New American Streamline Article by Peter Viney

We started thinking about revising Streamline in the mid-1980s. Initially, we planned to revise Streamline English, the British edition, first. During my tours I interviewed many, many teachers about what sort of changes they would like in a new edition. In Japan and Brazil, we gave out questionnaires and asked teachers to rank the 80 units of Departures and Connections from (5) - excellent to (1) would like a replacement. It was found that Deapartures was hardly worth changing! It received high scores almost throughout. Connections scored very high for some units, but there was a core of less popular units. Bernard and I worked on a revised edition of Connections for almost a year, including a new Teacher's Book, but then the project was shelved by OUP (and never since revived).In Spain last year, I spent two hours surrounded by teachers asking the same question: Why don't you revise Streamline English? The answer is that I would like to. I think we should. But it's not my decision! However, American Streamline is a much happier story.

American Streamline Car
New American Streamline Car

A few years later, we met with Roy Gilbert of OUP, New York to discuss revising American Streamline. We decided to avoid all discussion and disagreement on what to change by conducting a comprehensive survey of users. Roy organized this. Teachers had to rank all 80 units of Departures and Connections from (1) - favorite to (80) least favorite! A huge number of teachers agreed to do this. We had already agreed that the bottom ranking units in each book would be changed, regardless of our personal opinions. For example, Departures 12, a favorite of mine scored low. It was changed. All the 'Letters from Mexico' were changed and replaced by units which stimulate conversation in class. We also decided to change some units regardless of their ranking, because we felt they could be improved. An example was Departures unit 50, which achieved a medium-ranking, but none of us liked it especially.


Completely New Units in

 5B It's Late
  8 Uniforms
 12 Computer Games
 18 Which One?
 20 Our town
 35 Karaoke
 40 Lost in Niagra Falls
 42 Where were you?
 50 Fifth Avenue
 53 Twins
 54 Dinner With A Star
 57 Pictures from the Past
 58 Miami Police Squad
 59 Personal History
 68 Dr Finkel's Invention
 70 The Trivia Game
 71 CN Tower
 72 I'll Do It!
 76 An Electronic World?
 77 Battle of The Bands

Old & New Departures Unit 50


American Streamline Departures Unit 50 "Sleeping Beauty" and New American Streamline Departures Unit 50 "Fifth Avenue". The new unit looks better, is funnier and has a very funny tape recording.

In Connections, several of the revised units were based on ideas we had had for the earlier British revised edition, which was scrapped. e.g. It Happened To Me, Everybody's in A Hurry, A Trip to The Old Country, Together Again.

Unit 16, A Traffic Survey, was a return closer to the British first edition. For the original US edition we were told 'This doesn't work. US cities don't have traffic problems.' Having spent many hours amid traffic problems in the US and Canada, I decided that it should be re-instated, this time based on Toronto. (We were insistent that there should be a significant number of Canadian locations in the new edition - note Lost in Niagara Falls, The CN Tower and A Traffic Survey among others). By the way, my favorite unit in the new edition is 59 Reservations where a rock band's manager is trying to book them into a hotel where they stayed the year before. First he tries by phone, then by a very formal lettter!


Connections Unit 70

This is New American Connections unit 70, Eating Out. The pictures have been replaced by much more useful menus (for interactive work) and a Listening exercise has been added for each menu.

Completely New Units in Connections



  5 Waiting for a Friend
  7 Good Luck Waldo
  8 It Happened To Me
  9 Superstar
 16 A Traffic Survey
 19 Everybody's In A Hurry
 24 A Trip to the old country
 30 Together Again
 37 Opinions
 39 Awards for Bravery / Congratulations
 40 Milestones
 45 Operation Diamond
 55 Breakfast Blues
 57 Please Help
 59 Reservations
 64 Where is it made?
 70 Eating Out
 73 Far Trek
 80 Hopes and plans

Completely New Units in

  5 The Romance Connection
 10 At Home With the Baldwins
 11 Sounding Polite
 13 Money
 17 Earth day
 22 A Sparkling Camp
 26 Call in, you're on the air
 30 What really happened to Marilyn    Monroe
 34 Beach Watch
 35 Glacier Watch (based on a genuine    trip Karen and I made to a glacier in    Alaska!)
 44 New Year's Eve
 50 Relatives
 51 Describing things
 53 Presidential Debate
 62 The Company Picnic
 65 Visual Gossip
 69 The microchip revolution
 73 Getting in Shape
 76 Giving Peace A Chance
 79 Divided by a common language


  Destinations Unit 1


New American Streamline Destinations Unit 1, Arrivals page 1

Irene Frankel revised Destinations, as by this stage I was heavily involved with Handshake. I helped out in a few places.

> All-color and new illustrations

We also decided to go for all-color throughout. this meant re-illustrating units which we were largely satisfied with in other ways. Though we loved the original, we wanted to vary the styles even more. In this example we used computer-generated drawings to give a modern feel.

