Title Aspekte deutscher Gegenwart: Texte und Übungen – Band 2
Author John Hill, Alan Jones, Gudrun Lawlor and Oranna Speicher
Publisher Advance Materials
ISBN 0 9532440 1 6

The Advance Materials publication Aspekte deutscher Gegenwart: Texte und Übungen – Band 2 has been devised with the aim of helping students to become more confident in reading longer texts in German and also so that students can work through the material independently, developing reading strategies, vocabulary and general language awareness on the way. I thought it was very successful in both respects.

Each chapter opens with a longer text on a variety of topics (Schule, Familienleben, die Arbeitswelt, Werbung or Ausländer oder Deutsche for example), which is then followed with a clear progression of exercises (from ‘vocabulary access’ activities through varied comprehension tasks to some productive tasks), with relevant explanations dotted here and there on such matters as cognates, past participles used as adjectives or word-order rules among others. The exercises are engaging and the explanations given are very clearly written but the key to the success of this book as a book you would encourage your students to use for private study are the “Lösungen und Erläuterungen” sections at the end of each chapter. These ensure what the book’s declared aim is: that students should never feel stuck and never have any pretext for giving up trying. To a large extent, this book does for reading skills what a good teacher would do, but as it is devised for independent work, both the struggling students and the more advanced ones can benefit from using it, as they can obviously focus on what they need and go at their own pace.

This book can also be put to good use by photocopying a given chapter without the answers section and setting it as coverwork for a few lessons or as homework, especially if one feels at first that this is the best way to convince students to try it out.

In fact we liked it so much in our department that we thought the only reproach we could make was that it was too short! We are already waiting for the follow-up version and in the meantime will make sure that our pupils get exposed to it, both for independent study and as homework.