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|Course Overview |
The AP Spanish language course is equivalent to a third year college course in Advanced Spanish language skills. This course is conducted almost exclusively in Spanish using authentic materials from the Spanish-speaking world such as short stories, newspaper and magazine articles, audio and video from a variety of websites, short films and excerpts from feature films and documentaries. Students will learn to analyze a wide diversity of authentic materials drawn from many different countries. Students develop their writing, listening, reading and speaking skills across the three communicative modes; Interpersonal (interactive communication), Interpretive (receptive communication), and Presentational (productive communication). Over the course of the year students will hone their language skills as they:
Summary of grading scheme:
Interpretive skills: 30% for example, reading stories and listening to podcasts
Interpersonal skills: 30% for example, discussion in class and responding to blog posts
Presentational skills: 30% for example, essays and oral presentations in class
Midterm and Final portfolios with reflection: 10%
The following texts are used as core materials and grammar reference.
The following websites are used extensively inside and outside of class:
Units of Study
Each unit of study lasts 2-3 weeks and is introduced with an essential question and a brainstorming session that orients discussion. Substantial vocabulary is presented throughout the unit to develop communicative competence in the four language skills. The vocabulary comes from the texts and audio files used in class; all vocabulary is thoroughly contextualized. Students maintain a glossary of terms in their notebooks which reflect their reading and listening. The vocabulary glossaries are also a place to reflect on regionalisms and variations in register. Throughout each unit of study special emphasis is given to recognize distinct cultural perspectives of Spanish-speaking peoples.
Each unit of study follows a predictable pattern. On the first day the essential question of the unit is presented, followed by a brainstorming activity to orient discussion and establish previous knowledge of the topic. Often students will have read relevant news articles over the weekend in anticipation of the new unit and share with their peers through a jigsaw activity. Before the end of the first day students take note of key ideas, vocabulary and structures necessary to discuss the unit. The following five to six days are dedicated to expanding their perspectives by processing newspaper and magazine articles, listening to podcasts, viewing short videos, documentaries and portions of feature films, as well as reading fiction relevant to the essential question. All of these sources are processed in and outside of class through activities such as posting to blogs, class discussions of varying formats, completing graphic organizers, formal comprehension quizzes, role-playing activities, language games such as taboo, and structured conversation prompts. Depending upon the time frame available, another two to three days are then dedicated to individual research while each student delves into one of the subthemes brought up in class. Each student explores one aspect of the topic on their own, finding appropriate sources and using these sources to prepare an oral presentation that is either presented in class or recorded on a website such as vocaroo. Each student will present at least four formal oral presentations in class, while the other eleven may be recorded. Many oral presentation topics are conceived to lead students to compare their own cultural practices with those throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Oral presentations are evaluated according to the relevant AP Spanish Language Rubric for speaking. Finally, on the last day of the unit, all students respond to either an interpersonal or presentational writing prompt. Writing samples are evaluated according to the relevant AP Spanish Language Rubric for writing.
Explicit instruction on how to synthesize sources to write a good formal essay and deliver a formal oral presentation will be provided in class with consultation of the textbook Abriendo Paso: lectura, referring specifically to the section “Un poco más de práctica”, Part A Formal Writing (Integrated Skills) and Part B Formal Oral Presentation (Integrated Skills).
Sample Class Activities
The class is almost exclusively conducted in Spanish; in addition students analyze at least one (and often more than one) audio source each class. Students listen to recorded audios of native Spanish speakers that represent a wide diversity of accents. Sources include audio from the textbooks cited previously as well as authentic sources found on the internet. Some audios deal with situations of daily life that are rich in lower register, idiomatic Spanish while others are newscasts and recorded selections from magazines that focus on the topic of the unit and tend to be of a higher register. Students learn to separate details from main ideas while they outline the information, complete grids, or complete graphic organizers. Students are then evaluated for their comprehension. Popular music from Spanish-speaking countries is also incorporated into the class on a regular basis.
Outside of class students interpret and respond to podcasts and authentic newscasts on a weekly basis. Students have some flexibility choosing the out of class listening activities (choosing from a list of related topics and sources that I provide); audio sources relate to the unit of study and are one of the sources students use to develop their formal oral presentations.
