Conditions of Use
The textbook covers traditional topics and grammar points that would be taught in a first semester Spanish course (greetings, self-description, like and dislikes, family, student life, etc., and provides a detailed index and glossary. read more
The textbook covers traditional topics and grammar points that would be taught in a first semester Spanish course (greetings, self-description, like and dislikes, family, student life, etc., and provides a detailed index and glossary.
No errors were found in overall accuracy of the content and no detection of any specific bias.
Author-produced content is very generic with standard vocabulary and grammar concepts that would not face any challenges in relevance and has up-to-date comments on rulings by the Real Academia as well as cultural applications to the Spanish spoken in different Spanish-speaking countries. Regarding updates: Links to YouTube videos would need to be checked as I found a few broken/no longer valid links. Regarding actual content of YouTube videos: Most college students I teach would not relate to presentation of basic concepts such as numbers and the alphabet that use videos intended for very young children. That said, I fully appreciate their approach of "learning like a child does" and I often emphasize this myself, but more in the sense of accepting what seems "weird" in another language as simply "different".
The authors have certainly made every attempt to include detailed explanations of all grammar and vocabulary content and give thorough explanations of terminology with ample examples. I do feel, however, that the overall clarity in a generic sense is undermined by excessive information when introducing pronunciation/vocabulary/grammar concepts. Since the textbook constantly recycles these topics, it would be helpful to have content presented in each chapter in shorter, simpler texts or "chunks" with immediate follow-up practice. The scaffolding approach for this flipped classroom design where the classroom is the "lab," as the authors describe it, would be more effective if it were more streamlined with a much more incremental distribution overall throughout the chapters. This is especially true of Chapter 1 which focuses exclusively on the alphabet, vowels, syllable division, and cognates. Even though it is all recycled later, it would overwhelm the average beginner student. Perhaps have a few simple introductory "meet-and-greet" dialogues, reinforcing pronunciation and cognates along the way. Students are eager to experience the conversational aspects of a language from the beginning in terms of feeling that they are making progress, and even if this might be introduced in the classroom in Chapter 1, this is not evident in the actual textbook. Even the most 'grammar-oriented' students want to 'feel' the language by using simple speech formulas from the onset.
The overall presentation of material follows a consistent pattern throughout. I feel it would be more balanced if each chapter contained more prep for each of the skill areas, especially in terms of what will be practiced in the actual classroom as follow-up.
Modularity is hampered by overly dense explanations of grammar and pronunciation in large chunks which would necessitate excessive editing to redistribute content and practice exercises.
Organization / Structure / Flow: Density of introductory information, as mentioned before, needs to be simplified and/or redistributed for recycling so that extra details (expansion on grammar points, etc.) are added on an incremental basis while reinforcing what was learned previously.
From a standpoint of grammar, a couple of comments on IOPs (Indirect Object Pronouns) and DOPs (Direct Object Pronouns) taught in Chapter 4:
1. I personally teach direct object pronouns *before* indirect object pronouns (with the exception of the isolated case of IOPs used with the verb GUSTAR that beginners learn very early on) since sentence structure in Spanish is so different from English when it comes to object pronouns. If you teach IOPs first, you still have direct objects in the sentence (either literally or implied). It is much easier for me to introduce the concept of object pronouns with DOPs first since you can use examples that don't require an IOP.
2. My students would find it extremely difficult to read the introductory explanations and examples and then come up with 5 original sentences of their own in the exercise that follows because they would likely confuse IOPs and DOPs. This would be counterproductive in a follow-up practice in "Spanish lab class" if checking what they prepared as homework because there is so much room for error and/or confusion.
3. I would stick to either using the abbreviation exclusively in English (IOP) or exclusively in Spanish (POI). Section 8 of Chapter 4 goes back and forth between the two. While this is obvious to instructors, for beginner students: not so much.
I did not find any major issues with navigation or distortion of images. For the most part, I like the study suggestions for students such as using color-coding; the suggestion for using red and blue to emphasize English vs. Spanish on flashcards that students make themselves is good use of visual + tactile learning techniques.
There is very little I could find in terms of errors, although the occasional missing accent mark/typographical error can be found (p. 13, "infacia.") and a more important error in the title of the Ch. 5 reading (Section 8) = «La *comprehension* ( = comprensión) de la lectura». That was a rather glaring error for me considering how much emphasis there has been on spelling, syllable division and accent marks and the fact that students are instructed to read this aloud for pronunciation practice.
