Issue 35, March-April 2012, 46pp and issue 36, May-June 2012, 50pp
(Punto y Coma is an audio magazine, published six times a year, for intermediate to advanced speakers of Spanish. It comes with an printed magazine and audio CD.)
I had never come across the magazine puntoycoma, and it has been a great discovery for me. I consider it to be an excellent tool for teachers of Spanish, both for teaching the language and also for practising and learning Spanish themselves.
The magazine, aimed at learners of Spanish at different levels, comprises shorter and longer articles that cover very interesting topics such as: the arts, health, culture, society, anthropology, literature, books, cinema, and music. But the list does not finish here, as other appealing themes such as psychology, technology, travel and destinations, terrorism and war, plus interviews with and biographies of celebrities, are included. In addition, towards the beginning of the magazine, there is always a theme featured, one good for discussion in class, possibly a bit controversial (such as climate change or vegetarianism), which is already presented with a question for debate and a list of points, for and against, to aid discussion (also useful for a writing composition).
Some of the longer articles come with exercises for reading comprehension and even questions for oral practice (besides including useful glossaries), a total of between three and five exercises for each of these articles. As the magazine comes with an audio CD, with more than 60 minutes of audio, some of the exercises could be used as a listening comprehension instead, or even for a combination of listening and reading. The articles, and therefore the activities, come with an indication of the levels (rarely elementary, mostly intermediate or advanced, or a combination of these) for which they are to be used.
In addition, in each issue of the magazine there is space for a short story, with exercises including the usual questions and prompts for oral discussion, and an appealing page or two of ‘visual vocabulary’, which with the aid of drawings shows some vocabulary on a specific theme such as: Easter in Spain, or going camping. Puntoycoma is a rich mine of resources for the language teacher, particularly for A levels and universities and for conversational and cultural lessons.
Two more sections come with invaluable information on the language and offer exercises for the reader and for students: the first on colloquial language and idioms, the second on grammar. The former links to several of the expressions used in the various articles of that issue of the magazine, acting as a further section of explanation and then as reinforcement (through the exercises) of previous learning. The latter is not a dry and boring grammar section, and does not consist of strictly grammar items: the two issues I have read used this space for two (out of at least three) specific articles on proverbs and sayings.
The publishing company of this six year old magazine is based in Spain, but some of the articles are written in Latin American Spanish, so that the readers, on top of the Spanish version of the Iberian language, can also learn expressions used in other variations of Spanish, such as Mexican Spanish. The articles are generally very well written, appealing to the reader and above all very informative, often linked to current affairs and events. There is also a page at the beginning of each issue dedicated to correspondence from readers.
The CD is more than a simple CD where the sound of the texts present in the magazine is collected, you can hear music added and discussion of the current issue is enhanced by different and clear voices. As before with regard to the written text, in the audio tracks a variety of different accents can be heard such as: Spanish, Mexican, Argentinean and Cuban.
In summary, Puntoycoma, besides being a fascinating and useful magazine for learners of Spanish on its own, is also a great tool for the teacher of Spanish, as it contains plenty of interesting articles, exercises and the audio tracks. Between the longer articles, the short story, the grammar section and the colloquial language section, the teacher has in each issue seven sets of exercises and activities at his or her disposal, plus a myriad of other smaller and interesting articles that could be used in the classroom and are often a source for learning more about Spanish-speaking cultures and societies.
Glyndwr University, Wrexham
(Review appeared in Vida Hispánica Spring 2012 No. 45, The Association of Language Learning Journal for teachers of Spanish and Portuguese at all levels)
Review by Vida Hispánica Spring 2012 No. 45 (ALL Journal) /
(Posted on 20/09/2012)