Bridges to Russia

7th March 1997 at 00:00
NOVAYA ISKRA -1: NUFFIELD RUSSIAN PROJECT John Murray Pupil's Book Pounds 11.99 Teacher's Book Pounds 35 Cassette Pack Pounds 35

TRANZIT A Bridge to Advanced Russian Language Studies By Daphne West and Michael Ransome Bramcote Press, 27 Seven Oaks Crescent, Nottingham NG9 3FW Pounds 11.95. Cassette Pounds 15.95

RUSSIAN LANGUAGE AND PEOPLE New Edition By Terry Culhane and Roy Bivon BBC Books Pounds 13.99 + cassette pack Russian Motion Verbs for Intermediate Students By William J Mahota Yale University Press Pounds 11.95

Philip Hood assesses the latest packs that aim to help students learn Russian

The New Iskra volume 3 emerged last summer to a warm welcome from teachers preparing pupils for GCSE. The latest volume 1 will be just as popular. It has kept to many of the Iskra 1 features: most of the book is in handwritten Russian, it has short information sections in English to develop cultural awareness, and it has vocabulary and structure summaries at the end of each unit.

But it has also innovated its task styles, its use of target language rubrics (supported by English in this volume) and its freshly recorded cassettes, which use native speakers. The Teacher's Book has transcripts and commentaries on tasks, and worksheets. That the book continues to use line drawings rather than photos and is still monochrome is a comment on the position of Russian rather than the inventiveness of the writers and the publisher. This is still undoubtedly the major coursebook for young beginners. We look forward to the new volume 2.

Tranzit is a welcome new entry to the resource base for post-GCSE Russian language learning. The course is divided into six main themes: festivals, media, business, art, youth and Russia. Each of these is dealt with in an accessible way, with a unit structure which gives a great deal of practice to all four skills, attacks grammar to a sensible degree, but also stresses communication strongly.

Tasks are varied, and, as regards listening and reading, based on building up strategy use. The grammar focuses on the use of the cases, the future tense, relative pronouns, indirect statements and compound conjunctions. Each section is followed by exercises, still rooted in the theme of the unit, so relevance is assured. The cassettes have listening tasks and less scripted interviews with native speakers, which work well as extension pieces.

The new edition of Russian Language and People has kept the approach of mixing language learning with some cultural and tourist information. The authors have updated the content and the language is often taken from authentic modern sources.

This is still an efficient means of self-access learning. Each section of each unit is clear with practice tasks and notes. The cassettes supplement the book well and aid pronunciation and comprehension.

Russian Motion Verbs for Intermediate Students is a thorough practice workbook for a difficult grammatical area. It gives the rules, the "usage", many examples and practice tasks. Its style will tend to suit adult and more advanced learners rather than younger students.

Philip Hood is a lecturer at the School of Education, University of Nottingham

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