Course: SPA105
Instructor: Nadia Cervantes-Perez
F 2019

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

SPA105 is an intermediate-level Spanish course that focuses on “oral and written communication and the consolidation of listening and reading skills.” The course emphasizes in-class conversation skills and giving students practice in writing academic compositions. SPA105 is also designed to teach more Spanish grammar structures, help students increase the complexity of their spoken and written Spanish, and prepare them to complete their language requirement with SPA108. The course accomplishes these goals by examining written materials, videos, and movies that focus on the themes of colonialism, neocolonialism, and globalization in the Spanish-speaking world. The semester begins with a study of colonialism, which allows students to understand and recognize instances of neocolonialism (the second theme studied), and the course ends with an exploration of the role of globalization in contributing to (neo)colonialism.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

SPA105 meets three days per week for a 50-minute class. The classes are small (approximately 12 people) and all students are expected to participate in every class. Classes begin with a short discussion to review the readings and questions from the assignment packets. A few minutes of the class are devoted to reviewing the grammar students practiced for homework. The majority of class time is spent completing the in-class activities from the homework packet. These can include additional readings or videos, but are largely discussion- based. Students should expect to spend a significant portion of class time participating in group discussions or speaking with a partner/small group. 

Students can make the most of Spanish class by completing the readings and questions thoroughly and being prepared to contribute to the class discussion or share their answers to the homework questions. Also, students should speak and participate as much as possible. Participation is worth 15% of the final grade, and speaking in class is one of the best ways to improve oral communication skills and practice for the oral examination.

Learning For and From Assignments

The main assignment for SPA105 is a homework packet that must be completed before each class. It is accompanied by grammar exercises. SPA105 also includes 4 compositions, 2 presentations, a final project, an oral exam, and 2 in-class tests. There is no midterm or final exam, though the in-class tests occur during midterm week and the last week of the semester.

Class Packets For each class, students print out and complete an assignment packet. This often includes a reading in Spanish (which can be an article, a short story, a video, a movie, a primary source, or any combination of these) and a set of questions related to the reading for students to respond to. Students complete the first set of readings/questions before class but do not fill out the section marked as in-class activities. 

Students should complete the packets thoroughly and engage with the readings since the readings and questions are almost always discussed in class. In addition, the material in the homework packets is the material that will form the basis of the grammar exercises and the short essay question on the in-class tests, and the readings/videos/etc. are the sources that students are expected to use for writing their compositions.

Class packets are graded based on whether they have been fully completed rather than whether the grammar/spelling is correct, although students should make an effort to improve these elements of their Spanish communication skills.

Grammar Exercises Students also complete a short grammar exercise for each class. The exercises are from the book Students’ Basic Grammar of Spanish and are accompanied by short readings/explanations on how to use each grammar structure. Students are expected to complete the exercises and correct them in different-colored ink. As with the packets, grammar exercises are graded based on completeness, not correctness. 

Because little class time is devoted to learning or practicing grammar, students should devote the necessary time outside of class to ensure that they fully understand and can use each grammar structure. The time spent on grammar in class is for review and student questions, not for thoroughly teaching the material.

Compositions Students write four compositions during the semester. Three are in-class, hand-written compositions. The class before the composition-writing class, students are given the prompt for the essay and a document that allows them to plan out their responses. This document guides students to plan a thesis, choose sources to use (the sources must be from the readings in the homework packets), and consider how they will incorporate the different grammar structures they have been studying into their writing. For these compositions, students have 50 minutes in class to write. The papers are then graded by the professor and returned with comments to the students, who have about a week to make their corrections and resubmit the composition as a typed document. The fourth composition is not written in class; it is an end-of-semester paper with similar requirements as the in-class essays, but students take as much time as they want to write only one version of this paper and submit it as a typed document. 

Familiarity with the readings in the homework packets (the sources for the compositions) and thoughtful completion of the composition-planning document are the two best strategies for preparing for and writing the compositions. Because most of the compositions are written during the 50-minute class periods, students do not have time in class to brainstorm their essays if they hope to write a sufficient response within the time limit.

