Spanish Language in Context: Novice Abroad III

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

Completion of IES Abroad’s SP 102 Novice Abroad outcomes from the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication, determined by placement test.


Research has demonstrated that study abroad can enhance every aspect of language ability. One of the most important general findings of this research is, however, that study abroad is most beneficial for the development of abilities related to social interaction. Students who go abroad can learn to do things with words, such as requesting, apologizing, or offering compliments, and they may also learn to interpret situations calling on such speech acts in ways that local people do…In short, and logically, study abroad has been shown to enhance the aspects of communicative competence that are most difficult to foster in classroom settings (IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication, p. 6).

While most courses in this program are taught in English, students are surrounded by Spanish, in their homestays and apartments, in their interactions with Spanish students, at IES Abroad activities, and at the IES Abroad Center in which, starting after a month of their arrival, they will be speaking Spanish, receiving emails in Spanish and signing a compromise of speaking Spanish as much as possible.

In addition to receiving Spanish language and culture instruction through this course (where they will be able to discuss and reflect on their language skills and development, comment and become aware of cultural differences and misunderstandings, and share these experiences with their classmates) the immersion in Spanish culture context of this program benefits a rapid and rewarding progress of the language abilities of students. After finishing this course, students would have reached an A1.2. level, according to the ‘Common European Framework of Reference for languages’.

This course is designed for students with little prior knowledge of Spanish. Students who can already use a few basic words and phrases, and who can understand very simple requests and responses are appropriate for this level. Students entering this course are also able to read and interpret the basic meaning of simple sentences and phrases. Students who have studied basic Spanish in high school or in college but never continued to build their skills may find this level appropriate. Students who have studied another Romance language may also be capable of entering this level. The language assessment process will determine the appropriate level for each individual student.

This course builds upon the skills introduced in Novice Abroad I & II. By the end of the course, the successful student will have built a solid foundation in the five skills: intercultural communication, reading, writing, listening, and speaking to accomplish a variety of everyday needs in the host culture as described in the learning outcomes below and should be capable of entering the Emerging Independent Abroad level.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course-related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies. If a student misses more than two classes in any course half a letter grade will be deducted from the final grade for every additional absence. Seven absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve the outcomes for the Novice Abroad level as defined by the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. The key learning outcomes from the MAP are summarized below:

  1. Intercultural Communication
    1. Students will be able to meet simple everyday needs using verbal and non-verbal communication, and they will be able to use compensatory strategies when they do not know the word or expression (paraphrasing, repetition, talking around the point, body language etc.).
    2. Students can recognize some appropriate and inappropriate expressions and behaviors in the host language.
    3. Students will be able to distinguish between simple representations of formality and informality in the language.
    4. Students will identify some differences between cultural stereotypes and generalizations between the home culture and the host culture.
    5. Students will start to make informed comparisons between their host culture and the home culture.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand simple statements, requests, descriptions, and questions in specific cultural context relevant to them (hosts’ interactions, Center interactions, studying, shopping, transportation, meals).
    2. Students will be able to use context to understand the gist of some spoken language they overhear, including the media, conversations between others, and announcements.
    3. Speaking
    4. Students will be able to use simple phrases appropriately in everyday situations with increasing accuracy (home, the IES Abroad Center, and the community).
    5. Students will be able to express simple needs by asking questions, and get what they need in uncomplicated, everyday situations.
  3. Reading
    1. Students will be able to identify and understand simple sentences and deduce meaning from context if it is relevant to their studies.
    2. Students will be able to interpret main ideas in short passages and news headlines if they are relevant to them.
  4. Writing
    1. Students will be able to write short texts about concrete topics, such as themselves, their families, their friends, their likes, dislikes, plans, experiences and their daily routines.
    2. Students will be able to send simple emails, text messages, and fill out some simple forms.
    3. Students will be able to write with increased accuracy, although using some native language structures.
Method of presentation: 

