Required Materials:

Marinelli, Patti and Lizette Mujica Laughlin. Puentes. Spanish for Intensive and High-Beginner Courses, Heinle Cengage Learning, 2014 (Sixth edition) plus iLrn (ISBN: 978010133095878-9)

Bilingual Visual Spanish-English Dictionary. New York: DK Publishing, 2005.

A Spanish-English Dictionary of your choice (Larousse Concise or Oxford recommended).

Electronic Resources:

I. Goals:        

A. Tulane University Department of Spanish and Portuguese Basic Language Program Objectives:

The main objectives guiding the program are to:

  • introduce students to the language and culture of the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world
  • promote the development of students' communicative competence in the target language
  • develop students’ intercultural understanding and social conscience of problems that affect this cultural complex.

B. Course Goals:

Spanish 1120 is a fast-paced review course for High Beginners (students who have some background in Spanish but do not have mastery of the basics).

Following the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines 2012, Spanish 1120 seeks to increase students’ Spanish-speaking ability to a novice high to intermediate low proficiency level via the Course Objectives listed below.

The course focuses on what students CAN DO, framed in practical communicative terms. People with Intermediate Low proficiency can understand the main idea in short texts (written and aural) on familiar topics, actively participate in conversations including asking and answering questions, and describe their regular activities and topics of personal interest (in written and oral forms). The NCSSFL-ACTFL Can Do Statements provide more precise details in regards to what students will be able to do when they have reached this proficiency level. 

For additional details of what this entails refer to the Proficiency Objectives section of the BLP website.

II. Course Objectives for Spanish 1120:

Over the course of the semester, students will engage in on-line preparatory work, in class communicative activities and targeted production-based assessments to demonstrate their progress from beginning language student toward competent user of the language across all skill sets.

The following objectives are based on ACTFL’s Can Do Statements, framed in terms of proficiency levels that progress in difficulty level as students learn more vocabulary and grammatical structures through real world practice.

Students will develop abilities in the following modes and skills:

  • Interpersonal Communication: students will participate in conversations on a number of familiar topics using simple sentences and develop the skills to handle short social interactions in everyday situations by asking and answering simple questions.
  • Interpretive Reading: students will develop the ability to understand the main idea of texts related to everyday life and personal interests or studies.
  • Interpretive Listening: students will develop  the ability to understand the main idea in short, simple messages and presentations on familiar topics.
  • Presentational Speaking: students will be able to present information on most familiar topics using a series of simple sentences.
  • Presentational Writing: students will be able to write briefly about most familiar topics and present information using a series of simple sentences.

These modes of communication and various skills will be framed within ACTFL's 5Cs: Communication, Cultures, Communities, Comparisons and Connections. The program materials are framed with these 5Cs in mind and students should consider how different assessments and in class activities are targeting these and developing their ability to communicate in Spanish.

Based upon ACTFL’s National Standards for Foreign Language Learning students will activate the 5Cs over the course of the semester as follows:

A. Communication: the use of Spanish.
Students will review and/or learn how to:

  • Exchange basic greetings                    
  • Discuss their university studies
  • Explain their family structure, relatives and traditions    
  • Talk about their homes and hometowns
  • Narrate their daily routine                    
  • Discuss their leisure time and activities including making small talk at a party or social event
  • Talk about the weather
  • Talk about their health 
  • Narrate a past event                        
  • Complete a purchase at a store or market
  • Make travel arrangements     
  • State opinions in a basic way            
  • Give instructions and recommendations
  • In all of the above situations, ask people questions about the topic

B. Cultures: gain knowledge and understanding of Hispanic cultures.
Through the accompanying readings and videos, students will learn about a range of peoples and cultures from Latin America and Spain.
C. Communities: participate in a community of language learners and in a multilingual world.
Through group and class work, a sense of community will be developed as students practice their communicative skills, preparing themselves to use Spanish throughout their lives. As a group, students will explore their own notion of community as this compares to this concept in the Hispanic world.  

D. Comparisons: make informed comparisons between English and Spanish and between themselves and others.
The written activities will be the most obvious venue for the presentation of comparisons between a student’s known reality and the Hispanic world. Students will also compare ideas with each other in pair and group work based upon the conversational goals of each chapter. In linguistic terms, students will reflect on how the structures of Spanish compare to the structures of English and other languages they know.

