News and views online

30th January 2004 at 00:00

interactive online magazine


news digest Nelson Thornes pound;80 (up to 500 pupils)

pound;90 (501-1,000 pupils) pound;100 (1,001+ pupils)

Before joining his local rugby team at their twice-weekly training session, Bertrand leads us on a brief tour of his native village in the Pays Basque, taking in local features, the red and green shutters and specialities such as red chilli peppers and gateau basque. He has a slight regional accent and a tendency to gabble. This is not a problem, however, thanks to subtitles, which can be clicked on and off as required.

This is the French edition of the December issue of i-catcher, an interactive online magazine for highly able key stage 4 students and AS-level candidates. Also available in German and Spanish, a new video comes out every month. All feature young people with interesting pastimes or careers.

Subject matter ranges from sport to astrophysics to designing theatre costumes; gist comprehension is tested through interactive multiple-choice questions. This is the real thing and very engaging. It offers a flavour of the target-language country, and if students want to know more, there are internet links with suggested follow-up activities. And they can even chat to the current month's interviewee if they go online at a given date and time. What better way to bring language work alive and set it in a meaningful context?

Nelson Thorne's second online resource is not quite so exciting, but very useful none the less. NewsTicker is a news digest in French, German and Spanish. Compiled with A-level students in mind, it is updated daily with five new stories. From legal reform to pop music to sport, from strike action to the Guinness Book of Records, it covers an eclectic mix of serious and light-hearted items.

Texts are short, factual and to the point and the language is straightforward. Each is accompanied by a sound file, offering scope for reading and listening practice, while the growing archives bank provides an excellent source of research material for oral presentations and coursework. However, the archive search engine, which should help users to narrow down choices, in practice just produces every article since the site launch in September.

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