Songs and supercats

9th March 2001 at 00:00
CHEZ MIMI. Video pound;14.99. Teacher's Guide pound;3.95. MON ALBUM A MOI. Activity book. By Dani le Bourdais and Sue Finney. pound;6.95. HENNINGS HAUS. Video pound;14.99. Teacher's Guide pound;3.95. Channel ACTION FRENCH. By Catherine Bruzzone. b small publishing pound;9.99. Tel: 020 8974 6851. START GERMAN WITH A SONG. By Hans-Joachim Fuhrig. Songs by Detlev Jocker. CD or audio cassette with Teacher's Guide. Menschenkinderverlag Distribution in UK through the Goethe Institut pound;8. Tel: 020 7596 4000.

Chez Mimi and Hennings Haus make an exciting addition to the growing range of video resources for younger beginners. If you are looking for something original, with full teacher support, these materials will be hard to beat.

Mimi becomes the concierge at a block of flats where the residents are larger than life. Mon Album a Moi contains imaginative tasks in themed sections within an album style booklet, suitable for children to use with their parents, in clubs, or in school, either independently or with the programmes.

Hennings Haus consists of five programmes featuring a group of German children and the zany Henning, who lives in a brightly coloured converted railway carriage, rides a unicycle at speed and sets them unexpected challenges.

Although the target language used throughout appears spontaneous, key phrases are repeated and articulated extremely clearly and supported by on-screen captions. Five pupil activity sheets accompany each programme, and the teacher's guides provide important vocabulary and structures, a storyline synopsis and well-thought-out activities for before, during an after viewing.

The Action French pack contains an activity book, cassette and colourful poster. A pull-out centre section with a board game, small labels for domestic items, cards for playing matching pairs and badges provide a high quality introduction to French. On the inside covers a supercat mask and finger puppet templates represent the characters Superchat and Monstrerat.

Simple guidelines in English help introduce greetings, family and friends, shopping and eating, pastimes, telling the time. The cassette is an essential component providing correct pronunciation for all vocabulary listed, three traditional rhymes, and six songs, with a karaoke version.

Start German with a Song is a delightful collection of 12 specially composed songs accompanied by photocopiable teacher's notes. Although incorporating typical themes (greetings, food, days of the week, alphabet) an unusual feature is the use of songs to practise the sounds that UK learners find tricky: German * , the often confused ei and ie, plus nonsense words and animal noises to help the pronunciation of other sound clusters.

The tunes are catchy and the texts are fun and unusual. Most have actions to go with them and all the texts and melody lines are printed in the booklet. Many go quite fast, so it will be wise to listen to the cassette several times before launching into class use.

The activities are teacher friendly and the snippets of cultural information are particularly helpful.

Cynthia Martin Cynthia Martin is a lecturer in modern languages at the University of Reading school of education

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