Making the leap;Primary;Reviews;Books;Modern languages

18th June 1999 at 01:00
MY FIRST OXFORD BOOK OF FRENCH WORDS. By David Melling. (also available in English). Oxford University Press pound;7.99.

THE USBORNE BOOK OF EVERYDAY WORDS IN FRENCH. by Rebecca Treays, Kate Needham and Jo Litchfield. (also available in German, Spanish and English). Usborne pound;7.99

These attractive picture word books are aimed at the very young language learner. My First Oxford Book of French Words has more than 400 words on topics such as home, shopping, at school and at the beach. Colours, numbers, shapes, time, the weather and "opposites" are also included.

Each double-page spread portrays a colourful scene, with side panels highlighting 15-20 words. The book also has a spread of "match the words with the pictures", although these seem to lack a thematic link, and there is a French vocabulary index too.

The Usborne Book of Everyday Words in French contains more than 500 words covering scenes around the home and garden, school, camping, a village and a farm, and includes sections on actions, shapes, colours and numbers. Each scene contains hidden objects to find, with a small picture showing what to look for.

The use of models generally means the visuals are clear and helps to associate word and object. The visuals in My First Oxford French Words tend to be more ambiguous.

The Usborne Book includes a FrenchEnglish dictionary with a pronunciation guide. But the benefit of having children read about French pronunciation patterns is questionable. A native-speaker or near native-speaker model for the child to imitate would seem a prerequisite for both books.

Both books need to be used on a one-to-one basis and appear to be targeted primarily at the family holiday market rather than the classroom professional.

Beate Poole Beate Poole is a lecturer in education at the University of London Institute of Education

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