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.