Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What am I going to learn when I register in a Spanish course? 

The learning goals of the department can be clearly divided in three: Those belonging to the language program, the ones set for the upper level courses taken by the majors and the graduate program

I. Language Program: What students graduating from the Spanish Language Programs can do.

  • Comprehension: The student understands the content of oral or written text on current events and shows ability to 1) summarize a given text in a cohesive and coherent manner without prompting, 2) produce a statement summarizing his/her own view of the event, and 3) answer follow up questions showing both ability to comprehend and prior knowledge on general encyclopedic points related to the content of the article.
  • Grammar: The student shows ability to both narrate and describe events producing paragraph-length discourse in all major time frames (past, present, and future). S/he may have problems regarding the use of ser/estar, subjunctive and preterit/imperfect contrasts but they should not interfere with comprehension. The reference point for ‘comprehension’ is the native speaker monolingual not used to exchanges with non-native speakers.
  • Vocabulary/ Professional Vocabulary: Vocabulary may be generic in nature when dealing with personal topics, but the student shows command of professional, specialized lexicon when dealing with topics of interest (such as US and international economy, politics, and/or societal issues). Circumlocution and rephrasing are to be expected.
  • Speech/Written output: Speech is clear and does not lead to confusion. Pronunciation, lexicon, grammar and paragraph structure is not so faulty as to prevent comprehension by native speakers unaccustomed to interacting with non-native speakers. Discourse may still reflect the oral paragraph structure of the student’s own language rather than that of the target language. In preparation for upper division courses, students have moved from description and narration to develop different styles of writing, especially argumentative texts, with vocabulary and concepts that apply to literature, culture or linguistics.
  • Knowledge of Subject Matter: The student shows knowledge of the geography, customs, socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures as well as the history of Latin America and Spain. S/he is aware of and knowledgeable about the past and present status of the relationship between those countries and the United States as well as current issues of importance in the Spanish-speaking world.
    Language Programs Assessment
  • Oral exams (individual, in pairs, debate): graded on content, comprehensibility, and accuracy.
  • Oral presentations: graded on fluency, content, comprehensibility and accuracy.
  • Written exams include the following sections: reading and listening comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, cultural content, and composition. Multiple choice/bubbling always avoided: students write short (1 word-1 sentence) or long (500 words) answers.
  • Compositions (out of class): 2000 words, graded on content, comprehensibility, cohesion, coherence, and accuracy.
  • In-class participation, primarily based on student preparation and contribution to the class session.

Q: Whom should I contact to declare a Spanish major or minor?
A: You should speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Tania Gentic, by email here or (202)687-6134.

Q: Whom should I contact to declare a Portuguese major or minor?
A: You should contact the Director of Portuguese Studies, Prof. Vivaldo Santos, by email here or (202) 687-5694.

Q: Whom should I contact about placement in the appropriate Spanish course?
A: You should contact Prof. Annie Thinglum.

Q: How and when can I take the Spanish Oral Proficiency Examination?
A: See the Spanish Proficiency and Placement Exam menu

Q: Whom should I contact about the Portuguese Oral Proficiency Examination?
A: You should contact the Director of Portuguese Studies, Prof. Vivaldo Santos, by email here or (202) 687-5694.

Q: Whom should I contact about getting a native-speaker certificate?
A: You can make an appointment for the native-speaker interview by e-mailing a request to Prof. Annie Thinglum

Q: Whom should I contact about transferring credits from courses taken abroad?
A: Spanish majors should speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Tania Gentic. Spanish minors should also contact Dr. Gentic here or at (202) 687-6134.

Q: Whom should I contact about approval for my study abroad proposal?
A: Spanish majors should speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Tania Gentic. Spanish minors should contact Dr. Gentic here or (202)687-6134.

Q: Whom should I contact if I’m interested in doing the Senior Honors Thesis?
A: You should contact Prof. Veronica Salles-Reese, the Department’s Honors Thesis Coordinator, by email here or (202) 687-5884.

Q: Whom should I contact if I’m interested in the Master’s or PhD programs?
A: You should contact Prof. Ronald Leow here for students interested in the Linguistics Program and Prof. Alejandro Yarza here for students interested in the Literature & Culture Program.

Q: Whom should I contact if I feel that I am not enrolled in the appropriate Spanish course?
A: You should discuss your concerns with your instructor, who will consult the coordinator of your current course. If the concern remains unresolved, you can contact the coordinator directly. Please consult the table below for contact information of the appropriate language program coordinators.

 
Courses Coordinator Email / Office Location
Intro. and Beginning Spanish Tris Faulkner tjf70@georgetown.edu / ICC 442
Intensive Basic & Intermediate Meagan Driver myd7@georgetown.edu / ICC 458
Intermediate I & II  Annie Ornelles aco47@georgetown.edu / ICC 442
Advanced I & II Ross Karlan rmk65@georgetown.edu / ICC 442
Intensive Adv. I & II Leah Adelson lma128@georgetown.edu / ICC 458
SFS courses Anne Thinglum amc254@georgetown.edu

***If the coordinator is unable to resolve the problem, they consult the language program director. Please consult the table below for contact information of the appropriate director.

