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Italian vogue

Parliamo Insieme Communication activities in Italian, By Julie Docker, Cambridge University Press, Pounds 8.95. 0 521 35656 3, Age range 16 plus

Developing fluency is an important aspect of modern language learning which demands meaningful contexts on several levels. Motivation is a key factor and it is vital that the materials and tasks are stimulating.

Parliamo Insieme aims to achieve this in Italian with post-16 and adult learners whose motivation is often easier to maintain than that of younger learners.

It comprises 21 units demanding increasing sophistication of language and concept, each divided into strutture, preparazione and attivita. Situations vary from dealing with everyday problems (La macchina in panne) to solving crimes (Giallo veneziano) and expressing one's own ideas and opinions. The index lays out the linguistic functions and grammar, and solutions to problem-solving activities are given at the end.

In each unit, the strutture section gives key structures, together with relevant vocabulary and grammar points. This is followed by activities for practising these in different contexts. Finally, the attivita offers sustained use of spoken language in that topic area, often with a suggested written follow-up.

Although there are certainly some interesting situations, other activities are somewhat dry and may fail to grasp the students' imagination. More visual stimulus would have improved the book, which is rather unadventurous in presentation.

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