E. Connections: the ability to connect this course to other courses and self to others.
The different themes explored in each chapter will inform students in such a way that they can make connections between their own cultural traditions and those of some members of the Hispanic world, with particular emphasis on the ideas presented in the interviews that the students watch.

III. Outcomes:

Students will demonstrate that they have met the...

  • Interpersonal Communication objectives via their class participation, oral exams and targeted assessments.
  • Interpretive Reading objectives via targeted assessments and exams as well as during in class reading exercises.
  • Interpretive Listening objectives via targeted assessments and exams and in class activities.
  • Presentational Speaking objectives via their proyectos and in regular class participation.
  • Presentational Writing objectives via their proyectos and the semester-long diario de escritura.

IV. Assessment:

A.    Grades are based on the standard 10-point scale:

    B+ 87-89.99 C+ 77-79.99 D+ 67-69.99    
A 93-100 B 83-86.99 C 73-76.99 D 63-66.99 F 0-59.99
A- 90-92.99 B- 80-82.99 C- 70-72.99 D- 60-62.99    

B.    Grade Breakdown. Your grade will be determined according to the following criteria:

  • 20% Unit Exams (2)
  • 10% Final Exam
  • 15% Quizzes and Homework (including 2 Listening Comprehension Quizzes)
  • 10% Oral Exams (2)
  • 15% Diario de escritura
  • 20% Proyectos (2 total: oral and written components)
  • 10% Class Participation

C.    Expectations for each category are as follows. Students will demonstrate that they have met the Objectives stated above by successful completion of these assignments. See calendar for due dates.

Exams (20%): There will be 2 communicative, essay-based exams, each worth 10% of the final grade. Language learning is inherently cumulative: each exam will focus upon the material of study for that unit, with the assumption that all previously studied material will be utilized as needed. Each exam will focus on interpretive and presentational modes of communication as well as intercultural competencies. Students can expect exams to include short readings, essays and reflective questions.

Final Exam (10%): The final exam will be similar in format to the written exams, with short readings, essays and reflective questions, but it will also include a listening comprehension portion. The vocabulary and cultural information will primarily be drawn from the last chapters studied; however, the entire range of grammatical material studied throughout the semester is expected to be utilized.

Quizzes and Homework (15%): Short announced and unannounced quizzes will be administered regularly over the course of the semester. In addition, while the instructor may assign additional exercises, homework consists primarily of regular completion of online iLrn activities.

Quizzes may cover any of the course materials including grammar, culture and vocabulary. No make-ups will be given; however, at your instructor’s discretion, the lowest grade may be dropped. All students will also complete two short listening comprehension quizzes. The format of the quizzes will vary and may include listening to short anecdotes read by the instructor, after which the student would respond to discrete questions about it, or listening to a series of questions posited by the instructor, with the student expected to write their responses to the questions in Spanish. Listening quizzes are both interpretive and interpersonal in nature.

For online homework, plan to complete at least 10 on-line exercises per chapter. At the instructor's discretion, specific exercises may be indicated or students may be asked to select based upon their individual needs. Students should note that a direct correlation has been observed between final grade in the course and regular completion of the manual exercises, with students who work regularly on the manual generally attaining higher grades in the course, in all grading categories.

Oral Exams (10%): To assess students' interpersonal skills, at two points in the semester, students will engage in a conversation about their personal interests that includes the instructor and a classmate (5% each). Students will be graded individually, based upon their accuracy and the content and fluidity of their side of the conversation.

Diario de escritura (15%): Students will complete a series of short writing assignments based upon activities in the textbook. Diarios will be graded holistically, considering quality of communicative effort and development of productive skills over the course of the semester.

Proyectos (20%): Students will complete two projects based upon activities in the textbook over the course of the semester. There will be a written and oral component to these presentational activities. Proyectos will be evaluated based upon the Presentational Mode rubric on the Basic Language Program website considering content, language control, communication and organization. Details will be discussed as project dates approach.


Class Participation (10%): Active participation and regular attendance is crucial to the learning of a language. The participation grade is based both on the quantity and the quality of a student’s participation, with quality being determined by active, on-task participation in class, group and pair activities, volunteerism in class, use of Spanish in class, and overall preparedness. Excessive absenteeism will result in a substantial drop in this grade, as will tardiness. Cell phone use during class time will negatively affect your participation grade.

Tulane University, Spanish & Portuguese Dept., 304 Newcomb Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5518