Skip to main content

Review of Panorama francophone 1 by Danièle Bourdais and Sue Finnie



Panorama francophone is a CUP course designed specifically for students preparing for the ab initio International Baccalaureate exam. With an international audience in mind, you won't find any English in the student and teacher books, nor in the accompanying cahier d'exercices. Another possible audience might be general studies students in England who wish to do beginners' French.

The course consists of 14 chapters, beginning with Je me présente, then working through Tu es comment?, la vie quotidienne, Bon appétit, En ville, Mon paradis sur terre, Temps libre, Projets de vacances, Au lycée, Faites la fête!, La santé pour tous, L'Evolution du shopping, Nous les jeunes and Le français dans le monde.

Each chapter covers a general topic, sub-topics within and one or more grammar points, beginning with articles and ending with negation and government of verbs (two verbs together). Tenses are covered in the sequence present, near future, perfect, future, conditional and imperfect. Each chapter ends with a revision page.

To take one chapter as an example (Chapter 5, En ville): the opening page features a sign showing the entrance to Marseilles with a list of its twinned cities. This is the basis for some simple oral questions, which include revision of knowledge of la francophonie, covered at the start of the course. There follows some simple vocabulary building based on five pictures of French-speaking cities around the world. This is followed on the next page by a reading task to match short paragraphs with the correct city. There is then a grid to complete to show reading comprehension and a listening task (with audio coming from an accompanying CD).

Simple speaking and writing tasks are followed by further vocabulary building with the aid of authentic pictures and a game of vocabulary bingo. A matching reading task follows, putting simple definitions with places around town. At this point simple prepositions are introduced and practised by means of a memory game about describing part of a town centre. A street map of Vannes is the basis for a listening gap-fill, learning how to give and understand directions and use imperatives.  More listening and pair work follows.

The final double spread begins with factual information about Terre-de-Haut and Marrakech. This is used for a reading matching task and simple oral exploitation. information about the town of Clermont is then used to get students to eventually speak and write about their own town or village. Students are then asked to choose a twin town for their own and justify their choice. The revision page features information about Dakar with comprehension and writing task.

If this material feels a little immature, be reassured that later in Book 1 students are reading about vegetarianism, technology, online shopping, rights and duties of young people, bullying, friendship and voting at 16. No doubt Book 2 moves into more challenging territory.

The comprehensive teacher's book includes transcripts, solutions to exercises, ways to exploit the material and further information for teachers, including, for example, a description of how the imperative works.

I should mention the cahier d'exercices too. This is a separate booklet for students, in black and white, with a wide of exercises, some of them illustrated. You get gap-fill, word-searches, matching, odd-one-out, sentence construction from grids, multi-choice, crosswords, questions in French and more.


When I look at a book my first questions tend to be: is it interesting? Is it usable?How much would you not want to use? Does it need supplementing?

In this case, if you were working with IB students, this could be your sole resource and would provide ample material for classroom exploitation and homework. Inevitably, the easier material would be somewhat below the maturity level of 16-17 year-olds, but I'd assume they would be happy to play the game and recognise that basics need to be covered. Generally the content is interesting and informative, clearly aimed at an international audience, while the large format pages are clearly laid out, colourful without being gimmicky, with pictures serving a useful purpose. Where they are needed for specific teaching points they are clear.

The methodology is traditional topic-based supported by a grammatical progression with the main emphasis on vocabulary acquisition and comprehension. By the end of the book students are reading full pages of text. Teachers would need to decide how much time they would need to spend on the written tasks. If you know more about the IB than I do, you'll know where to lay the stress.Exercise types are all familiar, mainstream stuff by very experienced writers. Pretty much everything looks "do-able". This comes through in the teacher's book too.

In sum, this course looks very useful indeed for teachers and students doing ab initio IB and I would recommend it unreservedly.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A zero preparation fluency game

I am grateful to Kayleigh Meyrick, a teacher in Sheffield, for this game which she described in the Languages Today magazine (January, 2018). She called it “Swap It/Add It” and it’s dead simple! I’ve added my own little twist as well as a justification for the activity.

