Spanish Language in Context: Independent Abroad I

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

Completion of IES Abroad’s SP 303 Emerging Independent 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).


  • Develop linguistic abilities at an intermediate-advanced level
  • Work with different textual typology in written communication
  • Enrich vocabulary concerning the topic of proposed texts
  • Relate written communication skills with oral skills
  • Integrate students in daily life activities outside the classroom


Students who enter this level are able to accomplish everyday needs required to live in a new culture.  In this course, students will begin to develop independence and autonomy so that, when communication does break down, they have some tools at their disposal to resolve these challenges independently.  Students should welcome correction and guidance from their instructors, hosts, and others in the community as they progress.

By the end of this course, students will begin to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They will start to become creative, spontaneous and self-reliant as they solve problems, interpret texts, negotiate, express their opinions, likes and dislikes in the culture. Although students will still make errors and experience communication breakdowns, they are sometimes able to resolve these on their own. Students will understand some colloquial expressions and slang, and are starting to understand a wider variety of native speakers from different backgrounds. By the end of this level, students will be capable of achieving the learning outcomes outlined below.

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: 

Students who are placed in this level should be capable of achieving the outcomes in the Emerging Independent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication.

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve some of the outcomes for the Independent 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 begin to identify at a basic level key host cultures, subcultures, habits, norms, and behaviors in a variety of settings, and they will be aware of the risk that generalizations can lead to stereotypes.
    2. Students will start to identify their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and values by contrasting and comparing them with the host cultures.
    3. Students will be able to identify some gestures and body language, and they may be able to integrate some of those non-verbal actions into their interactions with native speakers.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand some spoken communications of moderate complexity (media, speeches, music, conversations, etc.) on a wide range of concrete everyday topics as well as abstract topics covered in classes.
    2. Students will begin to understand native speakers from a variety of backgrounds and limited experience with non-native speakers, and they will comprehend common colloquial expressions and slang.
  3. Speaking
    1. Students will be able to speak on and discuss concrete everyday and personal topics, abstract topics covered in classes, as well as other topics of particular interest to them.
    2. Students will be able to participate and respond actively in a variety of interactions.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand articles, stories, and online texts using background knowledge to aid their comprehension.
    2. Students will begin to read and understand the main ideas of academic texts with assistance.
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to meet many everyday writing needs (notes, text messages, letters, emails, chats, and online forums).
    2. Students will be able to write brief essays for class that narrate, describe, report, compare, contrast, and summarize on a wide range of topics with developing degrees of grammatical and lexical accuracy.
    3. Students will be able to edit their own and their peers’ writing for common errors covered in class.
Method of presentation: 

This course focuses on expanding students’ knowledge of Spanish through a series of defined units with functional, grammatical, lexical, and cultural outcomes. The learning process will be presented with an emphasis on both written and oral comprehension. Likewise, production skills will promote the development of students’ communicative competence at all levels. Daily pair and group discussion will provide students with the skills for oral presentations based on intensive and extensive reading. Students will work with different types of authentic materials (newspapers, documentaries, films, poems, short stories, forums in Moodle) in order to enhance a real intercultural experience.

Field study: 

It is expected that the students have a direct contact with diverse aspects of Spanish life, promoting group work and the practice of Spanish language outside formal education. On the second week of the course, groups will be organized that consist of 2 or 3 students 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 contributed for the explanation of the topic
  • Presentation method
  • Execution of surveys and its conclusions
  • The students’ ability to communicate; students shouldn’t 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 present all the difficulties they may find in the realization of the work to the professor.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Midterm exam (20%): On contents covered in class.
  • Final Exam (20%): On contents covered in class (specific contents tested in the midterm exam will not be included).
  • Homework and written assignments (20%): All homework and written assignments required by the instructor must be handed in on time.
  • Participation (15%): Your participation grade depends on a number of variables, including, but not limited to the following: your use of Spanish in the classroom; your willingness to participate in all class activities; your cooperation during group- and pair- work; your respect and attitude toward your peers and toward your instructor.
  • Activity outside the classroom (5%): Students will have the opportunity to participate in several activities outside the classroom. Your instructor is allowed to plan an activity for the group if such activity is considered necessary. You can also take part in activities organized by IES Abroad. Preparation and further reflection on this event will be worked in the classroom.
  • Field Study (20%)




Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Week 1

  1. Functional: Desarrollar estrategias para el aprendizaje del español. Expresar dificultades con la lengua española. Expresar sentimientos en relación a la cultura y sociedad española. Pedir y dar consejos y recomendaciones.
  2. Grammatical: Oraciones sustantivas con un sustantivo, infinitivo o subjuntivo. Presente y pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo.
  3. Vocabulary: Léxico relacionado con los materiales didácticos para aprender una lengua extranjera.
  4. Culture: el choque cultural.

Un diario

Previa elaboración y entrevista con un estudiante español universitario que estudie inglés

Creación de tarjetas recordatorio

Lectura de un artículo sobre el choque cultural, resumen y comentario crítico


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



Week 2

  1. Functional: Describir la localización y las características de una ciudad, personas y lugares. Expresar los requisitos que debe cumplir una ciudad ideal o un destino de vacaciones.
  2. Grammatical: Oraciones adjetivas con indicativo o subjuntivo. Pronombres relativos. Presente y pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo. Ser y estar. Preposiciones (para la localización y el movimiento).
  3. Vocabulary: Obras urbanísticas, monumentos, servicios y características de una ciudad. Adjetivos para describir el carácter las personas. Adjetivos que cambian de significado con “ser” y “estar”.
  4. Culture: Estereotipos sobre los españoles y estadounidenses en relación al carácter.

