Authentic flavour

20th October 2000 at 01:00
KLASSE! By Corinna Schicker and Sheila Brighten. Students' book pound;8. Workbook pound;2.20. Copymaster pound;35 Teacher's book pound;25. Oxford University Press

LOGO!2. By Anna Lise Gordon and Harriette Lanzer. Resource and Assessment file pound;72.99. Pupils' books 1 and 2 pound;8.99. Evaluation pack pound;89.99. Cassette pound;50.99. Heinemann

As German departments adjust to the revised national curriculum and new GCSE specifications, many will be looking for a coursebook to help them develop new approaches.

Both Logo and Klasse! are well-planned, attractively-presented courses, where each unit of work has a clear focus and the importance of differentiation and progression is recognised. Each is in three parts and suitable for the full ability range, with the standard students' book backed up by a wealth of additional materials. Logo 1 and 2 are currently available, with Logo 3 due for publication next summer in the form of two parallel books to cater for different abilities. Klasse! 1 has just been published, and Klasse! 2 will follow next year.

Both courses offer a colourful, clearly set-out pupils' book, which makes good use of photographs, cartoons and e-mails. Both are based loosely on the activities of a group of teenagers. Logo has die Kolner Clique. Klasse! features friends who live in Wesel and photographs of them at home and in the town add authenticity. Wesel's website is likely to become a much-visited one. Clear statements in English also tell students what they are learning at each stage.

A new departure is that the two courses offer student workbooks as well as the traditional worksheets. The Klasse! workbook gives additional practice in all four skills and listening material is recorded on a separate cassette, which can be copied for pupils to encourage independent learning. Logo has two parallel workbooks which focus on reading nd writing skills at different levels. Heft A contains reinforcement tasks, while Heft B covers the same material, but gives less support and includes extension tasks to challenge more able pupils. These will be invaluable for mixed-ability classes and for setted groups. Differentiation is also explicit in both students' books, with clearly signalled extension activities.

A key feature of both courses is a clear grammatical progression. New structures are highlighted and explained in the units of work and a grammar reference section at the end of the book gives more detailed explanations in clear and simple English together with practice exercises.

The practical back-up for teachers is impressive in both Klasse! and Logo, both in terms of classroom teaching and record-keeping. Teacher's handbooks are clearly set out and regular assessments are referenced to the national curriculum. Klasse! even offers a Coursemaster disk with a detailed scheme of work, closely following the model of the QCA key stage 3 scheme published this summer. ICT applications are a feature of both courses, with text files available for use in class.

Although Klasse! and Logo take a broadly similar approach, each course has a strong individual identity. On balance, in my present school, where mixed ability classes are the norm, I would opt for the clear presentation and authentic flavour of Klasse! It makes a strong visual appeal, would capture students' interest and has plenty of extension activities for the more able. In my previous school, where setted classes followed broadly similar courses to allow students to move up or down at any time, I would probably have chosen Logo for its differentiated workbooks and parallel students' books in the later stages.

Gill Maynard is a teacher of German and French at The Sandon School, Essex

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