Sunday, October 16, 2011

Syllabus, OLLI Fall term, 2011

Speedy Spanish 2
Profesora Teri Coppedge

Students will be able to understand basic spoken and written Spanish, with limited vocabulary, in common situations. They will be able to ask simple questions, narrate short stories, and manage basic conversations. Students will acquire the most commonly used words of Spanish.
The methodology of this class is based largely on second language acquisition research by Dr. Stephen Krashen, Dr. Tracy Terrell and Dr. James Asher, among others, and on practical language teaching practices developed by Mr. Blaine Ray and continually refined and expanded by numerous other instructors in daily classroom learning situations.

Terrell and Krashen first developed the Natural Approach in 1977, and Krashen is still exploring and expanding his research. Essentially, the centerpiece of this theory is the Comprehension Hypothesis: that we acquire language only when we understand messages – and when we are “ready” to acquire the language.

Thus, in this class I will give you “comprehensible input”--that is, you will understand everything I say and write. If you do not understand, your job as a student is to let me know and I will make it comprehensible to you. I will use translation, gestures, props, context clues and pictures.

Dr. James Asher developed TPR (Total Physical Response), which involves learning another language through actions. This can be great fun and is very effective when the meaning of the gestures and actions is clear. We will use this often. The game “Simon Says” is similar to TPR.

Mr. Blaine Ray, a Spanish teacher, developed TPRS (Total Physical Response Storytelling) as an expansion of TPR in the early 1990´s, when I first heard about it. TPRS takes the physical actions and incorporates them into more complex contexts such as stories, narratives and dramas. TPRS provides context, comprehensible input, natural language, and lots of repetition to help everyone learn quickly. (Other practitioners refer to TPRS as Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling.)

Plan of the class:
Each day I will introduce a few new words or phrases, we will incorporate them into telling a story with your help and ideas, and then we will read a story that uses the same words. You will have ample opportunity to hear and see each word many times so that you can acquire it. Our stories will be based in the Spanish-speaking world. We will also enjoy music, play games and watch videos. We may start reading a short novel, but will probably not finish it in class. Rather than studying a traditional grammar textbook, you will be acquiring grammar structures and vocabulary every day.
We will be combining many aspects of the language in each lesson. It is difficult to separate these and tell you exactly what we will be doing every single day. Student interests and abilities will influence the course of study.

Since this class is intended for those with at least some knowledge of Spanish, we will tell the stories in the present tense and read them in the past tense(s), as needed for the sense of the story.

Please attempt to follow this approach: it works and it’s fun! Of course, it does require paying attention, asking for help, and being willing to volunteer! Don’t worry – I am here to help you, you can help each other, we’re all in this together, there are no grades, and you WILL acquire some Spanish.

More information:
If you are interested in learning more about language acquisition theory, you may visit Dr. Krashen’s site at
The following two sites are designed mostly for teachers, but other materials and information are available. (Blaine Ray’s site) (Carol Gaab’s site)
If you are interested in other Spanish-study opportunities, you might try:
and many more.

¡Bienvenidos a la clase de español!
I look forward to working with you.
- Teri Coppedge (also called “miss Teri”, “maestra”, “profesora”, or “profe”)


  1. Quizás conoces de estas fuentes:

    Hasta el momento la herramienta más útil para mí ha sido
    Uno puede discutir la gramática y el vocabulario con hablantes nativos de todo el mundo.

    También utilizo Google Translate, como una guía,
    pero el significado es a menudo mal y debe corregirse.

    Y acabo de encontrar un sitio, aparentemente gratuito, que parece prometedor:

  2. Qué sí, también me gusta muchísimo Gracias por mencionarla. Google Translate tiene problemas, pero sirve para algo.