Some vital Italian

10th October 1997 at 01:00
AZIONE GRAMMATICA!. By Derek Aust with Mike Zollo. Hodder Stoughton Pounds 11.99.

ITALIAN HOMEWORK ACTIVITIES. By Remo Nannetti. Association for Language Learning Pounds 30.

Azione Grammatica! is the latest in a series of communicative grammar handbooks targeted at A-levelHigher grade students and - more ambitiously - at those aiming for the higher levels at GCSEStandard grade.

A densely-packed 400-page volume, the format remains the same - an introductory chapter on grammatical terminology followed by systematic presentation and exploitation of grammar points through reinforcement exercises (mettetevi a punto) and more open-ended tasks (mettetevi in moto).

It ends with chapters on spelling, vocabulary and strategies for deducing meaning. This section is particularly useful and would perhaps have been better placed at the beginning. Finally, there is a key to the exercises and verb tables.

For motivated and able students, the pack has much to recommend it - presentation sections are clear and exhaustive, and some of the sub-headings (Gender bender) and tasks (Duetto d'amore tra Pavarotti e la segretaria, L'arrivo di ET) certainly grab the attention even if, as in the latter case, a series of present-tense reflexive verbs is really needed.

There are some good suggestions for whole-class activities, although students using the book for self-study might find some of the Italian instructions difficult to follow. And some exercises require know- ledge of points covered in later chapters. All teachers will welcome this addition to the reference shelf.

For teachers seeking homework back-up, Remo Nannetti's Italian Homework Activities, for 11 to 14-year-olds, is worth a look. The pack comprises attractive, topic-based photocopiable activity sheets with simple reinforcement tasks, such as crosswords, wordsearches and puzzles leading on to open-ended exercises.

Some of the items require simple inferencing, which is a positive step towards developing reading strategies at an early stage. This is good value for any Italian resource base.

Patricia Lewis teaches at Bilborough College, Nottingham

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