Lecturas is a feature of the larger Centro Virtual Certantes and is designed for use by learners of Spanish as a second language. It provides authentic texts and a collection of activities and tools to assist non-native speakers in reading and understanding these. Engaging, high interest readings are geared for intermediate and beyond learners of Spanish. Spanish is used exclusively throughout the site, but is simplified and accessible.
Evaluation and Observation
The site includes reading selections for intermediate through advanced reading proficiency levels. The levels are inicial (four reading selections), intermedio (four selections), and avanzado (four selections). The readings include topics of high interest to the readers, e.g., El delfin is a detective story about a jewel thief. There are pre-reading, reading comprehension, and expansion activities to complement each text. Each reading provides a pop-up window with a synopsis geared to the intended reading level, a summary of the text, theme, and author. Glosses of level-appropriate vocabulary items also appear in a pop-up as needed. Many of these glosses are accompanied by graphics and photographs to aid comprehension.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Pre-reading and post-reading activities encourage learners to draw on personal knowledge and experience in understanding the culture and themes behind the focal texts. Pop-up windows with glosses of images and/or a textual explanation of certain vocabulary items are available to aid comprehension. Comprehension activities consist of nicely designed cloze and multiple-choice activities. In addition, there are vocabulary and grammar activities that include structural and functional elements appropriate for each intended level. A grammar activity may be presented as a crossword puzzle that instructs, reviews, and entertains at the same time. Another valuable element of the site is the reference page for the instructor with literary, cultural, and beautifully designed pedagogical resources.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The many, varied, and very useful functions in Lecturas are straightforward and easy to use. Movement from activity to activity, and from function to function is guided by clear and consistent schemes and icons. The clarity of instructions,
immediate feedback, and ability to redo an activity facilitate a smooth transition from exercise to exercise. Each reading selection can be downloaded for printing since some readers prefer to have a hardcopy. In the activities requiring writing, e.g., fill-in blanks, it is easy to use the diacritical marks with the aid of a copy and paste function.