This class combines a communicative and task-based approach. Activities will involve the practice of several skills together; using, as much as possible, authentic documents. Grammatical contents are structured and dependent on the topics discussed.  In addition to the textbook, after each unit, several activities will be carried out both in class and in Moodle to allow students to use their newly acquired language abilities in context, to communicate and solve problems. In this course, being the last level of Novice Abroad, an emphasis is made on learning strategies to help students progress and focus on communicating, paraphrasis, looking for similar words, deducing meaning from the context, or forming associations.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Participation (15%)
  • Homework and written assignments (20%)
  • 3 Verb quizes (15%)
  • Midterm exam (20%)
  • Final exam (20%): On contents covered in class (specific contents tested in the midterm exam will not be included).
  • Oral Presentation (10%): In the second week of the course, groups of 2 or 3 students will be organized and the topics will be discussed. The instructor, along with the students, will establish the calendar for the presentation. The instructor will evaluate the following aspects:
    • Information presented to explain of the topic
    • Presentation method
    • Execution of surveys and its conclusions
    • The students’ ability to communicate; students should not read their parts, but be able to explain to others their findings and what they have learned with their research. The research will be part of the oral skills evaluation of the student.

    Students can discuss with the professor any concerns they encounter when completing the assignment.

  • Self Assessment: Students are encouraged to keep a portfolio, compiling the activities, lists, and texts for each unit. This will allow the student to reflect on his/her progress as well as to evaluate his/her learning at the end of the course. The Portfolio is optional. A class journal (forum) will also be created on Moodle in which the student will write about his/her progress, difficulties, likes, and dislikes, and share these concerns or anecdotes with the instructor and classmates.  Writing in the class journal regularly is mandatory.




Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Week 1

(Unit 0)

  1. Functional: Asking and giving personal information. Asking about meaning or spellling of a word. Generalize. Describing reasons to study Spanish.
  2. Grammatical: Present indicative of llamarse, ser, vivir, hablar, aprender. Interrogative words. Cómo, dónde, qué. Prepositions (para+ infinitive, en). Definite article. Indefinite article. Present indicative I. Verbs in –ar.
  3. Vocabulary: Countries and nationalities. Spelling. Languages. Greetings and fareweels. Classroom objects.
  4. Culture: Intonation in Spanish. Spanish names, usage of two apellidos, DNI (ID). Basic gestures, Spanish speaking countries. 

Filling out cards with basic information about classmates: name, age, studies, where they are from, why they study Spanish.


Week 2

(Unit 1)

  1. Functional: Asking and giving personal information II. Expressing hesitation. Usage of tú and usted. Introducing people. Asking for confirmation or repetition of information.
  2. Grammatical: Present indicative II. Focus on verbs in –er, ir. Irregular verbs (e-ie, e-i, o-ue)Nouns, gender, number and agreement with articles. Demonstratives (este, esta) Interrogative words II. Cuál, cuántos.
  3. Vocabulary: Jobs, numbers from 0 to 100. Years, months. Classroom objects. Stationery and office supplies.
  4. Culture: Co-official languages in Spain (Catalan, Galician, Basque) Spanish and Romance languages.Geography of Spain: Comunidades autónomas and main cities. Treatment tú/usted.Hipocorísticos –short names- (Pepa, Maite...)

Making a list of things you want to do and learn during the course

Role play: introducing each other.

Information about school.

I.A, I.B, I.C, II.A, III.A, III.B, IV.A, V.A

Week 3

(Unit 2)

  1. Functional: Asking about obligation. Expressing if something is allowed or not. Asking for clarifications. Asking for day, hour and asking about schedules.
  2. Grammatical: Present indicative: Irregular verbs (first person –g, zc) Reflexive verbs. Verbal periphrases: tener que + infinitive, hay que + infinitive. Prepositions.
  3. Vocabulary: Hours, days of the week, daily routine.
  4. Culture: Spanish schedules and store hours. Spanish educational system. Spanish young people (mileuristas, unemployment, los indignados)...

Answering to an email with information about my daily life and routine.

