Yo puedo: segundos pasos
Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams, SUNY Geneseo
Rocío Vallejo-Alegre, SUNY Geneseo
Copyright Year: 2021
ISBN 13: 9781942341819
Publisher: Milne Open Textbooks
Conditions of Use
The text comprises second-semester Spanish (Elementary II) curriculum and serves as a continuation of "Yo puedo: para empezar", its first-semester counterpart. There are a total of five units in the book. The first unit encompasses an extensive... read more
The text comprises second-semester Spanish (Elementary II) curriculum and serves as a continuation of "Yo puedo: para empezar", its first-semester counterpart. There are a total of five units in the book. The first unit encompasses an extensive review of first-semester content (Elementary Spanish I). Titled “Los conceptos que debes saber” ("Concepts you should know"), it includes a tacit sociolinguistic section (the nexus of culture and language). This introduction to culture unit operates as a primer to ultimate competence in cross-cultural awareness. A key component in world language education, included are explanations on the differences between Hispanic and Latino terminologies, a clarification of the term “American”, and the scope of the Spanish-speaking world, for example. Other review items from Spanish I include topics ranging from the alphabet, phonetics/pronunciation, sentence structure, regular and irregular present tense forms, direct/indirection object pronouns (used separately and at the same time), uses of SER and ESTAR, the verb GUSTAR (meaning and structure), reflexive verbs, possessive adjectives/pronouns, etc. Due to the inclusion of a first-semester review, this second semester text is 100 pages longer than its first-semester prerequisite (most of which is identical to it). Language teachers are often compelled to impart information such as this to students by supplementing textbook material. The textbook under review affords instructors and students alike an opportunity to transition from “old” to new material within the digitally bound pages.
The remaining units include similarities among other texts of second semester (Spanish II) content: the indispensable subjunctive mood, verbs similar to GUSTAR (DOLER, ABURRIR, etc.), comparatives and superlatives, the prepositions POR and PARA, and imperatives. The presentation of new material culminates in the highly discussed differences between the preterit and imperfect past tenses, along with a summary of second semester concepts. The text covers all areas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index, glossary (Spanish to English and vice-versa), and reference of verb tenses.
The content is mostly accurate and free of bias. One minor mistake appears in the pre-text/acknowledgments page: “Herrera” is spelled “Herrara” for Carolina Herrera. See below for information on other errors.
The text’s content is primarily relevant to the subject area. However, the first video link is outdated (published in 2011). Even though its purpose is to present the geography of the Spanish-speaking world, it has a note at the end about the number of native Spanish speakers in the U.S. (presented as 35 million), although it’s currently as much as 45 million, depending on the source referenced.
The text is written in clear English and Spanish. Instruction in English is provided to facilitate the explanation of more complex material. Explanations in Spanish provide necessary input of the target language to enhance linguistic and cultural acquisition. Explicit vocabulary learning strategies are integrated into the book to promote productive learning. Grammar lessons are also incorporated into relevant vocabulary (food words + subjunctive, for example) to provide lower-level mechanical practice before conversational development. The use of acronyms and other mnemonic devices are employed to help learners remember key concepts or grammar. The unit (Unit 2) on prepositions I found to be very helpful and more detailed than other textbooks, especially providing examples with verbs whose prepositional meaning cannot be translated word-for-word (from English to Spanish and vice versa).
Perhaps one thing to consider is the statement in the text about language redundancy. For example, on pp. 41-42, the authors state more than once that native Spanish speakers don’t like redundancy and therefore do not practice it. While it is true that explicit subjects in sentences are often omitted, many Spanish learners sense that there’s a native Hispanophone tendency to provide emphasis and exercise redundancy when using indirect objects (noun phrases) and their corresponding pronouns. It may be a good idea to provide students with this “exception.”
The text is mostly consistent regarding its framework. Examples of inconsistencies include the following:
1) While the objectives are listed at the beginning of each unit, the first three units (1, 2 and 3) include the title “Overview” at the beginning of the unit. The final two units (4 and 5) use “Contents” instead. Using one or the other consistently is recommended.
