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16th June 1995 at 01:00
CHAMPS-ELYSEES SCHAU INS LAND. ACQUERELLO ITALIANO. PUERTA DEL SOL. French, German, Spanish and Italian audio-magazines on subscription from Champs-Elysees, POBox 3268, London SW11 1XN. Tel: 0800 833 257.

Robin Buss on an audio magazine for non-beginners. Champs-Elysees originated some 10 years ago in the United States, and consists of an audio-magazine in French, German, Italian and Spanish, together with supporting materials. The scheme fills an undoubted need for up-to-date listening passages for students who have acquired some knowledge of a language. The tapes are designed primarily for someone who has reached GCSE or equivalent, either in a language class or working alone; but they could benefit far more advanced students than that, and a teacher might find uses for some parts of them with relative beginners. As in the case of all (more or less) authentic materials, "level" is determined first and foremost by how they are used, from broad understanding to detailed comprehension and development.

This is not to say that Champs-Elysees and the rest are suitable for anyone learning the languages they cover. The subscription buys a monthly one-hour tape, together with a transcription and a study supplement. The idea is to simulate a radio broadcast, covering a variety of topics. The tapes are clear, and the booklet is attractively presented. Politics, culture and sociology account for most of the material, with some evidence, perhaps, of particular slants determined by the culture of the target language: more cinema in French, more business in German, and so on. The April issue of Puerta del Sol includes an interesting history of radio in Spain, from the Civil War to the attempted coup of 1981.

Light relief is provided by the songs, interspersed between the reports and interviews, and the transcription booklet ends with a vocabulary, and explanatory notes. Just as important, however, is the Study Supplement, which offers exercises based on the listening passages and hints on how to use them, from the prelistening phase onwards, together with answers for those working along. Schools or groups can order extra copies of the study supplements for what the publishers describe as "a nominal fee".

The centenary of Marcel Pagnol, the maintenance of the Eiffel Tower, a song about Santa Agueda, an article on the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice, a review of the Berlin film festival: this is clearly valuable support for an A-level course, or help for an adult studying a language along. This is an idea whose time is somewhat overdue.

* Champs-Elysees and Schau ins Land are available for five months (five editions) or one year (11 editions) at Pounds 55 and Pounds 99; the study supplements cost Pounds 15 and Pounds 33 for the same periods. Acqueralio Italiano and Puerta del Sol appear bi-monthly, at a subscription of Pounds 69 for six editions (study supplements, Pounds 16)

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