In a class of its own;Secondary;Modern Languages;Reviews;Books

5th March 1999 at 00:00
EUROSKOP CAMBRIDGE EXPRESS GERMAN. By Paul Webster and Jorg Jahn. Cambridge University Press Student's book pound;13.50. Teacher's book pound;39.95. Set of 4 cassettes (including 1 homework cassette)pound;55 + VAT.

Euroskop is the second part of the two-year Cambridge Express German course for students learning German as a second foreign language in two or three years to GCSE or Standard Grade.

Whereas the first part, Klassentreffen, used the school as the focal point, Euroskop deals with the outside world, mainly German-speaking Europe, and the future lives of the students. The title refers to a fictional magazine, to which students can contribute as reporters.

As in Klassentreffen there are several features that set this course apart from its competitors.

First, the context of a mag-azine for young people provides a purposeful setting for the treat-ment of familiar topics, which are researched by interviews and presented as articles, using appropriate information tech-nology techniques. The process-ing of this material engages learners in the active integration of the four skills, while simul-taneously covering a large and demanding body of vocabulary and structure. The sheer diver-sity of exploitation ensures that no two units have the same "feel", and that learners' com-municative ability and gram-matical knowledge are fully extended through a wide range of traditional grammar exercises and more applied skills. Model interviews, surveys and articles are reworked by learners into their own magazine.

The provision of listening items on a Schularbeitskassette enables learners to make notes at home before, for example, correcting a transcript in class, crossing out incorrect words and spotting additional information. Many of the exercises go beyond mere practice level, involving definitions and synonyms, speculation (who probably said something, possible answers, as well as right and wrong), thus stimulating reflective thought.

There are mistakes, typo-graphical errors, odd omissions and inconsistency, but these are compensated by the many pluses of this innovative and intelligent course. It is bang up to date, with computer lang-uage, teenage slang (affengeil, anquatschen, Schreckschraube) and completely Rechtschreib-reform-compliant (Um wie viel UhrI?, dass, heute Abend).

Not a course for the average learner but one which, through its adult approach, encourages autonomy, creativity, cultural awareness and a high standard of linguistic competence.

Nigel Norman is lecturer in education at the University of Wales, Swansea

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