The website "Learn Spanish Online Free" now titled "Spanish Romance: Spanish Resources to Learn Spanish" includes a variety of information in the three main sections of: Spanish Language, Spanish Culture, and Learn Spanish. The goal of this site, according to the web designer, is to provide "free spanish lessons and spanish language resources developed by spanish teachers to learn spanish online and spanish language courses in Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Peru and more destinations in Latin America."
The most useful sections of this site for classroom use are: the Spanish music, which includes both lyrics and videos, as well as a literature section which includes notable Latin American authors and poets, fairy tales and other children's stories, proverbs and sayings from around the world, and, finally, riddles. The ad-free music videos included with the lyrics were generally the artist's official music video. A fair selection of authors and poets are included here, which serves as a basic introduction to Spanish literature.
Type of Material:
Collection: Reference Material
This site would be useful to instructors and students as a supplementary resource to classwork or homework, especially for improving reading skills in Spanish. To utilize the Spanish music section, instructors would need to provide grammar and/or topic background information. The literature and poetry sections need additional information on date, author, and genre. This site could be a refresher for someone who has taken a Spanish class in the past or the frequent traveler to a Spanish speaking country.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
This website provides Spanish students and teachers with resources to use as they study Spanish, including common verbs, Spanish translations of common English words, proverbs, famous literature and stories.
Target Student Population:
High School, College (Introductory Spanish, Spanish Conversation, Spanish Culture)
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Prior knowledge of Spanish.
Evaluation and Observation
The website has several sections for the Spanish learner to choose, including: Spanish Dictionary, Verbs, Vocabulary, Alphabet, Numbers, Phrases, Sayings, Proverbs, Stories, Literature, Love, Jokes, Riddles, Music, Names, Recipes, and Spanish Schools in Spain/Latin America.
The Spanish music section has a wide selection of artists which would appeal to Spanish students, and includes lyrics and videos.
The Literature section includes a variety of authors and poets and serves as an introduction to Spanish literature.
The included resources are not in a learner- or teacher-friendly format. Instructors would need to create lessons to accompany any of the materials found on this particular site.
Several issues do exist with this site.
The Dictionary section is not searchable and lists words alphabetically by the English word (e.g. able = poder). Articles are not included with nouns, thus gender cannot be determined.
For the Verbs, the most common verbs are listed alphabetically, but with no definitions given or grammar rules explained.
The Vocabulary section has several subsections, including food, school, family, and colors. The lists are very basic and could be useful for limited review.
The Alphabet section reflects the current (2010) RAE list of Spanish letters, but incorrectly identifies the pronunciation of "y" as "i griega" instead of the currently accepted "ye".
The Numbers section is very abbreviated with no explanations.
A major concern is that this is not a site that associates pictures with words. The site does not use any visuals to help a learner. Another drawback is that there is no option to hear the words spoken, another best practice for learning a language.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This website has certain sections that could prove useful to a Spanish instructor. The Spanish riddles, proverbs, stories, literature and recipes could be used as supplements to both classwork and homework assignments if an instructor were to create an assignment to accompany the website. For example, students could compare and contrast Spanish and English proverbs. Students could read one of the children's stories and explain the verb tenses used. After listening to two songs and watching the accompanying videos, students can compare and contrast the themes using a Venn Diagram.
If the objective of this site is to give a person a refresher in the language, this site meets the objective. However, it would appear that the intent is to teach Spanish. A teacher in the classroom, however, could very well use this resource within their lessons.
While the website describes itself as one that provides resources for students to learn Spanish online, the materials provided are generally only lists and give little, if any, explanation to a beginning Spanish learner. The Spanish phrases and riddles are not translated, and no grammar lessons are included. An instructor who wished to use this site would have to spend additional time creating resources to accompany the site.
A major drawback is that the site presents information but does not teach how to apply the language.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The layout is clear and easy to navigate. The site itself is attractive, and sections are well-organized on the sidebar. The yellow color is soothing and not too bright for the user.
When users click to go to sub-sections, the pages are generally well designed and clear.
The dictionary section has words separated into columns (English/Spanish/pronunciation), which helps differentiate the text.
Letters are also separated into columns in the Alphabet section, and words are in column lists on the Verb page.
The font size was too small on some pages, such as the verb lists.
The links to the schools in Spain and Latin America (with the exception of a language school in Peru) return the user to the Spanish Romance website. There is a description of the country or city in Spain, but no information about language schools as promised in the links. The information on this website is copied word for word from
http://www.languagesromance.com/ and no credit was given to the original source.
Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and LinkedIn buttons are on the top and the bottom of the screen and are distracting, as is the Facebook like button with pictures on the right sidebar.
The lack of visuals is a concern.
Other Issues and Comments:
There is no copyright information at all for any of the material used on this particular website. Works of Spanish authors, artists, videos, etc. are included and no links are provided to show the original sources. As an instructor, I would have a hard time encouraging my students to use a site that does not meet the same standards I set in my own classroom for citing material.
The site seems more suited to a person that needs a resource for commonly used phrases.