Survey to Spanish students about their daily routine

I.D,I.E, II.A, II.B, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.C

Week 4

(Unit 3)

  1. Functional: Identifying someone in a group. Making and responding to compliments. Describing physical appearance and likes of a person. Proposing plans, and accepting or rejecting them. Making excuses. Greetings for birthdays. Understanding and responding to basic commands.
  2. Grammatical: Possessive adjectives (mi, tu, su...) Muy, bastante, poco. Demonstratives. Este, esta, estos, estas. Exclamations. (Qué + adjective or adverb). Verbs with I.O. (gustar)
  3. Vocabulary: Family members. Physical description, character.
  4. Culture: Sending emails. Spanish types of family. Spanish speaking actors and actresses.

Quiz: regular present tense

Describing a friend and introducing him/her to the class

Identifying and describing celebrities in pictures

I.A, I.B, I.E, II.A, II.B, III.A, III.B, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.C

Week 5

(Unit 4)

  1. Functional: Talking about needs. Asking for products and prices. Expressing preferences and agreeing and disagreeing. Asking for schedules. Expressing causes.
  2. Grammatical: Direct object pronouns (lo, la, los, las) and position within a sentence. Prepositions (de, a) Indirect object pronouns. Verbs with I.O. (gustar, interesar, encantar) Interrogatives (qué, cuánto). Yo también/ a mí también. Yo tampoco/ a mí tampoco.
  3. Vocabulary: Malls. Numbers up to 1000. Colors. Clothes and accessories. Clothes. Stalls in a market (frutería, pescadería, carnicería, panadería...)
  4. Culture: Spanish brands. Spanish stores and shopping. (Centros comerciales, mercados, mercadillos) Sizes.

Quiz: irregular present tense

Organizing a day trip

Deciding what to pack for the day trip.

Role play about going shopping

Visit to a mercado in Madrid (Calle Altamirano)

I.A, I.B, I.E, II.A, II.B, III.A, III.B, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.B, V.C

Week 6

(Unit 9)

  1. Functional: Asking about abilities. Asking for help. Apologizing. Asking for permissions. Asking for past experiences. Talking about feelings and states.
  2. Grammatical: Present perfect (Pretérito perfecto) Participles, regular and irregular. Combination of direct and indirect object pronouns. Verbs saber vs. Poder. Ya/ Todavía no.
  3. Vocabulary: Describing states and personality. Greetings and farewells in informal messages.
  4. Culture: Spanish humor and jokes. Poetry and feelings: Pablo Neruda.

Writing a postcard to a friend describing what the student has done since he/she arrived in Madrid.

I.C, I.E, II.C, III.A, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.C

Week 7

Review and Midterm Exam

Week 8

(Unit 7)

  1. Functional: Describing a city. Talking about actions in development. Comparing. Expressing opiions and agreeing and disagreeing. Asking for directions.
  2. Grammatical: Indefinites (algún, alguno, alguna, ningún, ninguno, ninguna) Estar + Gerundio. (Supplementary material) Imperative affirmative of tú and vosotros.
  3. Vocabulary: City services. Numbers starting from 1000 onwards. Seasons. Forecast. Distances. Transportation.
  4. Culture: Spanish cities, services and transportation.

Designing a tourist circuit around the city and giving directions

Describing the city where you study in the U.S.

City view of Madrid tour around neighborhoods

I.A, I.D, I.E, II.A, III.A, III.B, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.C

Week 9

(Unit 5)

  1. Functional: Ask and give information about habits, likes and dislikes. Ordering in a bar or restaurant. Asking about healthy habits, symptoms, and give recommendations and advice.
  2. Grammatical: Verb doler. Expressions for advice. Hay que + infinitive, tener que + inf, deber + infinitive, debería/s+ infinitive, es bueno, va bien + infinitive. Conditional sentences: Si present, present. Quantity adverbs.
  3. Vocabulary: Food and drink.Body parts. Symptoms, illnesses, remedies.
  4. Culture: Spanish food and Mediterranean diet. Tapas and raciones. Spanish bars and restaurants. Menú del día. Some typical home remedies.

Ellaborating a guide with home remedies

Role play about physical states and home remedies.

