An argument for expressing an opinion in German

13th September 2007 at 01:00

PAB MAL AUF! By Richard Marsden John Murray. Book Pounds 7.50 Two cassettes Pounds 24+VAT Ages 14-16-plus.

PaB mal auf! is a book and cassette resource designed for listening practice at GCSE and Standard Grade. It covers 27 situations based on recordings of authentic conversations between native speakers and introduces a wide range of up-to-date topics, that generate real debate on issues close to young people. The quality of recording is high, diction is clear and in a variety of accents, although at natural speed, and in general the background noise does not obtrude.

There is a refreshing relevance and maturity about the choice of topics such as healthy eating, animal rights and the gender debate. They apply well to national curriculum areas of experience and GCSE topic areas and also provide valuable material for the ever-problematic transition from GCSE and Standard Grade to A-level and Higher Grade. The intrinsic interest of the issues, together with the progressive introduction of more advanced vocabulary and appropriate structure will contribute much to the improvement of a perennial problem in language at this level: the expression of opinion.

The supporting book, which has a convenient double-page format, provides essential vocabulary and exercises that establish comprehension and extension in three stages: before, during and after listening. This means the passages have to be re-played several times, focusing the learner's attention on specific items and genuinely training listening skills. Individual study is clearly the most suitable mode here.

The activities range from simple vocabulary recognition, true-or-false questions, sequencing and gap-filling, to cultural background, vocabulary-building, comprehension and translation sentences, and personalisation. Some of the post-listening tasks, designed to develop speaking and writing, do not, however, fulfil the promise of the main exercises and require more structuring. Transcripts are provided, so teachers will need to decide how to use them.

This is an interesting resource, suited to the able GCSE and sixth-form pupil. Its adult approach and structured development of opinion-building will ensure its appeal in a much-needed area.

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