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A solid start

Catalina Valenzuela reviews two courses

Espanol Mundial Third edition, Pupils' book 1 pound;11.99,Teacher's Resource Book pound;39.99, 3-CD set pound;45 plus VAT, Workbook pound;2.99

Access Spanish By Maria Utrera Cejudo Pupils' book plus two-cassette pack and support booklet pound;29.99 Hodder

Espanol Mundial is an updated version of Hodder's two-part Spanish course and will take students up to GCSE. Over 12 units, it covers the key topics of AQA schemes of work, fulfilling the requirements of other exam boards as well. The student book is accompanied by an activity book, teacher's book (including assessment pack) and three CDs (including assessments).

This course will also suit students starting to learn Spanish at key stage 4 or post-16. Its cultural content is interesting and relevant. The students' book offers an uncluttered layout. The Aprende (Learn) section of this series underlines a key language issue or grammar point. The activities are well explained, but only the listening activities are flagged by a clear symbol (a pair of headphones). The Libro de ejercicios (Workbook) has reinforcement activities that can be set for homework or independent work. The teacher's book has a glossary of key vocabulary at the beginning of each chapter. It also clearly shows the links between the workbook and the student's book. The assessment tasks are at the end of the book and cover the four attainment targets. However, national curriculum levels are not shown.

Access Spanish from the same publisher will cover the topics and grammar necessary for those learners who want a good grasp of the language, without necessarily taking an exam. Nevertheless, this 10-unit course can fulfil the requirements of other exams besides GCSE, such as the entry-level certificate awarded by some exam boards. The course is accompanied by a student book, listening material (CDs or tapes) and a support book with the transcript of the recordings and the solutions to the exercises and samples of cards to be used for role games that can be downloaded from the course website.

Learning outcomes are stated at the beginning of each unit. The student book has lots of activities clearly explained in Spanish and English. The use of symbols should help visual learners to find their way through the pages. The learning tips section explains key language issues in simple English. Extension activities can be found at the course website.

Finally, the book makes lots of references to the Hispanic world as a key to broaden students' understanding.

Catalina Valenzuela teaches Spanish and French at the Business Academy Bexley

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