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AMEP Research Centre

The Great South Land

The Great South Land
by HAZEL DAVIDSON and DOROTHY COURT
Published by NCELTR, Macquarie University
ISBN 1 862 086 939 RRP $12.95
Review by Steve Holden

Combining a reader, a cassette and worksheets, The Great South Land is pitched at English language students (ASLPR 0+, 1- and 1 or CSWE I-!!) through a narrative about European exploration and the early settlement of Australia.
While the aims of the book are firmly to do with the development of language skills, delivered by means of an historical sketch, that sketch itself is certainly not under-researched. That's just as well, considering the target audience. The text covers settlement by Aborigines, by fishermen from Sulawesi, the era of European exploration (with reference to Columbus's journey to America - referring quite correctly to the Italian explorer), the wreckage of Dutch ships, Cook's voyages, and the arrival of the First Fleet, obviously with more detail in the post-elementary text than in the low-elementary one. Using matching, crossword, cloze, true and false and descriptive activities, The Great South Land is a solid language learning resource, but it's nice to see that the authors Helen Davidson and Dorothy Court have gone beyond this. I suspect that was part of the brief from series editor, Alan Williams. While the reader can be used in a fairly systematic way, the authors also encourage a discursive approach: bring along some cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, tamarind to prompt discussion.