We recently welcomed local author Gwen Brookes into the shop for our first non-English event (if that doesn't sound too grand) - an afternoon of French songs, stories and games to coincide with the publication of Gwen's Berthe the Witch books.
Language teaching is undergoing something of a revolution at the moment. The biggest change is the gradual introduction of language teaching aimed at 7-11 over the next few years. I can't profess to be expert on this, but it sounds a fantastic idea. Language teaching when I was a kid seemed to consist of endless rote-learning of verbs, accompanied by the reading of dull 60s-era textbooks about "Cos Le Facteur" (from memory) which has left me with huge mental block every time I've ever tried to speak French since.
Our event couldn't have been more different. Gwen is a local French teacher, and put together a series of songs, stories and games for the children who came along. What was impressive to watch was the kids learning and remembering the new words, and obviously enjoying the experience to boot.
And here's the proof:
Her books came about after Gwen - a French teacher of almost 30 years - became frustrated by the lack of simple story books for kids learning French, and wrote and self-published La Semaine de Berthe. Her visit to the shop coincided with the publication of the next two books in the series: Bonjour Berthe and Les Amis de Berthe.
The Times Educational Supplement said this about the first book: "The language is repetitive without being boring and a good basic vocabulary is introduced using common sentence structures children will be familiar with...there is a wealth of work to be obtained from this book. I look forward to seeing more in this series."
Each book retails for £3.99 - and if your interest is piqued and you can't pop into the shop in the foreseeable future, £14.00 buys you all three and shipping to anywhere in the UK...