Courses Director Email / Office Location/ Phone #
SPAN 011, 032, 111, 112, 101, 102, 161 Anne Thinglum amc254@georgetown.edu / ICC 436
SPAN 001, 003, 004, 021, 022, 103, 104

Chrissy Bistline-Bonilla (Interim, Fall)

Prof. Ronald Leow

ceb260@georgetown.edu / ICC 411

leowr@georgetown.edu/ ICC 411 / 202-687-5840

In the unlikely case that the language program directors are unable to resolve your concerns, you can contact the Department Chair, Prof. Cristina Sanz via e-mail at sanzc@georgetown.edu.

Q: How can I practice my Spanish outside of the classroom?
A: You can come by the the Spanish Coffee hour held on Wednesdays in the Department during the semester if you would like to practice speaking with other students, graduate students and professors in a relaxed atmosphere with cookies and coffee.

Q: How and when can I sign up to take the Spanish Proficiency exam?
A: Please view the Testing menu.

Q: Who are important people in the Spanish & Portuguese Department?
A: Cristina Sanz- Department Chair
Alejandro Yarza- Director of Graduate Studies Literature & Culture
Ronald Leow- Director of Graduate Studies Linguistics
Tania Gentic – Director of Undergraduate Studies
Vivaldo Santos- Director of Portuguese Studies

Q: Whom should I contact if I am in need of a tutor?
A: Please contact the Academic Resource Center for information on free tutoring for intro and intermediate levels. The Department keeps a list of tutors but is not responsible for their performance.

Spanish Oral Proficiency Exam for SFS & MSFS students

1. When?  The Spanish Proficiency Exam is offered every Spring and Fall semester, about 3 weeks before the last week of classes.

2. How?  When the dates are posted, you will be able to fill out a Google Calendar Appointment form to reserve a slot for your exam.

*If you reserve more than one slot, your appointment will be cancelled. To change the time and day of your slot, cancel your original appointment and select a new appointment from the slots still available.

Expect a message from the program administrators with instructions and relevant information once the registration period has ended. **Students who do not arrive 20 minutes before their scheduled exam time, or who do not show up at all, will have to pay a $25 fee when when they register for the second time. If you wish to cancel an exam time, please do so at least 10 days in advance.

Visit the Testing menu for more information about the exam.

 

3. Who? The Spanish proficiency exams are administered ONLY to graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Foreign Service.

***This is relevant information regarding who can sign up to take the exams:
1. Students who plan to go abroad in one of the two summer programs for which the Spanish & Portuguese Department is responsible will take the exam at the end of the abroad program. The two programs that offer exams are Quito and Barcelona; they offer exams to SFS students the evening prior to the last day of classes for the program.

2. Students who spend at least one semester abroad in a direct matriculation program do not need to take the exam.

3. Students who are currently registered in any of the four sections of Oral Review (SPAN 161) will take the exam on the day assigned by the registrar’s office for the final exam. Two faculty members will administer the exam.

4. Oral Review prepares the students for the Proficiency Exam which will complete their language requirement for graduation. Students may first attempt to take the Proficiency Exam after completion of SPAN 102 (Advanced Spanish: Transatlantic II) or SPAN 110 (Intensive Advanced Spanish: Transatlantic) with a grade of B+ or higher in BOTH Advanced I (SPAN 101) and Advanced II (SPAN 102), or in Intensive Advanced (SPAN 110). Students in Advanced II need their instructor’s WRITTEN permission confirming that on average, at time of exam registration, the students’ grade in Advanced II or Intensive Advanced is at least a B+. Students who fail the exam must pay the $25 fee and complete SPAN 161 or another advanced course before retaking it. This means that students must plan well ahead and attempt to pass the exam two semesters before graduation at the latest.

5. Students who take the Department of Spanish and Portuguese’s Spanish Language Placement Exam and place into SPAN-200 or above may take the oral proficiency exam at any point. Students who place into SPAN-161 and who do not meet any of the abovementioned criteria are advised to matriculate into SPAN-161 before taking the proficiency exam.

6.Students are allowed to take the exam only twice. See School of Foreign Service policies for more details..

4. What? The exam consists of a 20-minute interview with two exam administrators.
It is divided into three parts:
1. Warm-up. During this short period, the examiners try their best to make the examinee comfortable by asking him/her questions on the here and now

2. Nucleus (15 minutes). The examinee summarizes the content of the article that s/he has read just before the exam, thus demonstrating reading comprehension skills. The examinee should demonstrate ability to situate the news within a historical perspective, and draw parallels with similar issues in other countries, including, but not exclusively, the US. At the end of this section, the examinee should be able to state his/her position on the issue and state the reasons behind that position. Please note dictionaries are not allowed at any time. Also, the text and any notes will be turned in before the interview.

