Spanish I Syllabus

Beginning Spanish I

Winter 2012 & Fall 2012

COLLEGE SPANISH – Click to download and view a sample of the First Year Syllabus Calendar (Mlg 105 & Mlg 106)


This course is designed to help you develop a working knowledge of modern Spanish, so that you may speak, write, and understand the language as it is used today.  Emphasis is therefore placed on the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

The class meets four times a week.  It is taught in Spanish and consists of dialogue practice, presentation of grammatical forms, and intensive language drills using exercises in the basic text. Class attendance is essential for the mastery of the basic language skills.   A tutor will also be scheduled for extra help.

Evaluation of speaking and listening skills is an on-going process and part of each day’s work.  Regular bi-monthly quizzes will test your mastery of the material covered in each chapter.  The final grade for the course is therefore the result of steady, regular, incremental work, and a measure of the overall progress throughout the course.

The book used is Plazas: Lugar de Encuentros (2nd edition), by  Robert Herschberger, Susan Navey-Davis, and Guiomar Borrás, with a very strong focus on the many different cultures that form the Spanish-speaking world.  The text comes with the printed workbook for drills and practices.


As stated above, you final grade will be the average of all the quizzes of the semester.  Attendance is crucial in a language class.  A lot—much more than appears on the surface—is accomplished in a one-hour class.  If you miss a couple of classes, you might find yourself painfully behind . . . so, be there!   If you must miss a class, let me know and let us make sure you keep right on target.


1 – The Language Lab: Because the class is conducted in Spanish, the lab is essentially the workbook exercises.  The class meets 4 times a week, the 5th day should be reserved for “the lab”.  If you do your lab exercises dutifully, you will be surprised at the ease with which some of the concepts “settle in”.  Doing the lab seriously is also an excellent preparation for the in-class quizzes.  Food for thought!

2 – The Tutor: During the first week of the semester, you will be introduced to your tutor—always a native speaker—and we will determine the optimum hours in the week (“fixed” and “floating”) when you can consult him/her for a variety of services (drills, exercises, vocabulary building, or simply conversation).  We are also thinking of having a “Spanish table” once or twice a week in the cafeteria where you could share lunch, practice your skills, and get to know your classmates.

3 – The Hispanic Students on Campus: There is always a small group of Hispanic students on campus: seek them out, talk to them, make friends with them . . . you will be able to improve on your conversation skills, and will learn lots of neat things from a cross-cultural perspective.

4 – TV programs: From now on, as much as you can, try to access Spanish movies, cultural programs, news reports, and the incredible telenovelas for which Mexico is becoming famous, and which it is exporting all over the planet (the Mexican equivalent of Coca-Cola!), etc.  This is excellent for your understanding of language and culture.  Another good possibility resides in the features of the new DVDs which come with different language options.  I can think of no better practice to learn the language than watching one of your all-time-favorite movies (one you know really well) in Spanish, or with subtitles in Spanish.  You will be amazed at the result.

5 – Programs Abroad: To learn a foreign language, there is nothing better than total immersion in a determinate linguistic community.  Outside my office, I have shelves with academic programs abroad (for a summer, a semester, or a whole year) organized by many universities in the nation.  Feel free to come and browse at your convenience.  Once in a while (at mid-term for example), I will also show you slides of areas of Mexico where I have spent summers for professional development, or cultural programs on video.

6 – Internet: You can do wonderful things in Spanish on the Internet: read Spanish newspapers (I have a few of those on line), check the weather for any town in Mexico (or in the world for that matter!), access the Peace Corps, AmeriSpan (a very flexible organization that has language programs all over Mexico, Central America, and South America, and which I regularly use to design my own programs abroad), find the lyrics of Spanish songs, get some excellent recipes,  etc., etc.  Have fun!

7 – The library: Dexter library receives Américas, a lovely magazine in Spanish with beautiful photographs of the lands and peoples of the Latin American continent. Stop by, leaf through it, and enjoy.  It also receives Transitions Abroad, a magazine which is a treasure trove of connections for seasonal jobs, work opportunities, and cheap lodging— all over the planet!

In short, I am trying to set up for you a network of experiences which will complement and reinforce the basic Spanish language classroom.  It is up to you to avail yourself of some, or all, of the services put at your disposal.  What I can guarantee you is that the proverbial phrase “the more you put in, the more you get out” is always true—especially in languages!

Plazas: Lugar de Encuentros

Class meets from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm