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How we teach Spanish
Our Approach to Teaching Spanish
At Intercultura Sámara Language School, we strive to give our students a true understanding and feeling for the Spanish Language. We believe in the communicative approach and that total immersion is the most effective for learning Spanish quickly. Class sizes are small and dynamic, with a maximum of 6 students per class, in order to maximize student talk time and one-on-one attention from the teacher.
What is the Communicative Approach of learning Spanish?
The Communicative Approach to teaching the Spanish language actively engages the learner in the classroom. To see an example of Spanish in action, click here. This system of teaching puts the focus of learning on the learner, meaning that they are engaged and active participants in the language acquisition process. Students learn to speak in meaningful, real-life situations that teach them to communicate appropriately in a social and linguistic context. Our syllabus and framework for class sessions are tailored to the needs of students in an immersion program, and are designed to integrate cultural activities into the learning process.
“We are trying to get our learners to develop linguistic fluency, not just the accuracy that has so consumed our historical journey. We are equipping our students with tools for generating unrehearsed language performance 'out there' when they leave the womb of our classrooms. We are concerned with how to facilitate lifelong language learning among our students, not just with the immediate classroom task. We are looking at learners as partners in a cooperative venture. And our classroom practices seek to draw on whatever intrinsically sparks learners to reach their fullest potential." Brown (1994:77)
In a communicative classroom, language is seen as a social tool. With this in mind, our Spanish courses not only teach grammatical conjugations and the syntax of the language, but also the wider cultural aspects of language and communication, with the goal of engaging and stimulating learning.
During our Spanish courses, you won’t find our Spanish teachers dictating to students, while they frantically take notes! We implement activities that involve real communication, in which language is used for carrying out meaningful tasks that are relevant to the learner. Social interaction activities such as pair and group work, role play, discussion sessions and dialogues are used, helping students to learn the language and express their own communication needs.
Classes are held for 4 hours per day, and have a maximum of 6 students, with an average of 3-4 (except during high season, with averages of 4-6). Classes containing only 1 student may be reduced to 3 hours per day instead of 4. Exceptions may apply for academic credit candidates, and/or at the discretion of the program director.
Levels in the Spanish Program
Our core Spanish program consists of twelve different levels, from complete beginner through advanced. After completion, students continue with six additional levels of high-advanced to superior level Spanish, which build upon the materials used in lower levels and intensify work towards full proficiency in the various areas of language acquisition. The advanced Spanish courses include complex field projects, literature, current events, linguistics, regional language usages and Latin American cultural and socio-historical themes. In addition, we have specialized courses for those who wish to study specific topics such as business, medical or media Spanish.
Our Spanish program uses immersion teaching methods centered around the Communicative Approach. Our goal is to enable students learning Spanish to truly express themselves. Instead of a traditional grammar program, classes are designed to provide balance between theory and practice. The course incorporates all aspects of language acquisition: conversation, grammar, reading, listening, writing, general comprehension and idiomatic expressions. In addition to formal textbooks, we use a wide variety of current materials: newspapers, literature, internet, CDs, videos, advertisements, music, short stories and more. Classes also incorporate field-trips and out-of-class learning experiences by taking students to practice their Spanish in supermarkets, the beach, buses, restaurants, and other areas where practice is a necessity. Classes are interesting as well as educational!