Steady progress;Secondary;Books

5th March 1999 at 00:00
PREVISIONS. Student's book pound;11.50 Teachers' resource book pound;40 Cassettes pound;44 incl VAT.

REALISATIONS. By Ted Neather, Ian Maun and Isabelle Rodrigues. Student's book pound;11.50Teachers' resource book pound;37.50 Cassettes pound;41.13 incl VAT. Stanley Thornes.

This two-part A-level French course aims to meet the needs of the more broadly based sixth-form curriculum from September 2000. Previsions is suitable for students studying only one year of post-16 French, leading to the new Advanced Subsidiary level, while Realisations, covers the second year of A-level.

The course contains material of general interest to teenagers, with a more personal focus in the first book and wider-ranging topics such as the environment in the second.

Grammar points are incorporated throughout, starting with revision of basic tenses. Progression is well managed, with the first four chapters of Previsions moving on smoothly from GCSE, and the chapters thereafter grad-ually increasing in difficulty. Students will find the approach reassuringly straightforward, although the black and white pages may seem rather dull.

The varied reading passages, all from authentic sources, succeed in providing insights into the French way of life. The audio-cassettes include a range of styles, such as radio commercials and answerphone messages, but the stilted tone of the re-recordings gives them an old-fashioned feel. The teacher's resource book has additional exercises at two levels of difficulty, assessment tests and short literary extracts. The latter include famous names, from La Fontaine to Sartre, but are not always likely to be meaningful to the students in such a trun-cated form.

Strengths of the course include helpful and original material in the grammar reference section, good study skills advice (in English), and some enjoyable songs, especially a splendid Georges Brassens ode to his burglar. The inclusion of a chapter on business language in the first book is also welcome. While most of the exercises are conventional, such as truefalse and gap-filling tasks, there are good prompts for students to discuss topics with a partner.

Among weaker aspects is the pointless glossary in the first volume. Surely every teacher by this stage will wish to encourage dictionary use? There is also a missed opportunity to include more interactive kinds of activity in the teacher's book - staidness could become monotonous.

However, many teachers will welcome these books, either as dependable coursebooks to which other resources can be added, or as a useful source of supplementary materials.

Kathy Wicksteed is director of the International Centre, Campion School, Northamptonshire

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