You could use this at almost any level, even advanced level where the language could get a good deal more sophisticated.

Put students into small groups or pairs. If in groups you can have them stand in circles to add a sense of occasion. One student utters a sentence, e.g. “J’aime jouer au foot avec mes copains parce que c’est amusant.” (You could provide the starter sentence or let groups make up their own.) The next student (or partner) has to change one element in the sentence, and so on, until you restart with a different sentence. You could give a time limit of, say, 2 minutes. The sentence could easily relate to the topic you are working on. At advanced level a suitable sentence starter might be:

“Selon un article q…

Google Translate beaters

Google Translate is a really useful tool, but some teachers say that they have stopped setting written work to be done at home because students are cheating by using it. On a number of occasions I have seen teachers asking what tasks can be set which make the use of Google Translate hard or impossible. Having given this some thought I have come up with one possible Google Translate-beating task type. It's a two way gapped translation exercise where students have to complete gaps in two parallel texts, one in French, one in English. There are no complete sentences which can be copied and pasted into Google.

This is what one looks like. Remember to hand out both texts at the same time.


English 

_____. My name is David. _ __ 15 years old and I live in Ripon, a _____ ____ in the north of _______, near York. I have two _______ and one brother. My brother __ ______ David and my _______ are called Erika and Claire. We live in a _____ house in the centre of ____. In ___ house _____ …

Preparing for GCSE speaking: building a repertoire

As your Y11 classes start their final year of GCSE, one potential danger of moving from Controlled Assessment to terminal assessment of speaking is to believe that in this new regime there will be little place for the rote learning or memorisation of language. While it is true that the amount of learning by heart is likely to go down and that greater use of unrehearsed (spontaneous) should be encouraged, there are undoubtedly some good techniques to help your pupils perform well on the day.

I clearly recall, when I marked speaking tests for AQA 15-20 years ago, that schools whose candidates performed the best were often those who had prepared their students with ready-made short paragraphs of language. Candidates who didn't sound particularly like "natural linguists" (e.g. displaying poor accents) nevertheless got high marks. As far as an examiner is concerned is doesn't matter if every single candidate says that last weekend they went to the cinema, saw a James Bond…

Worried about the new GCSEs?

Twitter and MFL Facebook groups are replete with posts expressing concerns about the new GCSEs and, in particular, the difficulty of the exam, grades and tiers. I can only comment from a distance since I am no longer in the classroom, but I have been through a number of sea changes in assessment over the years so may have something useful to say.

Firstly, as far as general difficulty of papers is concerned, I think it’s fair to say that the new assessment is harder (not necessarily in terms of grades though). This is particularly evident in the writing tasks and speaking test. Although it will still be possible to work in some memorised material in these parts of the exam, there is no doubt that weaker candidates will have more problems coping with the greater requirement for unrehearsed language. Past experience working with average to very able students tells me some, even those with reasonable attainment, will flounder on the written questions in the heat of the moment. Others will…

GCSE and IGCSE revision links 2018

It's coming up to that time of year again. In England and Wales. Here is a handy list of some good interactive revision links for this level. These links are also good for intermediate exams in Scotland, Ireland and other English-speaking countries. You could copy and paste this to print off for students.

Don't forget the GCSE revision material on frenchteacher.net of course! How could you?

As far as apps for students are concerned, I would suggest the Cramit one, Memrise and Learn French which is pretty good for vocabulary. For Android devices try the Learn French Vocabulary Free. For listening, you could suggest Coffee Break French from Radio Lingua Network (iTunes podcasts).

Listening
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/french/ (Foundation/Higher) http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/ (Foundation/Higher)
http://www.audio-lingua.eu/spip.php?rubrique1&lang=fr (Foundation/Higher) http://www.ashcombe.surrey.sch.uk/07-langcoll/MFL-resources/french/fr-video-index.shtml