*This one-semester Intermediate Spanish course (SPAN 164) fulfills the foreign language FDR requirement (FDR FL).

If you are in this course, you have either completed Spanish 112 or were placed here through the departmental placement test. If this is not the case, please speak with me immediately. The placement test is meant to ensure that students in this class have equivalent levels of Spanish, although we expect some variation in skill levels. Many of you have been studying Spanish since middle school, while others may have taken only a few years of high school Spanish. Based on your previous academic work and placement test, we will assume that you know the essential grammar of Spanish, and that you have some experience reading and speaking the language. From that basis, we have designed a course that focuses on practicing what you already know while increasing your knowledge of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, through exercises in listening, speaking, reading, and writing, as well as through cultural readings and video viewing.  Class meets only three times a week, and since learning a language requires daily practice, the course assignments will be distributed so as to ensure that you are consistently engaged in Spanish outside of class as well.


Course Description and Objectives

The course textbook and the on-line components are designed to facilitate your learning of Spanish. There is some grammar reviewed and taught, but mostly you will be using Spanish to speak about everyday situations, to examine Hispanic cultures, and to begin to appreciate literary and other artistic expression by Hispanic authors and artists. Class meets 3 times per week for 55 minutes, but you can expect at least an additional 2 hours of preparation and practice per class period. You must read the pages assigned in the textbook and complete the assignments made through the course website (or Supersite at As the semester progresses you should gain confidence in speaking Spanish, broaden your understanding of Spanish-speaking cultures, and begin to imagine yourself living and studying in a Spanish-speaking country as part of your personal and professional growth.

These and other course objectives correspond with the following larger departmental learning objectives:

  • Communicate in the target language in interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes.
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures through the examination of their practices, perspectives, and products.
  • Develop insight into the nature of language and culture through comparisons between target languages and cultures, and their own language and culture.
  • Read and analyze literature written in the target language.


Course policies

Absences: Any unexcused absence or missed assignment will count against your final grade. An excessive number of absences may result in a grade of F at the professor’s discretion.  Students who must miss class due to school-related events must consult with the professor prior to the absence.

Electronics in class: You may use laptops in class solely for purposes of our classwork, only when approved by the professor. They may not be used for non-related activities (social media, etc).  Cell phones must be turned off during class. Absolutely no texting, emailing, phoning, etc. is allowed during the 55 minutes of the class period.  In-class performance grades will be significantly lowered without exception for any disregard of the policy.

Students with disabilities: Washington and Lee University makes reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. All undergraduate accommodations must be approved by the Title IX Coordinator and Director of Disability Resources, Lauren Kozak. Students requesting accommodations for this course should present an official accommodation letter within the first two weeks of the term and schedule a meeting outside of class time to discuss accommodations. It is the student’s responsibility to present this paperwork in a timely fashion and to follow up about accommodation arrangements. Accommodations for test-taking should be arranged with the professor at least a week before the date of the test or exam.

Honor System: Washington and Lee benefits from a student-run Honor System. For the purposes of this class, the honor system means that pledge your work to reinforce that it is your own. As evidence of our trust in the system, all tests will be taken in the the Center for Global Learning and scheduled outside of class time with no immediate supervision. In turn, you are expected to honor the testing guidelines established by your professor, to sign in and sign out of the GDL for and after testing, and use no supplementary materials during testing.

This particularly includes the use of online translators such as Google Translate to translate entire texts, sentences, or phrases beyond the word or idiomatic expression level in your written work. While the use of Google Translate as a general rule is discouraged in this class as it is quite simply not the best tool for language acquisition, students are encouraged to take advantage of resources like to look up words and phrases with which they are unfamiliar. None of these tools may be used in a test-taking situation.



Participation: Class time will emphasize listening to and speaking in Spanish in response to a variety of prompts from your professor, and in pairings with your classmates. Grammar explanations will be given as needed, but do not expect lectures on grammar points since your textbook already includes detailed explanations with abundant practice opportunities. Students will also carry out oral presentations and contribute posts to a class blog.  Your active participation in every class and the timely completion of all assignments are required for success in this class.


Tests: We will cover 6 chapters this term, and there will be a test for each chapter. The test will be made available to you on paper at the Global Discovery Laboratories (GDL) at the Center for Global Learning, and you will take it at scheduled times outside of class in the GDL. Typically you will have a time frame of 2 days to take the test in the GDL, so there is no need for make-ups. No late assignments or tests will be accepted.


Presentations: There will be two rounds of presentations:

  • The first will be an expansion of one of the «Galería de creadores» investigations. Each student will select an important figure from the Spanish-speaking artistic world, and then give a 7 to 10-minute presentation explaining to the class what their contribution has been, as well as important biographical facts, and highlighting at least one important work. You may choose anyone whose work can be defined as “creative,” whether that is a painter, a sculptor, a writer, a clothing designer, an architect…, etc. Further guidance on this presentation will be made available during the first full week of the term. This presentation must be completed prior to the midterm point of the semester (by Friday, February 9, 2018).
  • The second presentation will be paired presentations based upon blogs about current events. Again, this will be done in pairs, and the partners will select the current event from the Spanish-speaking world that they feel is most compelling or interesting, ideally one about which at least one of the partners has already written. The partners will do further research into the particulars surrounding the situation and be prepared to present an argument about it. For example, regarding the terrorist attacks of August 2017 in Barcelona, a group could defend the position that vocal Islamophobia in Western Europe has made them a target for Muslim extremists. The group would then need to support that thesis with evidence from credible sources (i.e., not Wikipedia, but instead publications of repute such as El Pais or the like). The presentation should be 15 minutes long, with each partner contributing equally to presentation and research.