Presentations Students give two oral presentations during the semester; both are in groups. One presentation is part of the podcast project (see below). The other is a ten-minute presentation with a partner about an aspect of Spanish culture (such as music, film, etc.). 

Podcast Project For the end-of-semester project, students work in groups of three to create a podcast. For this project, each group must write a podcast pitch/proposal, interview a Spanish-speaker, write a script, and record the final podcast (including music and sound effects). This project also includes a brief class presentation in which each group shares a summary of their podcast and an overview of how they completed each step of the project. 

Oral Exam  Students in SPA105 complete one brief (15 minute) oral exam with a partner and their professor. This exam is designed to evaluate students’ speaking skills. For this exam, students should be prepared to talk about any of the topics studied in class, what they have learned from the course, and their own lives and interests. The best preparation for the oral exam is speaking frequently in class or practicing conversing in Spanish with friends.

Pruebas SPA105 includes two pruebas (in-class tests), one around midterm week and one in the final week of the semester. The pruebas are non-cumulative (the first prueba tests the material learned in the first half of the semester, and the second one tests the material from the latter half of the semester). Students have 50 minutes to complete each prueba, which typically includes a vocabulary exercise, four or five grammar exercises, and a short essay question. Each component of the prueba is based on the readings and videos from the homework packets. 

Prueba Study Strategies To prepare for the vocabulary section, students should regularly practice vocabulary flashcards. For the grammar section, the most effective study strategy is to practice writing sentences using each of the grammar structures learned in class. Students should practice writing their own sentences since the majority of the prueba exercises will ask them to generate their own sentences or complete a phrase. One of the best ways to prepare for the short essay question is to review the homework packets and write down a few ideas about how each of the readings fits into the key course themes of colonialism, neocolonialism, and globalization. Writing thorough responses to the questions in the homework packets is also an effective way to practice writing about the course themes in a short-answer format. In addition, students are given a review guide for each exam; however, this review guide is only distributed in the class period before the in-class exam, so students will likely want to begin studying before this resource is available.

While the pruebas can be completed within the 50-minute class period, many students find that they must work quickly to answer all the questions. Students should be prepared to manage their time carefully and not focus too long on any one section during the pruebas.

External Resources

Office Hours Students can attend office hours to get help with the final project and composition, ask questions about the readings or grammar exercises, or simply practice their conversation skills. 

Spanish Language Tables Spanish language tables are offered at various times throughout the week for students to meet in the dining halls and practice speaking Spanish during meals. While the language tables help develop oral communication skills, students should be aware that most of the people who attend Spanish language tables are more advanced speakers, often with upper-level course and/or study abroad experience.

Quizlet Quizlet sets (or other flashcard resources) are an excellent way to practice and review vocabulary for the course. Flashcard sets are most useful if they are added to after each class and practiced regularly, rather than created as a last-minute study resource during exam review.

Spanish Dictionary or Word Reference Students should have access to a Spanish dictionary or an online dictionary like Word Reference while they complete their class packets, grammar exercises, and compositions. It is helpful to look up and write down the definitions of unfamiliar Spanish words (it can also be helpful to integrate these new words into a Quizlet/flashcard set).

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

Students who enroll in SPA105 should have some experience writing AND speaking in Spanish and should be comfortable with at least the present, preterite, and imperfect verb tenses. By the end of the course, students will improve their abilities to converse in Spanish both informally and in presentations, their ability to write compositions, and learn several new grammar structures (including the future, conditional, and pluperfect tenses and the present subjunctive mood).

The workload for SPA105 is reasonable: three homework packet assignments per week and three classes per week. However, students should be aware that the workload increases significantly during the end of the semester, with a prueba, the podcast project, a composition, and an oral exam all occurring in the last few weeks (in addition to the regular homework assignments).

SPA105 is offered only in the fall. Students must take the Spanish placement test and earn a satisfactory score to enroll. Students who complete SPA105 finish their language requirement by taking SPA108.

Students who place into SPA105 should strongly consider taking the SPA105-SPA108 sequence to fulfill the language requirement. These two classes meet only three days per week; alternative sequences include 101, 102, 103, and/or 107, which all meet five days per week.

Intermediate Spanish

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