From a standpoint of linguistics and the evolution of the Spanish language/basic social customs in various Spanish-speaking countries, this book has excellent information and references. In terms of actual (simple) cultural readings, I found the text sadly lacking, but this could be because the instructor is expected to incorporate cultural input in the classroom through graphics/videos/interviews available on Internet with Spanish-speakers from various countries. The Chapter 8 reading on Madrid definitely needs visual back-up which should be supplied in class since it would be easy to find visual references on Internet. It would also be fun for students to see photos of street life, living accommodations (ref: Ch. 4), and scenes from the Plaza Mayor, tapas bars, etc.
In general terms, this certainly viable for beginning students of Spanish. That said, there is a lot to assimilate in each chapter given the current organization of the textbook. I would personally find it difficult to chunk out all the grammar points into more digestible bits and redistribute them in a different way throughout the semester, but that's just my personal teaching style: many of my students would find it hard to focus and keep up with the at home assignments in order to be prepared for in-class reinforcement and practice. I am wondering if there is a sample unit for teachers with content that complements the textbook: files, slides and links to graphics that coordinate in-class work with at-home preparation. This could be very useful for those who wish to incorporate this book into their curriculum.
The textbook uses a relatively mechanical approach for the purpose of developing language proficiency. There is a heavy emphasis on phonetics, which may prove helpful for instructors who want to focus on pronunciation. The textbook provides text... read more
The textbook uses a relatively mechanical approach for the purpose of developing language proficiency. There is a heavy emphasis on phonetics, which may prove helpful for instructors who want to focus on pronunciation. The textbook provides text and/or video explanations that are meant to prepare students to apply that information during class time (flipped-classroom approach). However, if desired, instructors could easily reverse the sequence to provide input during class and then assign practice activities at home. Also, the textbook contains suggested homework activities that function as review.
The activities are primarily based around reproducing language structures in the context of introductions, plans, housing, family, and community. Overall, the presentation of material moves from input to output via guided practice (fill-in the blank, ending sentences, multiple choice, etc.). At times, the process jumps from interpretation to production. In one example, students read a dialogue and are then asked to reproduce a similar text. The activities are primarily form-focused, with some communicative-based elements.
The textbook includes an index that contains grammatical themes. The index states in which unit a concept is taught and to what objective it refers. It also has a Spanish-to-English glossary and English-to-Spanish glossary; both identify the terms’ parts of speech.
There were no obvious errors in this textbook, but it did contain non-standard explanations. The textbook defines Latino in a way that this reviewer had not seen before in a language textbook: “‘‘Latino’ means the language of a group of people was derived from Latin. The different countries that speak Italian, French, Romanian and Portuguese are Latinos.” Some of the cognates in the first chapter’s list may not be exact (así así, muy bien)
As with many OER textbooks, embedded YouTube videos may not be available in the future.
The units center around topics that have traditionally been in introductory language courses: introductions, family, house, etc. As such, the textbook could easily be used in conjunction with other materials.
Some of the embedded videos are designated for young children and may seem inappropriate for adult learners.
Grammatical information is primarily based around the rules established by the RAE, with some consideration to regional differences.
Overall, the textbook’s textual explanations are relatively simple. However, the focus on grammatical detail could prove off-putting for a novice learner. In one example, the textbook explains direct object pronouns by dividing sentences into its subject and predicate, which includes the core, or conjugated verb. Many of the video explanations, particularly those of YouTube's Sr. Jordon, are accessible and focus on the general ideas behind grammatical concepts. One exception is the first chapter’s fourth video (from the alphabet unit) which is entirely in Spanish and discusses the difficulty of differentiating the pronunciation of ““elle” (ll) and “ye” (y) and the dialectal differences.
Furthermore, there are fewer video explanations as the grammar concepts become more difficult, or as the textbook progresses. Proper scaffolding might be necessary to prepare students to read written explanations alone. If students are prepared to read one to two pages of grammar explanation without aid, this will not be an issue.
Some of the self-check statements should be more specific to promote greater self-reflection. For example, the Can-I-Statement “Can I understand the main differences between Spanish and English?” can refer to many differences between the two languages. Many Can-I-Statements center around language structures rather than communication: "Can I use correct the sound of consonants C, G, J and H with each vowel?"
