En una palabra, Córdoba, Argentina

En una palabra, Córdoba, Argentina: A CD-ROM for exploring culture in Spanish. By Emmanuel Paris-Bouvret and Ana Pérez-Gironés. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2007. ISBN 9781589011861. $29.95.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University

This CD-Rom promotes both Spanish language learning (primarily listening comprehension) and second language cultural awareness. Fifteen Argentines resident in Córdoba are prompted to define ten concepts (e.g. friends, family, work, country, liberty, success, pride), providing 150 brief film clips (each lasting between ten seconds and one minute, approximately). The monologues have a spontaneous feel (they include pauses, reformulations, and hedges) and are representative of authentic everyday language.

The material may be incorporated into Spanish language courses from basic to advanced levels. Suggestions for classroom use are provided in an accompanying booklet, freely available online (www.press.georgetown.edu). The CD-ROM also includes a full set of transcripts (these can be viewed when watching each film clip or copied and printed), a brief glossary of terms (according to the Real Academía Española), information about the city of Córdoba, and a summary of the main features of the Córdoba accent (most of which are true of the Argentine dialect in general).

The film clips may be chosen by topic or speaker characteristics (e.g. age, profession, family ties, occupation), with the help of the accompanying brief biographical data. The speakers come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and divergent world views. For lower levels, shorter film clips may be watched individually, while in higher levels several recordings may be used to contrast speakers’ views and to analyze how particular discursive moves are performed linguistically (e.g. to commence or to end a ‘turn’, to agree or disagree to add emphasis). The cultural content may also be exploited. As one may expect, explanations of concepts such as individualism, egoism, family, or success reflect the speakers’ own cultural backgrounds.

The recorded material may be supplemented in class. For instance, monolingual Spanish dictionaries may be used to compare recorded definitions with dictionary definitions. Furthermore, one of the other two CD-ROMs in this series, filmed in Seville (Spain) and Puebla (Mexico), may be used to contrast dialects and/or cultural characteristics.

This CD-ROM provides engaging authentic listening material in an attractive, user-friendly format. Perhaps its only deficiency is the absence of autodidactic tasks. As it stands, its target market is primarily Spanish language teachers, but with the addition of learner tasks for self-directed instruction (with a key), the CD-ROM could greatly appeal to individual learners, especially considering its reasonable price. There are few options on the market for learners seeking authentic listening material for didactic purposes (perhaps the closest comparison would be with Como Suena, published by Editorial Difusión in 1991).