Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 4 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

General Description

Spanish I will be very different from your other classes at MIT: The central component of the “DESTINOS” text and workbook is a series of 52 half-hour video episodes (you see the first 26 in Spanish I, the rest in Spanish II). DESTINOS is, in effect, a soap opera that allows you to learn authentic Spanish and experience its cultural diversity while following a good story full of surprises and human emotions (love, death, war, sex, …). You can watch these episodes outside of class in our departmental Language Learning and Resource Center.

The complete Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish video series with practice exercises is available free online from Annenberg Learner.

In the classroom, you will do a variety of activities and exercises, which include talking in Spanish about the video program, practicing pronunciation and grammar, and interacting in Spanish with classmates in pairs and small groups. The class is conducted in Spanish as much as possible, but English is used where necessary for clarity and efficiency.

In this course we deal with all basic language skills: aural comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing. Naturally, understanding spoken Spanish is especially stressed at the beginning. Grammar is studied not so that you can recite grammar rules, but rather so that you gain an understanding of how the language works. You must speak in order to learn to speak. Some students may feel inhibited about making mistakes in front of others. We will work together to make the class atmosphere as tension-free as possible. You must not be concerned about the instructor, or others, judging you at every moment.

This class assumes no previous knowledge of Spanish; however, some of your classmates may have studied Spanish in high school or elsewhere, but not enough to go into Spanish II. Do not let this initial inequality disturb you; the advantage of a head start diminishes quickly.

Required Books

VanPatten, Marks, and Teschner. DESTINOS. Text and Workbook/Study Guide 1 (Lecciones 1-26). McGraw Hill, 2002.

[For OCW online learners: the complete Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish video series with practice exercises is available free online from Annenberg Learner.]

Recommended: A good Spanish-English Dictionary.


Grading is on the basis of frequent relatively small evaluations rather than on one or two major hurdles:

1. Class Attendance and Participation: 35%

Your presence and active participation are essential in each and every session. This will be the most significant part of your grade since it’s in the class interactions with other students that your communicative abilities in Spanish will develop and improve. Your grade will be determined daily by the quality and quantity of your preparation and participation in group or pair activities and class discussions. WARNING: Since the emphasis of this class is on daily oral practice and this is impossible to make-up with extra work, unexcused absences will result in a lowering of the final class grade. For every four (4) unexcused absences there will be a 5% reduction of the final grade. Additionally, more than eight (8) unexcused absences will result in an “F” in class participation. Exceptions require a letter from a medical doctor, a dean’s excuse, or other extraordinary circumstances. In case of questions or anticipated problems, please do not hesitate to contact your instructor.

2. Written Work: lesson worksheets, written reports and assignments from the Web and short one-page compositions. (30%)

3. Tests: 4 in- class quizzes (35%). The last quiz will be given in the last week of classes, not in the official Final Examination Period.

Course Info