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Descubre review in Language Magazine
Language Magazine, May 2009, Volume 8, No. 9
Course Materials and Methodology, edited by Carolyn Gascoigne
Reviewer: Kimberly Barba Canney, Hingham Public Schools, Hingham, MA
Program: Descubre: Lengua y cultura del mundo hispánico ©2008
This three year program is geared toward secondary students but is easily adapted to middle school. Because of the program's content, approach, and ancillaries, a teacher can address a wide range of learning styles and effectively differentiate instruction.
I love the way the book is set up. Having the vocabulary with the dialogues at the beginning of the chapter and presenting the grammar afterwards gives students a sense of how the vocabulary is used before learning the rules. It's more natural and is a great way to do it. Because the activities are set up well, some students can be working on mastering vocabulary, while others are applying this knowledge, creating written dialogues or skits. Breaking the grammar of the chapters into sequenced sections helps to focus on the topic and move through it a little at a time. The accumulation of all of the grammar sections is covered wonderfully by the Recapitulación. The kids love to do Recapitulación online. I often loop back to the beginning of the chapter as we move through, to show the kids how much they know!
The most exciting part of Descubre for my students is the Supersite. Whether it's listening to the Fotonovela and answering questions or practicing vocabulary and grammar through the many games and activities available, they can use the site in our class or at home. If they forget their book at school, they can go to the Supersite, do the activity, print it out or have me check it online. It's that easy. We don't have a Language Lab at Hingham Middle School, but using the Supersite makes us feel as though we do! I enjoy the ready-made quizzes, tests and activities that I can modify for my classes. I also love the "Teaching Options". These are like suggestions from colleagues about best practices and they always work.
I don't get to everything in every chapter, but I do the audio activities on a regular basis. Sometimes I have to repeat the audio CDs, but I love that there are native speakers from many different countries with different accents. It's really life-like. One of my favorite audio activities is the one when the students hear conjugated verbs and have to check off "yo", "nosotros", etc. It really shows me that they know their subject pronouns and know how to conjugate.
One challenging aspect for me is the age of the students in the Fotonovela. My students are in 7th grade and cannot relate to the freedom of the college student traveling around Ecuador. They don't have college courses or roommates, so this part of Chapter 2 is a little 'over their heads'.
Overall, I love the book and would recommend it to any teacher who wants to challenge students to really speak Spanish. Today's students are ready for this multi-faceted approach. They are ready for the variety and integration of technology and text that Descubre offers.