Learn to ask for more than espresso

Access Italian - Upgrade Your Italian
February 10, 2006

Access Italian: A First Language Course is aimed at students approaching Italian for the first time. It will suit those enrolled in leisure courses and independent learners as well.

The course is well organised and user friendly. The "Learning tips" scattered throughout the units will be particularly useful to those studying on their own, as will be the stress on revision and self-assessment. The topics covered include many usual suspects (introductions, food, travel and so on), and one has to get to page 43 to find anything longer than a single short sentence in Italian. But the second part of the volume includes more imaginative and more challenging activities. Integral to the units are the support book and audio pack (cassette or CD), which will be indispensable for independent study. The free website, on the other hand, is a welcome addition that offers a mix of extra information, links and tasks for learners and teachers who want to know more.

Upgrade Your Italian is aimed specifically at intermediate and advanced students who want to carry out a structured revision programme with the aim of ironing out bad habits, eliminating persistent errors and making that difficult jump between basic fluency and a richer range of lexical and register options.

The book is designed for individual use, but a teacher could exploit it in class or refer students to relevant sections. Its 30 units cover grammar, vocabulary and style, and include excellent chapters on, for instance, logical connectors, conditional sentences and false friends. Each unit provides a number of simple exercises with an answer key that will allow learners to judge their progress.

Many of these activities would lend themselves to the electronic format and, while an advantage of this slim volume is that it can travel easily with any student, a CD or a website might be more appealing to the increasingly large section of its potential market with access to a computer.

Loredana Polezzi is senior lecturer and head of Italian, Warwick University.

Access Italian: A First Language Course

Author - Alessia Bianchi and Susanna Binelli
Publisher - Hodder and Stoughton
Pages - 200
Price - £14.99
ISBN - 0 340 81296 6

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