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Beck, A., Bennet, P., & Wall, P. Communication studies: the essential introduction. London/New York: Routledge, 2002. 261 p. ISBN 0-415-24751-9. 45 (hbk); $14.50 (pbk)

The essential introduction to communication studies is written by the Chief Examiner for 'A' level of communication studies Andrew Beck, the Chief Examiner for 'AS' level communication studies Peter Bennett, and by the Chair of Examiners for 'AEB' media studies A level Peter Wall. They have created a fully comprehensive textbook that includes all aspects of communication studies for students in British high schools. The use of the textbook does not require any initial knowledge and helps to develop skills of understanding and analysing different communication texts. The authors use the everyday experience of the students and widely accessible media material to develop gradually theoretical understanding of different communication phenomena. The chapter on intrapersonal communication will capture the attention of many young people by presentation of interesting psychological issues of the self. The chapter on interpersonal communication explores language and non-verbal means of communication. The material on group communication blends everyday experience with theoretical insights. The awareness of particular features of mass media texts is enhanced through presentation of a wide range of media messages. These texts are selected having in mind the interests and environment of the young readers of the book. The authors succeed in providing the essential links between different levels of communication and building a holistic picture of human communication activities.

The textbook explains process and semiotic approaches to communication studies, and presents the essential models of communication. At the same time, the practical tasks allow the students to develop basic skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking, writing, etc. The tasks set for the students are inventive, and stimulate critical thinking and creativeness. The organisation of the material in the book is coherent. It sets the context for communication studies and step-by-step introduces all basic elements. At the same time, it is flexible enough and provides the possibility to study separate chapters in a preferred sequence.

The whole range of knowledge is presented in the light of learning and acquiring the skills necessary to pass the examinations. Being teachers, examiners and scholars, the authors of the book know the specific features of this particular examination and provide helpful recommendations and instructions, stress the main aspects and requirements for learning and examination throughout the book. The last part of the book is very useful from this point of view. It explains how to apply the communication skills developed throughout the course to pass the examination. In fact this part might be very useful to students preparing for an examination in any subject. The teachers of different subjects also may find useful ideas and insights how to help their students to cope with examination stress.

The textbook is pragmatically oriented towards the needs of the students of the British schools. This is its unique strength. At the same time, most of the text is general enough to allow use of the textbook in other English speaking countries.

Dr. Elena Macevičiūtė
Swedish School of Information and Library Science
Högskolan i Borås
June 2002