  New & Old Departures 2B

Illustrations from New American Streamline Unit 2B superimposed over their counterparts from American Streamline Unit 2B

New American Streamline Departures Unit 4A and American Streamline Departures 4A. We wanted to retain, and if possible accent the humour of the first edition. The hotel in unit 4A has been re-located, with Gothic horror movie workers! New & Old Departures 4A

You can see some other changes here. Often we found that word from the British edition had stayed the same in the US first edition because the word also exsisted in US English. The example here is receptionist. We thought desk clerk was more frequent. We also wanted to lose the few gender-marked words left in the original, so that bellman became bell captain (a promotion too!).



> Improved dialogs

 For the original version of American Streamline we used an American author to Americanize our dialogs. We have always specialized in simple dialog writing, and often the American versions were longer and lost our direct short sentences. By the time we came to work on New American Streamline I had been involved with adaptations of nine books, eighteen workbooks and nine teacher's books into American English with co-writers. I had traveled extensively in the USA and Canada, and had done training sessions with American teachers all over Japan and Mexico. My degrees are in American Studies (BA) and American Literature (MA). When I started teaching English, after years of American Studies I found American spelling came first, and I was constantly writing 'honor' and 'center' on the board. Nowadays spelling is the least of the problems. All you do is switch your word processor's spellcheck from 'English (UK)' to 'English (US)'. I felt confident that I could do the new version myself with the help of a good editor in New York. Instead of a good editor I got a GREAT editor in Ken Mencz. Nearly every dialog in the series was changed in subtle ways - sometimes getting closer to our original British edition. Other times, it was changed more. For example, one British original dialog had Here you are. This exists in US English so it was transferred to the US first edition. But There you go is vastly more frequent in US English, and whereas adaptors are nervous about changing too much, I was able to change more! In fact, over the last ten years There you go has crossed the Atlantic, and is also more frequent in British English.

> Listening Skills

 Listening exercises have been added to Connections and Destinations. This is an example from the new Connections unit 5, Waiting For A Friend. As well as the new dialog, there is a Listening for Specific Information at the end.

Connections Unit 5



> Functional units

In the first edition, there were a series of lessons called Everyday conversations. These consisted of useful short functional dialogs. In Departures these were not arranged thematically, though in Connections they were grouped into thematic areas. One general change was to introduce thematic groupings in Departures.

These are the new groupings:

Requests (unit 7)
Choices (unit 15)
Travel (unit 19)
Shopping (unit 23)
Asking for Assistance (unit 31)
Leisure Time (unit 39)
Personal Information (unit 41)
Talking about the past (unit 51)
Telephoning (unit 59)
What have you done? (unit 63)
Comparing things (unit 73)
Special occasions (unit 79)


We also reduced the dialogs from four to three, and added a communication task in place of the fourth dialog. We also enhanced the appearance of the cues for substitution.



Original American Streamline Departures unit 39 Everyday conversation


New American Streamline Departures, unit 39 Leisure time

New & Old Departures Unit 39


> More classroom communication


When we replaced the series of letters, we substituted lessons designed to promote oral discussion or a great deal of paired conversation. Here's an example:

New American Streamline Departures, unit 40, Lost in Niagra Falls

Departures Unit 40 Enlarge

> More comedy?


Departures Unit 42


Unit 42 Where were you?

A frequent request was for "more funny units". We had to be careful here. People remember Streamline for the humor, but in fact a large number of lessons were not funny at all. We felt strongly that if every unit became "funny" the humor would be relentless, and ultimately boring. Even so, we did try to add a few more humorous units. Without looking at the dialogs, these pictures will give an idea of some of the new contexts!
Departures Unit 72


Unit 72 I'll Do It This was based on The Simpsons!

> Unchanged units

Several teachers wrote on their questionnaires, "Please don't change unit ………" We followed these requests. the following units were the most popular in the survey. We left them completely alone!


The three most popular units in the survey were:


Willy The Kid (47)
On The Moon (61)
I Love You Jacqueline (30)

In the last example we DID change the title (as it one of the two surviving black & white pictures) to A Scene From A Movie


The three most popular units in the survey were:


The Yes / No Contest (33)
Choosing A Pet (27)
A Science-Fiction Story (12)

Actually, neither Bernard nor I placed Choosing A Pet highly in our lists, but it was the second-most popular. Paddy Mounter's art work is brilliant. That's why.


The three most popular units in the survey were:


Murder in New Orleans (25)
Noisy neighbors (unit 21)
What would you have done? (37)
> Compact disc available


The recordings were redone completely, and are now available on compact disc as well as audio tape.

Peter Viney's article 'Why Use CDs in Class'


> Workbooks / Teacher's Books


These were revised by Tim Falla, who had edited Grapevine II and Grapevine III. One of his tasks was to incorporate suggestions from the supplement American Streamline Teacher's Extras into the body of the teaching notes.



New American Streamline Page    American Streamline Page


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