- Developing Writing Skills in Spanish by Javier Muñoz-Basols, Yolanda Pérez Sinusía, and Marianne David
Companion website: Guía del profesor: www.developingwritingskills.com
Few Spanish language instructors could argue against the value and benefit of including writing skill development in elementary classes, and continuing the development of these skills along the proficiency continuum and in alignment with ACTFL’s Communication Standard 1.3: “Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.” For their students to understand and interpret written and spoken language, instructors should be familiar with a variety of reading materials to cultivate and strengthen writing skill development. However, while educators may easily identify titles of written resources such as texts, newspapers, literary selections, essays, legal documents, and scientific journals, the challenge may be the availability of and access to these materials. Ideally, educators should be able to gain access to a variety of materials containing examples that are packaged thematically or stylistically.
Javier Muñoz-Basols, Yolanda Pérez Sinusía, and Marianne David have written Developing Writing Skills in Spanish, designed for intermediate and advanced level students. The authors state that the focus of the materials is on “writing as a craft” and offer a selection of narrative texts, expository essays, opinion pieces, and newspaper articles as examples. The nine chapters include: “El texto narrativo,” “El texto descriptivo,” “El texto expositivo,” “El texto argumentativo,” “El texto periodístico,” “El texto publicitario,” “El texto jurídico y administrativo,” “El texto científico-técnico,” and “Consejos adicionales para escribir correctamente.” Each chapter contains several subtopic areas and a separate section of “Gramática y léxico.”
In addition to the substantive topic areas and activities, there is also an accompanying Guía del profesor (www.developingwritingskills.com), designed as supplemental instructional strategies to implement the multiple activities in each chapter. This Guía del profesor provides additional venues to engage students in persuasive writing through paired, group or individual work. This companion website makes additional online resources readily available to the instructor and permits flexibility in the transition from the text to a variety of internet resources. Students can apply learned principles of writing through a variety of supplemental and authentic assignments, and model answers to free writing exercises.
Individual text chapters begin with “¿En qué consiste?”, an overview and introduction to the theme and title. For example, chapter 6, “El texto publicitario,” introduces persuasive writing and informs the reader about marketing and advertising techniques in purchasing products. Very timely and relevant examples, photos, advertisements, and slogans are supplements to developing and understanding the power of persuasive writing. The chapter’s activities provide an opportunity for students to apply their understanding of certain types of writing (e.g., persuasive). The activities also provide an opportunity for students to mentally assess and analyze the brevity of language structures that are used in persuasive writing. Structures are succinct, yet masterful in conveying meaning to prospective consumers.
Chapter 7, “El texto jurídico y administrativo,” contains an abundant representation of contracts, legal documents, acts, and certifications, each of which is well-suited to this chapter and characterize the variety of recognizable records in common societal transactions. Of particular [End Page 194] interest is activity 4, in which students are asked to identify appropriate Latin-derived legal terms, commonly found in textos jurídicos. Consistent with chapter 6, the Guía del profesor provides additional instructional strategies for educators to familiarize students with administrative and legal language, documents, and an opportunity to enhance understanding of such texts.
These two chapters are examples of the admirable assemblage of learning outcomes, methods, and activities to develop writing skills in Spanish. The authors have integrated lexicon and grammar with a rich and diverse selection of texts, advertisements, documents and essays, all of which are a testament to the multiple skill levels required when developing writing proficiency in Spanish and writing as a craft. In addition, this “bundling” is an efficient time...