Overall, the textbook is consistent in its explanations. A more minor issue is that of the use of color glossing. The textbook explains that it will use red to denote the use of Spanish and blue for English, however, there were times when blue was used with Spanish expressions. (In Chapter 2, section 4, in the chart labelled “Expressions for meeting someone” both ¿De dónde es usted? And ¿Qué estudia usted? are written in blue)
The textbook follows the traditional progression of contextualized units that begins with the individual to the broader context. While interlaced with learning objectives focused on grammar, the units’ learning objectives evolve from describing oneself into describing one’s home, to describing their community, etc.
Students practice metacognition by reading and viewing explanations at home, after which they can use the self-check list to determine if they need more help. An accompanying practice quiz (with answers) would help to prevent an overestimation of acquired skills. In unit 4, lesson 6, students are asked to quiz themselves during their self-evaluation; however, they are recalling language structures (conjugating verbs in a chart) rather than utilizing language structures for meaningful communication.
The textbook’s overall sequencing prioritizes pronunciation and reproduction of grammar concepts above all else. This means that students learn about diphthongs, dividing words into syllables, tonic syllables, before learning how to introduce themselves.
With a few exceptions, there were not any navigation issues. The link to the 2nd video in alphabet section of the first chapter is broken
The link to the 1st video in the section about numbers of the second chapter is broken.
Overall, the textbook does not contain overt errors. Any errors do not impede comprehension. For example, an extra letter might be highlighted in a glossing, or an extra exclamation point is used.
The textbook recognizes variations in pronunciation and vocabulary. It discusses the dangers of generalizing about populations under the section “Hispano o latino o hispanohablante?”. This emphasis on being careful to how we refer to people is also observed in their notation about the term americano, which they states does not only mean those from the United States. Notably, while defining the term Latino, the section does not define hispano or hispanohablante. Overall, there is little discussion of cultural practices, perspectives, or products throughout the textbook. The textbook explain that they use red to denote Spanish meanings because “red is a very emotionally intense color. It enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate, and raises blood pressure.” Such imagery is suggestive of the stereotype that Spanish-speaking cultures are inherently passionate.
This textbook for true beginners presents vocabulary and grammar generally covered during first semester Spanish (it's important to note that this covers only first semester material; it does not introduce past tense). The focus is heavily on... read more
This textbook for true beginners presents vocabulary and grammar generally covered during first semester Spanish (it's important to note that this covers only first semester material; it does not introduce past tense). The focus is heavily on vocabulary and grammar, and cultural information is fairly minimal. It is meant to be used in the "flipped classroom" format, with students studying the material at home and coming prepared to practice communicating in class. As such, it includes scaffolded notes and homework in the form of workbook-style activities. It is also meant to be used with a well-developed list of ancillary online materials such as videos (housed on a separate website) which provide vital auditory input. Appendices include glossaries and a list of objectives by unit, as well as a comprehensive index. However, a simple, concise list of exactly which vocabulary themes and grammar concepts are covered in each chapter would be a helpful addition to the table of contents.
I did not find any major errors or biases in the content.
Since the content is mainly focused on grammar and vocabulary, it will not become outdated easily. The links to multimedia materials are housed on a separate website and presumably could be updated there. The text was made to be used at SUNY Geneseo, so there are some references to Geneseo, which could easily be changed by users at other institutions.
The grammar explanations are very thorough and accessible – it is clear that they were written by experienced teachers who can anticipate students’ common questions and problem areas, and terminology is clearly explained. In a few cases, the unit objectives themselves could be rephrased for more specificity and clarity (for instance, “Understand some grammatical structures in Spanish to form sentences and questions correctly”).
The use of grammar terminology is a bit inconsistent in the beginning-of-chapter objectives lists. E.g., in Unit 4, two of the objectives are “Create sentences with both direct and indirect objects pronouns” and “Express activities related to daily routines and personal care” – one objective seems grammar focused and the other communicative. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the grammar topics covered in each chapter were listed somewhere, as mentioned above. Units are structured consistently; the list of objectives is given at the beginning and each section in the unit corresponds to one objective.
Each unit contains multiple sections corresponding with each unit objective, and those sections are further divided into presentation and practice activities, so the text is easily divisible. There is a lot of recycling of material, though, which could complicate reorganization. Given that recycling material is good pedagogy in language learning, I am not sure how this could be avoided.
