Painless ________

Designed as either self-study, practice, or as a basic course, these books feature an immersion approach that includes grammar, cultural information, everyday vocabulary, and lots of practice exercises. Because there is no auditory portion, I could see these being used in conjunction with an audio program that includes a lot of practice in listening and speaking but light on reading and writing in the language. Each book includes 10-13 lessons, with each lesson designed to take about a week to complete. The lessons are all structured to include a sequence of activities which build on the information from the previous lesson. Each lesson begins with an immersion reading passage, followed by a vocabulary list of many of the words used in the passage. The second part of each lesson focuses on grammar, and usually covers several different grammatical concepts. While the instruction in this section is in English, many examples are given in the target language. Additional vocabulary, everyday speech, and interesting cultural information are also included in each lesson. "Brain Tickler" exercises are placed after each instructional section and offer a variety of activities for using the language and grammar. Painless Spanish also features a few other bells and whistles such as pronunciation, reading selections from classic Hispanic authors, and composition practice, which round out the study and make it so much more than just a "travel language course". 270+ pgs, pb. - Jess

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