Practice Makes Perfect: The Spanish Subjunctive Up Close
March 10, 2013
Author Eric Vogt, Ph.D.
Series Practice Makes Perfect
Publication Date 2008
Skill Level Intermediate, Advanced
Within the sprawling Practice Makes Perfect empire at McGraw-Hill are a number of small, highly portable, and thematically focused books on various grammar topics. Practice Makes Perfect: The Spanish Subjunctive Up Close by Eric Vogt is one of them, and it tackles a subject that is a source of consternation for many language learners, especially native English speakers who don’t have to worry about subjunctive too much in their own language.
The book has plenty of solid content and, in keeping with the series title, a lot of practice in the form of grammar exercises. I like the English-to-Spanish translations, but there is too much Spanish-to-English translation that isn’t sufficiently challenging for someone at this level.
In addition, there are too many time-wasting exercises where you are—for example—given lists of verbs at the top and then told to fill in the blanks in a long excerpt with the correct forms of the correct verbs. Exercise 7.9, for instance, is about a page long, with 17 verbs and 20 blanks. I spent too much time just running back and forth between the verb list and the text, trying to figure out which verb went where, which is not productive from a pedagogical point of view. Unfortunately, there are quite a few of these exercises.
Finally, there are also a number of match-the-item-on-the-left-with-the corresponding-item-on-the-right exercises, as well as multiple-choice exercises where you have to pick the best selection to complete a sentence. Boring!
I felt as though someone on the publisher’s side might have said to the writer, okay, you need to mix up the exercise format. But it would be better to have more exercises that are useful, even if they are similar, than a bunch of less effective exercises just for the sake of variety.
A practical note, which may or may not be pleasing to you: Practice Makes Perfect: The Spanish Subjunctive Up Close includes content on the vosotros forms used in Spain.