3. Close. The examiners may use this brief period to prompt, prod and push examiners to perform some of the required performance in 2 above. The examiner should, throughout the exam but especially at this point, show command of pragmatics (politeness, turn taking).

Newspaper articles are taken from major Spanish & Latin American newspapers and deal with current issues in the Spanish speaking areas which have, oftentimes, been discussed in the Advanced courses (SPAN 101, SPAN 102, SPAN 110) and in SPAN 161 (Oral Review).

PASS/FAIL REQUIREMENTS
1. Reading Comprehension/Comprehension: The examinee understands the content of a newspaper or magazine article on current events and shows ability to 1) summarize a given text in a cohesive and coherent manner without prompting, 2) produce a statement summarizing his/her own view of the event, and 3) answer follow up questions showing both ability to comprehend and prior knowledge on general encyclopedic points related to the content of the article.

2. Grammar: The examinee shows ability to both narrate and describe events producing paragraph-length discourse in all major time frames (past, present, and future). S/he may have problems regarding the use of ser/estar, subjunctive and preterit/imperfect contrasts but they should not interfere with comprehension. The reference point for ‘comprehension’ is the native speaker monolingual not used to exchanges with non-native speakers.

3. Vocabulary/ Professional Vocabulary: Vocabulary may be primarily generic in nature when dealing with personal topics, but the examinee shows command of professional, specialized lexicon when dealing with topics of interest (such as US and international economy, politics, and/or societal issues). Circumlocution and rephrasing are to be expected.

4. Speech: Speech has to be clear and not lead to confusion. Pronunciation, lexicon, grammar and paragraph structure should not be so faulty as to prevent comprehension by native speakers unaccustomed to interacting with non-native speakers. Discourse may still reflect the oral paragraph structure of the examinee’s own language rather than that of the target language.

5. Knowledge of Subject Matter: The examinee has to show knowledge of the geography, customs, socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures as well as the history of Latin America and Spain. S/he also has to be aware of and knowledgeable about the past and present status of the relationship between those countries and the United States as well as current issues of importance in the Spanish speaking world.

5. How to prepare for the Exam? To prepare for the expected level of  linguistic accuracy and fluency as well as to accumulate the necessary encyclopedic and current knowledge on socio-economic matters related to Latin American and Spain, we strongly encourage enrolling in an SFS language course: 101, 102 or 161, according to your placement and following the guidelines outlined above. For students who meet those guidelines, please click here for more information about the exam.

SPANISH ONLINE PLACEMENT TEST INSTRUCTIONS

In order to take the language placement exam, you must enroll in the “course” on Canvas.

  1. Click here.
  2. Follow prompts to enroll.
  3. Read carefully all the information on the homepage.  
  4. Once you have read the instructions you will find the link for the test at the bottom of the page.
  • Make sure that you have a reliable Internet connection. Set aside ample quiet time before you begin the exam so that you can complete it in one sitting; you will not be able to stop and restart once the exam has launched.
  • Close other programs running on the computer. Avoid distractions; focus only on the exam until it is completed.
  • To begin the exam, click the link only once. It may take some time for the exam to load; give it at least one full minute. If, after clicking once, nothing happens for over a minute, contact the UIS Service Center as soon as possible. Do not click the link multiple times: if you do, you will see a message stating that you have already taken the exam and you will not be able to access it again.
  • Do not use the Back and Forward buttons in your browser to move around within the exam. Use the links and buttons in the exam pages to proceed.
  • Do not click the final “submit” button until you are completely finished with the exam.
  • If you encounter a problem or a technical difficulty that prevents you from finishing the exam, contact the UIS Service Center as soon as possible.

Contact information:
UIS Service Center: 202-687-4949 or help@georgetown.edu.
Spanish Department: Email Professor Anne Thinglum.

Spanish Validation Exam

The Spanish Validation Exam (also known as the Confirmation Exam, NSO placement exam, or proctored exam) is administered the Monday before Fall semester classes begin. Although the Validation Exam may also serve as a placement exam, it is primarily for those students who need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in Spanish for reasons other than placement in a language course.

Portuguese Placement Exam

The Portuguese placement test is conducted at the beginning of the Fall semester, usually 2 days before classes start. It consists of 3 parts: grammar, reading comprehension and a short interview. Questions about the exam can be directed to Prof. Vivaldo Santos, Director of the Portuguese Language Program, here.

PORTUGUESE PROFICIENCY EXAM

The Portuguese Proficiency Exam for SFS, CLAS, MSFS, Business students, and program directors is TBD for the Fall 2019 Semester. Students must sign-up in advance to secure a time slot, the sign-up sheet can be found on the Georgetown Spanish & Portuguese Department’s front desk (ICC 403). Undergraduate students must have taken at least ADVANCED PORTUGUESE II in order to take the exam, with the exception of students who has lived abroad in a Portuguese-speaking country, or are native speakers. Undergraduate and Graduate students must also prove that the proficiency exam is a requirement for their program, not just to add to their Curriculum Vitae.

Students may sign up in the Spanish and Portuguese Department (ICC 403)