SPAN 351: Oral Proficiency in Spanish
Rei Berroa []
Summer 2006, Session B01
Tel (703) 993-1241


Varios autores, Hispanic Culture Review, Fairfax, VA: George Mason University, 2006.
The Oxford Spanish Dictionary New York: Oxford University Press, 2003 Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1990. Reqd.]
Raymond H. Pierson, Guía de modismos españoles. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1990. [Reqd.]
Judith Noble & Jaime Lacasa,Complete Handbook of Spanish Verbs. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1990. [Reqd.]

Diccionario de sinónimos, antónimos e ideas afines. Mexico: Larousse, 2002. [Recmd.]
Dorothy Devney, Guide to Spanish Suffixes, Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1993. [Recmd.]


The objective of this course is the student's oral proficiency on topics of current interest: art, politics, sport, family and social life, health, and religion, among many others. This proficiency will be reached by constant class discussion and daily oral reports. To this aim, the class period is going to be divided into three main segments:

1. Warmup: Every day, upon arrival to class, students will be required to move freely around their classmates, greeting everyone and looking for a spontaneous subject for conversation in Spanish.

2. Report: Every day, students will have to report to the rest of the class on the status of their research on a country they have previously chosen and on which they will become specialists during this course.  This report could include general news, government and politics, economics, and the country's infrastructure, among other issues, but it should always include a segment on culture.

3. Checkup: Discussion with the professor and the other classmates about the assigned reading from different reading material or any other source previously assigned.

Classwork will be conducted entirely in Spanish (otherwise it wouldn't make any sense to call this course "oral proficiency in Spanish"). No notes will be allowed during reports and presentations. All assignments must be done at home, so that classroom time should be reserved for constant oral drilling. We all must make a commitment to use Spanish every day as much as possible. [I would like to recommend that you force yourself to listen and/or speak the language for a minimum of two hours on days we don't meet].  Besides the Midterm and Final Exams, there will be occasional unannounced quizzes on issues previously discussed.


You must be exposed to Spanish and use the language in order to learn it.   So you really want to be in class and benefit from it. Class discussions, presentations, and activities provide the kind of interaction that you cannot get at home. For this reason there is no substitution for attendance. If you are not in class because you are sick or for any other valid reason, I feel bad, but the reality is that you were not in class and you missed all the goodies that come with being physically in the classroom. So you are expected to attend all classes and be on time. If you arrive late, you are disruptive and you may also miss some important information that cannot be repeated every time a student is late. Even if you are sick and cannot come to school, you are still responsible for all material covered in class. Keep in mind that irregular attendance will severely affect your learning process in any class, but especially in this one, and, consequently, it will affect your final grade in this course. Make sure you get the phone number and e-mail address of two classmates in case you have to miss class due to unforeseeable reasons:

Name____________________ Tel __________ e-mail _________________

Name ____________________Tel __________ e-mail ________________
Progress made by students in this class will be evaluated following the following percentage:
Quizzes and exercises: 25%     Active participation: 25%  Midterm: 25%   Final: 25%
Participation and class preparation
Participation means active involvement in the class. Students are required to contribute to class discussions daily and to speak only Spanish. The participation grade includes:
  • your contribution to regular class sessions, group activities and all other discussions,
  • the grades of all daily assignments,
  • your cooperation and leadership in group and pair work, and
  • your respect and attitude towards your peers and the class.
In order for you to actively participate in class, you need to read the material assigned for each class and do the activities assigned by the instructor.  Some writing assignments will be collected regularly.  Homework submitted for correction has to be written legibly [preferably, typed double-spaced].  Late assignments will not be collected.
Individual (a) and Group Presentation (b)
There will be two major presentations in this class:  the midterm, which will be an individual effort; and the final, which will be a group enterprise. Every one is required to be present at these presentations, which will be done in class, because their evaluation is a joint venture between the class and the instructor. Failure to be present during your own presentation will mean an automatic cero (0) for this exercise, which is 25% of your grade. On the other hand, failure to attend your classmates' presentations will land you a 5% reduction for active participation in your final grade. No exceptions. 

a) The Midterm will consist of an oral presentation [10 minutes] on the culture and current events of the student's chosen country, plus another 10 minutes answering questions from the instructor and the classmates on your presentation or on the issues assigned for reading during the course which had already been discussed in class.  There must be a thorough study of the field or fields you have chosen for this presentation.

b) The Final will consist of an 8-minute per person group presentation (two or three people per group only) to explain the process followed in the production of a video on any subject you would like to choose and the reasons for doing what you did in that video. Remember, this project is not for your classmates to watch your video, but instead for you explain what you did. In order to make your point, you may use brief segments of the video, but the time of the projection should not be more than five minutes total. The idea is not to show the video, but to tell your audience why you chose that subject, how you did, where, when, etc.] A 10-minute question and answer session will follow, just as in the midterm.  If you have difficulty finding a camera or trying to find someone to film you, your group could opt for actually acting the presentation in front of the class, instead of filming it. 

