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Longman's Audio-Visual French



I'm sitting here with my copies of Cours Illustré de Français Book 1 and Longman's Audio-Visual French Stage A1. I have previously mentioned the former, published in 1966, with its use of pictures to exemplify grammar and vocabulary. In his preface Mark Gilbert says: "The pictures are not... a mere decoration but provide further foundation for the language work at this early stage." He talks of "fluency" and "flexibility": "In oral work it is advisable to persist with the practice of a particular pattern until the pupils can use it fluently and flexibly. Flexibility means, for example, the ability to switch from one person of the verb to another..." Ah!

Now, the Longman offering, written by S. Moore and A.L. Antrobus, published in 1973, just seven years later, has a great deal in common with Gilbert's course. We now have three colours (green, black and white) rather than mere black and white. The layout is arguably more attractive, the pages larger. But the methodology is fundamentally the same. Pictures accompanied by short texts or dialogues which can be used for repetition, drilling and various types of question and answer. There is more dialogue here than pure narrative text, so more pair work may be encouraged. In addition each written sentence is punctuated with numbers which correspond to the accompanying questions and provide gaps for the repetition from the tape which the tets are designed for. "Répétez après le bip!"

We are also  treated to some black and white photographs here and there which give a subtle foretaste of the greater use of authentic cultural material which will feature in later courses. Opportunities for song also feature throughout the Stage 1 book. We also see an early version of the grammar frame, those boxes where you pick and choose words to make sentences; I was never a big fan of those, and we see them less now.

So once again, we have a book in the British tradition of an oral approach within situations, a kind of adjusted direct method, influenced in the Longman case by behaviourist learning theory, rooted within a strongly grammatical framework where the long-term aim is to produce pupils with internalised grammatical knowledge who can use the language creatively and accurately. Selection and grading of material are rigorous, especially with the Gilbert book.

No monkey this time, but we do get a family: the Marsaud parents and their children Jean-Claude, Pierre and Claudette (no people from non-white ethinic groups - I guess it didn't occur to anyone really).

Books like this were written for bright children at grammar schools, independent schools and the upper sets of early comprehensives. Could they be used now? Well, yes. The method is pretty sound, though you would adapt the exercises to use greater pair work (easy enough) and you would supplement it with some of the resources we have got used to, for example interactive computer exercises.

I still like the use of the family as a source of stories and humour and to provide a thread of continuity. I like less the almost total lack of cultural content and the single-minded use of one method, sound though it is.

Another time I'll take a look at Le Français par l'Image - a sort of Cours Illustré "lite" for less brilliant pupils.

Comments

  1. Interesting. Why do you like the lack of cultural content?

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  2. You may have misread. I said that I would rather see more cultural content. Interestingly when Tricolore came out a few years later, in 1980-ish, it was full of English and cultural references. That was a major sea-change in course books for brighter children. The question-answer method was moreorless gone.

    Thanks for the comment, Miss Brodie!

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  3. Je suis antillian de chinoise descent, et avais utilizer ces livres, Stage A1, A2, aux deuxièmes plus que troisieme ans. Je me souviens de la chanson et la voix d'homme sur la bande magnétique, "Longman Audio Visual French, Stage A2. Published and copyright by Longman Group Limited, 1976." Very British accent over background accordian music.... Ingrained in the membrane!

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  4. I was taught with this for a couple of months before the school went back to Whitmarsh. By the end of the first book we had barely progressed beyond "Jean-Claude est dans le jardin. Maman est dans la cuisine." We learnt more in our first week with "More Rapid French".

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  5. I used to be in an Independant school and went through the Longman course and remember the Marsaud family. Jean Paul, Claudette and marie France. We used to have a slide projector and a tape recorder.

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  6. I remenber this all too well with the slide projectors and the old fashioned tape players with the bleep in between when the slide had to be changed- Great memories

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  7. I would imagine the quality of the memories has something to do with the quality of the teacher using the course. Important message there perhaps!

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  8. wonderful review. I have rescued a lot of tapes from this era and have put a few clips on my website, if anyone is interested it is here: www.eclectiktronik.tk (see the language lab section, right hand side).
    Apart from that Longmans and Tricolore mentioned in your review, some other common courses from late 60s to late 80s were: Nuffield calatrava (Spanish), and En avant, Vorwärts (German), Le français d'aujourd hui, and later Deutsch Heute (hard!) and Passeport (like an easier version of Tricolore).

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  9. wonderful review. I have rescued a lot of tapes from this era and have put a few clips on my website, if anyone is interested it is here: www.eclectiktronik.tk (see the language lab section, right hand side).
    Apart from that Longmans and Tricolore mentioned in your review, some other common courses from late 60s to late 80s were: Nuffield calatrava (Spanish), and En avant, Vorwärts (German), Le français d'aujourd hui, and later Deutsch Heute (hard!) and Passeport.

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. I taught using Le français d'aujourd'hui for a while. It was aimed fair and square at the grammar/independent market. Very solid, but a bit dull, as I recall.

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  12. Thanks for a very interesting blog. I'm doing an MA in English Language teaching at the moment. One of the things we are looking at is the audio visual method. What are your thoughts are on the place of the audiovisual method? I'm thinking about the move from grammar translation towards the communicative approach and target language.

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  13. Thanks for leaving a comment. It may be best if I refer you to a series of recent blogs I wrote about conscious and unconscious second language learning. Just go to frenchteachernet.blogspot.co.uk and scroll down or search. Audio-visual was a bit of a passing craze, when behaviourism. However, the notion that repeated drill practice can be effective is still influential. The idea that you can "stamp in" language behaviours is largely discredited now, however.

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  14. I learned French (and German) by the audio lingual method and loved it-we were an experimental class in a grammar school in NI. I was disappointed when we eventually moved to grammar books to prepare for O level. As a new teacher I taught the Longman books and my favorite section was the story recreation at the end of the unit. My goal was always to have pupils use and create from what they had learned. After a move to the US I had trouble adjusting to the grammar heavy texts and fortunately had the freedom to select and create, something I still do with the move to use of authentic texts. Somewhere for I still have an "orange" covered Longman Level I book - from Canada I believe - that I keep probably for nostalgic purposes. Periodically I recreated the "Marsaud" family under different names but the children were much more mischievous!

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    1. Thanks for commenting. When I read tweets and blogs from US teachers I get the impression that TPRS/CI (à la Krashen) approaches have gained traction as a reaction against overly grammatical text books.No doubt a book like the abovefalls into that category. I quite liked it, but it was repetitive and lacked interesting texts and pairwork opportunities if I recall correcty. Long time ago!

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  15. Wasn't there a dog too? Bruno le chien as I recall.

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    1. The creature's only purpose in life was to have "un bel os" at one stage, not to satisfy his hunger but to illustrate what happens to beau before a masculine noun starting with a vowel.

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  16. Hi Steve. Love this - thanks for the blog. I'm doing some research for a novel and wonder if you could help please? Can you please advise what age group the Longman A1 would have been appropriate for (when it was in circulation) and what age group A2 would have come in please? I remember the A2 blue cover book (silhouette of fairground ride) but cannot remember how old I was when using it. Any help most welcome. Thank you.

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    1. Hi. Book A1 was for 11-12 year-olds (first year of secondary school). A2 was for the next year (age 12-13).

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