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News and Notes

     Academic Computing Specialists has developed the Education and Industry United (EIU) grant program to facilitate communication between educators and computer manufacturers. Grant recipients evaluate products created by industry and academics and disseminate the findings. For more information contact: Ms. Jennifer Smith at (800) 531-32227.

     Internet and cable television have come together to provide two interactive services that will be available early next year. These services promise cheaper access rates and the cable's broader bandwidth will be able to carry Internet's multimedia traffic that was expected to cause a bottleneck in coming years. For more information, read: �Internet Sprouts Cable TV Tentacles� NewMedia (November 1993): 24, 26.

     Gellerman, Elizabeth.�Multimedia Players: New Standards and Features Have Arrived�. T. H. E. Journal 21. 4: 14, 16, 18-19 describes innovations and standards for multimedia players that can have direct application for foreign language lesson development. The article contains a listing of product manufacturers.

REVIEWS

     UNIVISION IN TEXT VIDEO: Video Selection and �Lengua Viva! Exercises

     Prentice Hall

     Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632

     Douglas Morgenstern

     Vídeo preparado para ser utilizado con el texto �ARRIBA! Comunicación y Cultura

     Eduardo Zayas-Bazán /José B. Fernández

     Videocinta VHS; 1993; ISBN 0-13-044530-7.

     Es gratuito si se adopta el libro de texto; no se vende por separado.

     El libro de texto �ARRIBA!, editado por Prentice Hall en 1993, ofrece una serie de materiales complementarios al texto, entre los cuales se incluye un vídeo de una hora de duración para ser utilizado con los ejercicios de la sección �Lengua Viva! del texto. El vídeo reúne segmentos de diversos programas de la cadena de televisión hispana Univisión, que se emite en los Estados Unidos. La selección incluye deportes, noticieros, presentaciones en vivo, propagandas y entrevistas periodísticas realizadas en los estudios de televisión y en diversas localidades del mundo hispánico.

     La guía para el uso del vídeo que se incluye en el Instructor's Resource Manual indica que la función del vídeo y de los ejercicios de la sección �Lengua Viva! del texto es enriquecer la comprensión oral del estudiante y prepararlo para un posterior contacto directo con hablantes nativos del español, exponiéndolo a situaciones que se relacionan con la vida real.

     Cada segmento del video se corresponde con la sección �Lengua Viva! que figura en las lecciones del libro de texto. A su vez, �Lengua Viva! se divide en tres partes (introducción del tema, presentación del vocabulario y ejercicios posteriores a la presentación del vídeo en clase). Los autores recomiendan el uso del vídeo conjuntamente con los ejercicios preparatorios que ofrece esta sección.

     Aunque la mayoría de los temas del vídeo son variados y de gran actualidad en este momento (el mundo de los adolescentes, el SIDA, los hispanos en los Estados Unidos, la ecología, los problemas del medio ambiente), algunos de estos temas perderán vigencia en un futuro no muy lejano. De todos modos, el vídeo podría seguir siendo utilizado para práctica de la comprensión oral. Por otra parte, el hecho de que el vídeo reúne únicamente segmentos de la cadena Univisión, constituye una gran limitación, ya que dicha cadena no representa al mundo hispánico en general sino más bien a los hispanos que viven en los Estados Unidos. De esta manera, los estudiantes no se ven expuestos al tipo de programación que los televidentes presencian en los países hispanos, ya que los programas que muestra el vídeo, si bien son en español, en su mayoría representan un calco de la programación de la televisión estadounidense. Pese a que [497] el marco de referencia cultural es muy limitado, el contexto y formato conocido de los programas que se muestran -�Talk shows�, propagandas comerciales de productos de los Estados Unidos, y temas que preocupan a la opinión pública en dicho país- facilita la comprensión de los segmentos. Un factor importante a favor del vídeo es que los segmentos no han sido filmados con fines pedagógicos, por lo que los estudiantes se ven expuestos a un discurso emitido a la velocidad normal en que se expresan los hispanohablantes. Indudablemente, la inclusión de programas auténticos de varios países hispanos contribuiría a ampliar la exposición a la cultura del mundo hispánico y enriquecería el uso de este recurso tan valioso para la clase de lengua.

     El sonido del vídeo es de excelente calidad y la selección es representativa de varios dialectos del español, así como de diversos niveles socioeconómicos y culturales. En suma, consideramos que pese a las limitaciones antedichas, la selección puede ser utilizada de manera productiva en el salón de clase, sin necesidad de respetar la secuencia de presentación de los segmentos, y según los intereses del profesor y de los estudiantes.

Renee H. Milstein

University of St. Thomas

     Spanish-speakers and Bilingualism

     Films for the Humanities and Sciences

     P. O. Box 2053, Princeton, New Jersey 08543-2053;

     (800) 257-5126, 1992

     VHS videocassette, avail for purchase or rental. ISBN 0549484Y.

     In only nineteen minutes, Spanish-speakers and Bilingualism gives a general introduction to some key concepts in bilingualism and to the controversy surrounding Spanish as it is spoken by latinos in the United States. Its short length and its lack of assumptions about students' knowledge of the issues make it a practical classroom resource. However, because the intended audience for Spanish-speakers and Bilingualism is unclear, it is up to the instructor to place it into an appropriate pedagogical context.

