Wealth of choice

18th June 2004 at 01:00
The growing popularity of Spanish means there is now a wealth of courses on offer. Wendy Adeniji found the winners in this selection with some help from pupils

A few years ago there was little choice in textbooks for Spanish teachers.

With the increase in its popularity, however, publishers have responded, and the past year has seen many new courses and updated editions. Given that Spanish is often the second language to be studied, it finds its way into the curriculum at different points, and pupils have differing lengths of time in which to study it. Publishers are continuing to update their courses. This survey reflects this and, of the six which have been reviewed, three are three-book courses, two are two-book courses and one is a single-book course. A teacher panel and a pupil panel contributed their views on the courses, which run from left to right in our order of preference. Points we considered were:

Presentation

Page design and the use of illustrations, cartoons and photos are considered here. Accessibility for pupils is vital: are the different sections well organised and clearly labelled? Are the pages well laid out, not too cluttered and easy to read?

Content

Points considered here are the way in which new material is presented and repeated later in different contexts. With a new focus in the key stage 3 Framework on the structure of language and language-learning, the integration of these aspects in each course is considered. What differentiation in terms of ability and learning styles is there? Are all four skills evenly covered? How is target language use encouraged? Is the cultural context significant and does it include different Hispanic countries?

Resources

The quality and authenticity of the recordings are considered. Visuals, such as flashcards and OHTs, are vital. Are they attractive in terms of design, use of colour and lack of ambiguity? Supplementary resources have become an integral part of what publishers offer. These can be assessment packs, pupil workbooks and ICT activities and can be an asset for cover lessons or independent learning. As money for such resources is always short, their value for money is also considered.

Support

Guidance for the teacher is vital in planning lessons and writing schemes of work. The usefulness of the teacher's book is considered; does it suggest realistic teaching strategies and activities and are national curriculum levels and Framework objectives mapped out? In terms of support for pupils, self-access materials for independent learning are considered; is this varied and stimulating and does it cater for the full ability range? Are assessment materials appropriate and is progression carefully structured?

Wendy Adeniji is a PGCE tutor at the University of Leeds School of Education and ICT consultant for Trinity and All Saints Comenius Centre.

With thanks to the teachers and pupils of Leeds Grammar School who took part in the review.

Title

Listos!

Heinemann. Price: Students' Book (1) pound;10.99, (2, Verde Rojo) pound;11.25 each, (3, Verde Rojo pound;12.99); Teacher's Guide (1 Framework edition) pound;31.99, (2) pound;28.99, (3) pound;32.50; Cassette Pack (1,2) pound;76 (3) pound;75, CD Pack (1) pound;86, (2,3) pound;89 plus VAT. Tel: 01865 888080. www.heinemann.co.uksecondary

Presentation

Attractive use of colour and illustrations and an uncluttered layout.

Chapters are subdivided into double-page spreads with a single objective, which aids lesson planning and allows pupils to follow the course more easily. Activities are denoted by a colour-coded symbol denoting each skill.

Content

Listos! quickly covers a lot of language in a way that is accessible for all abilities. The double-page spreads are nicely balanced in terms of a variety of skills, and allow for grammar and language to be practised thoroughly. This course will suit pupils who start Spanish in Year 7 or 8.

Book 1 has in-built differentiation while Books 2 and 3 are available as parallel texts, verde for the lower ability level and rojo for those of higher ability.

Resources

The listening material is lively and the recordings clear. The student workbooks (pound;18.99 for eight) come in two differentiated versions and cover reading and writing activities, including specific repaso and gram tica sections. The Teacher's Resource and Assessment File (pound;90 each) contains photocopiable OHTs, starter activities, thinking skills, grammar practice and assessment tests, thus linking in well with the KS3 Framework.

Support

The teacher's book maps Framework objectives, both in grid form and within each double-page spread. Each activity is given a national curriculum level. Suggestions are made for starters and plenaries, which develop such areas as thinking skills, language patterns and pronunciation.

ICT activities are suggested for each module. This new edition is thus set firmly within the KS3 Framework.

Verdict

The combination of excellent presentation, catering for the full ability range and lots of support for teachers made this a winner with our panel.

An attractive and easy-to-use resource.

Title

Asi!

Nelson Thornes. Price: Students' Book 1 pound;11; Teacher's Book (1) pound;40; CD Pack (1) pound;80 plus VAT; * Part 2 available summer 2005. Part 3 available summer 2006. Tel: 01242 267275. www.nelsonthornes.com

Presentation

This new course being published in stages has been specifically written for the KS3 Framework. Its presentation is excellent, with clear, uncluttered pages and an attractive use of colour. Photos and illustrations are attractive and should not date, and photo stories practise language. There are colour-coded vocabulary boxes and Gram tica sections to aid navigation.

