Streamline English


 by Bernard Hartley & Peter Viney.


When Streamline was first published, credits were not generally given on textbooks, which is something I’ve always regretted. Nowadays, credits tend to be longer, approaching the extent of an album by ‘The Artist formerly known as Prince’. Let’s try and put it right now (though unlike Prince I won’t thank the Deity nor the person who made the tea). I’ve heard so many false rumours about who did what. These were the principal people involved.

ENGLISH IN ENGLAND (pilot edition at Anglo-Continental Educational Group):

 main artist: Paul Newman did the first 120 units (Departures, half of Connections), then Stephanie Miles took over.

Paul was an old friend. He was in my class at school between 11 and 16, and was working at ACSE in the recording studio. He later became an ELT teacher. He is now a well-known astrologer and writer on astrology.

Stephanie taught at ACSE, before marrying and moving to Copenhagen.

 typing / layout: Maggie (?). I can’t remember Maggie’s surname. She was great at working on layouts and spent happy hours on the Letraset.

 recording: Guy Wellman & Karen Viney did much of the serious acting and narration, with Peter Viney, Bernard Hartley, Alan Tankard, Sally Wellman and others doing roles. Peter Viney operated the tape-recorder and put on the sound effects and music. Alan did most of the stuff where phonology was crucial to the recording.

When we later did Speechwork, we discovered that Alan, Karen and John Forster had the ability to be absolutely consistent in four-phase drills, while Bernie’s voice gave confidence in all the instructions.

 comments: Everyone in the Elementary Studies department at ACSE commented as they taught. At one point, we’d finish a unit on Monday complete with teacher’s notes, Maggie would type it and label it on Tuesday, we’d do the tape on the same evening, Paul would illustrate it on Wednesday, it went straight to the photocopier and five people might teach it on Thursday.

Long-term teachers in the department included Karen Viney, Laurie Allen, Jane Deere, Liz Robbins, Neil Rogers, Ian McNair, Julie Hems, David Vale, Chris Owen, Brian Exley, Lauren Harvey. There were many others!

The material was used in all the schools in the ACEG group, and thanks are also due to the Directors of Studies at that time &emdash; Chris Goodchild (ACSE), Guy Wellman (Academia), John Curtin (ACSE &emdash; London), Alan McInnes (Interlink), Ken Tooke (Private Study Centre), Tony Lloyd (Nova School), Tony Woodcock (International School for Juniors).

While we were writing, we were heavily involved in preparation courses for the RSA (Cert TEFL) and were influenced by our colleagues as tutors &emdash; Chris Goodchild, Alan Tankard, Leo Jones, Patrick O’Shea, Laurie Allen, Roy Kingsbury.

I can’t speak for Bernie, but I’m sure he’d cite his main influence as Robert O’Neill. I would follow that, and add Colin Granger and Guy Wellman &emdash; my initial training at ACSE came in watching both of them teach. My first Director of Studies, Alan McInnes, impressed on me the importance of clear teacher’s notes.

In existing textbooks, we were impressed by the thoroughness and precision of L.G. Alexander, the contextualization skills and depth of thought of Robert O’Neill and the humour and lightness of touch of Colin Granger.Oh, and Access to English had … colour pictures. Which is why we went to Oxford University Press.


STREAMLINE ENGLISH Departures (first British edition), also Streamline English Connections and Destinations

 editor: Keith Rose for Departures, Connections and commissioning editor and first editor on Destinations. Keith left OUP after commenting on the 80 units of Destinations, so Michael Daniel replaced him for a short period, and finally Simon Murison-Bowie completed the editing. We had the benefit of three talented and highly experienced editors on one book.

 Directions was edited by Lesley Blundell. There were problems with the first impression and it was re-edited by Neil Butterfield.

 editorial manager: Simon Murison-Bowie.

 designer: Richard Morris. Richard came to watch Bernard and me teaching the pilot version so that he could understand our insistence on separating text from visuals. He sat through a day of classes, went away, and produced a book renowned for the clarity of its layout as well as for the quality of illustration. And the white box on the back cover is the exact size of a mask that will cover a full column of text.

recording producer: Terry O’Neill. It’s hard to recall recording sessions, though both Bernie and I were present throughout , but I remember that only five actors took part (three men, two women) and that all sound effects and incidental music were put on ‘live’ in real time. Nigel Anthony is the actor I remember best, because I have worked with him so many times since. Connections used the same format, though I only recall Nigel doing both. The Yes / No Contest (Connections, unit 33) took half a day as Terry insisted that we take the line ‘You’ve got thirty seconds …’ completely literally. It is exactly 30 seconds.

artists: This was the first book to use multiple artists, but Paddy Mounter is the one people remember as ‘the Streamline artist’ (one of twelve, in fact)


designer: Shireen Nathoo (the start of a very long association)

editors: Keith Rose, with assistance from Cristina Whitecross and Susanna Harsanyi.



