Spanish 452: Advanced Composition in Spanish

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Spanish 302: Advanced Composition

Fall 2012
Office Hours: Tuesday:



or by appointment, at



Febles, Jorge & Carolyn Harris. Por escrito. De la palabra a la composicion. Pearson 2nd Edition.

Allen G. Thomas. Workbook. Repase y escriba. Curso avanzado de gramatica y composicion. Wiley 6th edition.
A Spanish-Spanish dictionary should be brought to every class. (The Diccionario of Real Academia Espanola will be the best)
Kendris, Christopher. 501 Spanish Verbs. New York: Barron’s. Latest edition.
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.
Course Description:

This course consists of two components:  the practice of the more complex aspects of Spanish grammar, and the development of effective writing skills.  Students will engage in both informal and formal writing, and will practice the forms and processes of writing used in professions related to the Spanish language field, and in creative writing in Spanish. 

Students will maintain a portfolio of their work, including informal pre-writing and brainstorming activities, drafts and final essays, grammar exercises. 
In-class activities will include communicative activities in applying grammar to speaking skills, and may involve debates, contests, games, video, presentations, and other interactive activities. 
Course Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Write effectively at the ACTFL Advanced level, presenting information, concepts and ideas on a variety of topics, using the four major modes of writing:  description, narration, exposition (analysis, classification, comparison/contrast, cause/effect), argumentation. (Standards  1.3;  2;  3;  4.2)

2.  Take notes in Spanish from written texts and from oral sources for use in

formulating and expressing their own ideas. (Standards  1.2,  2;  3)

3.  Use complex structures of Spanish grammar in contextualized exercises

with consistency; use these structures in composition with some

inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Produce writing that is generally

comprehensible to native readers. (Standards 1.3;  4.1)


Participation and attendance: are of the utmost importance. You must attend all classes, be on time for them, and be prepared for them. Frequently you will be asked to work in a group, edit a classmate’s composition and to do Web research in class.
Homework: All class assignments are due on the day indicated on the syllabus and must be turned in during class, not through e-mail or other means. Extensions cannot be granted.
Compositions: You are required to write 4 compositions of two pages each according to instructions that will be made explicit to you on a guide sheet and in class. Except for composition #1, which will entail only two drafts, each of your compositions will include: a first draft that will be edited by a classmate, a second one that will be edited by me, and a final one that I will grade.

  • Participation: 15%

  • Homework: 15 %

  • Compositions: 10% each

  • Midterm: 15%

  • Final: 15 %

Presentation of Written Assignments:

All graded assignments must be according to the following guidelines:

  • 1st draft will be hand written.

  • Each paper should have your name, course number, the date, and a title.

  • Double-space the text and use legible black ink.

  • Staple multiple pages and hand in all previous drafts with the final copy.

  • Do not plagiarize, use translation programs, turn in work used for previous classes or submit a paper without accents. If you have a PC you can use:

á = alt + 160 ü = alt + 129

é = alt + 130 ñ = alt + 164

í = alt + 161 ¡ = alt + 173

ó = alt + 162 ¿ = alt + 168

ú = alt + 163
Honor Code:

All work must be your own. Please do not have others edit your papers. You are expected to abide by the Honor System and Code as it appears in The Citadel Undergraduate Catalog. Honor Code violations will not be tolerated.
Instructor’s Policies:

  • You are responsible for remembering to hand in assignments at the beginning of class and for keeping up-to-date with deadlines of the syllabus.

  • No late assignments will be accepted. Final versions received more than 24 hours after the due date will be penalized one letter grade.

  • If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me.

  • Please do not eat or drink during class.

  • You should communicate in Spanish at all times.

Tentative Course Schedule:

Although this schedule contains the principal coursework, additional reading assignments will be given. Please note that this schedule is subject to change per my discretion.


Jan. 23

Jan. 25

Introduction to course. Foucault, discourse and institutions. The new “work order” and how we are to fit within it.
In class activity.
Homework: Research discourses of “flexibility” and the “information age” on the web to share in class.
Business letters and curriculum vitae (resumés) in the “information age.” Etiquette and the politics of presentation.
Homework: Write first draft of your cover letter & CV, due in class Tuesday

Jan. 30

Feb. 1

First draft of cover letter and CV to share with classmates. Introduction to the fields of communications. Media in the information age: the discourse of “unification” in Univisión (Lalo Alvarez “La cucaracha” cartoon); small group research on alternative media sites (, etc.) and local media.

