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Spanish Language Studies

Offered in Washington DC and Bologna

The Spanish Program offers a unique learning experience for graduate students in the fields of international relations and/or development. Through classroom activities, students are given the opportunity to develop their Spanish skills, and also to incorporate and transfer knowledge from their other academic courses and professional interests. In all the activities, a careful balance is maintained in the development of communication and grammatical accuracy. Students will be exposed to authentic materials related to topics such as IR, politics, the economy, the environment, development, emerging markets, strategic studies, national security, and current events.

Our basic program consists of four courses. We welcome both students who need to take classes to prepare for the school's Language Proficiency Exam (proficiency-track students), and students who are taking Spanish just to benefit from this educational service (non-proficiency-track students). In addition to the basic program, we also offer courses for students who already passed the Spanish language requirement exam (Spanish Proficiency Exam), or for “non-proficiency track” students who are placed at a higher level than the basic language program.

Basic Program

Novice Spanish (Level I)
Novice Spanish is the first in a four-course sequence. In this course you will begin to develop your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in Spanish. Development of these skills is vital for the process of communication. Classes at this level are strongly student-centered and aim at helping students acquire basic vocabulary and lexicon, as well as basic grammar structures, in order to operate on a daily communicative level. Communicative language is the target and students’ autonomy is emphasized.

Intermediate Low Spanish (Level II)
This is the second in a four-course sequence in the Spanish Program. The course objectives are seen in terms of students performing linguistics tasks successfully, gaining self-confidence, relying on themselves and classmates, and expanding their risk-taking in real-life communicative situations. The language students practice in class is realistic –what they would speak in a Spanish-speaking environment. In addition to topics pertaining to everyday language, they will also be introduced to Spanish as a language for specific purposes through a variety of international topics.

Intermediate Mid I Spanish (Level III)
The Intermediate-Mid I Spanish course is third in a four-course sequence. This course provides additional practice to help students attain a higher level of skill development (e.g., listening, speaking, reading and writing) and linguistic accuracy. The course favors a skill-based approach in which students gain mastery of the language through the use of authentic materials taken from various sources (e.g., periodicals, video and radio documentaries). The selection of the materials is based on the complexity of the tasks and the students' professional and personal interest. At this level students will acquire a deeper knowledge of the language and its culture, as well as economic, political, and social issues.

The teaching of grammar and vocabulary is integrated to the skill-based activities, and it is incorporated in the class activities as an aid to overcome any communicative problems. The teaching techniques are student-centered, with the instructor as the facilitator, and the goal of teaching to make students independent users of Spanish.

Intermediate Mid II Spanish (Level IV)
This course will offer an in-depth review of grammar topics in Spanish that continue to cause difficulties for the foreign language learner: the preterite-imperfect contrast, comparatives, "ser" and "estar", the clitic pronouns, the use of the subjunctive, "por" and "para". A program of vocabulary building will be incorporated into the course. It is important to realize, however, that vocabulary and grammar are means to an end; knowing the definition of vocabulary items or being able to recite grammar rules is not using the language. Therefore, the review will be accomplished through a variety of activities in speaking, reading, listening, and writing. In this way, the students will improve their knowledge of grammar and their proficiency in these necessary language skills. The teaching activities are student-centered, with the instructor serving as facilitator. The goal of this course is to make students independent users of Spanish.

Optional Courses

In addition to the Basic Program, we also provide Advanced-level courses whose level is beyond the school's minimum language requirement. These courses are offered at a higher level of proficiency, starting from Intermediate High and above. The content is tailored to the students’ professional needs (e.g., Spanish for Economics, the language of diplomacy, etc.). In these courses, students will expand their specialized language skills, while engaging in simulations and class debates. They will also refine their writing and presentational skills while reinforcing accuracy, clarity, and precision.

Spanish can be used to meet the MA language graduation requirements of the programs within the international policy areas and the regional programs of Latin American Studies and European Studies. In order to pass the exams, students need to obtain the following levels:

Listening: Intermediate High
Speaking: Intermediate High
Reading: Intermediate High
Writing: Intermediate Mid

PhD students only need to pass the reading proficiency exam to meet their second foreign language graduation requirement.