"This book is my attempt to help teachers, tutors and students of all ages who wish to learn to read in a much simpler and faster way."

An experienced elementary and bilingual teacher of English as a Second Language has devised a thorough methodology for assisting students with the complexities of both English and Spanish reading and writing. Her book, which serves as a practical workbook with space to write and draw as learning progresses, begins with her assertion that though both languages have many exceptions to their standard rules, these are not as daunting as might be thought and can be overcome or avoided by using simple, straightforward approaches.

The first half of the manual focuses on English, initially emphasizing vowel sounds. This includes for each vowel a “Writing Practice,” a “Worksheet,” a “Reading Word Chart,” and a “Spelling Practice” worksheet. She presents charts of the multiple vowel sounds using standard diacritical markings. She matches vowel sounds with consonants to make short words (for “a” she gives “mat, mate, maw, rat, rate, raw” and so on). The information is enhanced with illustrations. Writing instructions are set up on a three-line grid, with space to write letters and words. Students will gradually progress from three- and four-letter words denoting objects such as “man” and “band” to words with more complex, shaded meanings, such as “cause” and “taught.” Short stories add a further dimension to word usage, with questions to answer. Letters like B, D, and P are humorously described by sound and shape (“capital D and small d are looking at each other”). Some work pages invite students to draw pictures of words beginning with a particular letter. The author moves from basic one-letter vowels to diphthongs and more sophisticated stories.

Grammar is included step-by-step; the use of commas for words in a series is introduced, followed by possessive pronouns and the use of apostrophes to denote ownership. Spelling changes are explored, such as the transition from “y” to “i” in “happy” and “happiest.” Similar exercises, from the basic vowels and letters to more complicated grammar, verb tenses, and the like are offered in the second half of Navarijo’s book, dealing with Spanish usage and pronunciation. Her work focuses more on English than Spanish and is not meant as a primer for English students to learn Spanish, but much knowledge of that language can be gleaned using the exercises presented.

The author believes that her methods work because she has used them extensively in her own classroom. Her charts, examples, and illustrations are clear, sufficiently amusing, and thought-provoking enough to engage first-grade students such as those Navarijo has taught, as well as adults in a high school or college ESL setting. Her teaching techniques “translate” from and into both English and Spanish. Her guidance never “talks down” to the learners but assumes a certain willingness and interest on their part and offers many varied ways to ingest the knowledge being stressed. An award-winning bilingual teacher in the San Antonio, Texas, schools, Navarijo is now retired and works with migrant children. She has obviously exerted diligence in the creation of this colorful, easy-to-use workbook. She demonstrates her innate sensibilities, matched by her academic accomplishments, in the construction of and ideas underlying this highly organized, thorough, and thoughtful educational tool.

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