The pilot edition was used for nearly two years before publication. Everything was illustrated with cartoons, and in those pre-computer days labelled with Letraset (a big deal then). Everything was recorded with music and sound effects, and some units were even filmed on monochrome U-Matic videotape. For example, I acted out "I Love You, Fiona" with Karen, and ‘An English Restaurant’ with Chris Owen.


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 The Streamline English Page



'English in England'

Paul Newman illustration from 'English in England'

This is an example of a well-known unit, Departures unit 47, ‘Willy the Kid’. You can see the pilot version, drawn by Paul Newman, and the published version.

Will The Kid



Of course, they’re very similar in style.


I’ve heard a lot of stories about how Streamline was presented for publication.

Yes, Streamline was rejected by Longman. They were very good about it &emdash; they had Mainline Beginners, Starting Strategies and Kernel One in the pipeline and didn’t need a fourth beginners’ book. They offered us other work, and they told us to come back if we hadn’t found a publisher in eighteen months. We had no complaints at all. They were clear, honest and helpful. Thanks.

The pilot was accepted by Cambridge University Press, and we even received a contract for six levels under the title The Cambridge English Course 1 to 6 ! Apologies are due here. We pulled out late because we got a better offer.

Oxford got it at the very last moment, and their trump card was the offer of colour, which we had been holding out for. Keith Rose came down to see us within 24 hours of contacting us and was very persuasive. They could only offer one level (and that was as 80 units, not our planned 120 units), but colour was what we wanted.

There’s another urban legend, that Streamline was submitted as handwritten copy. Not true at all. It was printed, using plain, bold, italic and handwriting golf balls, letraset and black and white illustrations. The basis of the legend comes during writing Destinations, where the later units were handwritten (in print script) because the design process preferred not to wait an additional week for typing. This was before the days of word processors.


OUP’s initial title was Express English, and the cover was designed with this in mind (hence the retro train). Press adverts used the title. A London school had an internal course under the same title and threatened OUP with an injunction to halt publication. Though we were advised we would win any court case, it was decided that a delay would be disastrous. A group of editors sat around with the finished, very expensive cover design and racked their brains to come up with a title to match the cover. Streamline was obvious. I think Simon chose it. We hated it at first, but within days it was just the name of the book.


It was used with multilingual and monolingual groups, and with adults, teeagers, professionals, short courses and long courses. We estimated that between 2000 and 3000 students used it before it was published.

In the trial period, the groups changed constantly due to different contracts. There was a huge range of nationalities, and I have no access to any statistics. It was used (at least) with monolingual groups on specialized courses from Venezuela, Japan, Algeria, Canada (Quebec), Qatar, Libya, Oman.

In the multingual groups, the largest numbers were from among these countries:

Mexico, Switzerland ( German-speaking, French-speaking, Italian-speaking), Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Venezuela, Algeria, Iran, Libya.

There were significant numbers also from Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea and Finland.

In fact, the countries where it has been most popular since publication are probably Spain, Japan, France, Belgium, Greece, Argentina and Mexico. We had been asked to guess where it would sell most and we said Brazil, Mexico and Germany. For some reason it has never sold particularly well in Germany, although some of the most enthusiastic users in the pilot stage were German. We were told ‘it wasn’t serious enough’ &emdash; but this was completely wrong for the many Germans we taught!


Is it true that Connections originally had a yellow cover?

No. Connections cover was printed up in dark green, light green and yellow. Everyone looked and chose dark green immediately. I had the yellow sample and Bernie had the light green sample. We stuck them on top of other copies so that we could distinguish our copies in the staffroom! So, I may have been seen teaching from a yellow one.

  Proto-type Connections

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