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Class Format

Classes meet for three hours per week, with the exception of intensive Spanish 103 and 203 courses, which meet three times a week for two hours each session.

First Year Classes

First Year courses will give you the opportunity to hear and use a small but growing amount of the target language. By the end of the year, you will have learned to perform quite a few simple conversational functions. Examples include greeting someone, asking about health, talking about your immediate surroundings, saying what you do during the day, and many others. Sometimes, your instructor will use an overhead with drawings or illustrations and talk about them, pointing to different items, repeating, and starting the description again, essentially providing you with long segments of the target language all spoken at normal speed. Your job when listening will be to focus on deriving meaning from what is said using all of the cues at your disposal (the picture, your instructor’s intonation, what you already know about the topic, etc.). All of the materials used in these presentations are directly connected to the topics you will be covering in the text. You will be amazed at how quickly you learn to understand more and more of your target language! The target language will be used a significant proportion of the time in class, say 25%.

In class, we will also spend a great deal of time learning and practicing key phrases that you can use to interact with other people. Some are in the book and others will be on handouts. Typically you will work with partners or in groups when working on phrases. When visitors come to class, you will use phrases you have learned to interview them and find out more about them. You may also be assigned conversation practice outside of class: in the language laboratory, online or in other settings.
Class time will also be spent working on vocabulary, as will a great deal of your home study time as well. You can expect that vocabulary will be a very important part of this course. Often the key to figuring out what someone is talking about is catching a word or two that you already know.

In general, we will follow the assigned textbook. However, because we are primarily guided by the final objectives for the course, you may also be assigned supplementary materials. Some instructors will cover grammatical structure in class, Others will assign such topics for home study. Your instructor will make very clear what you are supposed to be able to say using the structure you have studied.

For every hour of class time, expect to put in at least two hours of studying outside of class.

Second-Year Classes

Typically, you will spend greater and greater amounts of time per class listening to the spoken target language, such as podcasts, news broadcasts, documentary and feature films, and live lectures presented by your instructor or by visitors to your class. Your job when listening will be to focus on deriving as much meaning as you can using all of the cues at your disposal (visual cues, the speaker’s intonation, your prior knowledge of the topic, etc.). These presentations will be directly connected to the topics we are covering in our class.

In class, we will also spend a great deal of time learning and practicing increasingly complex vocabulary and phrases, so that you can use the target language in an ever increasing variety of contexts. Thus, while you began by interacting with friends and family in first-year target language courses, you will now be extending your language use to the academic and professional worlds as well. Although we will address language structure in class, structure will usually be addressed only within the context of much larger course objectives with the ultimate twin goals of increasing your sophistication in dealing with the course content and in using the target language in general.

For every hour of class time, expect to put in at least two hours of studying outside of class.

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