Rostros differs in fundamental ways from other Spanish textbooks. In fact, the Rostros cuaderno is not a textbook at all. Traditional textbooks are designed to provide everything: vocabulary lists, grammar explanations, reading texts, dialogs, writing assignments, culture notes and communicative class activities. Because traditional textbooks cannot do all this well, ancillaries came into vogue, such as workbooks and audio media for listening practice. Both have now largely been replaced by publisher ‘supersites’, though despite these changes, the textbook itself has remained largely unchanged.

Unlike the monolithic textbook, the Rostros cuaderno, does not attempt to fulfill all these functions. Rather, it handles tasks that are best done in print and leaves to the interactive software the learning functions that work best in software. The cuaderno combines the best elements of a textbook and a workbook into one medium, focusing on the following elements: