Sancho rides again

Jill Bowden

AVaya! nuevo Stage 1, By Michael Buckby and Michael Calvert, Students' Book Pounds 7.50. 0 17 439667 8, Teacher's Book Pounds 14.99. 0 17 439668 6.

Copymasters Pounds 48+VAT 0 17 439669 4. Cassettes A, B and C Pounds 15. 75+VAT each 0 17 439671 6, 0 17 439672 4, 0 17 439673 2. Language Master Cards Pounds 89+VAT. 0 17 439919 7.Flashcards Pounds 35+VAT 0 17 439670 8. Assessment Support Pack: Copymasters and Duplicating Master Tape Pounds 50+VAT 0 17 439823 9Teacher's Notes (extra copies) Pounds 6.25. 0 17 4398255 AVaya! nuevo Stage 2 By Michael Buckby and Michael Calvert Students' Book Pounds 7.50. 0 17 439809 3. Teacher's Book Pounds 14.99. 0 17 439810 7. Copymasters Pounds 48+VAT. 0 17 439811 5. Cassettes A, B and C Pounds 15.75+VAT each 0 17 439813 1, 0 17 439814 X, 0 17 439815 8 Thomas Nelson.

Jill Bowden tests out a newly revamped version of an old GCSE Spanish favourite.

For many years, AVaya! has been considered the soundest coursebook for pupils of GCSE Spanish. However, the original course needed revamping to produce a more attractive and upbeat quality. AVaya! nuevo is a bigger and better version. The new three-stage course has been updated "to meet requirements of the national curriculum, Standard Grade and new GCSE exams".

Stage 1 is based on a holiday in Malaga and the language needs which might arise. The students' book comprises 14 topic-based units which reach level 4 of the national curriculum. One major improvement is the attractive, colourful presentation throughout, particularly appealing to school pupils. A range of authentic materials is used, such as menus, jobs advertisements and other newspaper extracts. This, together with a range of photographs and the novel idea of the role-playing cartoon characters Sancho and Panza, contribute visual appeal.

The course has a communicative and practical approach and students would easily be able to relate to the situations presented. The target language is introduced right at the beginning. The course caters for mixed ability and provides the opportunity for self-study.

The learning aims are clearly set out at the beginning of each unit. A variety of speaking, listening, reading and writing activities are incorporated, with plenty of role-play practice. Vocabulary is clearly explained within the context of the topics. The listening material comprises a particularly diverse range of activities from the more trad-itional dialogues, comprehension and pronunciation practice to the innovative introduction of poetry, songs and the cartoon characters. Interesting background information relevant to the Spanish-speaking world is presented. A useful content summary is provided in the "Ahora Se" section at the end of each unit.

There is a clear grammar summary towards the end of the book and the "A Ser Detective" section provides a wide range of activities which students could work on individually to revise specific points covered in each unit. Another improvement from the original course is that it now incorporates both a Spanish-English and English-Spanish vocabulary list.

The Teacher's Notes book has a useful introduction followed by a detailed breakdown of individual unit aims, the relevant resources required like tapes and flashcards, tasks to be covered, a breakdown of receptive and productive language, pronunciation practice and proposed assessment tasks. A useful feature of the Teacher's Notes book is the regular revision activities which are suggested. The copymasters provide photocopiable tasks which can be used to reinforce work on specific topics. The mastercards and flashcards provide the opportunity for additional oral practice and are useful for consolidation.

One particularly appealing feature of the new course is the assessment support pack, which provides formal summative testing to confirm what students and teachers have learnt during formative assessment. The copymasters book contains the test material where there is a single summative test for the whole stage. All four skills are tested and record charts for student profiling are included. The accompanying cassette "contains all listening tests and . . . models of speaking tests".

Book 2, based in Cantabria, focuses on levels 1-6 of the national curriculum. It comprises 10 topic-based units including current issues such as el medio ambiente. To learn to express their opinions, students contrast and compare, and develop further their written skills in the language. The grammar section contains more complex points, for example, the preterite - whereby the students keep a fichero personal for writing practice and examination preparation. A range of language games are also suggested. The copymasters book contains a diverse range of activities based on authentic material.

This is an excellent resource. The only drawback could be the initial outlay costs which, for the Stage 1 materials, excluding the Language Master System, work out at more than Pounds 200 (excluding VAT on certain items).

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