     This video's thesis is established from the outset: the ever-changing nature of the Spanish language. From the time of the Conquest, new indigenous words have been incorporated into the language, and the Spanish spoken today in the United States likewise continues to evolve as latinos customize the language to reflect their experiences and needs. Spanish-speakers and Bilingualism deals with the contemporary Spanish in two basic geographic areas -New York and the Southwest. The video first summarizes the evolution and the features of the Caribbean-New York dialect, and afterwards defines and illustrates the concept of �code-switching� (the alternation of English and Spanish). The presentation is hardly a textbook analysis; however, the video goes beyond what a textbook would offer as the narrators defer to latinos from all walks of life -grocers, linguists, school teachers, disk jockeys, and students- who discuss their use of and their attitudes towards their two languages and cultures. The tendency among U. S. latinos is to maintain the Spanish language heritage in some way. Thus, in her closing remarks, the narrator ponders if code-switching will continue to characterize informal speech or if the process itself will give rise to a new tongue. In this way, the initial idea of Spanish as a dynamic language in constant transition is reinforced.

     One would expect Spanish-speakers and Bilingualism to be appropriate for Spanish courses for native speakers, but this is not necessarily so. For one thing, it is ironic that a program that celebrates the vitality, flexibility, and durability of Spanish uses English as its primary language. Marina Pinkas opens and closes the program in English, with additional commentary by an anonymous male narrator in that same language. Most of the people interviewed in the video respond in English, even though in some cases it is clear that English is not their dominant language. When interviewees respond in Spanish, their responses are subtitled in English or translated [498] in a voice-over, but no Spanish translation is provided for responses in English. These procedures were interpreted by my students in a �Spanish for Spanish-speakers� class as an inadvertent bias toward English. Yet, it can be argued that because the video is in English, it is appropriate for use in settings beyond the Spanish language classroom, such as linguistics and education courses, or teacher-training and community service workshops. Indeed, this program may prove to be more enlightening for non-latinos than for Spanish-speaking bilinguals, for whom most of the information presented is not new. A more in-depth study of the evolution of the varieties of U. S. Spanish from their sources in Latin America and Spain, and of the forms and contexts of code-switching, would make this program more interesting to Spanish bilinguals and non-Latinos alike.

     Although most of my students resisted the notion of Spanglish as a form of Spanish language retention (instead of loss), Spanish speakers and Bilingualism prompted spirited class discussions and sensitized students to their own use of Spanglish as well as their attitudes toward it. The reassurance that code-switching is a natural -and in many contexts an acceptable- form of linguistic expression may go a long way toward mitigating the anxiety and sense of linguistic inadequacy that keeps many bilingual students away from Spanish courses, or even prevents them from generally communicating in Spanish. Therefore, despite its shortcomings, Spanish-speakers and Bilingualism can encourage bilingual students to maximize the creative potential of their novel dialects while using these linguistic forms as building blocks in the acquisition of standard Spanish.

Alicia Ramos

Barnard College

     �FIESTA!

     Gessler Publishing Co.

     55 West 13 Street

     New York, New York 10011-758

     (212) 627-0099

     FAX: (212) 627-5948

     22 minute video; VHS format 191; $3.95

     �Fiesta! is a supplemental cultural video which consists of a montage of varied fiesta activities, crafts, and markets. It can be used at virtually any level, in elementary through post-secondary classes, either to illustrate the ritual of a fiesta, or as an introduction to a variety of related cultural activities.

     Through the device of a narrator who pretends to be a fiesta organizer from his town, the viewer is given a general introduction to the elements which make up a fiesta, along with a feeling for its importance in preserving the identity of the group and the ancestral traditions of the community. For example, the video presents scenes from the fiesta of Huamantla, Tlaxcala in which viewers follow the pilgrimage of the Virgen through a town that has been artistically decorated with beautifully designed carpets of seeds and flower petals. An interview with one of the artisans, in Spanish with English subtitles, explains how the flower carpets are made, at a cost of millions of pesos. We follow the carpets until they ultimately lead to the plaza, the scene of traditional dances. Interviews with the dancers, who participate in the fiesta as a way of worshiping their ancestors, in a ritual passed from father to son, point out how �pagan� rites have been incorporated into many dedications to the Christian saints.

     Other segments highlight additional aspects related to the fiesta including the charreadas, regional costume fashion shows, cockfights, and bullfights, all of which are an essential part of the celebration. Still other parts of the video provide a look at the many different varieties of foods offered at the fairs or in the markets. The final scenes depict the last activities of the celebration, showing how the fiesta culminates in an evening of rides and fireworks, including an interview with a fireworks artist who is constructing one of the many castillos that will bring the fiesta to an end in a blaze of light.

     �Fiesta! appears culturally authentic with two possible exceptions: the supposedly [499] native narrator has an obvious English accent, and some of the tempting foods photographed appear more likely to have come from an upper-class resort hotel than the usual street vendors. These do not really detract from the video, however, which is likely to capture the interest of a wide audience. In summary, �Fiesta! could be effectively used as a springboard for an in-depth look at a variety of interesting cultural topics and would make a useful addition to the Spanish classroom library.

Marilyn Barrueta

Yorktown High School

Arlington, Virginia

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