2) The “Overview” sections of units 1 and 2 provide very detailed information on anticipated content; i.e. they comprise two or three-level outlines. Units 3, 4 and 5 offer only one-level outlines with minimal detail under their “Overview” or “Content” section headings. Furthermore, multilevel outlines are inconsistently structured.
3) Unit lengths (number of pages) vary from approximately 30 pages (units 3 and 5) to around 80 pages (first unit – review of Elementary Spanish I). Unit 2, for example, is about twice as long as U3 and U5. It is understandable that some concepts require more or less instruction and practice than others, but consistently delineated sections of language skill opportunities (listening, reading, writing, speaking and culture) may assist in yielding more consistency in this area.
Equal to the “Yo puedo…” first-semester textbook by the same authors, the text under review has five units. Each unit begins with its objectives and table of contents. Practice exercises are interspersed logically to aid the learning process. Most sections in the text are properly labeled, thus provided good flow throughout course content. The Introduction makes clear that the flipped-classroom format of the course demands at-home study first, followed by a consistent in-class lab. The formal class meetings therefore comprise application and practice of language concepts, thus warranting active participation instead of “a passive experience”, as explained by the authors. Though the hope is that learners can pick up concepts implicitly (examples are provided in context), there are explicit presentations as well to compensate for lack of comprehension. The title of the book (translates as “I can”) touts the core can-do statements that appear in each unit. These statements imply capability, thus expressing the feasibility of each objective. The overarching goal, which encompasses each unit’s list of discrete objectives, is to learn how to be a global citizen in a diverse society. This offers the learner the “why” for Spanish language learning. The authors also deliver a solid preliminary emphasis on the interconnectedness of language and culture, with examples (an expansion of who “Americans” are understood to be, for example, which aims to dispel erroneous ethnocentric traditional definitions, and an explanation of the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino/a”). Also noteworthy, many language textbooks (and most likely those of other disciplines) heavily use the margins of the pages to squeeze in as much information as possible. I’ve found this to be too much/too busy of a format. The textbook under review leaves all margins open. This frees up space for students to annotate the text much more easily and in a more organized fashion.
On the other hand, I did not see an opportunity for compositional writing until about half-way through the book. Most of the writing tasks theretofore comprise fill-in-the-blank or discrete one-sentence responses, in addition to lots of translation exercises. More opportunities for written output – even brief, five-sentence paragraphs – could be helpful. There is also a lack of (audio-only) listening comprehension materials. Many audio files should be added to make this course more effective, especially for online course delivery.
Topics in the text are outlined logically and predictably. Provided early on is an explanation of ACTFL guidelines for functional language use (presentational, interpretive, and interpersonal). This is key in helping learners understand how language skills are organized, differentiated, and acquired. As mentioned earlier, the can-do statements allow learners to self-assess their level comprehension and proficiency of the objectives at the end of each unit. The vocabulary lists at the end of each unit are provided alphabetically, and one column in these charts gives the part of speech of each word.
However, it should be noted that the preterit tense is not presented until Unit 4 (after subjunctive, complex object pronouns, and additional GUSTAR-like verbs, for example). The imperfect is presented in the same unit along with the differences between these two past tenses. This is a lot to learn in one unit. It could be suggested that the simple past be included in Unit 2 or Unit 3. My experience has been that the preterit is typically introduced at the end of the first semester or beginning the second semester of Spanish instruction.
The text is presented in a simple PDF format. Within the text, links are provided to access each unit and its content sections. No self-referential navigation issues were found within the text. Links for sources take the student to a companion website, which then offers additional links to YouTube videos, PowerPoint presentations, and instructor-created explanations, reading exercises, and games. The content behind one YouTube link is unavailable (“VIDEO 2.5.7 - Saber vs. Conocer”). This may apply more to content clarity, but one of the videos (“VIDEO 2.5.9 Rap: Pretérito vs. Imperfecto”) is both audibly and visually entertaining, but it’s difficult to understand the lyrics. The same is true for “VIDEO 2.5.6 Rap: Ser o Estar”). There were no navigation instructions for “PDF 2.5.5 - Guía de educación universitaria para estudiantes internacionales”, which can result in learners spending too much time to try to find what they’re looking for.
