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SPB1: Use of Spanish

This paper aims to help you 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 skills. The paper builds upon your prior knowledge of the language, acquired in your A-Level (or equivalent) course or in the Cambridge ab initio course.

Aims and objectives: 

If you attend all classes and complete all the set work, by the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Write in Spanish with a very high level of accuracy, both in simple and more complex structures.
  • Have the vocabulary to discuss topics of general (non specialised) nature with a good level of precision.
  • Have an awareness of register, even though you may not always reflect this aspect adequately in your linguistic choices.
  • Understand intermediate and advanced level texts of a general (non specialised) nature.
  • Translate authentic non-specialist texts from English into Spanish showing some sensitivity to the natural flow of the language, even though certain difficult words may need to be paraphrased.
  • Have familiarity with some aspects of the culture of the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Meet the standards of Level B2 (and some of Level C1) of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
Course materials: 

You will need to obtain a copy of the following book: 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.

This course has a Moodle website where you will find most course materials, including the syllabus, grammar sheets, worksheets, links to extension material on the web and other resources. You will find past papers and exam reports on the MML Moodle website.

You can find a list of recommended reference works here.

Teaching and learning: 

This paper is taught in a weekly class. The class is designed to encourage the active use of the language in reaction to both spoken and written Spanish. Your knowledge of grammar and syntax will be reinforced and built upon, and you will be shown how to extend your vocabulary and improve your writing style.

In addition, you will be offered a Language with Oral Component supervision by your College to support the work done in class and to prepare you for the B Oral exam.

The Moodle site for SPB1 can be found here. Please contact the paper coordinator for the enrolment password.


This paper is assessed in a three-hour exam. The exam consists of a variety of linguistic exercises, divided into two sections:

Section A (45%): grammatical exercises and a translation from English into Spanish (a passage of 150-200 words).

Section B (55%): a text in Spanish (700 words maximum) with related vocabulary and writing questions to test your reading comprehension skills and ability to summarise and write an argued response to the text.

The exam is designed to assess:

  • Your understanding of grammar, syntax and vocabulary;
  • Your translation skills;
  • Your reading comprehension skills;
  • Your ability to summarise an argument clearly;
  • Your ability to respond critically to a text;
  • Your inventiveness with writing and argumentative skills by means of a guided composition in reaction to a text.
Course Contacts: 
Dr Ángeles Carreres