SPAN 200 (Introductory Spanish I) is a three-credit introductory Spanish course that introduces students to the basic elements of the Spanish language. By taking SPAN 200 and SPAN 201 (Spanish for Beginners II), students will learn to speak and write simple Spanish in a range of everyday situations. There are no prerequisites for SPAN 200 and there is a challenge for credit option if that is something of interest to you!
Introductory Spanish I consists of eight units, eight capstone assignments weighing forty percent total, eight map assignments worth a total of five percent, sixteen glossary entries for five percent of the course mark, a learning portfolio weighing ten percent, and a final written exam worth the remaining forty percent. While working through the eight units and their associated activities, students will develop oral and written skills through the study of vocabulary and grammar complemented by authentic texts. SPAN 200 emphasizes pronunciation, comprehension, and writing as essential components of the course. SPAN 200 is a prerequisite for SPAN 201. To receive credit for SPAN 200 students must achieve a course composite grade of at least fifty percent and a grade of at least fifty percent on the final written examination.
Also, students should be aware that this course has a special course feature. SPAN 200 is a fully integrated, online course based on a digital Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook developed at Athabasca University, with contributions and support from many academics and institutions across Canada. Additional information about the project can be found at the Spanish OER Initiative website: www.spanoer.ca.
Michael Dabrowski is the course coordinator for all the Spanish courses offered at Athabasca University. He is currently working on developing a Latin American civilization and culture course, a Spanish civilization and culture course, an intermediate conversation course, and introductory Hispanic literature courses. He has been with Athabasca University for almost twelve years and has been both the course coordinator and tutor for SPAN 200 for almost twelve years as well. Alongside SPAN 200, he also coordinates and tutors SPAN 201 (Spanish for Beginners II), SPAN 300 (Intermediate Spanish I), SPAN 301 (Intermediate Spanish II), SPAN 330 (Texture Analysis and Composition), and SPAN 400 (Advanced Spanish Grammar I).
He states, “This is a basic introductory Spanish course at the University level. While the course will not make you fluent, it will provide a fun, and creative learning environment in which you will gain confidence and a build a strong foundation for your future learning of the Spanish language.”
Mr. Dabrowski continues, “The course consists of eight units that have multiple activities, each terminating in capstone exercises that consist of both written and oral and collaborative components to help students use all aspects of language in every unit. Students contribute to a peer-generated Glossary of terms which is visible to other students within the course. Also, they research cultural practices in areas of cultural interest throughout Latin America and Spain and report on them for the benefit of other students in the course. Finally, students reflect on the learning throughout the course from both the linguistic and cultural perspectives and give meaning to that learning in their life. This, of course, is followed by a final examination which covers the grammar and vocabulary that they have studied throughout the eight units in written format.”
When asked for any advice he would have for students who are currently enrolled or about to enroll in SPAN 200, he states “This is a language course, so it is very important that the student’s study on a regular basis, and ideally, every day if possible. In addition to the daily studies, exposure to the language on a regular basis will be highly beneficial. Since language is used to communicate it would be a good idea for students to find friends to practice speaking and listening. Listening to music in Spanish and watching Spanish films can also really benefit students that are dedicated enough to work through this type of material.”
He continues, “Be creative and have fun with the assignments. A language is a tool for you to communicate your ideas so avoid doing activities to meet the minimum requirements of the assignment. Use language to explore the world around you and communicate your perspectives on the world that surrounds you.”
Mr. Dabrowski recommends this course to “anyone who is wanting to learn the Spanish language and has had absolutely no prior exposure to it. Students who dance or listen to salsa, reggaetón, merengue and other Latin rhythms may also benefit from understanding some of the lyrics that they are hearing while dancing.”
When asked what he thinks students will take away from the course, he states “Spanish language skills are going to be limited, but the student will be able to talk about themselves, their family, their surroundings, and their immediate needs in a language that they did not speak before. For many students, being forced to understand foreign language also assists them in better understanding English, this is usually an unexpected benefit for most.”
When asked what aspect of the course students struggle with most, he states “This is a typical language learning course, so students will struggle with vocabulary, pronunciation, word order, and verb conjugation. Biggest obstacles differ from student to student and are hard to generalize, but if students strategically approach understanding the similarities between Spanish and English and try to leverage what they know from English into a foreign language they typically do not have too many difficulties, if they are willing to put in the work.”
Whether SPAN 200 is a degree requirement of yours or learning Spanish for any reason is of interest to you, this course will have you learning the fundamental basics of this beautiful language!