This learning material includes grammar and vocabulary lists and exercises as well as music videos, commercials and movie trailers. Users may access a written transcript of most videos. All videos are accompanied by self-graded comprehension exercises. The interactive vocabulary lists have audio clips as well. Activities throughout the site are varied - from crossword puzzles and fill-in-the-blank to matching and word scrambles - and will surely engage most twenty-first-century learners.
This site contains a collection of movie trailers, television ads, news reports, and cultural videos that allow students to practice grammar and vocabulary in context. There is also a section for vocabulary that allows students to match pictures with the correct word.
Type of Material:
drill and practice, collection
The exercises can be used during class time or assigned as homework. It would be particularly helpful for students preparing to study in Spain as the majority of the videos included feature peninsular Spanish accents and lexicon.This resource is ideal for students who are looking to improve upon already existing skills outside of class or for teachers to use as guided activities within class
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
Users will enhance their listening and reading comprehension while also acquiring new vocabulary words and practicing grammar. Their cultural knowledge will similarly be expanded. From the rotating images of landmarks from different Spanish-speaking countries on the home page and "refranes" exercises to videos of Spanish cities and commercials, students will gain exposure to Hispanic cultures - and Spanish cultures in particular - on every page. Even the accent mark exercises, one of which features Spanish surnames, include cultural references.
Target Student Population:
The ideal user is a post-secondary student who has an intermediate or advanced level of Spanish. However, the site contains vocabulary and grammar exercises that beginning language learners may find helpful provided that they can understand the written instructions in Spanish. The videos, which are authentic rather than designed for language learners, are better suited for intermediate and, in particular, advanced students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
For the vocabulary section, there are activities available for beginner through advanced levels. Although all students could conceivably benefit from watching the video clips and completing the guided practices that accompany them, the exercises would most likely be more beneficial to students with at least some basic prior knowledge in Spanish.Students must be able to read and understand instructions written in Spanish or have an instructor available who can assist them in getting started.
One of the aspects that distinguishes this site from textbooks and other online materials is the breadth of words included in each vocabulary section. The list for vocabulary related to "la casa," for example, includes terms such as “bunk beds” and “faucet.” Also, “cafetera” is shown as a coffee pot that one would find in a Spanish-speaking country, providing students with additional input about the target culture(s). In fact, photos rather than illustrations are used for almost all the lists ("los órganos" are one of the exceptions). The vocabulary section on "los animales" is also very expansive. "American animals,” such as racoons and armadillos, and Spanish birds are two examples of sub-groups that will expand students' knowledge of fauna in their home country as well as those of the target language.Very engaging. A great way to pique students' interest and to let them learn vocabulary and grammar in context.
The level of difficulty of each word in the vocabulary section is marked with one (principiante), two (intermedio) or three (avanzado) astericks. There are some inconsistencies when comparing these designations with most textbooks used in the U.S. For example, what is normally considered introductory level vocabulary, such as pencils, is listed with two astericks.
Other words groups are listed as “intermedio” when “avanzado” may be more appropriate. For example, the “skin conditions” list, which includes words like “bruise,” “blister”, etc. is shown as “intermedio” and “avanzado” where an “avanzado” designation would be more in line with how Spanish is taught in the U.S. Similarly, “body positions,” such as “squatting” and “kneeling” are listed as “intermedio," but “avanzado” would be more accurate.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The videos produced by TVE and featuring Spanish cities provide interesting aerial views and brief histories of each. The commercials are engaging and current. The "canciones" section offers a wide variety of levels (designated with one to three asterisks) and styles to suit different tastes and language levels. Students will certainly find at least one of the more than 30 movie trailers hold their interest and make them want to watch the film in its entirety.
Information about the grammar emphasized in each song and the use of the asterick system are very helpful for instructors and students alike. For example, in Mercedes Sosa’s song “Solo le pido a Dios”, the present subjunctive of four different verbs is used.
In beginning levels, it is recommended that the instructor picks and chooses the appropriate activities from this site. Beginning students may feel overwhelmed if they are left to navigate the site on their own. All titles and sub-headings are in Spanish, and most of the video clips are at native-speaker speed. An instructor familiar with the site should lead beginning students to activities appropriate to their skill set.
While the inclusion of photographs is overwhelming a strength, there is one photo many users may find offensive and/or sexist. In the personal descriptions area, “fea” is shown as a brunette girl with glasses and acne. “Guapa” is a blue-eyed blonde. "Feo" is not included. This is particularly alarming since the majority of females in the target culture - and indeed, the world - have brown hair. An article of clothing or non-human object would more tactfully illustrate this word.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is organized in three main parts: vocabulary, listening exercises and grammar. To the right of the main page a list of most recently added activities is included. Users can navigate the site using the tabs across the top of the screen too.
The changing images that are shown on the home page are attractive and labeled, providing students a glimpse of an “hórreo” in Asturias, Spain, a colorfully painted house and food cart in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico or a mountain in Ecuador.
Audio and drop down menus with a list of 10 possible words accompany each photo in the vocabulary section. Students may listen and choose the correct word one by one or listen to all of them and then return to “quiz” themselves.
Verbs in the exercises that test vocabulary are not always presented in the vocabulary lists. However, a link to the Real Academia Española dictionary is included on each of these pages. This is a helpful way to give students practice in using the dictionary rather than always providing the answer through a gloss or translated vocabulary list.
It would be useful to have a separate tab for the songs or, alternatively, indicate on the "cultura" tab that songs a well as documentary videos are housed there.
The only concern is for beginning students of Spanish, who might not understand all of the sub-headings. However, this is easily remedied if used by an instructor in class.
Other Issues and Comments:
This website is a real gem! I can't wait to start using it in my classes!
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