Title Klasse! Neu 1
Author Corinna Schicker and Morag McCrorie
Publisher Oxford University Press, 2005
ISBN 0-19-840644-4
Reviewer Gary Woods

Klasse! Neu 1 is an updated version of the OUP beginners’ German course first published in 2001, and it will undoubtedly find the same favourable response among teachers of German as its older sibling. Corinna Schicker and Morag McCrorie are both experienced authors in the field of German textbooks, and their skill in writing engaging and motivating courses is again apparent here.

The textbook is in full colour throughout and is visually very appealing. It is supported by a wide range of other materials – workbooks for both reinforcement and extension, teacher’s book, copymasters, CDs/cassettes, an OHT file and flashcards; regrettably these materials were not available for review, but if they are written to the standard of the support materials for the original Klasse! course, then they will be an important element of the whole package. Klasse! Neu 1offers full coverage of the MFL Framework, and for those of you who like to keep your jargon menu up-to-date, we are promised that each double-page spread offers both ‘starters’ and ‘plenaries’.

Klasse! Neu 1 leans heavily on its predecessor in terms of language content, grammatical progression and page layout – indeed, some of the pages seem almost identical to the original Klasse! 1. Like the Urtext, this latest version is based around the lives of a group of young people living in a German town, this time the town of Hollfeld. The emphasis from the start of the course is on communication in the classroom through the medium of German, and before the first unit even begins, pupils are exposed to the language of classroom survival. The four skills are practised extensively in each unit, although there is perhaps less reading comprehension practice at times. This is compensated for by regular Lese-Spaß pages, in which the texts get gradually longer and more demanding.

Klasse! Neu 1 consists of nine units, which a more able group should be able to get through in a year. A more mixed group may well not manage to get to the end of this first book, but if German is taught from Year 8 it should be possible to cover the three books of this course by the end of Year 11. For those who start German in Year 9, it would be something of a challenge for a teacher to cover all this material in depth in one year. Each unit has grammatical explanations placed in boxes, and new grammatical forms are introduced gradually. With a group of more able pupils, the teacher would want to provide rather fuller explanations. There is a very useful Grammatik section at the end of the book which draws the grammatical framework together; the authors also provide lots of good exercises and answers (on separate pages). The Perfect Tense is not introduced until unit 9 (which is the last unit in the book), and its position seems a little odd to me – assuming that the book is covered in one year, why leave such an important grammatical topic until the very end of the year?

In common with the original Klasse! series, this book also contains a useful Wiederholung double-page spread after each three chapters, and reinforcement and extension activities for each unit at the back of the book. Bilingual glossaries round off the book; each unit also contains a list of key vocabulary and a checklist of what has been covered in the unit, both of which should help pupils revise effectively for tests.

In summary, this is an updated version of the original Klasse! 1 book, with some new features but also quite a lot that is similar. If teachers are already using the original version, they will probably be very happy with what they have got. For those who are looking to buy a new German course, Klasse! Neu 1 would be an excellent choice.