The NorthStar series is based on current research in language acquisition and on the experiences of teachers and curriculum designers. Five principles guide the NorthStar approach.


  1. The more profoundly students are stimulated intellectually and emotionally, the more language they will use and retain.
  2. The thematic organization of Northstar promotes intellectual and emotional engagement. The 50 sophisticated themes in Northstar provide intriguing topics such as recycled fashion, restorative justice, personal carbon footprints, and microfinance. The authentic content engages students, links them to language use outside of the classroom, and encourages personal expression.

  3. Language learners need and want to learn both the form and content of the language.

    Grammar, vocabulary and culture are inextricably woven into the content in the units, providing students with systematic and multiple exposures to form in a variety of contexts as the theme is developed. Students are motivated to express complex thoughts using a higher level of language.

  4. Successful students are active learners.

    Tasks are designed to be creative, active, and varied. Topics are interesting and up-to-date. Together these tasks and topics (1) allow teachers to bring the outside world into the classroom and (2) motivate students to apply their classroom learning in the outside world.

  5. Language learners need feedback on both form and content.

    This feedback comes naturally when students work together practicing language and participating in open-ended opinion and inference tasks. Whole class activities invite teachers’ feedback on the spot or via audio/video recordings or notes. The innovative new MyNorthstarLab gives learners immediate feedback as they complete computer-graded language activities online; it also gives learners the opportunity to submit their productive work electronically to their instructor for feedback later.

  6. The quality of relationships in the classroom is important, particularly in a language class where students are asked to express themselves on issues and ideas.

    The information and activities in NorthStar promote genuine interaction, acceptance of differences, and authentic communication. By building skills and exploring ideas, the exercises help students participate in discussions and write essays of an increasingly more complex and sophisticated nature.

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