Title Avance 3
Author Colin Christie, Eleanor Mayes and Anneli McLachlan
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN 0340811900
Reviewer Tina Postalian
   


Avance is aimed at the KS3 Framework. The pupilís book 3 is accompanied by Teacherís Resource Book, Workbook Pack A & B, Cassette Set and CD Set.

At first glance, Avance is a colourful, and culturally contemporary textbook. It is topic-based in which grammar points are covered in context.

Listening exercises feature regularly in each unit. The matching and ordering tasks provide a good way of revising key vocabulary for each topic. The progression in listening exercises allows more varied tasks such as gap-fill dictations and grammar-based listening exercises. These more complex exercises, however, are limited in number, as are the more traditional table-fill and note-taking tasks with longer listening passages.

The large number of reading activities which involve matching captions to images are satisfactory, although for some activities, it seems that pupils would spend more time deciphering what the images exactly represent. In my opinion, the successful reading activities are those which are structured in their questioning and guide the pupil through dissecting a longer text. These tasks are aimed at developing pupilsí reading skills by first requiring the pupils to scan for vocabulary and grammar, to skim the passage for information, and only then to answer comprehension questions.

There is ample opportunity for speaking activities in each unit. I particularly like the oral starters which are not necessarily linked to the new topic, but provide a good opportunity to revisit typical conversation topics with the group. This mirrors the way our French counterparts start most of their language lessons, which proves to have good results at this level. The topic-related speaking exercises are mostly role-plays which I believe would need additional structure prior to the pupils benefiting from the task. In these cases, this would involve building a more extensive vocabulary with the pupils, as they would most probably not wish to stick to the limited range of expression given.

The writing exercises progress from word to sentence and then to text level, and can be used to consolidate new language. The tasks are varied and often supported with a writing frame. For the more able, however, there is not enough opportunity to be creative and independent in their writing, and they may well, once again, find the structures too limiting.

Despite the grammar section at the back of the book, the grammar points are not clearly specified within the units and there are not enough grammar exercises to support the speaking and writing tasks. It is not to my preference that the grammar points do not have their own index at the start of the book. The vocabulary list at the back of the book serves as a glossary, but in addition to this, I would equally value a list of vocabulary categorised by topic at the end of each unit.

On the whole, Avance has some interesting activities, but its lack of clear grammatical progression means that it does not encourage maximum production of language. I would question its ability to stretch the more able pupils.