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Don Quijote - Puerto de la Cruz, Spain  


 

Course Descriptions

Methodology

Generally speaking, the system of education employed by DQ can be summarized as the communicative method. The essential characteristics of DQ's communicative method are:

* Instruction predominantly focused on practicality.
* Interactive learning between students and instructors.
* Learning oriented toward communication as a message bearer.

Groups, Levels and Placement

Four levels of study are offered:

* Beginner
* Elementary
* Intermediate
* Advanced

All levels are taught in the didactic register within the linguistic functions which allow it, maintaining a formal register as much as an informal and familiar one. In all Spanish classes, the maximum number of students in one classroom is eight.

In every group and course, students receive linguistic material appropriate to their level of Spanish, always in line with the four official levels of Spanish taught. The Elementary level exceeds the “level of survival” and the Intermediate level exceeds the “threshold level”, described by the European Council and whose objectives have served as a reference for demarcating the objectives of each level. In academic practice, they manifest themselves in even more specific sub-levels, sometimes arriving at three subdivisions for each level. In order to guarantee correct placement in the appropriate level of Spanish, the school has developed its own written test as a complement to the individual oral interview which is taken at 8:00 AM on the first Monday of class.

Communicative Objectives for Each Level

* Beginner: Assimilate the basic linguistic-cultural elements of Spanish in order to be able to communicate in the most common situations of daily life and to be able to produce and understand, in predictable situations, short sentences referring to basic necessities and courtesies.

* Elementary: Acquire the capacity to express oneself, although with difficulty, in basic situations of daily life in a spontaneous manner and with real autonomy.

* Intermediate: Acquire a good grasp of the language in order to successfully handle oneself in the greater part of the communicative and social situations of daily life.

* Advanced: Enrich the possibilities of the use of the language, eliminate or diminish the majority of possible existent deficiencies in the student´s use of the Spanish language, and reach a greater level of correctness in the linguistic uses, as much in pronunciation as in intonation of the language, such as asking questions and responding without difficulty to native speakers.

Components of the Contents of Each Level

1. The thematic fields.
2. The contexts in which communication is developed.
3. The necessary concrete linguistic functions.
4. The linguistic registers implicated in the realization of these functions.
5. The necessary and appropriate vocabulary for the realization of the selected linguistic functions, and in order to amply cover each thematic field.
6. The required grammar (morphologic, syntactic, phonetic, and orthographic aspects) for, and always subordinate to, communication itself in each thematic field and in linguistic functions and registers.
7. All aspects derived from cultural factors more than linguistic:
* The different semantic interpretations. This aspect is particularly important in the teaching/learning of a language. Passing over this aspect can cause confusions, and, sometimes, anywhere from unpleasant to ridiculous situations for those who learn a language (think of, for example, the forms and formulae of courtesy in different countries and cultures).
* The double meaning of determined words and expressions depending upon the context in which they are used.
* The gestures and attitudes which accompany or complement each linguistic function.
* The intonation of the sentence, an aspect which, as the aforementioned, is often forgotten in teaching Spanish.

All skills in all levels are attend to in the following order:

1. Oral comprehension/expression
2. Written comprehension/expression
3. Grammar and vocabulary

Approximate duration of of courses in hours required to pass each level:

* Beginners: 60
* Elementary: 60
* Intermediate: 160
* Advanced: 240

Evaluation Schedule

* Continual, meaning at the end of each didactic unit.
* The end of each level.

Class Schedule

In the case of the Intensive Course of Spanish of twenty (20) hours a week, the class schedule can be either in the morning or the afternoon. This depends upon various circumstances: current number of groups, the level of the student, etc., although the school does take into account the individual preferences of each student as much as possible.

In the case of the Superintensive Course of Spanish of thirty (30) hours a week, the distribution is the following: four (4) hours in the morning and two (2) in the afternoon.

In the case of special courses: Spanish classes in the morning, and the special class in the afternoon.

Materials of Study and Homework

At the beginning and throughout the course the student gratuitously receives all of the didactic material necessary which will help him or her to develop the knowledge and use of Spanish in all that corresponds to speaking, understanding, reading, and writing, (such as the knowledge-understanding of the forms of Spanish life).

Through various activities, practices and exercises, designed for each level of the language, the student gradually acquires and develops the necessary strategies to understand and produce messages in Spanish, oral as much as written.

The proper exploitation of one part of these materials is to study outside the classroom. To this individual work, the student has to dedicate approximately one hour daily.

Faculty & Staff

The administration knows that it is not possible to offer a serious and effective course if a team of authentic professionals is not taken into serious consideration. Thus, all of their professors have diplomas in Spanish philology, with robust experience and professional formation oriented toward teaching Spanish to foreigners.

The entire team has

* A clear consciousness of the fact that the protagonist of the class is the student and not the professor.
* A great capacity to motivate the students and awake in them a curiosity-interest-fondness for the Spanish language and culture.
* A firm conviction that the process of learning/teaching a language does not finish in the classroom, but continues on the outside. Because of this, the professors orient and help the students in their journey to understanding this essential factor in the learning process.
* A great enthusiasm for their work.

These characteristics, common to all, do not translate themselves into a homogeneous and one-voiced group. Each professor has a personality and a way of motivating the student completely different from the others. This makes for a positively heterogeneous group, despite having the same teaching method.

 
 

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