SP 351 - Spanish Language in Context: Independent Abroad I

The main objective of these Spanish Language courses is to develop students’ communication skills, taking advantage of the language immersion they experience in Spain. These courses address their needs from a holistic point of view, considering language as a tool for communicating with others in different communication situations, for expressing themselves through various means of communication and for developing as intercultural speakers.

As a result, these courses not only focus on grammar but also on the use of the Spanish language. Although students will reinforce, deepen and broaden their grammatical knowledge of Spanish (from a cognitive point of view), the aim of these courses is to put into practice all their knowledge of Spanish in communication situations where students will be able to develop their skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading), the necessary language functions and conversational strategies to communicate in different domains and situations, and their autonomy as learners and speakers of Spanish. All of this will be achieved by employing the previous level and the needs of students as a starting point to broaden their communication skills and improve their command of Spanish.

The objective of these courses is to, therefore, encourage the active use of the language, which is considered a tool as opposed to content to be memorized.

The working method, inside and outside the classroom, will focus on the active use of language, working in pairs and in groups, although there will also be time for students to work individually on certain topics. Given that students take these courses while experiencing language immersion in Spain, it is their responsibility to participate in the course inside and outside the classroom. Therefore, both the learning process itself and the final product are assessed by using different assessment tools: active participation in class activities, written assignments, research projects (cultural and/or linguistic) outside the classroom, etc.

Although the syllabi of these courses have been established in advance, they will be tailored as much as possible to the needs of students, their characteristics and pace of learning. Furthermore, as students typically only spend one semester at IES Abroad Salamanca, some content may be covered in all language courses in order to meet students’ communication needs and language level. Certain studies have shown that studying abroad can improve all aspects of language skills. Nevertheless, one of the most important general conclusions of such research is that studying abroad is most beneficial for the development of social interaction skills. Students who go abroad can learn to do things with words, such as request, apologize, or give compliments, and they can also learn to interpret situations calling such speech acts in the same way as locals. In short, and not surprisingly, studying abroad has been found to improve the aspects of communication skills that are most difficult to foster in classroom settings.

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