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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


El español en los Estados Unidos

by Karen Acosta
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: May 06, 2013 by World Languages Editorial Board
Overview: The site provides a categorized collection of resources for teachers of Spanish. It is theme-organized starting with Me encanta, Herencia, Tiras Cómicas, Crisis Educativa, Poesía Chicana, Cocina, Mandalit de Barco, Puerto Rico, y La Educación Bilingüe. Each one includes a two-day lesson plan with activities that can be done in class. The lesson plans have a Warm-up or Pre-reading section, a Glossed Vocabulary, a Comprehension section where students have to answer five questions (this is a graded activity with a score), Linguistic Analysis, and a Video section. They also include a Cultural Tour, group work, a pdf document or link with specifications in order to prepare activities at home before day 2 lesson, internet search for information, group discussion, debate, and follow-up activities. An additional feature can be seen on the menu: a Blackboard tab which links the users/ students to the site where they can share a piece of writing in their class blog. This collection of resources can be used in class as supplementary material for students who are at a beginner stage and are focusing on issues related to Cultural identity of Spanish speakers in the United States.
Learning Goals: The author does not specifically state the learning goals but based on the material and other considerations: •The student will learn extensive vocabulary in Spanish according to the different themes suggested in the site. •The student will improve their reading, listening and writing skills. •The student will explore and compare information in different web sites. •The students will analyze and report the information found. •The students will identify and analyze statistical information. •The students will discuss in groups the questions posed by the teacher. •The students will be able to write a paragraph using the information searched on the internet. •The students will be able to write a summary on the topic discussed in class. •The students will be able to share their summaries, writings, etc, using the Blackboard site. Reading, writing, listening and speaking skills are used in every activity. For each unit, students either read authentic texts or listen to authentic videos. All activities and their instructions are in the target language
Target Student Population: The activities are best suited for heritage speakers and students at the intermediate level or above.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Intermediate grammatical and cultural fluency are required to complete each unit's activities in their entirety.
Type of Material: Collection of online resources, activities, lesson plans.
Recommended Uses: This collection of online lesson plans and resources could be used in class as a lesson in itself, as homework assignments, as a group project or as supplementary material to expand on a theme in the school curriculum.
Technical Requirements: Adobe Flash Player, Firefox,Internet Explorer, Good internet connectivity, Windows Real Player, Acrobat Reader.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: •The information provides practice exercises for language acquisition and development of cultural aspects. •The references at this site could easily supplement a Spanish course. •The design of the material is clear and easy to navigate. •All the external links are relevant and connected to the topics discussed. •Most of the resources provide authentic materials such as museum sites, newspapers pages, real life videos and podcasts, etc. Students will easily find one or more topics on the site that appeal to their interests. The McDonald's videos and comic strips in particular have wide ranging appeal and reflect contemporary Latino culture(s) in the United States. Glosses for highlighted words and well scaffolded activities aid students' comprehension of texts and videos.
Concerns: None.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The materials included on this site are extremely effective in integrating the 5 C's of language learning. Students are encouraged to reflect on similarities and differences between the Latino culture and the dominate culture in the United States as they watch McDonald's commercials in Spanish and English, read Spanglish poetry and learn about the political status of Puerto Rico. They communicate their ideas in small group discussions and writing assignments. Articles related to Puerto Rico provide an opportunity for students to make connections between the study of Spanish and political science.
Concerns: The glossed vocabulary is just an English-Spanish translation. In order to make it more attractive or allow more interactivity among the users, it could be designed as flipping flashcards with examples of how to use the word in other contexts.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: •The variety of link choices makes this site useful to a broad audience. Many of the exercises provide practice for using vocabulary and applying language acquisition concepts. •The presentation is clearly designed. •The content area is somehow connected. •The labels, buttons, menus, texts, and general layout are consistent and visually distinct. The site is extremely well organized and easy to navigate. Each unit has pre- and post-reading or viewing activities that include vocabulary and grammar exercises and analysis. Activities are further organized by "Día 1" and "Día 2." •The user can easily navigate in this site. •The site does not require a lot of technical support.
Concerns: The sites presents information that is interesting for the students but it could be more attractive if the author uses nicer colors.

Other Issues and Comments: None.