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Review of  A Spanish Grammar Workbook

Reviewer: Terri Greenslade
Book Title: A Spanish Grammar Workbook
Book Author: Esther Santamaria Iglesias
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Subject Language(s): Spanish
Issue Number: 14.1890

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Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 07:53:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: Terri Greenslade
Subject: A Spanish Grammar Workbook

Santamaría Iglesias, Esther (2002) A Spanish Grammar Workbook,
Blackwell Publishing, Blackwell Reference Grammars.

Terri Greenslade, Indiana University, and
J. César Félix-Brasdefer, Indiana University

This workbook is intended to complement "A Comprehensive Spanish
Grammar" (de Bruyne, 1995) and is designed as a practice manual for
learners of Spanish at varying levels of proficiency, as well as a
classroom resource for teachers and tutors of Spanish. The exercises in
the workbook follow the sequence of the material in de Bruyne's Spanish
Grammar and are cross-referenced with the detailed grammatical
explanations provided therein. The book is organized in 22 chapters,
each providing practice exercises related to a specific aspect of
Spanish grammar, including: Pronunciation, The Article, The Noun, The
Adjective, Numerals, Pronouns, Impersonal Expressions, The Adverb,
Comparative Constructions, Prepositions, Constructions with Verbs and
Nouns, Conjunctions, The Verb: Conjugation, Use of Tenses, The Passive,
Use of the Moods, The Impersonal Forms of the Verb, Special Problems
with Spanish Verbs, Subject-Verb Concord, Syntax of Negative Elements,
Word Order, Affective Suffixes

This workbook could be used independently by a fairly advanced,
motivated learner as a means of reviewing and practicing grammar, or as
an instructor's resource for supplemental grammar exercises for the
language classroom for different levels of proficiency. The 500
exercises contained in the workbook have been coded according to their
level of difficulty (elementary, intermediate, and advanced), and
contain a variety of formats including mechanical exercises (e.g., fill
in the blank, matching, sentence unscrambling, etc.), puzzles (e.g.,
crosswords, mazes, word find, etc.), and translation activities. At
the end of each chapter, communicative exercises are included.
Following the presentation of all exercises, there is a comprehensive
answer key which allows learners to verify their responses
independently. The usage norms in the workbook are largely those of
Peninsular Spanish, but according to the author, some elements of Latin
American Spanish usage have also been included.

The main strengths of "A Spanish Grammar Workbook" lie in the number,
creativity, and variety of exercises provided at various proficiency
levels. Many of the exercises are suitable for use in classroom
activities to supplement grammar and vocabulary practice. The fresh,
creative approach of many of the exercises, especially the variety of
puzzles, provides engaging and enjoyable ways for learners to interact
with the language while reinforcing grammatical concepts. This workbook
could be used by instructors as a valuable source of ready-made
exercises which could be incorporated in the classroom or,
alternatively, as testing materials. While the workbook's main audience
is learners of Spanish as a second language, many of the intermediate
and advanced exercises would also be appropriate and challenging for
heritage speakers who wish to improve their knowledge of and
proficiency in various subtleties of the Spanish language, such as:
idiomatic expressions and complex grammatical structures, including
word order, the use of complex tenses and mood, impersonal expressions,
and prepositions.

The language teacher who intends to use "A Spanish Grammar Workbook"
should be aware of the limitations mentioned below. As previously
mentioned, at the end of each chapter, the author has included
"communicative exercises" which "are intended to function as prompts to
the oral and syntactical practice of the grammar in representative
contexts" (p. ix). However, if communication is to be understood as
"the expression, interpretation, and negotiation of meaning in a given
context" (Lee & Van Patten, 1995), then many of these activities do not
appear to foster true communication. For example, on page 44 in the
chapter on Numerals, one of the communicative exercises requires
learners to "Write or role-play a dialogue that includes the following
measurements: 1 l., 100 gr., 1 kg., 12, 1/4 kg, 1/2, l.".
Similarly, in the chapter on Adverbs, another exercise instructs
learners to "Write or role-play a dialogue with the adverbs of time
that you know. Check back through the chapter if you need help
remembering them." (p. 81). These activities might indeed help learners
practice the concepts they have learned in these chapters at the
discourse level if sufficient contextual details were provided.

While other communicative exercises do provide more contextual
information, often the situational context is not described thoroughly
enough to permit a productive exchange of ideas. Furthermore, many of
the communicative exercises are aimed at eliciting oral or written
language. Especially for learners with low proficiency levels, these
activities may require the guidance of an instructor, thus making the
workbook more suitable for high-intermediate to advanced learners who
are better able to monitor their progress independently. Finally, it
should be pointed out that of the 500 exercises contained in the
workbook, less than 15% of the exercises focus specifically on advanced
grammar ("complex syntax and sophisticated expressions" [p. vii]). The
majority of the exercises are intended to practice intermediate grammar
("standard conversational Spanish and communicative expressions" [p.

Given this limitation, students, language teachers, or tutors seeking
additional exercises at the advanced level, or those seeking additional
grammar explanations and practice with Latin American varieties of
Spanish may wish to complement this workbook with the following
resources: A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish (Butt & Benjamin,
2000), De la oración simple a la oración compuesta (Campos, 1993), and
Gramática española: Ánálisis y práctica (King & Suñer, 2001). Overall,
Santamaría Iglesias' "A Spanish Grammar Workbook" is a valuable tool
for students seeking to practice and review various aspects of Spanish
Grammar that can be used over the course of the learning process. It is
also a useful source of exercises in a variety of formats for
instructors and tutors who are looking for creative ways to make the
learning process more enjoyable and engaging for learners.


Butt, J. & Benjamin, C. (2000). A new reference grammar of modern
Spanish. Third Edition. New York:McGraw-Hill.

Campos, H. (1993). De la oración simple a la oración compuesta.
Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

de Bruyne, J. (1995). A comprehensive Spanish grammar (Adapted with
additional material by Christopher J. Pountain). Oxford, UK:

King, L & Suñer, M. (2001). Gramática española: Ánalisis y practica.
Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Lee, J. & Van Patten, B. (1995). Making communicative language teaching
happen. New York: McGraw-Hill.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERS Terri Greenslade is an applied linguist who specializes in Second Language Acquisition. Her main focus is the acquisition of Spanish by native speakers of English. Her research interests include input processing, word order, language pedagogy, and teacher preparation. Other interests include feedback in second language writing and maturational constraints on second language learning. Beginning fall 2003, she will be teaching in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University -- Bloomington. J. César Félix-Brasdefer is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Linguistics in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University - Bloomington, specializing in cross- cultural and interlanguage pragmatics. His research interests include politeness theory, speech act theory, linguistic variation, and research methodology. He has investigated the pragmatic and sociolinguistic behavior of L1 and L2 speakers of Spanish, and is currently working on linguistic politeness in Mexican Spanish and the acquisition and teaching of pragmatics in the L2 classroom.

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0631228489
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 376
Prices: U.S. $ 26.95
U.K. £ 15.99