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Review – Tricolore

My German teacher used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, say it in French”. It is a singsong tongue; fluid, pretty, romantic and melodramatic. It is also – arguably – the most clear and precise language in the world.

French, Spanish and German are respectively the UK’s first, second and third most widely taught languages. According to the British Council report ‘Languages For The Future’, of the 10 languages which emerge as the most important for the UK, French is in third spot – and the most sought after by those employers looking for language skills.

It’s the second most studied language in the world, the fifth most spoken, the second working language in most organisations and the fourth language of the internet. In other words, French matters, and especially at secondary. It’s a value-added skill and forms part of pupils’ cultural agility.

Aspiring to excellence

To help your students excel in French at Key Stage 3, OUP has given its best-selling course a facelift so that it’s suitable for the 2014 curriculum. Tricolore 5e édition provides gimmick-free, inspiring content with an assortment of resources to enthuse, challenge and stretch.

Aligned to the new Key Stage 3 programme of study, Tricolore 5e édition has been updated to teach essential language skills while developing independent learning. The series contains three student books, three teacher books, three workbooks and three audio CD packs, and is fully integrated with a digital resource called Kerboodle, with options to purchase further resources, assessment and student access

The student books are full of life, colour and energy, featuring exciting materials and activities to progress skills in listening, reading, speaking and writing. Grammar progression is detailed and demanding, making sure learners acquire the tools they need to become self-reliant and self-assured linguists. Units include nice chunks of reading material, vocabulary lists, grammar explanation boxes and boxes highlighting points of French phonology.

The high quality photographs and cartoons that illustrate the pages really add value; they’re fun, vibrant and help bring the content into focus. There are also extension activities to push students with prior knowledge of French or those in need of further challenge. The books really support reading and translations of authentic texts. The exercises are extremely valuable and contain plenty of examples, and there are brilliant end-of-unit summaries and unit assessment in all four skills.

The Teacher Books are sure to leave you feeling extremely well supported and prepared to take your students through their KS3 MFL journey. The contents include ideas on teaching approaches, a section on games and songs and unit-by-unit teacher notes. What you get is meticulous, progressive grammar and skills coverage, and an emphasis on sound-spelling links to help pronunciation, spelling and transcription. Independent communication

French resources have come a long way since my own days of ‘Ecoutez et répétez’. I remember cluttered textbooks with confusing layouts, full of cheesy photographs, unnatural dialogues, disorganised chapters, unnumbered exercises and vocabulary that seemed to have no contemporary relevance.

Tricolore thankfully steers clear of such things, instead providing quality content from a variety of authentic sources, enabling students to express themselves with real flair. It also has comprehensive support for independent learning, such as extended reading and free choice activities, along with vocabulary and grammar reference sections.

The only gap I spotted was a lack of guidance on including students with SEN and/or disabilities in secondary modern foreign languages lessons, and removing barriers to the secondary modern foreign languages curriculum. Otherwise Tricolore is a rich, blended course – which means plenty of easy to use digital content.

The Kerboodle platform includes interactive and printable resources, online assessment, lesson ideas and online versions of the Student Book, with plenty of audio. There are also mini-readers with podcasts, record and playback, editable worksheets, grammar presentations, a bank of starters and plenaries, interactive phonics activities and plenty more besides.

Kerboodle is also tablet-friendly and customisable, allowing teachers to add their own resources.

VERDICT: Mais oui! Tricolore is a challenging, student-friendly package that provides lots of meaningful, targeted language exposure with fabulous structured learning, in a way that’s designed to inspire and stretch your highest achieving students.

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