Cristina Sanz

School of Foreign Service Spanish Program

Language Program Director. As LPD of both the School of Foreign Service (SFS) and Intensive Spanish Programs, I am responsible for three levels of language education and seven different syllabi, all implemented every semester. I supervise the administration of the Spanish Oral Proficiency test to 250+ students per year; select and prepare pedagogical and assessment materials; supervise instructors and coordinators of the program, and educate instructors. I also serve as a bridge between the Deans Offices, the Chair, and the Spanish instructors responsible for the courses.

Please scroll down for information on the Oral Proficiency Test and Course Descriptions

SFS and MSFS Spanish Proficiency Exams

I. FAQs
1. When?
  Exams take place three weeks before the end of classes in the Fall and in the Spring semesters. Registration takes place right after midterms. Please check the Department's web page for exact dates. The exam is also offered the last week of classes in the Quito, Barcelona and Georgetown on campus Summer Programs only for students registered in those programs.
2. How?  You have to come to the Spanish and Portuguese Department (ICC, 4th floor) to sign up (the sheets are located at the front desk). Expect a message from the program administrators with instructions and relevant information after you register. **Students who do not come 20 minutes before their scheduled exam time, or who do not come at all, will have to pay a $25 fee. If you wish to cancel an exam time, please do so at least 10 days in advance.

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 are responsible will take the exam at the end of the 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 plan to spend at least one semester abroad do not need to take the exam.

3. Students who are currently registered in any of the four sections of Oral Review (Span161) will take the exam on the day assigned by the registrar's office for the final exam. The faculty of record and another faculty member 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 Advanced II or Intensive Advanced 2 (Latin America in Context) with t heir instructor's WRITTEN permission and an average grade of A/A- in BOTH Advanced 1 and 2. Students who fail the exam must pay the $25 fee and complete SPAN 161 before retaking it.

5. Students are allowed to take the exam twice.

6. Students who wish to consolidate their knowledge of Spanish may take SPAN 151 Spanish Advanced Grammar or SPAN 200 Academic Writing (or both) before taking the exam.

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

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 Spanish 161 (Oral Review).


II. 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.

Course descriptions

SPAN-101 Advanced Spanish I: Spain in Context

The course is characterized by extensive and intensive reading and oral work on topics relating to the culture, civilization, politics, and economy of Spain as well as on current issues, including migration, the transition form dictatorship to democracy, and terrorism ( 60% of the grade depends on content). A history textbook, newspapers and films(without subtitles)are used as spring boards for debates, oral presentations, and position papers. The course includes an intensive review of key topics of Spanish grammar (subjunctive, copula, and tense/aspect distinctions) with an emphasis on improving oral expression, and pushes for the development of a formal, academic and professional lexicon.
Credits: 3 Prerequisites: SPAN-022, or SPAN-032, or Placement Test

SPAN-102 Advanced Spanish II: Latin America in Context

This course further develops the content presented in SPAN-101 and offers a global perspective on four main topics (migration, drug trafficking, democratic transitions, and political violence) contextualized in four specific regions in Latin America (Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia). Through extensive and intensive exposure to real written and oral language, students will acquire key vocabulary and the language that characterizes formal genres. Explicit practice of morphosyntax to develop accuracy beyond fluency is key and assumes knowledge of those structures covered in SPAN-101, including the subjunctive, copula, and tense/aspect distinctions. Credits: 3 Prerequisites: SPAN-101 or Placement Test

SPAN-161 Oral Review: Contemporary Hispanic Cultures

This course is the culmination of the socio-political and linguistic contents covered in SPAN-101 and SPAN-102. The pedagogical goal of the course is to prepare students for the Oral Proficiency Exam. Consequently, it aims at developing formal communicative skills through a variety of task-based activities, including oral presentations, debates, role-play, panels, and round-table discussions. Hispanic films and readings on current events in Spain and Latin America serve as springboards for the oral activities. Credits: 3 Prerequisites: SPAN-102 or Placement Test