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One of my ex-colleagues was a marvellous linguist and her voice was sublime. She said she spoke to her husband in Spanish, to her cat in French and to her mother- in-law in German. She also spoke to her students using all three tongues in one sentence just to excite their senses and inspire them about the benefits that learning languages can bring.
In other words, she made language learning what it should be – passionate, enjoyable and a life skill with numerous rewards.
Whilst the most valuable asset in any classroom is certainly the teacher, even polyglots can’t fly solo and need top quality resources to structure lessons and prepare for exams. OUP has long been a reliable source of quality GCSE materials to help us teach, and we can turn to the organisation once again to help following a change in specifications.
OUP has a set of resources for French, Spanish and German written for the new specifications that are of the highest order – materials that promise to deliver the range and rigour essential to grow and practise the dynamic micro-skills students need to control language assuredly and to prepare them to be language fit for their exam. There have been changes in approach where necessary, so you can rest easy knowing you are covering what you should be.
OUP offers differentiated materials with £22 books for Foundation and Higher students so that you can push, prod, nudge and stretch mixed-ability classes with more control and insight. They do this because they consist of one common spread on each topic at core level, and another at both higher and lower levels to aid co-teaching.
The books (approved by AQA, of course) are quality texts split into themes and colour coded for ease of use. Each of the themes is divided into topics – 12 in total. They offer excellent support with plenty of reading material, listening and speaking activities, vocabulary support and very helpful grammar boxes and language structure boxes. A set of four audio CDs is available at £150, too, providing loads of exciting, interesting and authentic dialogues to support the student books and to model pronunciation.
OUP has focused on ensuring that its assessments are vibrant and manageable, and differentiate effectively – offering assessments and practice questions to help students get ready for the bigger demands of the new linear course.
Let’s not forget Kerboodle – the star of the show. This online gem is packed with a wide variety of resources and assessments to consolidate or extend content, including audio, authentic videos, worksheets, interactive activities, assessment and exam preparation, lesson notes, whiteboard activities, record and playback activities, transcripts, and teacher notes and answers.
There are Kerboodle Books as well, which are actually digital versions of the Student Books that bring the pages to life. Moreover, every student and teacher has their own digital notebook for use within their Kerdboodle Book, which can be customised.
The assessment materials are second to none, providing assessment and exam-style practice questions and test yourself quizzes with an auto-marking feature. The site is a breeze to use and has been designed for simple and intuitive navigation on a range of devices. It offers unequalled digital support for independent study, differentiation and assessment – and what is really smart is that you can assign assessments to students at home, tracking their progress in the online markbook. You can add your own resources, too.
At £250 for an annual subscription, including Foundation and Higher materials and the Kerboodle Books for teacher and student access, the package represents terrific value.
When it comes to GCSE language learning, OUP has delivered. These flexible resources offer a smooth changeover from KS3, whilst providing topic coverage to guarantee unbroken development towards AS and A level. The resources firmly integrate language and grammar with clear progression, provide texts that are authentic, and offer plenty of opportunities for spontaneous speaking and translation practice.
With guided support, plenty of lesson ideas and inspiring activities, these powerfully pragmatic resources give us all we need.
VERDICT: Let’s talk!
Languages resources sometimes get a bad press for being disconnected from students’ real lives, but that can’t be said of these. They are relevant to learners’ interests, needs, goals and aspirations, making them as enjoyable as they are effective.
Reviewed by John Dabell
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