Spanish Now! Level 1
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  • Spanish Now! Level 1
  • Silverstein, Allen Pomerantz and Haywood Wald
  • Published by: Barron’s Educational Series
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2005

Spanish Now! is a beginner level course book that focuses on developing students' oral proficiency and listening comprehension skills.The book is filled with various exercises, humorous cartoons, real life dialogues to help students get a head start at learning Spanish.

Review posted: 28/11/2013
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Spanish Now Level 1 is the first part of the well-known two part series which aims to give students a proper introduction to the Spanish language. In this new edition the book has gone through a few improvements mostly on the aesthetic side; the cover boasts a glossy image of the Mayan pyramid of Chichen Itza and within the book’s chapters there are a number of black and white artistic photographs, cartoon illustrations and humorous comic strips.

Being bilingual and occasionally giving private Spanish classes, the first thing I looked at when I opened the book was the pronunciation guide. Whenever I pick up a Spanish book I always focus on this section because I believe proper pronunciation is a big part of the Spanish language. The way the book explains proper vowel and consonant pronunciation is actually very well done. The book even compares how certain words are pronounced in Spain and in Latin America, which I believe is something every Spanish book should pay attention to. Something else that I liked was that at the end of the chapter there was a brief explanation of when accent marks should be used.

"Whenever I pick up a Spanish course book, I always focus on the pronunciation section. In this book the way vowel and consonant pronunciation is explained is actually very well done."

Up until page 351 there are 31 units which focus on grammar activities dealing with common situations students might face in their daily life. Aside from working with topics such as describing people, shopping, food, travelling, and doctor’s visits the book also includes a number of cultural and historical reading activities. These reading activities focus on topics like Mexican immigrants in the US, Spain’s influence over Latin America, Puerto Rican cultural facts, and some brief history notes randomly found throughout the book. After page 351 the book places a stronger focus on vocabulary activities, popular idiomatic expressions, and listening comprehension exercises.

Although the book states that it is perfect for self-study, there are many important exercises that students would be better off working on with a teacher. Personally I believe this is more of a teacher’s book because of the way the activities are put together. The book also places a lot of attention on communication and listening comprehension so students who are assisted by a tutor or teacher will benefit the most from this course.

My only complaints about this book have to do with the listening comprehension activities and the way some of the exercises are put together. First off, not all the listening activities come with scripts; it seems that scripts are provided for only a few of the audio clips. I’m not sure why this was done, but this can be a bit inconvenient for students especially when trying to focus on vocabulary or pronunciation. There are also a few grammar activities that provide very vague instructions on what to do. I also noticed that in a few chapters there were some very obvious spelling mistakes and I even found some words with accent marks placed on the wrong syllable. I also got the impression that some of the reading activities were a bit too advanced for the beginner or pre-intermediate student. Although challenging yourself or your students is not a bad thing, some of the articles would have been more appropriate for an intermediate level course.

If you do choose to purchase this book I would recommend using it alongside other materials or modifying each lesson to suit your student’s needs. This book provides some very useful and interesting information, but it would be a smart idea for the authors to release a new edition with some much needed revisions.



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