Introducing ¡Te toca!
new about this approach?
What’s new about this approach?
¡Te toca! marks a significant departure from traditional approaches to advanced language teaching. Many institutions in the United Kingdom and elsewhere still rely in the main on the increasingly outmoded grammar-translation approach, even where attempts have been made to introduce more communicative methods.
This book places communication centre stage. Its language simulations, which drive the learning process, immerse students in a virtual Spanish-speaking world, requiring of them a level of communicative participation unprecedented in language teaching.
Who is the course designed for?
University students with advanced Spanish. The course progresses through first-year, second-year and final-year levels of linguistic competence. The increasing prevalence of an instrumental attitude to degree courses, both among students and employers is widely acknowledged by teachers. ¡Te toca! addresses this growing trend, providing students with a thorough grounding in practical language skills across a range of registers for use in real situations.
What is a language simulation?
A language simulation creates a learning environment in which the student is required to study a set of documents, all of them in Spanish, in order to discover relevant information for use in the discussions and debate which make up the classroom element of the simulation. Each simulation centres on a particular polemic. Facts, figures and even some circumstantial evidence relating to the issues to be discussed are presented, sometimes explicitly, sometimes less so, in the accompanying documentation.
What exactly is the student’s role?
Students are given new, Spanish or Latin-American identities or roles, the short biographies provided positioning each participant on one side or other of the argument. The short-term goal of ‘winning the argument’ (for what is effectively your ‘team’) thus depends on effective information gathering and communication skills in the target language (only Spanish is permitted). This constitutes an immediate and compelling factor in the motivation of students for whom the goal of ‘mastering Spanish’ may sometimes seem a relatively vague and distant objective.
The simulation provides an opportunity for students to solve ‘real-world’ problems in Spanish now. The confidence and enthusiasm engendered by such immediately visible results inject a powerful impetus into the learning process.
¡Te toca!’s simulations are specifically designed to highlight the ludic and often theatrically heightened nature of its plots and characters. This aspect of the simulations has been found both to encourage and ‘authorize’ student engagement much more effectively than, for example, a relatively dry discussion of a recent newspaper article.
Simulations break through the traditional walls of the classroom (grammar for grammar’s sake, etc.) and stress the functionality of language as a communicative tool in problem solving. Research has shown that adult learners acquire language much more readily when they are required to use it in what they perceive as ‘real’ situations. The simulations contained in this book have been trialed with great success by teachers who are native speakers of Spanish.
Which language skills are practised?
The simulations are designed to improve all four communicative skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing). Moreover, each simulation not only introduces new vocabulary, but also focuses on a few points of functional grammar known to cause difficulty even at this advanced level.
However, the most important aim of this approach is to mobilize all these skills so that students learn to use Spanish, rather than merely learning about it. Their engagement with the simulation, with both the documentation and the subsequent discussion, is necessarily active rather than passive. Student feedback about these simulations has repeatedly stressed the value of the opportunity, and indeed requirement, they provide for production rather than just consumption of Spanish language.
¡Te toca! what
this book is...and is not
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