Title Voilà! 2
Author Gwen Berwick and Sydney Thorne
Publisher Nelson Thornes
ISBN 0 7487 9094 1
Reviewer Thomas Underwood

Voilà 2 is the second book in a new series by NT. There are two levels to the course, Voilà and Voilà clair, which is specifically written for lower ability pupils, within the National Curriculum levels 1-4. The ‘student’ books are backed up by a range of other resources, including the teacher’s book, audio CD, resource file and ICT CD-Rom. The pre-publication publicity is directed at motivating pupils to carry on with French and includes the slogan “Don’t let them drop French!”

The student’s book is divided into twelve chapters, followed by an ‘à ton tour’ section, dedicated to independent study, a clear grammar section and a colour-coded French to English glossary. The table of contents manifests a wide range of topics, with associated grammar coupled with learning objectives.

Each chapter is split into four subtopics, each with their own grammatical and vocabulary objectives. These are then succeeded by a manageable chunk of vocabulary and a summary page. The ‘recycling’ function allows students to revise work hitherto covered in book 1 and I like the way that some of these begin with an ‘open-ended’ question, prompting perhaps a class discussion.

There are (possibly too) many tasks available on each page and although the language does get progressively more difficult, the length of reading text rarely changes. The activities are mostly brief (aside from a few listening exercises) and there are not as many extending writing tasks (although these are catered for in the resource file). On a personal level I would have also liked to have witnessed a greater range of vocabulary and perhaps the introduction of constructions such as après avoir and avant de. The later chapters do however cater for greater independent use of the language, demanding for example responses to advertisements, magazine articles and a description of a football match. The revision sections also encourage independent study and / or homework exercises. These are once again varied and clearly laid out.

The resource file is a very valuable accompaniment to the Voilà course and indeed as a stand-alone resource. The book is divided up into the twelve chapters of Voilà 2, followed by a series of ‘tests’ in each of the four skill areas. There is again a distinct difference in levels between ‘clair’ and the normal standard. Each chapter has separate sections with listening, speaking, reading and writing exercises and in addition there is a useful summary of expected levels of vocabulary and grammar. The exercises contained within are wide-ranging and interesting. There is also greater depth to the reading activities.

On the whole this is a very well organised set of text books, with a variety of short tasks, leading to more extensive activities in the last few chapters. I believe it would serve its purpose well for any teacher wanting a teacher / text book-led French class. I do however have issues with the blurb on the back of the course book and in the prepublication material. How will 12 or 13 year old pupils react when greeted by a frumpy teenage girl and her equally uninspiring friend on page one?!