Homework: Prepare second draft of cover letter and cv for Thurs.
Second draft of cover letter and CV due.

In class: Share small group research on alternative and local media. Compare and contrast these with “universal” medias like Univisión.

Homework: Read article on Elián González and photojournalism, Compare and contrast with Lalo Alvarez cartoons, ---> archives --> Elian

Feb. 6

Feb. 8

Discuss article and cartoons. Discuss the role of the journalist. Consider: “La cultura y su periodismo” by Fidela Navarro Rodríguez, en (bajo “sala de artículos”, vol. 2 (febrero 2004). Discuss in pairs and share with class.
Homework: Research comparing and contrasting journalism on Hugo Chávez: one Latin American, one Latino, one Spanish peninsular
Share versions on Chávez in class. Distribution of guidelines on #2 composition.
Homework: write first draft of composition #2, concerning media discourses, to share with peers on Tuesday

Feb. 13

Feb. 15

Peer editing of compositions.
Homework: Second copy of composition #2, due in class Thursday.
2nd draft of composition #2 due. After I return these drafts next week, your final draft of #2 will be due on February 27.
Introduction to the work of social services. Selections from movie “Raising Victor Vargas.” History of the settlement house in the urban United States. Discussion of the discourses of “service” and “welfare” in the United States.
Homework: Read “Sin Provecho: Latinos and Food Insecurity,” on (bajo “Publications” --> “Sin Provecho” --> “Resumen ejecutivo”). Consider: larger social problems facing Latinos today.

Feb 20

Feb. 22

Feb. 27

Mar. 1

Discussion of reading. Compare and contrast reading with ideologies on Latinos and social welfare.
Distribution of guidelines for 3rd composition.

In class: Find another article in Spanish concerning health and family support for Latinos on the La Raza website ( Search “Topics” -> “Health and Family Support” -> “Related News Items”.
Final draft of #2 communications composition due.

In class: Discuss research.
Homework: Write first draft of your #3 social services composition.
In class: Peer editing on #3 social services composition.
Homework: Second draft of #3 social services composition, due March 1 in class.

Mar. 1

Mar. 6 and Mar. 8

Second draft of #3 social services composition due. After I return this draft next week your final revision will be due on Tuesday, March 20 (after spring break) in class.
In class: Introduction to Spanish, tourism, and study abroad discourses. Discuss media representations of “islands” and “jungles.” Movie “Men With Guns.” Link its images of tourists and travel with our earlier discussion.
Homework: Investigate one website on “Lost” or “Survivor.”
Discuss websites. In groups, investigate new phenomenon on “study abroad” for university students. What is the language used to explain this phenomenon? Share in larger class discussion.
Homework: Final revision of social services composition, due Tuesday, March 22, after spring break.

March 11-18

Spring Break

Mar 20

Mar 22

Final revision of #3 social services composition due in class.
In class: Return to discussion on tourism and study abroad. Read in class Professor Jennifer Leeman’s article “Ideologías y prácticas en la enseñanza del español” (copy provided by me). Compare with the discourse on language study on the study abroad websites.
Homework: Write first draft of #4 tourism composition: “Why Study Abroad?” for peer review on Thursday.
In class: Peer editing of #4 tourism composition.
Homework: Finish second draft of #4 tourism composition, due Tuesday in class.

Mar 27

Mar 29

Second draft of #4 tourism composition due. After I return this draft next week, your final revision will be due on Thursday, April 12 in class.

In class: Introduction to Spanish in the workplace of education.

Research in groups the discourse of language regulators like the Instituto Cervantes and the Real Academia del Español. Read: “El español sin fronteras” at; and the arguments of the RAE online. Discuss with class issues of “universal” Spanish promotion versus local usage.

Homework: Read and come prepared to discuss Carlos Monsiváis, “Ahí está el detalle,” en


Discussion of article.
In class: Movie of “Tin-Tan.”
Homework: Begin Web research on problems in education work in Spanish (see La Raza: --> “related news items” for many articles in Spanish; also “La educación bilingüe en los EEUU” en Please bring one article to share with the class on Tuesday.

