skip to content


Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Beginners Course: Spanish

What will your first-year Spanish studies look like?

The first year of the ab initio Spanish course is intended to introduce you to the basics of the Spanish language (in papers SPA1 and SPA2), as well as to the interdisciplinary study of Hispanic culture (paper SPA3). You will attend classes and small-group supervisions for language work, as well as lectures and supervisions for your work on cultural and literary topics. Teaching provision for paper SPA3 consists of 7 lectures (3 introductory lectures and four lectures on the set texts) and three supervisions in the Michaelmas and 4 lectures (on the set texts) and 3 supervisions in Lent and 2 revision supervisions in Easter. Supervisions for paper SPA3 are organized by your college. For details of this paper, see Introduction to Spanish Culture (SPA3) .

The ab initio course is designed to take you from scratch (or GCSE) to A-level standard in the space of eight months (October-May). This is roughly the equivalent of level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The course is, therefore, very intensive. As well as language skills, it also aims to offer you an introduction to Spanish and Latin American literature and culture, and to help you develop the close-reading and translation skills you will need in the course of your degree studies here.

These are exciting and ambitious goals, but do not be daunted – we see our students achieve them year after year. Your teachers and supervisors will be there to offer you all the support and encouragement you may need.

Summer Preparation

Please follow the link above for more information.

Language work

In 2021-22 you will be attending four weekly classes:

  • Use of Spanish (one 2-hour class and one 1-hour class per week). Faculty-based language classes, which will take you through all the basic grammar of Spanish, always placing language in a communicative and cultural context.
  • Oral supervision (1 hour, weekly).
  • Language supervision (1 hour, fortnightly).
  • LENT term only: four Translation into English supervisions in preparation for paper SPA2.


  • Coursebook: Campus Sur. Curso intensivo de español A1-B1. Libro del alumno (Barcelona: Difusión, 2017 or 2019 edition). ISBN: 9788418032448. N.B. You do NOT need a copy of the Cuaderno de ejercicios (workbook). It is VERY IMPORTANT that you get this coursebook in time for your first class.
  • Grammar practice: Uso de la gramática española by Francisca Castro (Madrid: Edelsa, revised new edition 2010): elemental (Michaelmas) and intermedio (Lent). N.B. You do NOT need to get a copy of the answer key (Clave).

Recommended reference works

  • Pilar Muñoz and Mike Thacker, A Spanish Learning Grammar (London: Routledge, latest edition) [For beginners and intermediate level]
  • Gramática básica del estudiante de español (Barcelona: Difusión, latest edition) [For beginners and intermediate level. This grammar is also available in English from the same publisher: Students’ Basic Grammar of Spanish]
  • A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish, John Butt and Carmen Benjamin (London: Arnold) [Advanced level. All you will ever want to know about Spanish grammar]
  • The Collins Spanish-English Dictionary (Glasgow: HarperCollins)
  • Oxford Spanish Dictionary (Spanish-English, English-Spanish) (Oxford: OUP)
  • Wordreference:
  • Diccionario de la lengua española (Real Academia Española). Available online on: