For work, rest and play

10th March 2000 at 00:00
SPANISH DICTIONARY SKILLS. By Jeremy Munday, Gwen Berwick and Sydney Thorne. Oxford University Press, pound;20.

No experience required here: these 42 photocopiable worksheets cover basic principles then move on to develop more advanced skills of GCSE standard. The seven sections deal with, for instance, idioms and set phrases, "falsos amigos", using context to check understanding and even explain the limitations of the dictionary, with advice as to what to do when the dictionary cannot help you.

Most of the sheets are clear, imaginative and enjoyable to use, with puzzles, jokes and other word games along the way, but a few are confusing.

Some of the basic level ones are very busy and use too much Spanish to claim the stand-alone tag, and there is a small number of errors in translation and layout. However, a check through before photocopying a batch should avoid potential confusion.

While from 2003 dictionaries will again not be allowed into the exam room, there is no doubt that time and effort invested in acquiring dictionary skills will aid getting to grips with grammar, not to mention tackling coursework with more confidence. A resource book such as this will demonstrate the techniques and provide the practice in a fun way.

Pronto 2 By Se n Scullion andKeith Faulkner Collins Student's Book pound;10.99. Teacher's Resource Pack pound;79.99. Cassette Pack pound;59.99 Here's the second part of Pronto from Collins. The two volumes together form a full course leading to GCSE and Standard Grade, along with their respective cassettes and teacher's resource packs.

As before, we have a colourful, well-planned student's book, with a pleasing variety of written texts including letters, adverts, interviews and newspaper articles, plus a vast range of photos and illustrations of outstanding quality.

Each unit clearly states its objectives and presents the relevant material in the form of model dialogues with vocabulary boxes alongside. Grammatical rules and explanations are presented in a separate section at the end of the book but the page references for these are clearly marked throughout the units. Respuestas modelo", with good answers to typical oral questions, reinforce the new language learned, and AEnhorabuena! at the end of each unit lists all the new language for revision purposes.

The comprehensive teacher's resource pack contains 72 copymasters which enlarge on the grammar and activities covered in the student's book, assessment worksheets with unit tests and end-of-term tests, detailed teacher's notes on how to get the best out of the material in all 12 units, and much more besides. The cassettes are clear and well-paced. All in all, a successful course which deserves widespread popularity.

ACaptado! 2By John Connor andMike Zollo John Murray. Student's Book 2 pound;11.99.

Big, bright and meaty, ACaptado! 2 equals its predecessor in quality. Anyone who has used the first volume will be delighted with this sequel, and teachers of the full GCSEsyllabus need have no doubts about trying this course now that the second student's book has arrived.

Again we have a storyline which follows the lives and relationships of a group of Spanish-speaking people in Pamplona, Salamanca and, this time, Peru. This incorporates the required topic areas but extends them further.

For those unfamiliar with the structure, the course breaks down into colour-coded two-page spreads, each containing a key language structure explained in English, a set of tasks (with rubrics in Spanish) which practise all four skills and "Para ayudarte" columns containing vocabulary, plus tips on study skills. Finally, at the end of each unit, "Ya lo se" presents suggestions for extended work such as projects, coursework, and revision. At the back of the book there is a substantialdictionary-style vocabulary and an equally solid grammar section.

These elements unite to form a superior text of variety and colour. By contrast the sample cassette comes across as somewhat flat and mechanical, but the material is sound. Overall, we have an excellent publication to complement the increasing popularity of Spanish in the classroom.

Peter Bull is head of Spanish at William Hulme's grammar school, Manchester

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