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For those who stay the course

Students and teachers who persist with a language after key stage 3 deserve the best in resources. Wendy Adeniji looks at some up-to-date packages for GCSE French.

As we hear that more than a third of key stage 4 pupils are giving up languages this year, there are new challenges ahead: smaller classes with a wider range of ability, the need for a course that interests them, and, let's hope, entices them to continue at A-level, as well as the ever-present need to ensure that examination skills are fully covered.

There are lots of new KS4 books on the market and these are surveyed along with books that have been around for a little longer. Some features to look out for are CDs for independent listening, two differentiated textbooks (offered by some courses) and textbooks or exam packs that relate to particular exam boards' specifications.

This survey will look at the following aspects:

Appeal of content

* Is the content appropriate and interesting?

* What differentiation is there in terms of ability and learning style?

* Are the four skills evenly covered?

* How is target-language use encouraged?

* Are language-learning skills taught?

* Are there opportunities for independent learning and support for writing coursework?

* Given that previously taught language will be recycled and extended, is this done in a way that will hold learners' interest?

Grammar

* Is grammar taught specifically and is it integrated into the themes of the coursebook?

* Are the exercises interesting and easy to understand?

* Is there a grammar reference section?

Design

* Is the textbook attractive and accessible for the learner?

* Are the pages well laid out or too fussy?

* Are photos and pictures clear?

* Does the use of colour aid the learning process?

Resources and teaching support

* Are extra resources and teaching support provided and which are good value for money?

* Are the listening activities clear and authentic?

* What, if any, supporting ICT resources are available?

Wendy Adeniji is a PGCE tutor at Leeds University school of education

TITLE

Sans Frontires LCP Student's Book pound;9.10 (blue and green); Teacher's Book pound;29.95; Workbook pound;1.80; Teacher's Resource File pound;85 + VAT; CassettesCDs pound;55 + VAT www.lcpuk.co.uk

APPEAL OF CONTENT

There are two student's books - green for foundation level and blue for higher -so tasks are helpfully differentiated. The blue book provides extended reading material, very appealing to teenagers, using vocabulary and synonyms that they understand (respect, stress). Reading material is enhanced by up-to-date statistics and cultural information about francophone countries and festivals. Exam technique is discussed with detailed essay plans (in English) and speaking test role-plays with examiner's dialogue included. Tactique sections give language-learning tips.

GRAMMAR

At the end of each unit is a double-page spread with a traditional grammar explanation (in English) and exercises, as well as a grammaire en plus section with more advanced grammar. There is also a grammar reference section at the back.

DESIGN

Page layout is full but not cluttered. There is good use of visuals to support themes such as photos of francophone countries. A few cartoon-type stories add variety.

RESSOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The teacher's book is very helpfully designed with excerpts from the student's book and carnet de travail as well as colour-coded answers and schemes of work on CD. The teacher's resource file contains worksheets and colourful OHTs, many with photos. The carnet de travail in both blue and green has extra activities and vocabulary lists. Audio content is clear and of appropriate speed and length for each book. There are also free downloadable ICT activities at www.lcpuksansfrontieres.asp

VERDICT

Sans Frontires deserves full marks for appeal, excellent presentation and very helpful support and resources for teachers - definitely worth a closer look.

TITLE

Metro 4 and Metro 4 for AQA

Heinemann

Student's Book pound;13.50 (higher), pound;12.50 (foundation); Teacher's Guide pound;29.99; Workbook (spec A or B, for 8) pound;18.99; Cassettes pound;75 + VAT; Audio CDs pound;80 + VAT; Assessment packs pound;60 + VAT; Colour OHT file pound;60 + VAT www.heinemann.co.uksecondary

APPEAL OF CONTENT

Metro 4 continues from its predecessor Metro 3 to have differentiated books, red for higher and green for foundation level at GCSE. This time, however, a new coursebook, Metro 4 for AQA, ensures that those specification requirements are exactly catered for, while Metro 4 covers the OCR and Edexcel boards. The two courses are very similar, although there are some extra units in the AQA book, covering such aspects as the environment and accommodation problems. Content is appealing and appropriate and colour is used well to aid language learning.

GRAMMAR

Le detective gives mini grammar explanations with fuller ones in the excellent grammaire section at the back. Here, explanations are in English, with colour-coded exercises helpfully included.

DESIGN

Page layout is uncluttered and there is frequent use of colour and different fonts to interest the reader. Photos are well used, as are authentic materials.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The teacher's book is easy to use and includes copies of pages from the workbooks to aid planning. The workbooks are superb, covering exam skills and the full range of language skills, and include exam-type activities such as role-plays, as well as grammar and mini rappel explanations so students do not need to refer to the coursebook. Schemes of work can be found on the Heinemann website. Audio content for each book is appropriate to the level, with the green starting off very slowly and the red quite fast from the beginning.

VERDICT

An excellent finale to the Metro course; differentiated textbooks and an AQA-specific course are to be welcomed. For independent study and exam practice, this is the best course workbook.

