Schaum's Guides to Foreign Language Grammar and Vocabulary
These guides are excellent knowledge building books for foreign language students. They present information, exercises, and review in a straightforward manner, aimed to really help students learn and retain the language and its rules. The books assume some previous knowledge, so these should not be used as a first introduction to the language, but are recommended to supplement another program.
These are not fill-in-the-blanks-in-the-English-sentence-with-a-foreign-equivalent-exercises; rather they are completely in the foreign language. Therefore, your student must know enough to be able to complete sentences in that language or at least deduce the basic statement. The format of the books is similar so although examples here are from the Spanish book, they apply equally to the French and German, as well.
In the Vocabulary book, familiar, useful scenarios are used to help build vocabulary. These topics include being at the airport, train station, asking for directions, making a telephone call, at the clothing store, at the restaurant, shopping for food, at home, sports, the beach, the weather and many more. In each chapter, key vocabulary words are given in complete sentences, with the English translations of the word following. Then the student uses the new vocabulary to complete exercises written entirely in the target language.
Although this book is building vocabulary, they do need to know the basics already. For example, one question is ¿Hay mais de una _____ en el aeropuerto? While the Vocabulary provides the student with the word for "terminal," students will need to be able to read the rest of the sentence in order to answer. Each chapter contains plenty of exercises, plus lots of practice reading sentences and paragraphs (which is extremely beneficial and will go a long way in making students more comfortable with the language. Plenty of practice ensures that students will be able to retain the new vocabulary and use it correctly. At the end of each chapter, a more extensive list of key words is given with English translations in case students need more help to read the sentences. The back of the book holds a glossary containing most of the words, which students can also reference if they don't recognize words.
The Grammar book is very similar, packed with serious, productive exercises to give students practice with the rules of grammar. There is not much English in these books at all, but because the focus of this book is correct grammar, the sentences are kept simple. If students have a basic understanding of the language (basic words, pronouns, common verbs) they will be able to complete the exercises and learn from them even if they cannot yet recognize each word. The exercises in this book cover nouns and articles, adjectives, verbs (different tenses, conjugations, imperfects, perfect tenses, preterits, subjunctives, participles, reflexives, infinitives and passives), negatives, interrogatives, pronouns, irregular verbs, and special uses of certain verbs. This book would be excellent to work all the way through or to supplement a program by choosing related exercises.
Any high school student who wants to really know the language should definitely have a good handle on its grammar and vocabulary, and these are very complete books to ensure that. Answers are included. - Melissa