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Revista in Language Magazine
Blanco, Jose. Revista, 4th Edition. Conversación sin barreras. Boston: Vista Higher Learning, Inc., 2014.
Those of us who were once language students ourselves can probably recall examples of the contrived and cheesy videos used in our classes: unnatural speech, bad acting, and dull plots. Enter Vista Higher Learning’s new Spanish language program, Revista, with its quality and authentic short films that appear in each chapter. The films, directed by up-and-coming directors, offer students the chance to hear many varieties of Spanish at a normal pace, along with some slang. The fact that some of the films have won awards for shorts at film festivals attests to their quality.
While Revista’s subheading is “Conversación sin barreras,” to call it a conversation book would be to sell it short. In fact, Revista is a complex textbook that activates the four skills and fosters cultural competence using communicative and engaging materials. Each chapter begins with key vocabulary and an advanced organizer that activates students’ prior knowledge on the theme that will be discussed, followed by the “Cortometraje,” or short film that is available on the RevistaSupersite. The text offers activities to facilitate comprehension in the films, including skills and examples from the dialogues.
The films may be challenging for intermediate students, but the fact that they are so well produced and interesting will motivate students to engage with them. Follow-up activities offer many opportunities for conversation. Following the “Cortometraje,” the section “Estruturas” presents target grammar using the film as context. Every example and activity uses text from the film or topics from the film to ensure that the grammar points are fully contextualized.
Each chapter contains three different reading comprehension activities that vary across chapters. Between “Ensayo,” “Obra de teatro,” “CuentoArticulo,” “Entrevista,” and “Tira Comica,” students will engage with authentic fiction and nonfiction texts that aim to rouse controversy and incite meaningful exchanges. Furthermore, each chapter asks for student writing and closes with an activity that consolidates and reviews what students have learned.
In today’s market, having an online component is the industry standard. However, Revista sets itself apart by boasting a clear, user-friendly layout on its Supersite. Instructors should take advantage of the built-in roster and gradebook. The Supersite also houses content and assignments that can be computer graded. It also allows for instructors to choose to assign specific activities or even grade assignments without the help of the computer.
Revista’s communicative approach with authentic films and texts make it one of the most exciting Spanish language texts available for the college-level learner. The fascinating topics will keep students talking and encourage expression. The Supersite is a wonderful tool for tracking student progress and organizing the administrative side of teaching. Furthermore, today’s digital-age learners will feel at home with the computer-based components of the program. Revista makes an effort to subvert and avoid perpetuating stereotypes about the Hispanic culture. The Spanish-speaking cultures represented in the films and readings will engage students and get them excited about learning.