20 ene. 2009

Using the on-line Spanish exercises


Various of the pages in the Spanish grammar section of the web site contain on-line grammar exercises that are designed to help you make sure that the information you are learning is "sinking in", or simply as a refresher if you're already familiar with the material. Particularly if the grammar point in question is new, it is worth spending a few minutes doing the corresponding exercise, as this will help the point in question to become part of your "active knowledge".

Note that to learn grammar and vocabulary effectively, most learners will have more success if they have a variety of experiences with that grammar or vocabulary: so your strategy for learning Spanish needs to encompass a variety of activities such as on-line exercises, "active" reading (where you're needing to look a small percentage of words up in a dictionary), creating a video diary or blog in Spanish etc. So the on-line exercises in the grammar section should be seen as part of this strategy, but you should also be actively looking for the examples of the grammar points you've learnt while reading, for example.

Now back to the exercises. There are essentially two ways in which you do most of the grammar exercises on the site:
  • for working privately or in small groups, you can fill in the exercise directly on the page
  • for larger groups, or when working with a whiteboard, you can use the exercise in full screen mode
In full screen mode, the question and answer are shown in a large font, and an on-screen keyboard appears below the exercise which will function as a touch-screen keyboard when using an interactive whiteboard. (Note that if you are looking for other Spanish activities to use on a interactive whiteboard, you may like to check out the Spanish wordsearch games and Spanish crossword games also available on the site.)

Private/small group use: filling in on the page

In this mode, you see ten questions at a time (1). To the right of each question, you fill in the answer (2). When you press ENTER (or TAB) inside one of the question boxes, that question will be "marked", and you'll start the next question. If you get the question wrong, you can go back. To type accents, you can either use one of the standard ways of typing accents, or you can use the accent buttons at the bottom of the exercise (3).

Vocabulary used in exercises

Note that the exercises will generally expect particular vocabulary to be used. If a word list isn't explicitly given on the page, then which word to use should be obvious from the type of exercise. (In the example -ar verb exercise pictured, if we're asked for a form of the verb meaning "to drink", this obviously would not be beber, as the latter is not an -ar verb!) However, if you're not sure which word to use, then most exercises have a vocabulary button (4), which will give you the list of vocabulary used by the exercise in question.

Full-screen/whiteboard mode

To use the exercises on a whiteboard (or with a large group), access the full screen mode (5). In this mode, questions are displayed one at a time, in large font, and the on-screen keyboard can is used to type the answer. In this mode, an overall numeric score is kept as follows:

  • 3 points for an answer correct on the first attempt
  • 2 points for an answer correct on the second attempt
  • 1 point for an answer correct on the third attempt
Comments about the exercises are always welcome and can be left on this blog entry. Please contact the author if you wish to use these or similar exercises in your own web page.