This site offers listening and reading comprehension, culture, vocabulary, and writing activities for learners of Spanish. It incorporates authentic texts and information about various Hispanic cultures through themes such as family, food, and hobbies. Activities incorporate video, audio and realia.
Real Audio for downloading audio and video file plugins.
One of the goals of this site is to help learners of Spanish locate authentic materials and Spanish resources on the Internet and select information with which to complete motivating language learning tasks. In this way, the site makes possible engaging, authentic connection with Spanish-speaking cultures. At the same time there are thematically related language learning activities to practice listening, reading, and writing. Video and audio clips represent a great variety of speakers of different ages, backgrounds, and countries. 'Interviews' with these characters involve structured questions that elicit similar types of answers, helping the learner understand each interview due to familiar structural patterns.
Perhaps the site's greatest strength lies in the variety of high-interest themes and the richness of the Hispanic cultures represented; e.g., individuals, variety of language accents, and varied links related to each of the ten themes. Language/culture information tasks involve cultural themes, topics, and vocabulary relevant to most basic college texts for elementary, intermediate, or conversation courses. It is not surprising that this site has won several awards as an outstanding resource.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Due to the high-interest themes, the interactive approach in responding to video or audio segments, and the use of critical thinking skills to express personal interests via writing and internet searches, this site has great appeal to students young or old. A learner is guided to access information that is current, interesting, varied, and useful. The thematic topics easily allow for making connections with a course textbook, and include appropriate language used in the video and audio clips. Each of the ten themes provides an abundance of engaging task types. In addition to independent study,
these can also be used during in-class activities, assigned for homework, or in oral presentations. Initially students need to be guided through the assigned tasks, and may require some help in navigating through the links, or in downloading audio and video. In the initial writing phases, the instructor may need to guide students in the writing process, especially if the task requires expository writing.
For either independent or class work, students are provided ample opportunities to be creative and to engage in mentally stimulating activities due to the facility to interact with materials and express their own personal interests.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
For each cultural theme continuity is provided by the common design elements on each page. Within each theme, there are four or five audio and/or video clips of short interviews with native speakers. In developing the writing process or reporting on listening or reading tasks, an excellent feature is the format and copying and printing capabilities. For each theme, each task provides a similar format within the task. For example, a student must fill-in a grid that can later be printed out, and files saved onto the individual's own computer and/or sent to the teacher.
Maneuvering from the website or link to the writing page may require some practice and needs guidance.
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