As the Nuffield Languages Inquiry has emphasised once again, the UK workforce suffers from a chronic shortage of people at all levels with usable language skills.
Acces Direct, as its title suggests, offers an accessible and clearly structured introduction to the French used in industry and commerce for post GCSE students.
The course takes the form of 10 dossiers, each dealing with a different commercial situation such as commissioning a market research survey, opening an office in France or organising a meeting.
At the end of each dossier, a related, open-ended assignment provides a clear learning outcome. A cassette with recordings of all interviews in the book and an answer book complete the package.
The emphasis throughout is on acquiring language for specific purposes using authentic models. Texts are supported by detailed vocabulary lists and notes on idiomatic and grammatical usages, although some of the latter are likely to be beyond all but the most able studens. Oral activities revise basic vocabulary items such as numbers and dates, and place these firmly in a specific context, such as giving the dimensions of a product.
Recorded dialogues provide listening practice, and while speech is slightly slower than native speed, this could serve as a useful model for pronunciation.
It is a pity, however, that exploitation of the listening material is confined to comprehension questions in French; a less "authentic" exercise than most in the book. Written tasks focus on translation of letters and memos from and into French.
While the main use of this course is clearly in further education, the clear format and straightforward approach make it a good self-study resource for adult learners or for sixth-formers planning work experience in France.
I could also envisage using some of the material with A-level and GCSE classes in school, to encourage them to think about the French they may need in working life.
Gill Maynard is a teacher of French and German at the Sandon school, Essex