Mary O'Sullivan welcomes beginners' courses which make use of lively insights into aspects of Spanish culture.
It is a pleasure to be able to review new beginners' courses in Spanish. Who knows? After the dark ages we may be approaching a Golden Age. It is interesting that these two courses, although for different stages, adopt a similar approach.
Aventura 1 is a jolly, modern, fun book with instant appeal for Years 7 and 8. The quality of production is high and the colour, photographs and bright graphics give a childlike appeal. Pages are clear, uncluttered and attractive.
The pupil's book has a useful introduction which gives classroom instructions as a preparation for all subsequent instructions in the target language. At the end of every five units, whose objectives are clearly listed, there is a self-evaluation test for consolidation and assessment. There are regular cultural insets into each unit of the pupil's book - some referring to aspects of South American culture as well as Spanish.
The tasks are varied and require the pupil to practise all language skills, receptive and productive. There are crosswords, dice-games, lists to write, gap-filling, grids and invitations to draw posters.
In line with current practice, the grammar is introduced systematically in a drip-feed approach and consolidated in the activities. There is a section called SOS gram tica at regular intervals with references to the grammar summary at the end of the book.
The accompanying cassettes to Aventura 1 are high quality, with music, jingles and youngsters speaking at a normal but nonetheless intelligible speed. The result is fun and sounds authentic.
Sample material for the teacher's book of Aventura 1 (to be published in November) indicates an exhaustive, meticulous guide to each unit with teaching advice on every aspect of the units.
AArriba! 2 (Level 1 was reviewed in The TES on March 22) lives up to expectations. It continues in the same lively, upbeat fashion with an emphasis on fun in learning. The underlying seriousness of student progression, self-evaluation and differentiation follows on from the first level to make this a sound course.
The pupil's book is colourful and modern, while the teacher's book is a treasure trove of advice; the flashcards are clear, the resource and assessment file provides workpages for extending and following up classwork; the pupil's workbook is valuable for setting homework and is designed for independent study.
Tests feature heavily in this course and amid all the profusion of Hispanic culture, the student is constantly reminded to consolidate knowledge. There are mid-tema tests and an end of tema test of prueba.
The pupil's book contains a grammar summary (resumen de gram tica) and a glossary. There are six temas comprising the normal range of topics with the delightful inclusion of A la mexicana, a gem of a unit which affords a fascinating insight into Mexico. Another interesting dimension is the inclusion of dictionary skills with explanations in Spanish.
In times of diminishing funds for heads of departments, the right choice of textbook is paramount. Both AArriba! and Aventura are appropriate for beginners of Spanish. Both courses have a similar structure; they have a fun approach and offer a wealth of support for the teacher; and they have good quality listening materials. But Aventura 1 is at a slightly slower pace and seems to target the younger pupil; AArriba! 2 has a fractionally more sophisticated target readership.
For new Spanish departments or those in need of a fresh approach or who like to keep up-to-date with copies of new courses on the shelves AArriba! 2 and Aventura 1 are worthy of consideration.