“Icarito Enciclopedia Escolar” is an online Spanish encyclopedia affiliated with the Chilean newspaper, “La Tercera.” This online reference material is targeted to middle school children who are either native Spanish speakers or in a bi-lingual school. The user can search the encyclopedia via keyword or browse by subject. The entries are interesting, current, and often include other images (photographs, maps etc.).The encyclopedia offers information in nine categories related to Art, Science, Social Sciences, and Sports, Culture, Language and other topics. In addition, each of the topics has a sub-category. For example, Physical Education has three sub-categories related to three sports; most subjects covered present the information with illustrations. The resource offers information similar to an American encyclopedia but not as extensive. The site also offers a teacher’s guide.
Type of Material:
The site could be used as reference by all students at all levels of Spanish. Educators could assign short articles on topics of interest to beginning language learners. For the more advance language learner, I recommend topics for compositions. This is also a good resource for educators who want to develop a lesson plan with a certain topic.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The site offers information for research in nine different topics through a large collection of articles. Elementary school students and some adults or language learners can visit the site to gain knowledge of a subject such as the mechanics of language acquisition, sciences, sports etc.
Target Student Population:
Spanish native speakers, intermediate and advanced language learners and Spanish educators wishing to understand a topic in the target language.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Knowledge of Spanish
Evaluation and Observation
• Most of the entries have well written middle school level articles that are clear and concise and very up-to-date. If the user browses “castellano” then “ortografía,” there is an interesting review of rules regarding usage of “v” vs. “b,” Spanish capitalization, etc.
• The majority of the entries also contain a visual element (photographs, drawings or maps), and difficult vocabulary is often defined at the end of the entry. The entries are of appropriate length and content for a variety of ages. Additionally, each entry has a print-view option as well as the option to have the article e-mailed to the user.
• Although the collection is well developed, it is by no means exhaustive. Many suggested search topics or browses lead to dead ends for the user (for instance “ciencias sociales” > “antropología”).
The site is professionally developed but it has several broken links that lead one to a dead end such as “Portada para profesores”.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The resources in the encyclopedia have many current articles that can be used to teach language at the intermediate level as well as the advanced. Many of the articles in culture have current interesting ideas that often are not included in textbooks. Also, the subcategories of each topic make it more usable for teaching because the topics are more focused.
• It would be up to the instructor to introduce materials, and make relevant to the student the encyclopedia entries from this site.
• Because there are a finite amount of entries, the instructor should also familiarize her or himself ahead of time with the sites content.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
• The site is well organized and it is easy to begin a search.
• The site contains four initial tabs: Enciclopedia, Especiales, Participa, Profesores, the last of which includes news briefs, links to teaching activities and pedagogical information that may be of interest to the teacher.
• The user can search or browse the material according to topic (arte y cultura, ciencias, educación física, historia, tecnología, castellano, ciencias sociales, geografía, matemáticas) or type (articles, images, multimedia).
• Most entries are clearly written, engaging, and visually appealing. The user has the option to view each entry in regular or large typeface, in print-format, or the user can fill out a short form to have the article e-mailed.
• Vocabulary that may be difficult for the more inexperienced user is often defined at the bottom of the entry.
• Many of the links either took a long time to load or never loaded.
• None of the links on the “profesores” > “recursos” > “capacitación” > “básica” page worked
• Many searches came up with no results or delayed too long to load the results. For instance, one day a search for “Rubén Darío” resulted in an entry loading albeit slowly, the next day the page never opened.
• Some superficial browses lead quickly to a dead end (ex. “ciencias sociales” > “antropología”).
Other Issues and Comments:
Educators need to know that this resource is intended for native speakers of Spanish. Special care must be taken when using it with Beginning or Intermediate-level students.