writing, I see crafting engaging course materials as a task much like copywriting. You are trying to speak to students in their language, addressing their wants and needs, and convince them to move forward and take the next step. It is not merely an informative and entertaining text (content).

Interactive Learning:

One of the communicative activities that I included was a role-play activity on a news event, teaching grammar and critical thinking at the same time. This practical approach helps students grasp advanced concepts more naturally, and it an be more effective than studying the grammar out of context. English teaching, like copywriting, must lead with a benefit. The benefit for the students is figuring out—together—the solution to a mystery, using the information cards. I discreetly included the grammar.

Teacher’s Book:

My teacher’s book integrated answers and concise, engaging teaching notes. Having a student book page on the left with answers and teacher’s notes on the facing page assists teachers in efficiently managing classroom activities. I also made an effort to “sell” teachers on the unit ahead, enhancing enthusiasm for—and comfort withthe topic of news and grammar for expressing levels of certainty about information.

Apart from solid EFL methodology, this project required understanding and presenting large amounts of information in a compelling way so that EF’s students would enjoy themselves and want to reach the learning objectives.

Teacher’s Book pages 1-2
Designer: Luke Tan
Teacher’s Book pages 3-4
Designer: Luke Tan
Teacher’s Book pages 5-6 (excerpt)
Designer: Luke Tan
Teacher’s Book pages 7-8 (excerpt)
Designer: Luke Tan
Pages 9-10 of Teacher's book copywriting mockup
Teacher’s Book pages 9-10
Designer: Luke Tan
Teacher’s Book pages 11-12 (excerpt)
Designer: Luke Tan
Teacher’s Book pages 13-14
Designer: Luke Tan
Student Book pages 1-2
Designer: Luke Tan
Student Book pages 3-4 (excerpt)
Designer: Luke Tan
Student Book pages 5-6 (excerpt)
Designer: Luke Tan