Write the daily menú of a restaurant.

Listening to a Spanish recipe and (Written) Recipes.


José Made in Spain. and IES-sponsored cooking workshops

I.A, I.B, I.C, I.D, II.A, II.B, III.A, III.B, IV.B, V.A, V.B, V.C

Week 10

(Unit 6)

  1. Functional: Describing objects, shapes, sizes, characteristics. Give instructions.
  2. Grammatical: Contrast para/ por. Locating objects. Demonstratives. Possesive pronouns (mío, tuyo, suyo....) Contrast hay/ está. Adverbs of place.
  3. Vocabulary: Daily life appliances. Furniture. Parts of a home. Objects: shapes, sizes, uses.
  4. Culture: Spanish homes. Spanish inventions and designers.

Designing objects to solve daily life problems.

Describing your home in Spain.

I.A, I.D, I.E, II.A, III.A, III.B, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.C

Week 11

(Unit 10 + Supplementary material)

  1. Functional: Giving information about facts and actions in the past. Assessing experiences.
  2. Grammatical: Pretérito indefinido. Contrast between p.perfecto and p.indefinido. (he hablado vs hablé) Verbal periphrases. Seguir + Gerund, empezar a+ infinitive, acabar de + infinitive, volver a+ infinitive.
  3. Vocabulary: Stages of life. Adjectives to assess.
  4. Culture: Biography of historical characters in the history of the Spanish speaking world. Spanish press.

Writing a resumé and cover letter

Writing your biography

Designing a guide of Madrid, of recommended places by each students, and describing their experiences in the places (when they where there, how many times, did they like it...)

I.A, I.E, II.A, II.B, III.B, IV.A, IV.B, V.A, V.C

Week 12

(Unit 8 + Supplementary material)

  1. Functional: Expressing plans. Talking about leisure activities and celebrations. Making plans. Talking by phone. Expressing best wishes. Making compliments.
  2. Grammatical: Introduction to regular present subjunctive forms for wishes. Possesive pronouns. Present subjunctive, emphasis on regular verbs. Ojalá + subjuntive. Superlative. Antes/después de + infinitve. Conditional sentences: si, present, present.
  3. Vocabulary: Feelings. Events. Leisure and free time activities. Expressions ¡Qué + adjective or adverb! Describing emotions.
  4. Culture: Spanish celebrations and greetings. (ie. El santo) Main Spanish holidays (Navidad, Semana Santa...)Accepting gifts. Reacting to a compliment.Cultural differences in greetings and invitations, with different degrees of formality.

Writing cards to wish happy birthday, get well soon...

Role-play. Invitations and situations.

Writing an invitation to a party

I.A, I.B, I.C, I.E, II.A, II.B, III.A, III.B, IV.B, V.A, V.B, V.C

Week 13

(Unit 11)

  1. Functional: Describing situations, habits and feelings in the past. Comparing the past to the present (antes vs. Ahora)
  2. Grammatical: Pretérito imperfecto. Adverbs in –mente. Verb soler(use to)+ inf in the past (solía) Consequence markers: así que, por eso. Discourse markers to narrate in the past.
  3. Vocabulary: Life stages
  4. Culture: Spain: then and now. Spain during Franco’s regime.

Childhood memories

Quiz: past tenses

Visit to Chamberí metro station

Viewing of a chapter of ‘Cuéntame cómo pasó’ tv serie about Spain in the 1960s.

I.A, I.D, I.E, II.A, II.B, III.A, III.B, IV.A, V.A, V.C

Week 14

  • Oral presentations
  • Spanish Music session
  • Review for final exam

Week 15

Final exam


Required readings: 
  • VVAA. (2007) Español lengua Viva 1. Madrid: Santillana- Universidad de Salamanca or alternatively: VVAA. (2009) Español lengua Viva 1. English Edition. Madrid: Santillana- Universidad de Salamanca
  • Only libro del alumno. You do not need to buy the ‘cuaderno de ejercicios’, because extra materials for practice and homework will be given in class.
Additional requirements: