Loving London by Angela Tomkinson is an A2 level reader for teens. It provides 26 short texts on London (alphabetical), covering a whole range of topics (see image). Each text includes a short after-reading activity, and there are audio recordings available should the teacher wish to adapt the task into a listening.
If you’ve ever worked at a UK summer school which offers excursions to London, this is EXACTLY the book you are looking for. Every summer school I worked at around the South Coast offered ‘link lessons’ before day trips to famous places or landmarks, with London being top of the list. This resource offers a great snapshot of culture, sport, food, people, art and plenty of other topics related to the Big Smoke and the UK as a whole.
Texts are visually engaging and very accessible. Despite the graded language (800 Headwords/A2/KET) content could still be adapted for higher levels or used for strategy development (scanning tasks, understanding meaning from context if you hide the glossaries provided, etc). The post-reading tasks are often short but this allows for greater focus on the content itself rather than testing comprehension. The activities themselves are varied – there are vocabulary tasks, general comprehension activities, personal response tasks and discussion questions. I particularly like the more creative tasks, like this one in response to the text on museums:
Yes, this book is on a fairly specific topic so the target audience is limited. However, in my experience of summer school teaching I feel there is clearly a place for it (it was first published in 2014). Exploring British Culture (which I’ve used in various schools) has its place and covers other bases, but Loving London is a really varied, interesting and up-to-date resource that I feel learners would respond to better.
How I would probably use this text
Years ago I posted an idea for introducing British history. I can see this resource working in a similar way – learners are given a text each and they become the ‘expert’ on this topic in an information exchange with classmates. You could enlarge these pages (I do kind of wish the book was A4 size), display them around the room and make a quiz using the information. It would also be a good text for reading around a topic for homework. If tech was available in class, I’d get learners to choose a story they like, read it at home, then make a short flipgrid video explaining what they found interesting and what they’d still like to find out. Their questions could form the basis of a research-based lesson – perhaps suited to a summer school context.
My favourite section
Writers. I like the choice of authors and this is a good springboard for research/biographies, etc.
What could improve
Well, if you’re being picky then the book is very ‘London’s great!’. The topics covered are pretty safe, but that’s not a major issue for me.
ELT Planning rating: 4.5/5