Modern reading materials in German are in short supply and Heinemann's collection Lesezeichen is one of a recent range of publications beginning to appear on the market. It is designed to complement Auf Deutsch, but the series can easily be used alongside any course book.
The national curriculum requires pupils to have access to a range of reading materials so that they can develop independent reading skills. It is tempting but inappropriate to resurrect those old readers at the back of the stock cupboard, because today's discerning pupils demand attractive materials with colour graphics and accessible German.
Lesezeichen is ideal in these respects. Pack A has readers of two levels of difficulty corresponding to levels 3 and 4 of the national curriculum, therefore covering the first two or three years of language learning. The texts include fiction, factual writing and even poetry, all clearly printed using a variety of type face and script. Help with vocabulary is given at the bottom of each page, rather than in a glossary at the back, so that pupils can get on with reading the story.
Each story has a Rueckblick on the final page which checks comprehension through a quiz or matching activity. This check, together with an optional sheet provided in the teacher's notes, which asks for a brief opinion on each story, encourages the pupil to reflect for a few moments on what has been read, rather than rushing on to the next story. The stories are short, ideal for those with a limited concentration span, but a few minutes' reading only for more able students.
Lesezeichen Pack B, covering levels 5 and 6, is due in the summer. For those wishing to establish a regular reading programme in key stage 3 rather than the occasional lessons using readers, investment in both packs is a sensible first step. This may encourage the publishers to produce more packs as pupils go through such attractive material at a great speed.
Nuala Leyden is head of languages at Carlton le Willows comprehensive school, Nottingham.