The units are so big and contain so much information that I find it hard to stay mentally organized with this text (again, a simple list of what is covered in each chapter would help here). The large amount of recycled material is a good thing pedagogically speaking but contributes to the sense of “I don’t know what is covered where.” In the same way, the vocabulary lists at the end of the chapters are alphabetical and up to four pages long, which makes them overwhelming – it would be more user-friendly if they were grouped thematically.
In terms of topics, detailed information about accentuation (and also a list of 100 random cognates, from angel to pine to virgin) is presented in Unit 1, before students have even learned greetings, which are presented in Unit 2. The rest of the vocabulary and grammar is organized more or less consistently with how it is often presented at the elementary level.
There are no issues with the display, though I occasionally found the use of color coding in vocabulary lists and grammar examples to be a bit confusing. The text is a static PDF. It would be more user-friendly if it included navigational links and links to the online materials, instead of their being housed in a completely separate website.
Overall the grammar is correct, with the rare error (I noticed the missing preposition a in “aprendamos agrupar/pronunciar” in a few places in Unit 1). There are some minor punctuation and capitalization errors (e.g. "saludos Informales", p. 33; dónde/cómo missing question marks, p. 44; commas following a+pronoun phrases, pp. 54-56) that likely would not distract students and could be easily corrected.
Regional linguistic differences are often highlighted in the text; the discussion of regional difference in pronunciation in the first unit is excellent. The exception to this is that I did not see the use of vos mentioned anywhere. There is a detailed discussion in English of generalizations and stereotypes in Unit 4, as well as basic cultural information included in the form of brief readings in Spanish (a few examples of topics are Celia Cruz and naming conventions). While there is nothing in the text that is explicitly offensive, there is a lack of any discussion of the issue of gender and gender-inclusive language in Spanish (an absence underlined by the frequently used "girl with hairbow" and "boy with bowtie" clip art). The lack of images is also a missed opportunity to generate interest in the variety and diversity of the Spanish-speaking world.
This is a solid first-semester Spanish textbook in terms of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation, and the authors obviously put time and effort into its creation and the curation of its ancillary materials. It is well-grounded in ACTFL can-do statements, targeting novice students and walking them through the language step by step, with lots of encouragement and useful metacognitive strategies along the way. The instructor will need to supplement this text with additional cultural materials.
Table of Contents
- Unidad 1: Los sonidos del español
- Unidad 2: ¿Quiénes somos?
- Unidad 3: Mis planes
- Unidad 4: En mi casa
- Unidad 5: En la comunidad
- Verbs: Spanish to English
- Glosario Español
- Glosario Inglés
- Objetivos por unidad
About the Book
You have learned two words in a second language just by reading the title of the book. Think about that for a moment and reflect upon your prior foreign language experiences. Often, students enter language classes with previously acquired skills, be they from secondary school or another college. Many say, “I have studied Spanish for years and don’t know how to speak or write it,” while others are a bit anxious about taking a second language for the first time, but all are overwhelmed by the expensive textbooks and online packages that don’t seem to be practical or relevant. We sought to change these common complaints by creating materials that take a new approach to learning a second language based upon the skills that we deem most useful and that will enable our students to confidently express themselves in Spanish.The text is designed for beginning Spanish language students. The pedagogical approach incorporates the flipped classroom methodology.
About the Contributors
Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams, SUNY Geneseo
Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams and Rocío Vallejo-Alegre have been working together for 11 years, sharing their friendship and their passion for the Spanish language. They started at SUNY Geneseo teaching Spanish. Together they developed a series of 3 books, Yo puedo; Spanish for beginning and intermediate level students. Yo puedo, or “I can” in English, seeks to share the magic that the Spanish-speaking world offers while giving students the tools to communicate with others with confidence. In 2018 they started a program called “Learning English and Spanish TOGETHER” with the idea of breaking the language barrier by teaching English to migrant farm workers in Livingston County, helping them build a sense of belonging to the community. At the same time, the program created the opportunity for SUNY Geneseo students to practice their Spanish, develop teaching skills, and learn about other cultures as future global citizens. In summer 2020, with the goal of offering a sustainable program, a safe space for the continuity of English lessons and connecting families with community services, they decided to create a non-profit organization for this win-win program. In January 2021, Cultures Learning TOGETHER, Inc., the new non-profit organization, received the 501(c)(3) approval, a big milestone for TOGETHER. When you purchase their books, you also are part of this effort of building equity and inclusivity in the community as the royalties of the books are donated to “Cultures Learning TOGETHER, Inc”.