Spanish Language In Context: Independent Abroad

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

Completion of the Emerging Independent Abroad learning outcomes in the MAP for Language & Intercultural Communication, as determined by the 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 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).

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

By the end of this course, students will begin to converse at a rate of speed approaching normal conversation. They will be more 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 much more likely to resolve these on their own. Students will understand a variety of colloquial expressions and slang, and will be able 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: 

Students must attend and arrive promptly to all classes and must be prepared to participate actively with all that has been planned. After the third absence, each absence will lower the final grade a full point. Three tardies shall be equivalent to an absence, three excused absences shall be equivalent to an unexcused absence.

Learning outcomes: 

Students who are placed in this level should be capable of achieving the outcomes defined by 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 the outcomes for 353 Independent Abroad level as defined by the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. The key learning outcomes from the MAP are summarized below:

  1. IIntercultural Communication

    1. Students will be able to identify and describe at a basic level elements of the main host culture and 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 be able to identify and discuss the validity of their own cultural beliefs, behaviors, and values by contrasting and comparing them with the host cultures.  
    3. Students will be able to describe and interpret gestures and body language, and they will integrate some of those non-verbal actions into their interactions with native speakers.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to understand most 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 be able 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 a wide range of 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, initiate and respond actively in a wide variety of interactions.
  4. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand blogs, articles, and short stories, using background knowledge to aid their comprehension.
    2. Students will be able to read and understand more complex academic texts with assistance.
  5. Writing
    1. Students will be able to meet most everyday writing needs (notes, text messages, emails, chats, letters, 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.
    3. Students will be able to edit their own writing and that of their peers.
Method of presentation: 

Since language is an experience of both spoken and written communication, the course will be highly participatory. The students will participate in oral and written activities both individually and in pairs, and will carry out research assignments within and outside of class.


Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Essays - 20%
  • Oral presentation - 15%
  • Reflective oral presentation on field trips - 10%
  • Grammar tests - 15%
  • Reading tests - 10%
  • Final Project - 20%
  • Homework and Participation - 10%

Total - 100%

The students will have to write four essays. The essays will have two parts: one part research and the other personal opinion. The paper should be two double-spaced pages in 12 pt Times New Roman font.

Oral Presentations
Oral presentations will be made in pairs about readings and research done on the topics covered in the course.

Grammar Tests
There will be three cumulative tests, in which vocabulary and grammar will be graded.

Reading Tests
There will be three reading comprehension tests covering the book "The Little Prince".

Final Project
The students will be required to submit a final project that encapsulates their personal and cultural experience in this program. It must be done in an original and creative way; it will be a "big picture" of your experience transformed into a collage, a powerpoint presentation, a short video, a staged monologue, a song (performed), a drawing or a sculpture, a poem, etc. The time for the presentation will be approximately 15 minutes per student. NO LATE WORK IS ACCEPTED.

Evaluation Criteria for Homework and Participation
Students will be assessed under the following criteria (10 is the best - 4 is not acceptable):

Homework rubric
(10) Always turns in homework on time, complete and correctly.
(8) Turns in homework on time, complete but poorly done.
(6) Turns in homework on time but neither complete or well done.
(4) Sometimes turns in homework and performs half-heartedly.

Participation rubric
(10) Always participatory, provides additional information, has a positive attitude in class. Never speaks in English.
(8) Always participatory, positive attitude in class. Uses English only to translate certain words.
(6) Frequently participates but uses responses of one or two words. (Too simple for the level of the class). Uses English to translate complete ideas.
(4) Little involvement and does not have a positive attitude in class. Uses English frequently.





Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)

Weeks 1-2

  1. Functionality: Narrate and describe in the past
  2. Grammar: Preterit vs. Imperfect 3.Vocabulary: adverbs of time, description of weather, verbs that change their meaning in the preterit and imperfect.
  3. Culture: life in the Ecuadorian family: yesterday and today. Interpersonal relations.

New Vocabulary for the house.

Delivery of the first essay: "My years at the University"

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

Weeks 3-4

  1. Functionality: Shopping and bargaining in a traditional market
  2. Grammar: Pronouns of DO and IO 3.Vocabulary: fruits, vegetables, haggling
  3. Culture: The subculture of the market. Interact with the "caseritas"

Field Trip I to Fruit and Vegetable Market

Orientation, visit and reflection on the field trip

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

Weeks 5-6

  1. Functionality: Discuss cultural issues 2.Grammar: Prepositions por and para and others
  2. Vocabulary: verbs and idioms with prepositions
  3. Culture: Machismo. The role of the various members of Ecuadorian society in the culture of machismo.

Delivery of the second essay: "Relationships between men and women"

Oral presentation in a group: "Sexism: men vs. women"

Grammar Test 1

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

Weeks 7-8

  1. Functionality: Communicate ideas related to the past and present
  2. Grammar: Indicative Compound Verb Tenses: Present perfect and Past perfect
  3. Vocabulary: parts of the body; medical terms
  4. Culture: Practices of natural medicine in the various Ecuadorian cultures

Seminar I: Accent marks

Group Oral presentation: "traditional medicine vs. alternative"

Reading Test 1

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

Weeks 9-10

  1. Functionality: Describe and identify people, animals, things, events, etc.
  2. Grammar: to be (ser & estar), and have (haber)
  3. Vocabulary: kin, materials, series of qualifiers, moods, events.
  4. Culture: To study the historical characters most representative of the Hispano-american culture.

Field Trip II: Activity "I Am"

Guidance, visit and reflection on field trip

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

Week 11

  1. Functionality: Participate in the customs and traditions of the host family
  2. Grammar: Reflexive verbs
  3. Vocabulary: reflexive and non- reflexive verbs
  4. Culture: Regionalism in Ecuador. The phenomenon of football (soccer).

Delivery of the third essay: "The cultural values of Ecuadorian society. Comparison with American values"

Reading Test 2

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

Week 12

  1. Functionality: planning events and activities
  2. Grammar: The Future
  3. Vocabulary: sports, events
  4. Culture: The socio-economic circumstances that have forced Ecuadorians to migrate within and outside their country

Group Oral Presentation: "Migration: causes and consequences"

Grammar Test 2


Week 13

  1. Functionality: planning events and activities including unforeseen events
  2. Grammar: The Conditional
  3. Vocabulary: types of clothing, tools, natural disasters, public transportation
  4. Culture: Causes and consequences of ecological problems in Ecuador

Seminar II: "The Use of Article"


Week 14-15

  1. Functionality: giving orders, instructions and advice
  2. Grammar: Formal and informal commands
  3. Vocabulary: types of medicines, diseases
  4. Culture: public health in the most vulnerable sectors of society: children, adolescents and the elderly.

Group Oral Presentation: "Education"

Reading Test 3


Week 16-17

  1. Functionality: Comment on and suggest problems related to lack of safety and possible solutions.
  2. Grammar: the Subjunctive Present and past
  3. Vocabulary: related to theft, kidnapping, assault, crimes in general
  4. Culture: The problems of insecurity in the large cities of the country. Possible solutions

Delivery of the fourth essay: "main socio-economic problems of the host country"

Grammar Test 3

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

Week 18


  1. Culture: Use everything learned in the course and the experience of living in Ecuador


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


Required readings: 
  • Packet prepared by the instructor
  • Saint Exupéry Antoine. El Principito. 2ND ed. Quito: Libresa, 2006