Students are responsible for reading at least one Spanish newspaper from two different countries every day and for informing the class about their findings on the chosen issue or issues on one country [click on QUIOSCO to see revistas from all over the Spanish speaking world or listen to the radio, read a the comics in Spanish or even watch TV on your screen]. The GMU Spanish page has also several newspapers from each Spanish speaking country and also radio and TV stations. Go there to check them out. []

Como meta diaria y con la ayuda del diccionario, nos hemos propuesto la incorporación de un mínimo de 50 palabras al día a nuestro vocabulario conversacional.  Si llegamos a lograr esta meta, para fines de este curso habremos incorporado a nuestro vocabulario activo de todos los días, la modesta suma de 1600 palabras.  Si a esto sumamos nuestro constante encuentro con las expresiones idiomáticas (vean este portal con explicación de significado), los refranes y dichos populares, los trabalenguas, los chistes, las canciones y las adivinanzas, esta clase puede convertirse en una verdadera mina de conocimiento de la lengua.
P R O G R A M A    D E L   C U R S O

Este es un plan de trabajo que puede cambiar en cualquier momento, pero siempre con aviso previo.

Como hemos decidido no utilizar ningún libro de texto específico, nos tendremos que acostumbrar a trabajar por nuestra cuenta. Esto exige un constante estar al día por parte de cada una de ustedes, pero también les obliga a usar la lengua más activamente.

Lunes 5 de junio
Introducción  general al curso y presentaciones individuales de cada estudiante con preguntas de todos.
Discusión del programa, orientación sobre la red y muestra de conocimiento del tema ciberespacial
Miércoles 7 de junio
Hablemos de deporte: el fútbol como fiesta mundial
Uso de los verbos ser y estar
La guerra y la agresión personal y colectiva
12 de junio
El matrimonio, el divorcio y los hijos
El subjuntivo en cláusulas subordinadas
Los engaños de la fama y la popularidad
Uso del pretérito perfecto y el participio pasado
14 de junio
El terrorismo individual y el terrorismo de estado
Adverbios en -mente
Las religiones: fallas y virtudes
Conjunción sino y subjuntivo en cláusulas adjetivales
19 de junio
Vivir en el pasado, en el presente o en el futuro
Verbo gustar y uso del gerundio
Las violaciones, el aborto, la adopción
Subjuntivo con verbos de emoción y grados del adjetivo
21 de junio
La ciencia y el arte
Subjuntivo con sin que y el tiempo condicional
La migración y los indocumentados [legalidad/ilegalidad]
26 de junio
La salud y la medicina
Pronombres indefinidos y algunos adverbios
La censura religiosa / La censura estatal
El infinitivo y palabras en -ma, -pa, -ta 
28 de junio-3 de julio  [Midterm]
Presentaciones individuales:
Estas presentaciones serán grabadas para que luego cada estudiante pueda regresar a ellas para estudiar problemas gramaticales, lexicales, prosódicos, etc.
5 de julio
El suicidio entre los jóvenes 
Pronombres reflexivos y el adjetivo negativo
Las armas de fuego
Verbo haber y otros pronombres reflexivos
10 de julio
Las Naciones Unidas
La pena capital... muerte
Pronombres de objeto directo o indirecto
12 de julio
La herencia y el medio ambiente
Los adjetivos posesivos
El narcotráfico
Para que con subjuntivo y ciertos pronombres con preposición
17 de julio
Fumar o no fumar
Subjuntivo en cláusulas adverbiales
El Espanglish
19 de julio
Actitud ciudadana
Adjetivos descriptivos, los adverbios y otras cosas
Explorando el espacio
El pretérito y el imperfecto
24 de julio
La educación
Usos de por y para, que y quien, lo que, lo cual
La vida dentro de 100 años
Uso del futuro y de la voz pasiva con se
26 de julio [Final]
Presentaciones en grupo
Jueves 27 de julio
Ultimo día para entregar el trabajo final