Colour is also used to denote particular parts of speech and language.

Content

Language is introduced in manageable chunks with clear objectives in English at the beginning of each chapter. In the As! se hace sections tips to help language strategies and learning skills are suggested in English, such as seeing patterns and recognising cognates. At the end of each chapter, as well as a summary of vocabulary learned, there is a short list of cross-topic words. Peer and self-assessment activities are also available in the pupils' book.

Resources

The Resource and Assessment Files 1 and 2 (pound;85 each) contain tests and ideas for assessment. The ICT package (priced according to school size ) contains a section for pupils with interactive materials. The teacher's section of the ICT package contains images, videos and animations to use with an interactive whiteboard or data projector. There are also flashcards and OHTs and a CD-Rom (pound;100).

Support

The teacher's book is comprehensive and provides starter and plenary activities for every double-page spread as well as models for framework planning, including lesson plans. These are also available in the ICT package in an editable format and is thus valuable for lesson planning and writing schemes of work. A comprehensive vocabulary and grammar page at the end of each chapter helps pupils' independent learning.

Verdict

Joint favourite with AListos!. Ideal to integrate the KS3 Framework into planning and teaching. It will take a lot of the donkey work out of preparation and the ICT resource in itself is an innovation for teachers using ICT for whole-class teaching. There are several ideas in the pupils'

books which make it stand out.

Title

Espanol de Primero Second edition

Oxford University Press. Price: Students' Book pound;8; Student Workbook pound;1.20; Teacher's Guide pound;18; CD or Cassette Pack pound;35 plus VAT. Tel: 01536 741068. www.OxfordSecondary.co.uk

Presentation

Each chapter is broken down into double-page spreads which ease lesson planning. Bright, uncluttered pages, which are easy to navigate, are a winner with pupils. Grammar-help boxes are colour coded. Plenty of attractive illustrations and some photos.

Content

This two-part course book, which has been revised to meet the Framework objectives for KS3, provides a broad-ability course. There is a focus on the structure of language, and grammar explanations are given throughout, complemented by a user-friendly reference section. The new Framework-friendliness can be seen in more specific grammatical explanations and an emphasis on skills development. It has a strong cultural context with characters from Bilbao and Guatemala.

Resources

The listening material is lively and recordings clear. The workbooks are detailed and include self-assessment checklists.

Espanol de primero informatica (pound;25 direct from Camsoft, tel: 01628 825206) is a package of 28 textfiles containing a model of what a good quality piece of work might look like. Hojas Extras copymasters (pound;42) contain visual stimuli, activities covering all attainment targets, vocabulary lists and assessment materials. The Coursemaster CD-Rom (pound;42.50 plus VAT) offers comprehensive administrative support.

Support

The teacher's book is comprehensive and includes national curriculum levels for each activity in the form of a grid. There is a Framework pack (pound;40) with CD-Rom, which maps all activities to Framework objectives and gives medium-term as well as weekly lesson plans. Some extra photocopiable worksheets are included as well as OHTs. This is a good resource for schools getting to grips with the Framework and will reduce much of the labour of rewriting schemes of work.

Verdict

The cultural context provides an authentic backdrop with well-structured activities to give a sense of progression as well as attractive presentation.

Title

Aventura Nueva

Hodder Murray. Price: Students' Book (1,2 ) pound;10.50 each; Student Workbooks (1, 2, Higher or Basic) pound;22.50 for 10; Teacher's Resource Book (1, 2) pound;55; Cassette Pack (1,2) pound;59.99 plus VAT, CD Pack pound;69.99 plus VAT. * Part 3 available in Spring 2005. Tel: 01235 827720. www.hodderheadline.co.uk

Presentation

This new course, being published in stages, has the most colourful Book 1, with the colour used effectively to denote different units. It is well presented, with not too much information on each page and would appeal to younger learners. The reference section is pupil-friendly with nouns in different colours according to gender. Photos and cartoons are clear and used effectively.

Content

The learning objectives are clear - a topic and grammar focus is given for each unit. Language is introduced in small, manageable chunks. Grammar progression is well-structured with exercises at the end of each unit.

There are tips on pronunciation and vocabulary and these integrate with the KS3 Framework. The mid-ability pupil is well catered for; however Book 1 lacks more extended writing activities for those of higher ability. There are songs and games and glimpses of Spanish culture through photos. Each unit ends with an extension activity.

