The Book

Cindy Walker (20) lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and studies psychology at the university in Durham. Her life seems perfect: She loves her beautiful town, her studies and her friends. Especially the weekends are joyful, because then she meets Jim, her boyfriend. Her long time relationship is all the more important as at home she did not discover an ideal world. Her parents are divorced and although she forgave her father, who left the family three years ago, there are still problems emerging with Susie, Cindy’s little sister. Susie cannot forgive…

As Part 1 opens, Cindy’s world is looking good. But soon Cindy takes a fateful turn: Her car breaks down and nobody is able to help her. Nobody but Don, the Native American who has just moved into Cindy’s neighborhood.

Description of the themes touched upon in this book

Learning Tenses With Cindy is a realistic, critical textbook which does not hesitate to address personal, social and political issues including the full spectrum of everyday problems experienced in our families, schools and societies. Because the book ventures into areas neglected by other schoolbooks, the readers find themselves identifying very powerfully with the main characters as they fall in love, break up with old partners, want to drop out of school, deal with savage bullies and alcoholic parents and explore themes like forgiveness and sexual orientation, to name only a few of the situations the reader will encounter. Clearly, there is something for everyone in this book, and what’s more, there is no end to the story – like a real soap-opera, it goes on and on, and the readers can write their own endings!

Didactic Purposes

Learning Tenses With Cindy is much more than just an effective and fun way to learn and/or refresh English tenses. This book not only deals with current political and social problems in the world but is also focused on the needs and the interests of the students working with it.

In order to grasp the complexity and diversity of Learning Tenses With Cindy, I would like you to invite you to get to know the different dimensions of this book.

I would like to begin by looking at the quality of this textbook from an educational point of view. The most important aspect here is the revolutionary idea behind the book: teaching tenses easily and effectively, while, at the same time, dramatically changing the way English grammar is taught. In the next paragraphs, I will give you some quick insights into the contents of the book and give you the opportunity to read what other students have said about this book.

We wish you lots of fun with Cindy!

Why is Learning Tenses with Cindy a valuable educational tool?

When you hold the book in your hands and look at how it is organised, you will notice that the units are all structured in the same way, assuring a sense of continuity for the users of the book. At the same time, you will see that this book is a mixture of soap opera, mystery story and social criticism. The characters of the story, the experiences they have and the social setting in which they live their lives invite the readers to reflect on their own positions with regard to topics like the death penalty in the U.S.A., or terrorism, to name just a few of the social and political problems the readers encounter in this book.

Furthermore, the book leaves a lot of space for the readers to come to terms with themselves, their fellow students, their parents and their teachers. The book enters the world of the students – their problems, their preoccupations – and provides them with many opportunities to examine their own lives, while, at the same time, improving their English as they do the grammar and creative -writing exercises, have class discussions or do a role play. The emphasis is on living the language, not only learning to use it correctly.

This idea of living the language is a main feature of the book and the main goal of its author, Beatrix Loghin. She wants to encourage the students to feel and experience English as they do their native language. And because she has written her book in a way that is easy to understand, we think that she has succeeded!

What makes Cindy a revolutionary book?

Only a cursory glance at the textbooks currently in use in German schools today demonstrates that they are ill-suited to today’s learners. These textbooks are often outdated; furthermore, textbooks and workbooks do not fit together, with little or no thematic connection to integrate them into a whole. Against this background, it becomes all the more apparent that Learning Tenses With Cindy can serve as a bridge.

Although this book is mainly focused on teaching English tenses and expanding the learners' vocabulary, it provides so many different themes that teachers working with it can easily create new exercises and contexts for additional learning.

A further revolutionary aspect of this book concerns the role of the teacher. The students with their needs, skills and interests are the center of attention. So, while the book is focused on improving the students’ language skills, it is also, at the same time, focused on stimulating the personal growth and development of each student by providing different types of exercises (like journal writing, making collages of the different units, giving oral reports or role-playing) intended to engage different types of learners (visual, verbal, etc.) operating at very different academic levels. For this reason, the exercises in the book range from very elementary to advanced level.

Again and again, the activities in the book encourage the students to develop a sense of partnership with their classmates; partner and group work are included in each unit, with the aim of fostering a sense of togetherness within the class. Teachers working with this book will quickly notice that the physical environment in the classroom is important: letting the students sit in a big circle or square is a pre-condition for working with this book.