Spanish I: Beginning Spanish Language and Culture
Matthew Dean, Humboldt State University
Copyright Year: 2020
ISBN 13: 9781947112421
Publisher: Humboldt State University Press
Conditions of Use
The usual vocabulary topics and grammatical structures in a university-level first semester Spanish book are included, although there are also some less typical structures included in the last chapter, such as commands and past tenses (the... read more
The usual vocabulary topics and grammatical structures in a university-level first semester Spanish book are included, although there are also some less typical structures included in the last chapter, such as commands and past tenses (the preterit), that aren't usually presented until later in the language sequence. The text is a bit light on cultural material, and some chapters, such as 4 and 5, seem to have little or none. While each individual chapter has a very detailed list of the topics included, which can be clicked on, there isn't any overall table of contents at the beginning of the book, nor an index at the end. It could also be helpful for students to have a glossary with the vocabulary presented at the end, and even some grammar charts.
The content is accurate for the most part, with only a few errors, such as the misspelling of "olvidó" in 1.1.c (olividó) or a missing question mark in the dialogue in 9.8. There is sufficient inclusion of linguistic diversity from the Spanish-speaking world.
There are up-to-date references, such as an exercise with the January 2021 calendar page, and the inclusion of popular music and cultural figures, but they can be easily substituted for newer material as time goes on. The use of the 2005 article on mileuristas seemed a bit dated, and although reference is made to subsequent Spanish microcultures, I would likely substitute this for a more recent article/topic.
Explanations are straightforward and clear for the most part, but the understanding of some basic grammar terms is assumed, such as the meaning of "verb conjugation" at the very beginning in 1.1. My experience has been that there are many beginning students who are not familiar with either the term or the concept of conjugating verbs. Also, in some cases it would be helpful to provide models for the homework assignments so that it's clear what the student is being asked to do.
The same format and approach is maintained throughout the text.
The text is set up so that there are eight sections in each chapter, with the same organization that supports the flipped classroom approach throughout. It would be very easy for an instructor to customize this structure to fit his or her own course, including or excluding sections in the various chapters.
Each section of each chapter includes three very distinct sections--two for the student to do before class and one for communicative interaction in class. This appears to be a very effective organization for the flipped classroom approach.
The pdf format is text heavy, which is fine although some visuals would be welcome. Clicking on the initial table of contents for the chapters or then within the list of sections for each chapter takes one to that chapter or section, which is helpful, but it would be useful to have a link to take one back to the beginning as well. There were some links to videos that functioned well and supported the material being presented. There also were symbols and references to audio files, but these did not work, and I assume that they are still to be added.
The grammar seems fine for the most part.
While there isn't a lot of cultural material included in the text, what there is reflects cultural sensitivity for the most part, such as the discussion of gender-neutral terms in Spanish. I did find surprising the use of the term "salesgirl" in 9.8 rather than "sales clerk" or "saleswoman."
I think that this would be a very usable text for the class for which it's designed as long as the instructor is prepared to bring in more cultural material. The only real difficulty that I see relates to a second introductory course since this is set up for for the first of what is often a two-course sequence, and it would not be ideal to have to introduce a completely different text and approach in the second semester.
This textbook covers the vocabulary and grammar concepts typically covered in first-semester Spanish at the college level. The overall approach is a traditional grammar-focused one with presentation-practice-production. Each chapter presents a... read more
This textbook covers the vocabulary and grammar concepts typically covered in first-semester Spanish at the college level. The overall approach is a traditional grammar-focused one with presentation-practice-production. Each chapter presents a detailed table of contents and list of clear learning objectives. In addition to sections on vocabulary and grammar, each chapter contains sections on pronunciation/spelling and a final section focused on a cultural text (written or video) linked out to the web. There is very little focus on learning about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world or on developing students' cultural competence. The textbook has no glossary. The main table of contents lists only the theme of each chapter but not the specific grammar concepts, vocabulary, or pronunciation topics.
The content is accurate and error-free.
The content (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation) is relevant and will not change much. The information presented is up-to-date -- for example, there is mention of the use of -@ as a gender marker.
The presentation of content and most instructions are written in English and are clear.
The organization of the textbook, terminology, and framework used are consistent across all chapters. The textbook uses a flipped classroom approach where students learn the content at home, complete form-focused practices at home, and engage in more interactive practices during class time. Chapters 2-4 end with a final capstone project.
