Carte de sejour

16th January 1998 at 00:00
Your French Exchange. Your German Exchange. Your Spanish Exchange. By Helen and Nigel Harrison, Yarker Publishing, Gordon House 276 Banbury Road, Summertown Oxford OX2 7ED Pounds 9.99 each

The authors of these phrase and vocabulary books have identified a gap in the market: one can imagine many teachers asking themselves why they didn't think of them.

foreign exchange students were asked what they had found difficult and would like to have been able to talk about. This series, later to include Italian and Russian, is based on their responses. The books have not only an identical format but exactly the same 26 sections of English words and phrases rendered into the foreign language by national translators.

The wide-ranging material is arranged in clearly identified topics. Much of the broad subject matter is familiar: family and friends, entertainment, sport, food, travel, school and college. But because the series is aimed not at tourists or business people but specifically at those staying with a family, the list includes such useful topics as unpacking (Where shall I put my clothes?), using household equipment (Would you like me to do the ironing?), and illness (I think I am going to faint).

Because the spoken word is a vital component of GCSE, taken each year by some 500,000 students, exchanges are becoming an important adjunct to the examination course. The appropriate book in this series deserves a place in the luggage of every pupil setting off across the Channel.

Michael J Smith is a former head of modern languages.

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