Extra interest for sixth-formers
The core of sixth-form foreign language study will always be the guided exploitation of texts presented in lessons. But how can teachers encourage sixth-formers to read more widely and independently, dipping into both journalism and literature?
These two publications are suitable self-study material for AS and A-level linguists with enquiring minds.
New Penguin Parallel Text Short Stories in German offers eight stories of varying length, with the German and English versions presented on facing pages. From it, students new to German literature will gain reading fluency, a feeling for idiom, and an insight into translation techniques.
They will also be introduced to German fiction written between 1980 and 2000 on a variety of themes.
Sixth-formers will enjoy "Bessere Zeiten", whose three and a half pages tell of an elderly couple reminiscing about the good old days when cars didn't dominate everything and which ends with a pleasing ironic twist.
They will learn something about the DDR from the moral choices described in "Grossvater und die Bestimmer" and from the eerie world of watching-and-being-watched depicted in "Der VerdAchtige".
The dramatic tension in relationships is variously treated in stories such as "In Erwartung der GAste", "Das Muschelessen" and "Lascia".
The addition of biographical notes and suggestions for further reading would have been welcome, but this collection would be a useful addition to any sixth-form library and companion volumes are available in French, Spanish and Italian.
The Champs Elysees series, published in these same four languages, comprises a monthly magazine and cassette, offering a variety of topical and cultural items, with transcripts and vocabulary and background notes. A study supplement, available at extra cost, provides back-up language activities on the material. Sixth-formers searching for coursework ideas may well find inspiration.
Articles in a recent issue on Jacques Perrin's cinema acting career, on Picardie and on Marie Ndiaye, winner of the literary prize, Prix Femina, all give an introduction to their subject with plenty of leads for follow-up research.
Perhaps particularly suitable for adult learners, the material nevertheless includes a good range of things to interest adolescents.
The French version also contained pieces on Alain Prost and Yves St Laurent and the Spanish, Italian and German versions offer pieces on Real Madrid, Patty Pravo (who wrote the first pop song broadcast on Vatican Radio) and an interview with Udo Juergens, complete with the text and recording of one of his songs.
Marian Jones teaches languages in Somerset
New Penguin Parallel Text Short Stories in German. Edited by Ernst Zillekins. Penguin, pound;8.99. Also available in French, Spanish and Italian
Champs-Elysees Acquerello Italiano. Schau ins Land. Puerto del Sol. Audio cassette magazines and study supplements. Champs-Eysees Subscriptions from pound;59 to pound;220 details on website. www.champs-elysees.com