Intermediate Spanish, University of Texas San Antonio
The current course curriculum follows the intermediate course guidelines, with a strong emphasis on grammar, vocabulary usage and writing. The course concentrates on the subjunctive, being the third semester course, it is very common for the students to be focusing on this area. The book also has a web component, where students work outside of class time to practice the material they have learned. The web component includes grammar exercises, listening comprehension and videos. In this course, the students also have culture quizzes, short film quizzes, a culture presentation, essays, two speaking videos and a speaking exam at the end of the semester. The current course curriculum has many strengths, starting with the grammar acquisition and the strong emphasis on the writing. The weakness in this course, is once again, the speaking part. There isn’t enough time to practice the speaking during class and outside of class this task is very hard to accomplish and grade.
The students will have four conversations total throughout the semester. (1 conversation per chapter, except the last chapter). They will talk about the material we will cover in that chapter:
- Personal relationships, friendship, love, stages of life, weddings, feelings.
- Culture, movies, television shows, music, art.
- Body parts, sickness, going to the doctor, the pharmacy.
- World news, getting a job, job interviews, businesses, etc.
The students prepare questions ahead of time to ask their conversation partner and they will be using these questions to guide the conversation. At the end of the semester, they will have a final project to present. Each student will speak in front of the class and talk in Spanish about everything they learned from their conversation partners. They will give a presentation based on their conversations and tell the rest of the class how they do certain things in their country or countries (using the material from chapters 11-14).
I was very fortunate to have been awarded a grant to use TalkAbroad in my Spanish Intermediate I class this past fall semester 2015. I was very excited to implement this new and innovative tool in my class and I knew it would be a great success with my students. This is my report on my results using TalkAbroad.
My class consisted of students with different backgrounds and different levels in Spanish. This is very common in my university, so I knew from the beginning that those students who don’t get to practice the language outside of class time would be very nervous throughout this process. Everyone started out a bit hesitant, nervous and just trying to get through the conversation, so they could just finish it. By the second conversation, everything changed! The students started feeling at ease and they also were discovering that they understood and could speak more Spanish than what they thought they could. They started telling me that it was getting easier and easier to speak with their partners and they weren’t nervous like in the very beginning. I did have about two native speakers in the class who had to do the assignments. They told me they didn’t get much regarding their speaking skills since they already speak Spanish, but they did say the experience of speaking with other people in other Spanish speaking countries was great and that they learned about other countries and cultures.
At the end, everyone had something extremely positive to say about using TalkAbroad, with the exception regarding the technology portion. Many had trouble connecting or hearing their partners and sometimes it took a lot of time from their actual conversation time to connect. The students in their final project all said it was the best experience they have ever had in a Spanish class. They said speaking with a native person from a different country was not only interesting, but very useful when it came to carrying an actual conversation. Many said they had never had a conversation with anyone in Spanish and that they felt like they had increased their speaking and listening skills after only four conversations with their partners. Overall, my students learned a lot about other Spanish speaking countries, their cultures and improved their conversation skills greatly. It was a great experience for them and for me as an instructor. I loved the fact that I could listen to them and keep track of everything they were doing. This is a great tool for any foreign language class and I highly recommend it.
Lilian Cano, The University of Texas at San Antonio