La Pagina del Idioma Espa?ol, which dates back to April 1996 on the web is a pioneer among digital magazines to promote the Spanish language on the Internet. Interestingly, it is supported by a Brazilian governmental entity, the Asociacion Cultural Antonio de Nebrija. The site contains the Cervantes discussion fora on the Spanish language and the "Word of the Day" daily e-mail
bulletin. Articles on linguistic norms, professional language, translation, Language instruction, the print media and radio in Spanish are contributed by a host of international writers. Their contributions fill a database that boasts seven years longevity on the web.
The site's value lies in the excellent resources of major links to language-related topics. As a gateway, the site includes individual pages for virtual dictionaries, grammar sources, newspaper and radio links. It provides a rich variety of external links to peninsular and non-peninsular literary sites. The author includes a thorough description of the history of the Spanish language.
Type of Material:
This material is ideally suited for self-directed learning. Users can receive the "Word of the Day" in their e-mail daily. It is also possible to consult the Diccionario de la lengua espa?ola directly from the site. Articles are good springboard for discussions about the Spanish language. The discussion lists are a good place to enhance communicative and writing proficiency.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The author's primary purpose is to contribute to the preservation, unity and purity of the Spanish language. Students can enhance cultural knowledge by entering into discussions on the current role of the Spanish language on the web and in the world. They can improve reading proficiency through reading the articles on the site. They can increase vocabulary by subscribing to the "Word of the Day".
Target Student Population:
The site is valuable primarily as a resource for teachers and students with advanced or higher proficiency language skills. It is also an excellent source for Spanish heritage speakers.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The user should have a minimum level of advanced proficiency (ACTFL proficiency scales) in reading, writing, and listening.
The wealth of resources on this site cannot be overstated. The Diccionario de la lengua espa?ola alone is a gem of a resource for all language learners with an easy to use search mechanism, an attractive interface and even a built-in verb conjugator for the verbs in the dictionary. In addition to this convenient resource, external links are provided to a wealth of other dictionaries some Spanish, others bilingual and some technical and of use to translators. In fact,
there is a whole section devoted to translation entitled "Rincon del traductor" and featuring aticles, debates and publications on the topics.
Other resources to be found on the site include: --Newspapers - There are extensive links to fourteen (Spanish, Latin American and U.S.) newspaper sites. --Grammar - There are explanations and links to the conventions of written discourse. The strength of the site may lie in this section where the user can refer to the rules of usage, e.g., capitalization and punctuation, spelling, verb conjugations, and the uses of "que" and "se, " etc. --Literature - There are major links to Peninsular and non-peninsular literature and authors. Within this page, there are also links to Cervantine studies.
The discourse level in the feature articles is refined and academic, good material for Spanish for Heritage speakers classes where the objective is to expose students to Spanish as it is used in professional and academic spheres. Topics are often polemical and provocative, as in the whole page devoted to Spanglish, with pros and cons presented by different experts in the field.
The articles are best used with the truly advanced students who have the basic language proficiency necessary to approach the articles. This does not mean that all students could not benefit from exposure to the Dictionary and the Word of the Day. This is also a resource of great value for professionals,
such as teachers, writers and translators. It is important to differentiate between the articles that are intended for one audience and those that are meant for all.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
A teacher can provide many levels of language teaching. The site can serve primarily as a resource for grammar and writing. If used appropriately, the varied essays about language can lead to interesting readings and classroom discussions related to the Spanish language. In addition, much writing practice can be produced from participation in the forums. Listening skills can also be developed if making use of the links to radio broadcast throughout the world. Activities can be created to contrast differing views on a topic according to the source of information and the country.
Advanced students can organize debates around hot topics such as Spanglish or word gender issues between list members before actually adding their own positions.
It is important to review Netiquette for students who enter an Internet discussion list and to be sure that they choose appropriate lists. This site contains six lists, some of which are specifically designed for teachers. Students should be guided to appropriate discussion groups.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The overalll presentation is clear and readable with a consistent layout from page to page. Each major page has beautiful graphics. The links are relevant to the subject, easy to identify and logically grouped. The user can navigate easily within each page, and from page to page and home. It is a nice feature to be able to access the dictionary immediately as one reads an article The page has received several awards and it is a recommended site in Microsofts' Encarta en Espa?ol.
A first-time user may need some initial guidance in navigating the site, particularly FL students whose use might be different than that of native speakers.
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