Back in fashion with a vengeance

27th October 1995 at 00:00
FRENCH. ENCORE TRICOLORE 4 Age range 14 to 16 By Sylvia Honnor, Heather Mascie-Taylor and Alan Wesson Students' book 4. Pounds 8.25 0 17 439843 3 Teachers' book 4. Pounds 11.50 0 17 439844-1 Repromasters 4. Pounds 49. 99 0 17 439845 X

Cassette 1 Pounds 15.75. 0 17 439846-8 Cassette 2 Pounds 15.75. 0 17 439847 6 Cassette 3 Pounds 15.75. 0 17 439849 4 Cassette 4 Pounds 15.75. 0 17 439849 2 Nelson

They all eat snails and frogs' legs" was once the traditional classroom stereotype of the French, but as well as fighting against pupils' unyielding opinions on their cuisine, language teachers are now defending one of the world's most fashion-conscious nations against the accusation that they all wear bell-bottom trousers and Sandie Shaw hairstyles.

Resources become outdated with alarming speed, especially with teenagers as their critics, which is why it is so refreshing to see the publishers of Tricolore realising the need for constant up-dating of their coursebooks. With so much emphasis on communication it is imperative that the topics, ideas and photographs about which we expect pupils to communicate are relevant to their society and experience.

Encore Tricolore 4 addresses the grammar and topic areas for GCSE and Standard Grade exams, and can be used as an extension of its predecessors in the Tricolore series or started specifically for these exam courses. Many features of the previous Tricolore materials are retained in this colourful new course, but the contents have been updated and, complying with national guidelines, French is used as the language of classroom management and communication.

However, this course is not suited to pupils of low ability or reluctant learners of French. The recordings are too fast, the worksheets too complicated and the language too advanced to hold their attention without huge amounts of extra, simplified materials. But for pupils of average to high ability, the book provides a variety of appropriate activities, excellent extension materials, sound grammatical explanations and an introduction to examination-style work.

The pupils' book covers five wide topic areas (such Jeunes sans fronti res, Bon Voyage). Grammar points are highlighted in the Dossier Langue and relevant vocabulary listed in the Lexique. Reading materials are authentic and relevant to examination requirements, various writing tasks are suggested in the Dossier Personnel sections (to be filed as a collection of personal writing for reference and revision purposes) and listening materials are provided by scripted and unscripted recordings of French-speaking people from around the world.

The speaking activities prepare pupils well for oral assessments, and the book of Repromasters contains consolidation and extension work on all four skills.

Pupils can see at a glance the vocabulary and grammar areas covered so far in the "Now you canI" section at the end of each chapter and a personal progress record can be kept on the photocopiable achievement sheets. The grammar and vocabulary sections at the back of the book are complemented by simple poems and extracts from Le Petit Nicolas, which make up part of the Au Choix materials (useful for homework and reinforcement) and there is a useful and well-presented section on strategies and study skills, aimed at helping pupils to prepare for exams and to use the dictionary efficiently.

This is an up-beat course which presents people who look, sound and act like the teenagers of today; who wear personal stereos, eat in McDonald's and speak in le verlan. Pupils become involved in situations which they are likely to encounter and are presented with activities relevant to their own lives as well as to their acquisition of French.

Presumably, in years to come, some of this will become outdated too. But the willingness to move with the times, demonstrated by the revision of this course, suggests that the publishers will be ready for that when it happens.

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