Straight road to success;Secondary;Modern Languages;Reviews;Books

6th November 1998 at 00:00
GERMAN PLUS. By Kate Corney. Collins pound;59.99 (+ VAT) + pound;2.50 pamp;p.

In the week of the London Language Show Richard Marsden heads a page of reviews with a German pack for less able pupils

It is presumably with an eye to language departments' limited budgets that Collins has decided to publish German Plus in the form of a photocopiable pack rather than a series of expendable workbooks.

The material is aimed at pupils working towards national curriculum level 3, or, more specifically, the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board's Certificate of Achievement.

All the familiar topics are here: self, family, shopping, eating out, asking the way, etc. Each unit has two or three introductory sheets followed by a series of assessment sheets covering the four skills. Each assessment sheet is boldly labelled with purported "outcomes" and provides material which, if properly handled, should enable pupils to feel a sense of progress.

Nothing is taken for granted or assumed. All the language needed for the completion of the tasks is there for reference. It is presented in manageable chunks and the tasks are straightforward enough to give even the weakest learners a feeling of security.

The accompanying tape is crystal clear and full transcripts are provided. Because all the language is glossed and answers given, these sheets would be easy for a non-specialist teacher to use. Perhaps this is why hints on basic teaching methodology are given in the introductory section.

There is nothing startling or even original in the approach. There is no off-beat vocabulary and there are no clever jokes. In many ways these sheets resemble the type of thing most teachers produce for themselves anyway. Why then bother to buy them? In my experience, the weakest members of the school are often those who most appreciate a professional approach. They like the fact that their sheets are professionally printed and that they have proper pictures rather than the lamentable apology for artwork which language teachers usually serve up on their worksheets ("Sir, is this a cat or an ice cream?"). The layout of these sheets is clear; the artwork is attractive and unambiguous.

A useful resource for an often neglected sector of the school.

Richard Marsden is former head of languages at Minster School, Nottinghamshire

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