The textbook is organized into smaller sections that could easily be reorganized for the purposes of a specific course.
The content of the textbook is organized moving from simple to more complex grammar concepts. Each chapter is based on a theme (i.e., La casa) and vocabulary lists are presented related to that theme. Each topic is presented in English, followed by form-focused practice to be completed at home, then more interactive practice to be completed in class. The focus is on output with very little attention to input.
The interface is easy to use and navigate with some embedded audio files and links to outside sites. There is very little in terms of visual input (images, photos). Some pronunciation sections prompt students to listen to a model, but no audio files are linked.
Is well-written and virtually free of grammatical errors.
The textbook could make better use of examples, texts, and visuals that reflect a variety of backgrounds and greater diversity. This could be improved through greater emphasis on learning about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, through integration of texts, multimedia, and visuals, and through examples incorporated in practices and presentations. For example, the vocabulary list on holidays includes traditional Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) but afterward asks students to look up any holidays that are relevant to them (Hanukkah, Ramadan). Perhaps these should be included in the main list.
This is a solid first-semester beginning Spanish textbook for those interested primarily in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Instructors will need to supplement this text with outside resources and assignments focused on developing students' proficiency in skill-building and cultural competence.
It covers most grammar and vocabulary topics (more so if it is for a quarter-based system), but it does not contain sufficient cultural material (realia, explanation, practice). (See ACTFL standards). For example, by p. 264 students should be able... read more
It covers most grammar and vocabulary topics (more so if it is for a quarter-based system), but it does not contain sufficient cultural material (realia, explanation, practice). (See ACTFL standards). For example, by p. 264 students should be able to google famous Spanish-speaking sports players and the U.S.-based list could be avoided. While there are communicative in-class activities (surveys), these are not particularly in-depth.
There's a typo on page 12. I think that, on page 132, the word "mostrador" as a translation of countertop is incorrect. "Mostrador" is usually the counter in a store (where one buys things, particularly in small stores). I think the word for countertop is encimera.
By concentrating on the basics the book will be easy to use from year to year. The Enrique Iglesias song could be swapped for another, as could the journal article. A seasoned instructor will be able to adapt it easily.
The book is clear, and the pronunciation guides and practice were excellent ("rr" p. 269, 2.2). It depends a lot on English however. I would like to see less English as the book progresses.
Yes, book is consistent.
Yes. The commands section towards the end seemed out of place and without purpose.
Yes, this works well. It recycles material, but not always in the most interesting way.
Yes, it's very simple and straightforward.
I commented above.
I don't think this book focuses enough on culture (see ACTFL standards).
I think this book would be good for a seasoned instructor who has experience developing their own materials and familiarity with the ACTFL standards. Experienced instructors with second language acquisition training can supplement the book with their own cultural materials (realia, etc.) and customize the communicative activities. This book does need supplementation in order to fulfill the ACTFL standards in communicative language and culture. I would remove the "commands" sections because it is unnecessary at this stage.
The book Spanish I is a very complete textbook. It covers the topics, vocabulary, communicative situations, grammar structures and cultural information that a student at the elementary level needs to communicate in Spanish in everyday life. I feel... read more
The book Spanish I is a very complete textbook. It covers the topics, vocabulary, communicative situations, grammar structures and cultural information that a student at the elementary level needs to communicate in Spanish in everyday life. I feel that the book covers what we usually study in the first two semesters of our Spanish sequence. The book includes an index at the beginning with the chapter titles (clickable). You need to visit each chapter to get a detailed outline of what is covered each chapter. A chart with the topics and learning outcomes in the first pages of the book or a more detailed index would provide readers with a general view of the book content from the beginning. There are some elements that stand out in this textbook compared to other Spanish textbooks. The book follows the flipped classroom approach: students have a set of assignments to do at home (sections “Para estudiar en casa” and “Para practicar en casa”) and then activities to do in class to practice what they have studied (“Para practicar en clase”). While most textbooks tend to reduce their written explanations (using videos or presentations to explain grammar and vocabulary instead), Spanish I includes lengthy ones. Because the author´s style is very accessible and he establishes connections with previously explained points, having these lengthy explanations actually helps students to assimilate the information. While most Spanish textbooks hide their strong grammatical orientation under claims of communicative approach, with Spanish I, you know from the beginning that you are studying grammar and why is necessary for you to learn it (the introduction for every section makes it clear). Spanish I includes extensive sections on pronunciation and vocabulary as well. Cultural information is mixed among explanations on vocabulary and grammar structures as cultural notes.
