Códice de composición

Códice de composición: Guía para escribir trabajos. 2nd edn. By Eduardo D. Faingold. Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2007. Pp. 42. ISBN 9783895860096. $36.54.

Reviewed by Louisa Buckingham, Sabanci University Writing Center, Turkey

This slim volume is a compilation of brief guidelines on essay writing in second language Spanish designed for undergraduate university students and in particular, for heritage speakers of Spanish. A practical guide for those with little formal writing experience, its contents appear to be derived primarily from other materials.

The book contains thirteen topics, which range from getting started, to incorporating secondary sources, using citations, and preparing a bibliography. Almost half of the topics address areas known to cause problems for native speakers of English, such as the use of the accent, false-friends, upper and lower case letters, and connectors. Each topic is treated very briefly, often with little more than a sentence or a short paragraph of explanation. Examples are accompanied by a translation into English where appropriate. At times, for example when listing connectors, the reader would benefit from a more textual rather than translation-based approach to writing: The provision of English equivalents for single words such as también ‘too, also, either’, además ‘besides, moreover, furthermore’, and por añadidura ‘for good measure’ should be expanded into short paragraphs that illustrate their use. In other places, the reader would benefit if a short practical exercise were provided to test understanding. For example, the brief information provided on capitalization and accent marking could be exploited by providing a short exercise that puts the guidelines to use.

Because this text is designed for students enrolled in university composition classes, some potentially useful details have been omitted. For example, the planning stage, perhaps the most crucial stage for inexperienced writers, would have benefited from examples of actual essay plans. Similarly, the activation of subject-specific vocabulary is vital for a successful essay (particularly for nonnative speakers), but this barely receives a mention. Advice on how to go about acquiring and activating the type of language required for formal essay writing would be of great use.

Because this text will provide solutions to simple questions that a student might have on the mechanics of preparing a written assignment, it has a place as a quick reference. However, it will not be able to offer more robust support in promoting second language composition skills.