Some pleasant starters, if not the whole enchilada

iEn marcha! An Intensive Spanish Course for Beginners. First edition - Access Spanish
December 2, 2005

A brief glance at these books confirms what their titles immediately suggest. While both are aimed at adult beginners or faux beginners and have the same page size, Access Spanish has two thirds the number of pages, more graphics and, in general, uses larger fonts.

Consequently, it covers significantly less ground than IEn marcha!

IEn marcha! would be suitable for first-year undergraduates or others seeking to achieve a Level 2 or 3 qualification after one year of intensive study because it covers all the basic grammar and verb tenses as far as the present subjunctive.

The course should prove to be attractive. The material, spread over eight chapters, is well thought out, and the clearly indexed contents make locating different items straightforward.

The exercises and reading material are all presented in a clear, uncluttered fashion, colour blocks being used throughout to draw the student's attention to items of grammar, cultural background, and revision exercises on each page.

Access Spanish aims at a lower level and, although it does some things very well, its blurb and introduction are slightly misleading. It claims to be "ideal for those who wish to study Spanish for business purposes" or towards a curriculum qualification.

However, the business content is minimal and, although the introduction indicates that a dedicated website provides information on "major examinations and qualifications", it is only by accessing the site that one discovers that the book covers material solely for Level 1 qualifications (Level 2, which includes GCSE, is to be covered in a subsequent volume).

The treatment of everyday topics in Access Spanish is generally substantial and solid, but the page layout is sometimes too fussy and cluttered.

Francis Lough is professor of Hispanic studies, Birmingham University.

iEn marcha! An Intensive Spanish Course for Beginners. First edition

Author - Carmen Garcia del Rio
Publisher - Hodder Arnold
Pages - 296
Price - £19.99
ISBN - 0 340 80905 1

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