“Spanish for Communication” is offered as an alternative to the traditional program, which will continue to be an option for those who prefer a more grammar-oriented approach.
“Spanish for Communication” is designed to meet the needs of those whose ministry is primarily focused on “service” in local communities and specialized ministries, such as, providing food and health care to the poor and indigent, caring for children at risk and conducting building programs.
The course may also be appropriate in the following situations:
- Learners who are coming to cross-cultural missions as a second career.
- Learners with limited time or limited funding available for language study.
- Learners with hearing loss, memory limitations or other learning needs that are not met effectively in a traditional academic setting.
“Spanish for Communication” employs the communicative method of teaching, where content is organized around concepts and functions, rather than grammatical structures. For example, the concept of “shopping” requires several functions including: asking the price, finding out about the product’s characteristics and haggling over the price. On the other hand, the concept of “party” requires such functions as meeting and greeting people and conversing with them about mutual interests or hobbies.
Since the intent of the Communicative Method is to help students develop their ability to communicate effectively in different social contexts, emphasis is placed on thinking about the communication process more than the language, per se.
Classroom activities are designed to increase students’ confidence and fluency. Learners work in pairs or in groups on tasks that require negotiation and cooperation. Language learned in the classroom is related to normal, everyday tasks, along with students’ personal needs and interests.
Some of the activities used include:
- Simulation games (role playing)
- Exchanging information
- Playing games
- Conducting polls
- Learning by teaching
Instead of emphasizing the correct use of grammatical structures, the communicative track is focused on achieving a level of assertive communication in daily life, including family, work, community and church environments. Special emphasis is given to understanding culture.
Progress in language learning is evaluated on the basis of how well students develop their “communicative competence,” or ability, not only to use the conventional aspects of language, but also to apply sociolinguistic skills to communicate appropriately, according to cultural standards and the social context.
Description of the “Spanish for Communication” Track
The course may be taken for one to three trimesters. Classroom activities will last four hours a day. A slightly different system of evaluation will be used to assess progress. There will be exams, but these will be less frequent and not as complex as the traditional testing process. Students will still be required to do homework but to a lesser degree.