Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, University of Granada
This textbook complements Access Spanish: Student book (London: Hodder Arnold, 2004) and is intended for adult pre-intermediate to low intermediate learners. The textbook consists of ten units (each about twenty pages), with an English-Spanish bilingual glossary at the end of each unit and a grammar supplement and bilingual glossary at the end of the book. While the content of the chapters is theme-based (health, past life events, moving house, free time activities), each chapter has a clear focus on grammar points necessary for its topic, with grammar points identified in the chapter’s initial learning objectives (‘By the end of this unit you will be able to…’) and explained in English in the various ‘Language use’ boxes throughout the chapter. Additional language points concerning grammar, dialectal differences, useful phrases, and cultural information from the Hispanic world can be found in the ‘Learning tips’ likewise distributed throughout the chapters.
Although the text begins using English for all instructions, by the second chapter both languages are used and by the third chapter primarily Spanish is used for instructions; English appears in the grammar, vocabulary, and cultural explanations. Each chapter reinforces all four language skills through individual, pair, and group work. Reinforcement and continuity are provided by brief revision spots (‘¿Qué recuerdas?’ What do you remember?) that appear at the beginning of each chapter, and a preview of key vocabulary items from the following unit (‘Looking forward’) appears at the end.
Although the text principally uses the Spanish Peninsular dialect, there are references to corresponding Latin American lexical items and grammatical forms where relevant. The themes do not favor one geographical area (i.e. Spain or Latin America), which is likely to appeal to learners with a more international focus.
Learners will be able to move fairly quickly through this text: themes are introduced in a lively manner, reading texts are of modest length, and exercises are not extensive. Reference to internet resources (e.g. sites where more information about a certain topic may be found) is commendable and may motivate some instructors to make greater use of the web as a learning tool.
This book may be used with additional student exercises freely accessible online. These are, however, of limited value, for some are not particularly suited to adult internet usage, occasional spelling mistakes occur, and answers are not provided. Simple teaching materials for classroom activities included in the text are also available online.