TITLE

Telescope

Hodder Murray

For books 1 and 2: Student's Book pound;9.99; Teacher's Guide pound;22.99; Cassettes pound;40 + VAT; CDs pound;51.99 + VAT; Repromaster Book Pounds 40.99 (book 1); Teacher's Resource Book (book 2) pound;41 www.hodderheadline.co.uk

APPEAL OF CONTENT

This course uses interesting content presented in an accessible way. There are 11 teaching units, and three recreational units in which no new grammar is taught and the tasks have a game-like format. This works well and the content is indeed enjoyable, as promised. In the teaching units, there are colour-coded points grammaires, and some very useful language-learning and pronunciation tips. Some tasks are differentiated, with a symbol in the student book; each unit ends with a recap, a test and a quiz. There is a strong ICT strand throughout the book, including regular suggestions for activities in the teacher's guide.

GRAMMAR

The green points grammaires are dotted liberally around book 1 with references to the section grammaire and verb tables at the back. The contents page in book 2 shows the grammar focus of each unit and also includes the reference section.

DESIGN

The layout and design is very appealing: there are lots of illustrations and photos, which represent a variety of francophone countries. Each unit is colour coded, to aid navigation, as are the test pages.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The teacher's guide helpfully includes pages from the repromaster book and has plenty of "extra ideas" and "differentiation opportunities". The repromaster book contains lots of extra activities as well as extra grammar worksheets, with many illustrations and photos. The teacher's resource book, which supports book 2, helps to prepare students for the exam with plenty of practice tests in all skill areas. Audio content is clear and interesting.

VERDICT

Telescope is an excellent GCSE course, which will appeal to the student through its content and to the teacher because of the supporting resources.

TITLE

Fusee 4

Hodder Murray

Jaune and violet editions: Student's Book pound;10.99; Teacher's Book Pounds 35; Photocopy Masters pound;65; Cassette Set, Exam Assessment Packs (AQA, OCR Edexcel) pound;59.99 each + VAT www.hodderheadline.co.uk

APPEAL OF CONTENT

This course provides two differentiated books - jaune for foundation students and violet for higher. The books are very similar in content, and the extended reading activities and detailed grammatical explanations set the violet apart. The content is very visually appealing and colour is used well - for example to denote different parts of speech and to show where role-play templates should be changed. Humour is well used and the book has a cheery and relevant appeal to teenagers. Comment ca marche and attention! snippets aid language learning, and websites are frequently suggested for further study.

GRAMMAR

In each book, grammar is specifically taught in English in colour-coded sections with page references to the grammar summary at the back. The violet version is more detailed and extends grammar knowledge right up to the subjunctive.

DESIGN

The layout is very well designed with excellent use of colour, frequent picture stories and lots of photos. Illustrations are appealing and relevant to GCSE students.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The teacher's book helpfully contains pages from the student's book. There are photocopiable masters for both books, and an assessment pack for each of the three exam boards that includes a cassette, a useful feature for exam practice. The website (www.fusee.co.uk) has schemes of work mapped to the national curriculum, and shows how the course can be used as part of the Scottish curriculum. Audio content is clearly spoken and appropriate to this level.

VERDICT

Visually appealing to the student and differentiated by task to support the teacher, Fusee 4 is worth examining more closely.

TITLE

Francoscope pour AQA

OUP

Student's Book pound;12.99; Teacher's Book pound;33; Cassettes pound;58 + VAT; CDs pound;58 + VAT; En clair Workbook (1 and 2 each) pound;2; En clair Teacher's Book pound;11; cassetteCD pound;20 + VAT, CD-Rom pound;10 + VAT (student's edition), pound;175 + VAT (teacher's network edition) www.oup.comukeducation

APPEAL OF CONTENT

This is a solid coursebook, fairly appealing to teenagers. Its guide pratique sections have helpful language-learning tips, such as how to use a dictionary and how to succeed in the speaking exam, and there is a lot of emphasis on grammar. While themes are not presented in a particularly innovative way, there are interesting projects at the end of each unit, many of which are about francophone countries as well as France. Clearly, this course is an exact fit for the AQA specification, and therefore exercises are based on the types of questions found in this board's papers.

GRAMMAR

Grammar is dealt with in a flash grammaire double-page spread at the end of each module. Explanations are in English and an attempt has been made to make examples and exercises interesting. Le petit chaperon rouge is the subject of a pluperfect exercise! There are also references to the very detailed grammaire section at the back.

DESIGN

Page layout is good with lots of activity but not too fussy. Good use of colour, illustrations and photos break up each page.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The teacher's book would benefit from showing transcripts and answers more clearly. Differentiation is aided by the En clair workbooks, which provide a wealth of reinforcement activities for foundation students. Copymasters provide extension activities in all four skills and are more suitable for the higher-tier students. The feuilles ... photocopier provide extra reading and writing activities in a variety of formats, eg crosswords, and are very well illustrated. Audio content is clear and the speed increases throughout the course.

VERDICT

Francoscope pour AQA is a solid course which will help your students to gain a GCSE, but no promises that it will inspire them particularly.

