Add a personal touch

20th October 2000 at 01:00
SCHAUPLATZ. By Alistair Brien, Sharon Brien, Colin Christie and Heike Schommartz. Students' Book pound;16.99. Teacher's Book pound;39. Heinemann

NEUE AUSSICHTEN ETAPPEN. By Jeannie Mc Neill, Judith Ram Prassad and Steve Williams. Students' Book pound;12.99. Teacher's Book pound;29.99. Cassettes pound;29.99 + VAT. Hodder amp; Stoughton

With the arrival of the revised ASA2-level in modern foreign languages, these two courses are timely in addressing the post-16 specifications.

Neue Aussichten is a new two-stage course. Etappen is the first of these and aims to take care of the transition from GCSE to AS-level. The student's book is based on six units, each grouped around a series of linked topics and themes. In each case, a GCSE-level subject is taken as a point of departure. Later texts then extend the coverage in a more mature and demanding fashion. For example, work on personal identification and everyday life is built on to include feelings, relationships and issues concerning the environment. Other topics, including multiculturalism, information technology, professional life and art are treated in a similar manner.

The texts are authentic, recent and bound to stimulate interest. A range of photos, cartoons and diagrams in colour make for an appealing format. Accompanying exercises are designed to involve the student in the topic rather than simply act as a linguistic exercise. The taped material complements the various themes and is clearly recorded.

The teacher's handbook offers everything that could be expected to help exploitation of the material. There are project planning, exercise solutions and full tape tanscripts. The book also includes further role-play and discussion prompts. A feature of Etappen is the way it addresses exam requirements. Each unit is presented in terms of vocabulary, functions and grammar-focus.

There are also mapping grids of how the course units cover each of the exam board specifications.

Schauplatz takes a different approach. Work for AS and A-level is condensed into one book. In fact, it begins with a transition section aimed at consolidating GCSE grammar and language skills. A series of mini-topics are chosen which integrate language structure and vocabulary with new learning skills. The AS section deals with more sophisticated topics and more complex language and begins to develop study and examination skills. In the A2 section, more challenging materials aim to equip students with the necessary knowledge to meet the standards of the new A-level exams.

The students' book is quite dense but care has been taken to make each page visually appealing. Exercises are presented in a variety of formats. Literature features in the AS section and there are some well-chosen texts and poems. These could link well with other material from the teacher. Cassettes are well recorded.

However, both courses adopt a rather dry approach to listening material. It is a pity that more use is not made of music, publicity and drama, as they link so directly with youth culture.

Both these courses offer a refreshing approach to advanced German. The distinct formats will attract teachers according to their particular teaching contexts. Each is an exciting way to study German post-16.

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