No grammatical errors were found. I appreciated the humility conveyed by the authors (found under “Lifelong Learners”) in encouraging users to contact them should there be suggestions for improvement, grammatical errors, or needed content clarification. Their emails were provided to facilitate this process.
The authors’ goal to provide inclusive, accurate, relevant, and equitable content was clearly stated and I feel that they attained this goal within the limited scope offered in the text. At the same time, potential users of this text will wish to supplement the same with country-specific activities, preferably with implicit grammar content that reinforces Elementary Spanish II objectives and outcomes. As a suggestion, instead of using famous actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, for example, to talk about noun-adjective agreement (gender and number), learners could be exposed to Spanish and/or Latin American celebrities to teach this same point. The authors do this successfully in other cases, however, and my intention is not to be overly particular. In summary, the cultural content of this text privileges the learner with much to think about critically. Furthermore, I believe the cultural content of this text will serve as a catalyst for a good number of learners to explore additional Spanish and Latin American norms. Doing so will not only enlighten them about these cultures, but will also deliver lessons of self-discovery.
Students and instructors alike feel increasingly more privileged to have free resources such as this at our disposal. This text, when used subsequent to “Yo puedo: para empezar”, can provide a good first-year foundation for the Spanish learner. Additional materials (written, spoken and seen) are recommended to enrich cultural knowledge and listening comprehension skills.
Table of Contents
- Vocabulary Lists & Glossaries
- Unidad 1: Los conceptos que debes saber
- Unidad 2: De compras y la ropa
- Unidad 3: Las comidas y los restaurantes
- Unidad 4: Estudiando en el extranjero
- Unidad 5: Consejos para tus estudios en el extranjero
- Verbos y conjugaciones con traducción
- Verbs: Spanish to English
- Glosario Español
- Glosario Inglés
- Objetivos por unidad
About the Book
Perhaps you remembered what the title of your book means from your previous experiences with Spanish. That is a great start! As you begin the equivalent of a second semester Spanish course with these materials, some of you might think about how long it has been since you studied Spanish while others may come to the class with some background knowledge. We want you to know this book has been designed with many types of learners in mind. Our goals were to address the need for students to achieve the ability to communicate in written and spoken form. We sought to address a common statement by students that may have previous experiences, be they from secondary school or another college that say, “I have studied Spanish for years and don’t know how to speak or write it.” We also sought to present a reasonable alternative to the expensive textbooks and online packages that don’t seem to be practical or relevant. We sought to enhance second language learning by creating our own materials that take a new approach, the flipped classroom model, to learning a second language based upon the skills that we deem most useful and that will enable our students to confidently express themselves in Spanish–tú puedes con Yo puedo 2.
About the Contributors
Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams, SUNY Geneseo
Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams and Rocío Vallejo-Alegre have been working together for 11 years, sharing their friendship and their passion for the Spanish language. They started at SUNY Geneseo teaching Spanish. Together they developed a series of 3 books, Yo puedo; Spanish for beginning and intermediate level students. Yo puedo, or “I can” in English, seeks to share the magic that the Spanish-speaking world offers while giving students the tools to communicate with others with confidence. In 2018 they started a program called “Learning English and Spanish TOGETHER” with the idea of breaking the language barrier by teaching English to migrant farm workers in Livingston County, helping them build a sense of belonging to the community. At the same time, the program created the opportunity for SUNY Geneseo students to practice their Spanish, develop teaching skills, and learn about other cultures as future global citizens. In summer 2020, with the goal of offering a sustainable program, a safe space for the continuity of English lessons and connecting families with community services, they decided to create a non-profit organization for this win-win program. In January 2021, Cultures Learning TOGETHER, Inc., the new non-profit organization, received the 501(c)(3) approval, a big milestone for TOGETHER. When you purchase their books, you also are part of this effort of building equity and inclusivity in the community as the royalties of the books are donated to “Cultures Learning TOGETHER, Inc”.