April 3
April 5

April 10

April 12

April 17

April 19

April 24

April 26

May 1
May 3

May 10

In class: Share texts from the internet on education issues. Continue discussion of education work in Spanish: discourses of “English-only” vs. bilingual education.
Homework: first draft of #5 education composition: autobiography on your schooling in language and composition, due on Thursday for peer review in class.

In class: Peer editing of #5 education composition.
Homework: Second draft of #5 education composition, due Tuesday, April 17 in class.

Second draft of #5 education composition due. After I return this draft next week, your final draft of #5 will be due on May 1st.

In class: Introduction to the workplace of civil rights.

Final draft of #4 tourism composition due.
In class: Read and discuss Alejandro Portes, “America 2050:. Immigration and the Hourglass,”
que se encuentra en
Homework: Read “On the Corner: Executive Summary (Spanish)”at
In class: Discuss reading. In groups, do web search online at La Raza (bajo “topics” --> “civil rights and justice” or “immigration”) for articles concerning justice and civil rights.
Homework: Read your article again and prepare for its discussion in class Thursday.

In class: Discuss articles. Distribution of guidelines for #6 civil rights composition.
Homework: Do first draft of #6 civil rights composition for peer editing on Tuesday.
In class: Peer editing of #6 civil rights composition.
Homework: 2nd draft of #6 civil rights composition, due Thursday in class.

2nd draft of #6 civil rights composition due. When I return this draft next week your final draft of #6 will be due on the day of the final in my office.

Final draft of #5 education composition due.

In class: TBA.
Wrap-up of discourses and workplaces.
Final draft of last composition due, in MCL office 233 Thompson Hall.

Peer Editing Worksheet

Read each rough draft carefully, making comments as necessary in the margins of the essay. Try to keep a balance between positive comments and constructive criticism, remembering that too much of the first is useless and too much of the second is harmful. After commenting on the essay, answer the following questions on this sheet, sign the back, and attach it to the original draft. Take the time to constructively answer these questions. Think to yourself: what would I like to know about improving this essay, if it were mine?

PURPOSE What is the writer trying to accomplish in this essay?

THESIS What is the thesis of the draft? Can you think of any ways to make the thesis stronger or better focused? Look for terms that need to be defined or questions such as how? why? what kind? so what?--that still need to be answered.

STRUCTURE Is there an easy flow to the essay? Does one paragraph move smoothly into the next?

TEXTUAL SUPPORT Does the author provide enough specific relevant examples to support his/her assertions? Is there enough analysis and explanation? Can you suggest more evidence to support one of the author's points?

MECHANICS Are there any mechanical errors that occur frequently?

RESULTS Does the essay accomplish what it sets out to do?

Respectfully reviewed by:


(Note: if you have the same error repeated throughout the paper, I might only indicate it the first couple of times. It’s up to you to find and correct it wherever it occurs.)
Circled – Error of FORM. You have the right word, but wrong form.

This might be:

- Wrong verb tense (in this case usually the whole word will be circled)

- Verb conjugation doesn’t match subject

- Error of agreement (gender and/or number) with noun and its adjective or article

- Wrong part of speech, e.g. you have the noun but need the verb.

- Misspelling, including missing accent
Underlined – Error of VOCAB. You have the wrong word or expression.
If a group of words is underlined, it means the whole expression is wrong. This usually happens when you translate a whole idea word for word. Try to find/think of an equivalent expression that conveys the same idea, rather than a word for word translation.
Insert symbol (^) – Here you have a word missing, usually an article (un, la, los, etc.) or a preposition (de, a, por, etc).
Also, students very often omit que [that] when it’s used as a conjunction or relative pronoun:

Espero que te guste. I hope (that) you like it.

el coche que quiero… the car (that) I want…

Unlike ‘that’ in English, que in these cases is NOT optional.

Question mark (??) – This means I don’t understand what it is you’re trying to say.
inf- use infinitive SUBJ.- use subjunctive

P.P.- use past participle IMP. SUBJ.- use imperfect subjunctive

COND.- use conditional IMP.- use imperfect

PRET.- use preterite

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