Title French Extra 3 TV-ROM
Publisher Nelson Thornes, Channel 4
Reviewer Susie Lacey
   
 

Most teachers will be familiar with the Extra series on Channel 4 which is available in French, German and Spanish. The episodes are available on video or on three TV-ROMs which cost £49 each; a school site licence is £200.00. The disk features two episodes of a ‘Friends’ - style mini soap in French aimed at 14-19 year olds. The characters are instantly recognisable and suffer from exaggerated problems, which are easily understood. The humour is slap-stick and over the top, most classes can get the gist of what is going on without subtitles. The disk also includes a teachers' area and a students' area which features activities related to the episodes.

As one would expect, the quality of the recording and sound is much better than video, and I liked the choice of English, French or no subtitles. As the excellent teachers' guide suggests, the mute button can be used for a karaoke activity, with the students taking the role of one of the characters. Full transcripts are available in the students' area, and also as word documents in the teachers' area, making it easy to edit them and create cloze and other exercises. The episodes are also divided into three distinct sections, which make it easy to use the activities over a series of lessons. There is a glossary so students can look up some of the words in the transcripts, but I would have liked it to cover more of the vocabulary used.

The teachers' guide suggests many interesting class activities in addition to the activities supplied on the disk itself. There are some extension exercises such as written work based on the characters, supported by the transcripts and a secret diary section in the students' area. All exercises are produced as both PDF and word documents. A document relating the episodes and activities to the Nelson Thornes text books Encore Tricolore Nouvelle Edition 3 and 4 would be simple to adapt to any scheme of work.

The activities in the students' area are mainly grammatical, although there is an excellent exercise on slang used in the series, and the students have to have watched the episodes in order to complete the tasks. Grammar points raised by the episodes include modal verbs, vouloir, devoir and pouvoir; the perfect tense with avoir and être, and imperatives. The exercises would be ideal at GCSE while accessible to Years 8 and 9 and making good revision activities at AS Level. However the series' 14-19 year old age range seems optimistic; I could not imagine using this disk with an A2 class.

This series is definitely worth considering if you are looking for good resources to use with a data projector or smart board. The karaoke option and web link would also make it suitable for use in a digital language laboratory. However, most of the activities are available on the Channel 4 website, so if you already have the videos I would wait until new episodes are available.