Well worth a visit

14th January 2005 at 00:00
With its capacity for interactivity and instant feedback the internet is the ideal medium for exam revision - at least in theory. In practice sites vary enormously in quality so it's worth giving some time to considering which ones are most likely to inspire students to put in a few extra hours. Equally important, will their time be well spent?

BBC Bitesize

French, German, Spanish

BBC GCSE Bitesize is hugely popular and with good cause. Well thought-out and extremely user friendly, it divides each area of experience into the four skills with separate sections for foundation and higher. Listening exercises come with transcripts and translations, speaking activities provide both audio and written support. What makes this site a real winner is the methodical way that it takes students step by step through the questions, helping them to analyse their learning and improve exam technique. Worked answers to the reading and listening tests draw attention to useful clues and potential red herrings. Speaking and writing tasks include sample responses with examiner comments, to help students distinguish between a high quality piece of work and one that is merely adequate.

www.bbc.co.ukschoolsgcsebitesize

University of York

French, German, Spanish

More modest in scope but equally supportive, these higher level reading activities from the University of York cover a variety of language areas and question formats. Hints and tips encourage students to spot key vocabulary and deduce meaning from the context. When they have finished they can print off the original to do again or keep the completed, annotated version for reference.

www.york.ac.ukdeptseducgcse

The Guardian

French, German, Spanish

The Guardian has incorporated what was once free online material into its subscription premium site. Wide-ranging and thorough, it offers extensive practice in all four skills together with grammar explanations and exercises. Presentation is rather stodgy, however, especially the French section, which includes lengthy dialogues and indigestible chunks of grammar. German and Spanish resources follow a different and more engaging format. If your school has already taken out a whole curriculum subscription, this is worth dipping into. Whether it represents value at pound;495 for MFL alone is debatable.

www.learnpremium.co.uk

S-Cool

French, German

S-Cool presents material simply and clearly and unlike Learn Premium it does not overload the learner with information. On the contrary, the focus is mainly on single words and comprehension rather than raising the quality of language. The lack of audio material is another surprising omission. On the plus side, it offers useful vocabulary lists which can be printed out. However, it is well worth looking at for foundation revision.

www.s-cool.co.uk

Zut!

French, German, Spanish

This lively collection of interactive activities includes gap-fill, jumbled sentences, matching, hangman, truefalse. Organised into areas of experience, it includes sound files for listening and pronunciation practice together with grammar exercises. Costing pound;25 for a single teacher, pound;40 for a school, it is free after 4pm - ideal for home study. There is no charge for the German Gut! and Spanish AOye! (new, so limited in scope).

www.zut.org.uk

Languages Online

French, German, Spanish

Teachers of the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe have put together an impressive bank of imaginative materials using Hot Potatoes software to provide variety and interactivity. Spanish resources include some attractive exercises exploiting youth culture (Madonna, Pop Idol and others). All three languages offer lively games created with Task Magic.

www.languagesonline.org.uk

* Other school websites: www.marling.gloucs.sch.uk www.klbschool.org.uk

MORE USEFUL LINKS

While not designed with GCSE students in mind these could be used to revise vocabulary and grammar. Of the two, German for Travellers is the more engaging and covers a lot of ground in a variety of different ways.

www.studyspanish.com and www.germanfortravellers.com

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