ASOCORRO! By Richard Wall and Sue Platt Pupil's Book Pounds 7.99. Teacher's Book Pounds 9.99. Cassettes (2) Pounds 38 + VAT Evaluation Pack Pounds 54.95 + VAT, Mary Glasgow.
Assuming little or no previous knowledge of Spanish, this set of pupil's book, teacher's book and two cassettes has been produced to motivate those who find the language difficult and those who attend classes infrequently.
In a practical way ASocorro! concentrates on simple, repetitive language structures and core vocabulary. There is no progression through the coursebook by subject matter or level of difficulty: the 35 short, self-contained units may be used in any order, either individually or grouped with others to form wider topic areas.
To support this framework there are plenty of diverse activities, including creative writing tasks, with realistic goals to help the less able gain a sense of progress. It may be used successfully as a GCSE coursebook for the less able student or as a revision guide for those with more competence. The attractive and amusing cartoon drawings and the carefully chosen contexts ensure that it will appeal to young and older readers alike.
The instructions for the tasks are in the target language, but this is kept to a minimum. Visual clues and specimen answers are also there to help the reader understand them. Unfortunately, the lack of colour sometimes causes a page to appear cluttered, and in these instances it is not immediately obvious what is expected of the student. Although much thought has gone into the presentation, with photographs, drawings, speech bubbles et al, it remains a little lifeless - presumably, colour would have increased the price too much.
The teacher's book is uncomplicated, with a concise and pertinent introduction describing the course and outlining the aims and language focus of each unit, followed by a tapescript and the answers to the activities. The cassettes are clear and well-paced, with a satisfying mixture of voices. This is a welcome package which will fill a gap for many teachers.
Peter Bull is head of Spanish at William Hulme's grammar school, Manchester