Conseguir folletos turísticos y elegir un destino para exponer el porqué de la elección

Ejercicios gramaticales

Previa elaboración y entrevista con personas de distintas nacionalidades que vivan en Madrid sobre la veracidad de los estereotipos

Creación de un blog con las experiencias humanas vividas en inmersión



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


Week 3

  1. Functional: Expresar una opinión, rechazar una opinión y hacer una valoración. Expresar impersonalidad. Expresar inicio, desarrollo, final, resultado y repetición.
  2. Grammatical: Oraciones sustantivas con indicativo y subjuntivo. Presente de subjuntivo. “Se” en la pasiva refleja. Perífrasis verbales con infinitivo y con gerundio.
  3. Vocabulary: Léxico específico del cine.
  4. Culture: El cine español y el americano en el panorama internacional.

Visionado de una película española y

reseña de la misma para un periódico universitario

Completar el guión gráfico de una escena cinematográfica con perífrasis de infinitivo y gerundio

Previa elaboración y

entrevista con un español sobre su relación con el cine español y el americano



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

Week 4

  1. Functional: Deconstruir un cuento tradicional. Relacionar sucesos en el pasado. Narrar las diferentes fases de un eventos.
  2. Grammatical: Pretérito indefinido, pretérito imperfecto y pretérito pluscuamperfecto. Oraciones temporales referidas al pasado (“cuando”, “mientras”, “desde que”, “antes de que”). Pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo.
  3. Vocabulary: Expresiones para iniciar una historia (“érase una vez”) e introducir un episodio inesperado (“un día”, “de repente”). Vocabulario relacionado con la infancia.
  4. Culture: El cuento tradicional en España y Latinoamérica.

Lectura de cuentos tradicionales deconstruidos a través de Moodle

Composición de un cuento tradicional deconstruido a través de una actividad de Moodle



Week 5

  1. Functional: Referirse a un evento o situación con diferentes grados de seguridad. Expresar tiempo futuro.
  2. Grammatical: Hipótesis con indicativo y subjuntivo. Presente de subjuntivo. Oraciones temporales en el futuro (“cuando”, en cuanto”, “hasta que”, “en cuanto”).
  3. Vocabulary: Expresiones de tiempo.
  4. Culture: El futuro de los universitarios españoles.

Audición en YouTube de testimonios de jóvenes españoles que hablan de su futuro para posterior puesta en común plenaria

Lectura de artículos de prensa sobre el escenario laboral en España. Resumen y comentario crítico para posterior debate en clase



Week 6

Examen parcial

  1. Functional: Persuadir y convencer.
  2. Grammatical: Imperativo positivo y negativo con pronombres objeto directo y objeto indirecto. Recursos lingüísticos del lenguaje de la publicidad.
  3. Vocabulary: Léxico relacionado con la publicidad.
  4. Culture: Publicidad y ética.

Creación de una valla publicitaria

Elaboración e implementación de una encuesta relacionada con la publicidad y el consumo responsable


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

Week 7

  1. Functional: Transmitir información.
  2. Grammatical: Estilo indirecto.
  3. Vocabulary: Verbos de lengua. Secciones de un periódico.
  4. Culture: Los medios de comunicación.

Recopilación de noticias de actualidad en los telediarios televisados para la trasmisión de la información en pequeños grupos y plenaria


Week 8

  1. Functional: Expresar condiciones.
  2. Grammatical: Oraciones condicionales reales e irreales.
  3. Vocabulary: Verbos académicos.
  4. Culture: El papel del español y del inglés en el mundo. Las lenguas de Europa y el diálogo intercultural.

Informe sobre la importancia de dominar una lengua

V.B, V.C

Week 9

  1. Functional: Resumir textos.
  2. Grammatical: Ordenadores del discurso.
  3. Vocabulary: Factores que contribuyen a la felicidad.
  4. Culture: Felicidad y filosofía.

Actividad en Moodle

“¿Se puede ser feliz en época de exámenes?”

Resúmenes de textos relacionados con la felicidad, y crítica de los mismos



Week 10

  1. Functional: Expresar finalidad. Hacer propuestas y sugerencias. Expresar la causa y justificarse o poner una excusa.
  2. Expresar consecuencia y concesión.
  3. Grammatical: Oraciones finales (“para que”). Oraciones causales: (“porque”, “es que”, “como”). Oraciones consecutivas (“así que”). Oraciones concesivas (“aunque”). Preposiciones “por” y “para”.
  4. Vocabulary: Léxico relacionado con actividades de ocio.
  5. Culture: Las actividades de ocio de los españoles.

Elaboración de un diálogo para una propuesta de ocio para su posterior interpretación teatral en clase

Ejercicios gramaticales



Week 11

Exposición de tarea de campo

  1. Functional: Exponer ideas principales y secundarias.
  2. Grammatical: Recursos gramaticales para el debate (“no es que, sino que”) y la argumentación.
  3. Vocabulary: Recursos léxicos para el debate (“desde mi punto de vista”).
  4. Culture: Sociedad y cultura en Madrid.

Week 12

  1. Functional: Repaso
  2. Grammatical: Repaso
  3. Vocabulary: Repaso
  4. Culture: Repaso

Week 13

Examen final

  1. Functional: Examen final
  2. Grammatical: Examen final
  3. Vocabulary: Examen final
  4. Culture: Examen final
Required readings: 
  • Destino Erasmus 2.Madrid, SGEL, 2009.