Title Aspekte deutscher Gegenwart: Text und Übungen (Band 1)
Author Alan Jones, Gudrun Lawlor, John Hill, Oranna Speicher
Publisher Advance Materials
ISBN 978-0954769574
Reviewer Thomas Underwood

This is a new edition of Aspekte deutscher Gegenwart, with the original having been published in 1999. There are eight chapters, covering typical A’ level topics such as Bildungswesen and Flüchtlingskinder. Each chapter also revises a different grammatical point. The book is photocopiable.

The premise of the book is to provide extra reading practice for A’ level students and to compliment work covered in class. Each of the chapters is free-standing, although the first three are more accessible in terms of vocabulary, and they can be used in any order. There is also a useful student’s information page, with advice on how to approach the various texts and tasks, with strategies for reading German. A list of instructions in German and English is also presented, e.g. ‘im Kasten’, ‘merken Sie sich..’ and I like the fact that the book emphasises linking phrases to add structure to a students vocabulary.

Each chapter begins with a few sentences introducing the topic and then the main text. These vary from newspaper articles, to excerpts from brochures, to an interview taken from a website. There follows a range of comprehension questions and exercises to highlight vocabulary, such as finding definitions and synonyms or an 'exam style' Wortsuche. The pages and formatting are very clear and the reader is never overloaded with too much information to digest. Each chapter also contains a short grammar section, explaining a common point from the text. There are also suggestions for extending written tasks (with model answers) and for class discussions. I particularly liked the 'Fürs Notizbuch' section, which highlights key vocabulary, structures and idiomatic phrases to be used elsewhere. At the end of each chapter there is also a 'Lösungen und Erläuterungen' section with explanations, not just answers.

If I were to find fault in the book, I could argue that the topics felt 'too safe' and not particularly appealing for sixth formers, especially if the aim is to practice reading and to acquire vocabulary, rather than assist in the teaching of a particular
A’level topic. The sources on page three highlight the fact that some of the texts are over ten years old - have the facts about the Obdachlose been updated since? Nevertheless, Aspekte deutscher Gegenwart is a valuable and accessible resource and would make an excellent self-study pack for sixth formers