Starters and top-ups

25th February 2005 at 00:00
Key Stage 3 Modern Foreign Languages Starters: Developing Thinking Skills

By Jill Jackson et al

Badger Publishing pound;25 www.badger-publishing.

A good starter has immediate impact. It focuses attention, gets everyone involved, encourages reflection and sets the tone for what is to follow - all in the space of 10 minutes.

It is a tall order and I suspect that a few of the 14 activities in Key Stage 3 Modern Foreign Languages Starters might overrun their allotted time. That said, they offer variety and progression, appeal to different learning styles and develop thinking - just what the KS3 framework doctor ordered.

Produced in French, German and Spanish, they take the form of photocopiable masters which can be used as they are or adapted. Some focus on vocabulary, others on grammar, sentence structure or cultural context.

The thinking skills objectives are equally wide-ranging and include classification, predicting meaning from context, sequencing and hypothesising. Matching favourite foods or leisure interests to the most likely person from a list exercises pupils' deduction, developing a concept map requires them to analyse the relationship between words. And analysis is the raison d'etre of the plenary, when they justify their choices or evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies they employed to fulfil the task.

Many of the ideas will be familiar to experienced practitioners of the KS3 strategy, but for those who aren't, they provide a valuable introduction, despite a few irritating linguistic errors.

Laid out clearly and succinctly, the consistent format of objectives, resources, activity, plenary, extension and potential adaptation takes you step-by-step through each activity. It is so simple, you could argue that all the thinking has been done for you.


One-year subscription: pound;109 (cassette), pound;129 (CD)

Champs-Elysees Plus

One-year subscription: pound;169 (cassette), pound;189 (CD)

Champs-Elysees Plus is the new improved study supplement of the monthly French audiomagazine Champs-Elysees. Where follow-up activities were formerly provided in written form, these are now produced on a CD or cassette, which also contains selected items from the magazine delivered at a slower speed.

First, however, students are presented with key expressions which they should repeat several times before listening for them in the recording.

Together with a brief synopsis of each feature, in English, in the accompanying work booklet, this introduction provides a framework for comprehension and simultaneously broadens the learner's vocabulary.

Understanding is tested in a variety of ways, including gap fill, truefalse and rearranging jumbled statements into the original order, while transposition drills pick up on structures and turns of phrase that feature in the recordings.

All are reproduced in the booklet, which contains further written activities focusing on different aspects of language, such as gender forms and the relationship between nouns and verbs.

Although Champs-Elysees remains a sophisticated resource with adult appeal, the extra support could help open it to more able and motivated sixth-formers.

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