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Spanish

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics

 

Post A-Level Course

Post A-Level Course in the first year (Part IA, Option B)

The Post-A-Level course is an intensive course: it develops students' language skills in the use of Spanish, translation and oral practice through a combination of weekly and fortnightly classes, and supervisions. It also offers students a challenging interdisciplinary introduction to Spanish and Latin American literature, culture and linguistics from the 15th century through to the present.

 

Language Work

Language work aims to help you acquire a sound knowledge of modern standard Spanish. You will consolidate and develop your command of Spanish in all four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening), with a particular focus on advanced grammar and writing. The practice of translation from Spanish into English will hone your close-reading skills and acquaint you with the stylistic subtleties of literary texts, as well as with issues of cultural transfer.

You will be attending three classes:

  • SPB1: Use of Spanish (weekly class)
  • SPB2: Translation from Spanish (fortnightly class)
  • Oral practice in preparation for Spanish Oral B (weekly supervision)

It is essential that you check your email regularly (at least twice a day) during the first few days of term as the class lists and supervision groups will be published/arranged then.

Textbook:

You will not have a textbook for papers SPB2 and the Oral. For SPB1, most of the material will be provided by your teacher, but we do use a grammar practice book we ask you to own a copy of: Uso de la gramática española (nivel avanzado), Francisca Castro (Ed. Edelsa, Spain, latest edition), ISBN 978-84-7711-7148.

Although it is not compulsory that you own a copy, we highly recommend the following grammar: A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish, John Butt and Carmen Benjamin (London: Arnold, latest edition), ISBN 0-340-81033-5.

 

Literature, History, Culture

In addition to your language classes, you will also take paper Sp1: Introduction to the Language, Literatures and Cultures of the Spanish-speaking World. Teaching for this paper will consist of lectures, reading classes and supervisions focused upon each of the primary texts and linguistic topics covered in the paper. For the Linguistics topic, you will have one supervision per term. With your literature supervisor, you will normally have three supervisions in Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

 

Resources for Spanish Students

There is a wealth of resources for language learning and Hispanic culture preparation on the web – feel free to explore them. You will greatly benefit from reading, listening and, if possible, speaking as much Spanish as you can before you arrive in Cambridge. Here is a list of useful resources to get you started:

 

Grammar

Working through some of the following resources will help you consolidate your knowledge of Spanish grammar and give you a head start in the Post A Level course:

Spanish Language & Culture (Barbara Kuczun Nelson): an excellent collection of grammar exercises classified by grammar topic, including some video and audio.

Conjuguemos: A useful site to practise your verb conjugations – a must!

 

Video and audio

Corpus de conversaciones en español: a wide collection of short clips featuring everyday conversations with speakers from various Spanish-speaking countries. Clips are classified by level and come with transcripts.

Catálogo de voces hispánicas (Instituto Cervantes): again, a collection of short clips featuring examples of Spanish from different parts of Spain and Latin America, with transcripts.

Spanish podcasts: podcasts of Spanish speakers in a variety of situations, discussing a range of topics. With transcripts.

Lyricstraining: listen to your favourite music while listening to Spanish and improving your listening skills and vocabulary.

 

Vocabulary learning

You probably have your own tried-and-tested system for learning vocabulary by now. Any method that works for you is good, but if you are not yet familiar with the following resources you may want to give them a try. Both allow you to record and systematize any new words, and include an element of gamification to make it all more fun:

Quizlet

Memrise

 

Dictionaries and other reference resources

Wordreference: you are probably already very familiar with this resource containing many dictionaries and fora where you can discuss your language queries with native speakers or other fellow learners. As well as the monolingual and bilingual dictionaries for Spanish, we recommend you begin to get familiar with the use of the thesaurus (Diccionario de sinónimos y antónimos) – this will help you expand your vocabulary and range of registers.

Diccionarios de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española: here you will find the famous Diccionario de la Lengua Española, as well as the Diccionario panhispánico de dudas, which will contain the answer to some of your language queries.

Linguee: a dictionary that offers numerous examples in context of the word you want to find.

Diccionarios de la página del español: a selection of dictionaries curated by La página del español.

 

Press

Most newspaper sites also contain video and audio material, so you can practice both your reading and listening comprehension while keeping abreast with the news:

Prensa escrita: includes links to all daily papers in the Hispanic world.

BBC Mundo

El País

El Mundo

 

Film and TV

There are few more enjoyable ways to improve your language skills than watching films in Spanish. Do have a browse on any platform you have access to (e.g. YouTube, Netflix). If you find a series that grabs your fancy, try and set up a routine of watching perhaps one episode a day, or every few days:

RTVE Televisión española: this is the site of Spanish public TV. It contains a broad collection of documentaries and other TV productions.

VerCanalesTV.com: links to many TV channels across Latin America and Spain.

 

Language and culture

Centro Virtual Cervantes (Instituto Cervantes): here you will find many resources and information relating to the Spanish language and culture. You may find the following particularly useful/interesting:

 

La página del idioma español: contains articles and information relating to the Spanish Language. You can subscribe to “la palabra del día” and receive every day the definition and etymology of a word in your inbox.

Español con arte: includes material for those interested in learning Spanish while learning about art.

 

General introduction to studying Spanish at Cambridge

My HE+ Modern Languages: here you will find a range of resources (for Spanish as well as other languages) aimed at giving sixth-form students a taste for the kinds of topics they will encounter if they apply to study Modern Languages at Cambridge.