Resources

Recordings are clear using children's voices and songs. Pupil workbooks have lots of motivating and visually interesting activities which practise all four skills, with instructions in Spanish and English to allow for more independent learning. The CD-Rom contains attractive flashcards and OHTs.

Support

The teacher's book is user-friendly and complements the KS3 Framework, including Framework objectives, as well as ideas for starters and plenaries. It gives suggestions for teaching strategies and includes ideas for integrating ICT. At the back, photocopiable worksheets are included, as well as assessment activities in the form of autoevaluacion in all four skills.

Verdict

The combination of excellent presentation, a structured approach and support for teachers makes this a winner. It also scores highly on ease of use.

Title

Caminos segunda edicion

Nelson Thornes. Price: Students' Book (1 , 2 ) pound;11.50 each, (3) pound;13; Teacher's Book (1, 2 ) pound;40, (3) pound;45; CD Pack (1,2) pound;75 each, (3) pound;90, plus VAT. Tel: 01242 267275. www.nelsonthornes.com

Presentation

Book 1 is well presented, with a clear and uncluttered page layout.

Colourful cartoons, drawings and photos are pleasing to the eye. Chapters are divided into double-page spreads with clear objectives for each. Book 2, however, loses this clarity with overloaded pages. Chapters are still subdivided, but this time every four pages, again with clear objectives.

Grammar is presented clearly at the end of each chapter and there is consistent use of symbols.

Content

A major feature of this course is the differentiation denoted by club or diamond symbols. Diamond activities focus on the core language while club activities focus on extra details. Language is presented through dialogues following a continuous storyline. Objectives are identified at the beginning of each sub-topic in English and each chapter concludes with a grammar section which includes English explanations and differentiated exercises.

Resources

The Resource and Assessment File (1,2 pound;104 each) provides clear, photocopiable OHTs and worksheets continuing the diamond and club differentiated theme. Vocabulary, pupil checklists and assessment activities are also included. Recordings are clear and language is set in a meaningful context with some nice songs. Flashcards are available for Book 1 (pound;70) as well as an ICT whiteboard resource for Book 1 (pound;160 - pound;200 depending on schools size, plus VAT).

Support

The teacher's book is helpful for lesson planning and integrates support material such as OHTs and worksheets from the resource file. It also contains ICT opportunities and suggestions for fast-tracking pupils. While it does not give a level for every activity, it suggests relevant assessment opportunities. The Evaluacion section in the resource file contains assessment tests and an end-of-year assessment in Book 2.

Framework matching grids are available at www.nelsonthornes.com

Verdict

The presentation is not as attractive as Listos! and Espanol de Primero and the teacher's support not as helpful. However, it caters for a wide ability range in a teacher-friendly way.

Title

Captado! segunda edicion

Hodder Murray. Price: Students' Book (1,2 ) pound;12.99 each; Teacher's Resource Book including ICT activities disc (1,2) pound;55.88; Cassette Pack (1,2) pound;58.75 each, CD Pack (1, 2) pound;70.50, plus VAT. Tel: 01235 827720. www.hodderheadline.com

Presentation

The illustrations are a mixture of drawings, cartoons and photos, although these will date quickly. The page layout is cluttered and off-putting. Blue Gramatica and Para Ayudarte (vocabulary) boxes are easy to spot. Consistent symbols denoting attainment targets and activities are clearly numbered.

Reference sections are pupil-friendly.

Content

Learning objectives are clear. A lot of content is introduced at a time, including, right from the beginning, the full conjugation of verbs. There is an emphasis on grammar, which progresses nicely. There are several poems, some of which could inspire pupil creativity. Different learning styles and abilities are not really catered for - this is more a fast-track book. The KS3 Framework is not referred to. There is some cultural component with references to Ecuador, although it is not very interesting.

Resources

Listening material is clear although the songs are uninspiring. The ICT disc contains database files with simple exercises such as gap fill and complete the text as well as some Fun With Texts files. This latter could be quite useful as it takes the work out of preparing ICT activities, and they are relevant and purposeful although not visually interesting. Spanish rubrics are supported by a glossary.

Support

The teacher's book is informative although uninspiring. There are not many interesting teaching strategies. It includes photocopiable self-access worksheets and photocopiable OHTs. The ICT disc provides valuable language reinforcement activities.

Verdict

More suitable for a KS4 course of GCSE Spanish in two years. This book would be hard going at KS3 and should only be used with higher ability, well-motivated pupils who prefer an emphasis on grammar.

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