Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - Grasping Grammar: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Modern Foreign Languages - Grasping Grammar: Resources

Article excerpt

Language students need to know the basics, non?

I have been running French revision courses for sixth-formers in Brittany since 1990 and have helped to prepare more than 1,000 students for their secondary school exams. Many of them have suggested that I should write a book.

But the real reason I began writing it was that most of my students (post- GCSE up to A level) simply did not have a basic grounding in French grammar, even if they attended good academic schools. It seemed that there was not a really good French grammar book on the market. The ones I have seen are outdated or so bound up in the current structure of topic-based learning that the grammar is lost in specialised vocabulary. Some textbook explanations are split into bite-sized bits that stop students seeing how a particular structure works.

I know many teachers who write their own grammar notes. But if they give them to their students, they can end up filed in a drawer and never looked at again, so they become of little assistance, despite the good intentions.

So, my challenge was two-fold. The grammar needed to be very thorough and not topic-based, and the vocabulary kept simple. I made no assumptions of previous knowledge. On the other hand, I wanted to lighten the burden on teachers who are bogged down with topic-based syllabuses. The idea of my grammar book is that it could, conceivably, be used as a self-teaching book - the explanations are comprehensive; the exercises are structured according to difficulty; and the answers include additional notes that explain where students may have made mistakes. …

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