We will normally have 1-2 presentations per class day until each round of presentations is complete.


Blog: All students will complete a brief (one paragraph) post in Spanish in the class blog for each of our three class lessons each week. You must post by midnight before the next day’s class.

  • For Monday, posts should tell us something about what is happening in the Spanish-speaking world (e.g. presidential elections; trade negotiations; protests; cultural production; sporting events) in response to a news article you have read on a Spanish-language news source (see Online Resources page for where to find these).
  • For Wednesday, posts should recount something personal (e.g. a weekend trip; the celebration of a birthday; a rumination on an event or emotion).
  • For Friday, should reflect on or respond to (e.g. why is it interesting; what effective techniques did the author/director use; how does the text relate to the larger world) a literary or film text from the textbook chapter of the week.

Each post should be approximately 250 words each. It should include a link to the site on which you read the information. Make sure to comment on two other students’ posts before coming to class each day.  These posts will count as a completion grade only. The professor will use them in class to enhance conversation and to provide specific guidance on composition.


Blog extendido: Students will also complete three longer, formally graded blog posts of 500 words each. To complete the posts, students will select an article from a newspaper of the Hispanic world, read the article carefully, and then summarize it (100-150 words) and provide a critical, analytical reaction to it (350-400 words; see the description below) in Spanish. All students must make comments on at least 3 other students’ blog posts for each of the three rounds.

  • Choose an article from an online news source of the Spanish-speaking world; *For news, please avail yourselves of the see Online Resources page.
  • Read the selected article carefully. Imagine yourself as a journalist from a rival paper who is tasked with covering this news piece;
  • Open a Word document and complete the following steps:
    • Include the title of the article, the name of the author, and a creative title for your post, and then summarize (in Spanish) the article you read in 100-150 words;
    • Write a critical reaction of approximately 350-400 words to the article. The critical reaction should reflect your take on the article—what is “new” about this news; what is compelling about it; how does it compare to other world events; what stance can you take as a correspondent in this area of the world?; what other questions does it raise?; etc.  Each subsequent blog entry should demonstrate increasing understanding of the complexities and nuances of news from the Latin@/Latin American/Caribbean/Spanish worlds;
    • Include a word count. Email me the word document, and write out the FULL PLEDGE.  (*Please note that you may ask for *specific help on grammar* from our Spanish TA.  You may not ask the Spanish TA or anyone else to proofread your paper or any sections of it for you.);
    • Post your summary and reaction by 5:00 pm on the day before the class discussion;
    • You must ALSO read and comment on the blog posts of three classmates.  Comments must be posted before the start of class (11:00) on the assigned day.

Cultural Events/Conversation Practice: You are expected to take advantage of the resources available for cultural immersion and language practice through Romance Languages, at the Spanish House, the CGL, or community outreach through ESOL. You must attend at least three events (one per month of the term) organized through the department of Romance Languages, the Spanish House, the CGL, or by the FLTAs. The definition of this event is flexible–you may attend the Poetry Night, language tables, a talk by a visiting scholar. Note that while the professor may announce culturally relevant events that come to her attention over the course of the term, it is NOT her responsibility, but that of the students, to seek these events out and complete the assignment in a timely fashion. You will reflect upon your experience in your class blog entry for the next class period in lieu of whichever topic would normally correspond to that day of the week. Follow the instructions in the Actividad Cultural PDF to structure your response to these events and experiences.

The FLTA for Spanish this year is Sofia Hernández. Her office hours will be M: 2:30 – 3:30pm and W/R 11am – 12 pm (Tucker Hall, 3rd floor, room 311)

Spanish Table: Lunch on Wednesdays 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm (Marketplace); Coffee on Mondays 4 pm – 5 pm (Café 77)


Grade distribution:

Chapter tests   (6)                                              30%

Online Activities                                                 10%

Presentations                                                    20%

         (Individual                                                  5%)

(Group                                                     15%)

Class Blog (3 longer posts)                               15%

In-class performance*                                       15%

Cultural Events/Conversation Practice             10%

*In-class performance grade: The following is intended as a rough description of expectations for in-class performance grades.


A = an active role and class leader; leads or guides discussion; initiates conversations and questions; engages others in discussion; shapes the nature of the discussion; can expound on topics; offers rebuttal; clear evidence of thorough reading of material; present for all class discussions.

B = a more passive role; occasionally initiates discussion; responds well; is prepared when called on, but only responds when called on; good knowledge of topic but doesn’t always relate topic beyond today’s discussion; willing to converse but not always able; present for all discussions.

C = passive participation; seldom interacts unless called upon; clear evidence of preparation lacking; not present for each class period;

D = passive participation; unable to comment when called upon; preparation lacking; not always present; quality of conversation would indicate a sub-performance in other 100-level classes.

F = oral deficiencies that would prohibit the student from continuing in other 100-level courses; excessive absences.

For this course, grades will be calculated on the following scale: A (93-100), A- (90-92), B+ (87-89), B (83-86), B- (80-82), C+ (77-79), C (73-76), C- (70-72), D+ (67-69), D (63-66), D- (60-62), F (below 60).



Enlaces (and access code). Boston: Vista Higher Learning. 2013.  Includes grammar, practice writing exercises, video and audio activities, and graded assignments through our course Supersite at http://www.vhlcentral.comYou will need to register for access to your course website.  Go to the Student Startup PDF here, also included on the Sakai site.

A note from the publisher: The Supersite requires an access code that comes with your book.  Used books and books bought on other sites DO NOT include the code and you will spend much more if you buy them separately.  Complete packages can only be found at the W&L bookstore or at  Go to vhlcentral/help/student-startup to learn how to set up and navigate your new Supersite account.