The Ashcombe Video Resources present a series of short audio/video clips that teach common vocabulary, basic sentence structures and provide listening practice. The site provides modules comprised of a video/audio presentation by a native speaker of Spanish, a written script of the presentation, and a short dictation quiz in which students fill in the blank with missing words as spoken in the presentation. The topics of the learning modules include Self, Family and Friends, Leisure/Entertainment, Local Environment, Education, Health and Healthy Living, and Work, Career and Plans. Modules under construction but not yet available include Home and Home Life, Travel and Transport, Holidays and Tourism, Food and Drink, Shopping and Services, and Issues.
The major learning goals are to expose students to the speech of native Spanish speakers, to improve listening comprehension, be able to correlate spoken and written Spanish, and acquire key vocabulary terms associated with common topics.
Target Student Population:
This site is best suited for high school and college students in introductory and intermediate levels,
who may need additional practice and review.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Previous knowledge of basic Spanish and vocabulary is required.
Type of Material:
This material may be used for additional listening comprehension to practice and review everyday topics in Spanish. It is most useful as an additional resource to classroom lessons. Students could complete the activities on their own or an instructor in a classroom equipped with a computer, Internet access, and an LCD projector could use these in class for group practice or as a listening comprehension quiz.
The materials can be accessed using Windows Media Player and work best with IE 6+ or Netscape 6.2+.
Evaluation and Observation
The chosen topics present interesting topics likely related to books used for Spanish classes at secondary and college levels, e.g., food, shopping, health. The user has access to a written script of the presentation, and the ability to play and pause the video as many times as needed.
There is primarily only one speaker, lacking a variety of gender, age, and accent. The speaker speaks primarily in the first person although the second person, tú and third persons are present. The one-way conversation lacks a more natural text where two speakers interact in a dialogue. e.g., an interview. An authentic cultural context is not evident since the topics of daily living, e.g., school life, revolve around life in the UK, and not in an authentic Hispanic setting.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The topics included are general and simple, and provide a good review of basic vocabulary and sentence structures and give aural and reading practice. This is an excellent source for exposing students to native speakers, and becoming used to hearing the target language spoken naturally through the use of authentic texts. One reviewer writes: "One of my first semester students said that she had to listen and watch the video"about 50 times to get the words down", but that "it is good to hear a native speak Spanish." Another first semester student said she enjoyed it because "it's written in Spanish and English, so you know what he is saying and how most words are said in Spanish." The beauty of this site is that a student can listen and watch as many times as needed and has the script for help if necessary."
The fill-in quiz and "hint" provision is helpful in giving instant feedback and reinforcing the lesson. The presentations can be used as a point of departure for reviewing the module topics. They also give students the opportunity to learn to match speaking and writing as well as additional listening comprehension practice that they can do at their own pace. The availability of the written script adds another avenue for learning,
and is very helpful for students that need to get accustomed to hearing Spanish spoken more rapidly than they want to hear it, or needing to see the text of what they have heard if they have auditory-processing problems. The tutorial element of being able to listen and watch as many times as needed, helps students develop listening comprehension at their own pace.
The provision of English transcriptions for each Spanish audio and written text accommodates those programs that rely on traditional grammar-translation approaches.
As mentioned above, since an authentic cultural context is not evident, the site does not lend itself for teaching either the Big C or Little C of culture.
The listening comprehension exercises are limited to fill in the blank.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is very user-friendly, easy to navigate. All links work well, the clips play with ease, texts are clear. the site loaded quickly, well-organized, and is easy to follow. The site provides for a variety of windows to see the accent hints for writing, the transcripts, and quizzes.
Beginning students will need to become acquainted with using the diacritical marks in writing, e.g., accents. Initially, until students become efficient in using the correct keystrokes, they may struggle to keep up with the audio when completing the written tasks, e.g., fill-in blanks.
The site does not seem compatible when using a Macintosh Power G4 computer. When the module window opens, the video plays, but neither the quiz nor the menu choices appear.
Other Issues and Comments:
The use of video with a "talking head" may not necessariy justify a need for employing a video clip, when an audio clip can accomplish the same goal. User may have difficulty discerning speakers if the technical requirements needed for audio are not updated. Also,
pages work best with IE 6+ or Netscape 6.2+.