The content is accurate and presented in a methodical and accessible manner. The author always keeps in mind that his readers are students and novice not only in Spanish language, but also in matters of linguistic terminology and grammatical abstractions.
The content of the book is relevant. For the most part, it is written in a general way so that it will not require an update soon. On the other hand, the book includes frequent references to the local area and university that can confuse and won´t have the same identification effect in students from other institutions.
The text is clear and easy to understand. Although long, the explanations are written in a casual way that do not overwhelm students, the actual reader of the textbook. Spanish I includes many tables and charts that help presenting the information in a clear and organized way. The book does not include images or pictures that help to understand vocabulary. Images would make the text more appealing. The instructions on what students need to do are exceptionally clear.
The chapter and section´s structure is repeated and that provides consistency. Every section concludes with a self-evaluation (labeled “repaso”, review) and every chapter includes a Capstone project (a presentation, a dialogue played out, etc.) that put together all studied.
The table of contents, and the section titles in each chapter are clickable so it is easier to get to different sections of the book. The titles, subtitles and activities numbering are consistent and very helpful.
There is a clear structure that is repeated along the book. Spanish I is divided in 5 chapters and each chapter in 8 sections. The book follows the flipped classroom approach and that influences how it is organized: each section is divided in a set of assignments to do at home (“Para estudiar en casa” and “Para practicar en casa”) and then activities to do in class to practice what they have learned before (“Para practicar en clase”). With this approach, students become responsible of their own learning and class time can be spent on language practice rather than explanations on vocabulary and grammar. Several publishers seem to be transitioning to the flipped classroom approach by adding high-priced online platforms to their textbooks. Spanish I is a free alternative. The only disadvantage is that home assignments in Spanish I can´t be self-graded since it is a PDF (while home assignments in online platforms can be graded automatically saving a lot of time for instructors). It wouldn´t be too difficult for an instructor to review the answers at the beginning of class or provide the answer keys to students for self-evaluation though. The description of the book mentions that a complementary website with extra material for the textbook will be added soon. A website could provide the opportunity to create self-graded assignments to do at home.
The book is on PDF and can be downloaded or used online. It includes videos that require a connection to internet (actual links to online videos). I found a couple of symbols of audios in the book but they did not work. I assume those audios will be available in the upcoming complementary website for Spanish I. No distortions of charts. I would add some images.
There are no grammatical errors in Spanish I, only a few typos like “uno niño” (page 18) or “internationales” (page 45) that can be easily corrected in future editions.
The book includes cultural notes along the text mixed with linguistic explanations and it is not culturally insensitive or offensive. I would add more cultural information and examples of linguistic and cultural diversity in the Spanish-speaking world.
Spanish I is a good book to teach beginning level Spanish. Because it uses the flipped classroom approach, it is an excellence alternative to commercial textbooks that rely on online platforms for such flipped language teaching.
Table of Contents
- 1.En la universidad
- 2. La familia
- 3.En casa
- 4.De compras
- 5.Los pasatiempos
About the Book
This peer-reviewed textbook is designed for the true beginner with U.S. college students in mind. It contains themed chapters, which are divided into 8 sections. Each section has its own set of learning objectives, and is further separated into three types of assignments, Para estudiar en casa (with detailed explanations), Para practicar en casa (homework exercises), and Para practicar en clase (paired and group classwork activities). The explanations and primary input are written to be easily comprehensible. The individual exercises are geared towards acquisition of form and function, and the communicative classwork exercises promote interpersonal exchanges between students. The digital copy includes some embedded audio files, and we are developing a website to house many more resources.
About the Contributors
Dr. Matthew Dean grew up speaking only English. As an undergraduate, he began his exploration of Spanish, fell in love with the language and cultures, and never looked back. He began teaching Spanish at San Diego State University in 1997. Currently, he is Professor of Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Cultures at Humboldt State University. He has taught all levels of Spanish language, literature, and culture, and directed several study abroad programs. As a non-native Spanish speaker, Dr. Dean understands the struggles of the language learner. He has taught Spanish to thousands of community college and university students and invites you to start your language adventure today.