Students speak Spanish during the entire class period. Emphasis is placed on interpersonal speaking; in class students work in pairs, in small groups and participate in large group discussions. Students are routinely recorded in order to reflect on their speaking, to develop good pronunciation, and to track progress and recurring errors. Informal speaking opportunities are abundant and include think-pair-share activities, small group response circles (reacting to a text or audio), problem-solving conversations, various language games such as taboo, paired conversations on a topic under study, role-playing situations, structured conversation prompts, and free discussion in a large group format.
Throughout the year students complete various presentational speaking assessments directed at their peers including “how to” presentations, semi-impromptu interviews, short presentations on cultural topics and opinion pieces.
In addition to in-class activities students are required to use the Spanish language in the community through various assignments such as interviewing a native Spanish speaker. On weeks in the middle of a unit students record an informal oral reaction to a podcast through the vocaroo website and send it to my email address. On the last week of the unit students present their formal oral presentation; at least four of the presentations must be presented in class while the other eleven may be recorded and sent to me through email.
Students read authentic texts that develop their reading ability from a wide diversity of sources: short stories, poetry and portions of novels, magazine and newspaper articles, navigating websites for a variety of purposes and the writing on realia that I have collected over the years (pamphlets, ticket stubs, etcetera). Students demonstrate understanding through activities such as graphic organizers, spoken response circles (often preceded by independent journaling), formal presentations and written responses.
Students read regularly outside of class. Each unit includes a packet of assigned readings that relate to the theme of the unit. Students also maintain a reading journal to track their independent reading, which is a self-selected novel in Spanish. Independent readings are chosen according to student interest and ability, but are all authentic literature originally published for Spanish native speakers. Examples of acceptable novels range from difficult texts such as La ciudad de las bestias by Isabel Allende to easier texts, such as the novel Senderos fronterizos by Francisco Jimenez. Every other Wednesday students participate in a modified literature circle activity to discuss their novels.
Students write regularly in class for a variety of purposes. Examples of presentational writing, beyond the formal essays described below in the “integrated skills” section, include responses to a question or situation found in a text, film reviews and opinion pieces refering to a topic under study. Examples of interpersonal writing tasks include thank you letters and a weekly blog that responds to an article that they have read or a podcast that they have heard, which is shared with a student partner in class and then the student partner writes a response. Every week students also post a comment on a class online discussion board (nicenet.org) and respond to at least two of their classmates comments.
Formal compositions are timed according to AP Exam guidelines. Compositions are marked without being graded and returned to students so that they can make corrections. AP students write either an interpersonal timed writing response (ten minutes) or a formal in-class essay (integrated presentational writing approximately 50 minutes) for each unit. They receive feedback at the beginning of the following week and submit their corrected compositions on Wednesdays. Common mistakes observed on the writing tasks prompt brief, explicit grammar reviews in class; thus grammar taught in class is chosen to maximize communicative competence.
Students will complete seven presentational writing assignments (four in the first semester and three in the second semester) which will be evaluated according to the AP Spanish Language Rubric for writing. This is a formal writing style that requires students to analyze a variety of authentic sources and synthesize the information. Each composition will be written in class within a time limit of 30 to 50 minutes to simulate the conditions of the presentational writing section on the AP exam. Students will deliver one formal oral presentation per unit (total of fifteen) based on readings, podcasts, videos and discussions that have taken place inside and outside of class. Explicit instruction on how to synthesize sources to write a good formal essay and deliver a formal oral presentation will be provided in class with consultation of the textbook Abriendo Paso: lectura, referring specifically to the section “Un poco más de práctica”, Part A Formal Writing (Integrated Skills) and Part B Formal Oral Presentation (Integrated Skills).
Real-Life Language and Culture
Students are required to engage in real-life activities outside the classroom to enrich their Spanish language and culture experiences. They complete entries that interest them throughout the year for their Language and Culture Portfolio. Options include but are not limited to: attending an art exhibit, musical show, play or La noche de película offered at the school; preparing a meal while following recipes written in Spanish; regular correspondence through email, Skype or Face Time with native speakers in a Spanish-speaking country; viewing of important events involving target language speakers, such as a president’s acceptance speech or a national celebration of a country’s independence; and hosting a student from a Spanish-speaking country. Students must provide acceptable evidence of their cultural engagement.
Chronological list of units of study