TITLE

Equipe 4 nouvelle edition

OUP

Student's Book pound;12.99; Teacher's Book pound;39.50; Copymasters Pounds 55; AQA Repromasters, Workbooks pound;2; Cassettes pound;77.50 + VAT; CDs pound;75 + VAT; En Solo Cassette pound;2 + VAT; Exam file (OCR, AQA or Edexcel) pound;45; OHT file pound;84.50 + VAT; equipe en clair (part 1 and 2) pound;65 each (inludes CD); edition Ecosse also available www.oup.comukeducation

APPEAL OF CONTENT

The content attempts to be varied and to appeal to teenagers, including for example a rock song, although it does not stand out from the crowd. There is an even coverage of different skills but little in the way of differentiated material. The blue coded guidespratiques offer useful learning strategies, eg how to give an opinion. There are samples of coursework (eg "Am I fit?") with colour-coded sections for pupils to analyse the language. All instructions are in the target language. An edition Ecosse is also available for the Scottish curriculum.

GRAMMAR

Grammar is denoted by a yellow background in zoom grammaire sections. It appears in small chunks within each chapter and with certain important pieces of grammar there is a double-page spread covering explanations and exercises. These include multiple-choice, gap-fill, grouping and matching activities, and are varied and well explained.

DESIGN

The layout is clear and easy to use. Colour is used to good effect to denote gender and different parts of speech. There are frequent colourful visuals such as target-language-specific photos.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The cahier d'activites contains more exercises and vocabulary lists, as do the copymaters, although these are not very inspiring. quipe en clair file offers differentiated activities for lower ability. The exam file, one for each specification (AQA, OCR and Edexcel) is useful, with exercises, including listening, tailored to each board's paper. Audio content is clear, includes some music, and has pronunciation practice. There is also the freely accessible website at www.oup.co.ukequipe with interactive exercises for each unit.

VERDICT

Equipe 4 offers good progression from the previous books, but is not particularly inspiring in content and presentation. The new edition has made the course more accessible and easier to use through its exam files and differentiation.

TITLE

Voyage 4

Nelson Thornes

Student's Book pound;12 (includes Student's Audio CD); Teacher's Book Pounds 30; Audio CD Pack pound;80; Copymasters CD-Rom pound;83.25 + VAT www.nelsonthornes.com

APPEAL OF CONTENT

Standard cover of GCSE themes, without particularly inspiring material.

Each chapter ends with helpful lists of phrases indispensibles, themes de conversation and suggestions pour travail. Exam technique is explicit with snippets of pour faire un peu plus, regular tests and a lengthy section at the back. What sets this course apart is the Student's Audio CD, with which the teacher could set listening homework and encourage independent learning. The CD symbol in the book shows that a listening activity is available and the phrases indispensibles are very helpfully recorded.

GRAMMAR

There are regular guide grammaire sections within each chapter, with explanations in English but no practice exercises. There is also an extensive grammar reference section at the back, with colour-coded examples and verb tables.

DESIGN

Pages are well spaced and uncluttered. There is frequent use of visuals and photos and several photo stories.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The Copymasters CD contains 200 graded worksheets at three levels; these can be printed out or, very usefully, quickly edited by the teacher. The voyage website at www.nelsonthornes.comvoyage offers follow-up project work and website activities are flagged up in the teacher's and student's books. Audio content is well enunciated and varied in tone and accent.

VERDICT

Voyage 4 is a solid course, although the content provides nothing out of the ordinary. The editable copymasters are useful for differentiation and the student's CD is a big bonus to encourage more independent listening.

TITLE

Encore Tricolore nouvelle edition

Nelson Thornes

Student's Book pound;14.25; Teacher's Book pound;38.50; Copymasters and Assessment pound;87.50 + VAT; Audio CDs pound;87.50 + VAT www.nelsonthornes.com

APPEAL OF CONTENT

While the new edition has been given a facelift, much of the content is still quite heavy going. The use of colour is to be welcomed, as is the inclusion of ICT activities, which are suggested by the teacher's book. The skills are weighted towards reading and there is a lot of reading material, which may be off-putting. The content is not particularly stimulating or relevant to teenagers, although there are some interesting features, such as that about Medicins sans Fronti res. More suited to higher-ability pupils.

GRAMMAR

Dossier-langue sections in the book are clear and coloured yellow.

Explanations are in English and are well exemplified. There is a very detailed Grammaire section at the back, which includes useful phrases.

DESIGN

Colour is well used to highlight text boxes, but there are few illustrations to break up the text. The font is very small and pages are thus overcrowded and may be difficult for all to access.

RESOURCESTEACHING SUPPORT

The teacher's book contains some interesting suggestions for integrating ICT into learning French. The copymasters again are very detailed and include lots of crosswords. Audio content is clear and appropriate. Some ICT activities based on Hot Potatoes complement the course.

VERDICT

Encore Tricolore is a heavy-going course, which will suit only the brightest students. Cluttered pages make it inaccessible to many.

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