We're living in a technological age, with septuagenarians on the net, students glued to mobiles, five-year olds able to programme the class video more effectively than their teacher and communication by fax and e-mail ubiquitous, a fact which John Seely has taken into account in The Oxford Guide to Writing and Speaking.
Seely's book is intensely practical, concerned with the effective use of speech and writing in day-to-day business and academic life. Not only does Seely cover everything from the best way to write a job application to giving a presentation or chairing a meeting, but he also embraces modern technology, including in his opening section, Communicating in Everyday Life, simple guidelines for setting out faxes and e-mails. Rather than lamenting the widespread use of technology, Seely celebrates it, seeing in e-mails a return to the ancient tradition of communication by letter--it's just that ISDN lines and modems are faster than a runner and wax tablet, coach and horses or postman and bike.
His chapters on the English language, its development, grammar, vocabulary and spelling are a very handy reference source for A/S and A2 Level (the old A Level) English Language students--and their teachers! And, for those students beyond A2 Level, grappling with unwieldy arts dissertations or a plethora of lab results, Seely offers practical advice on how to go about planning, researching, writing, drafting and revising reports, papers and essays. There is no longer any excuse for not meeting a coursework or business report deadline. --Amanda Cameron