LINGUIST List 14.1890

Tue Jul 8 2003

Review: Applied Ling: Santamar303255a Iglesias (2002)

Editor for this issue: Madhu Jammalamadaka <>

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  1. Terri Greenslade, A Spanish Grammar Workbook

Message 1: A Spanish Grammar Workbook

Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2003 14:12:51 +0000
From: Terri Greenslade <>
Subject: A Spanish Grammar Workbook

Santamar\303\255a Iglesias, Esther (2002) A Spanish Grammar Workbook,
Blackwell Publishing, Blackwell Reference Grammars.

Announced at

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

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. vii]).

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:
�nálisis 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:
�nalisis y practica. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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


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
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