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National Curriculum Spanish: What You Will Learn

By Jon, published on 20/02/2018 Blog > Languages > Spanish > What is the Spanish Curriculum Like in National Education Systems?

There are over 70 million second language Spanish speakers in the world, making it one of the most spoken foreign languages. This is primarily because of the standing that Spanish has due to it being the second most spoken native language after Chinese, as well as the fact that it is an official language in 20 countries, primarily in Central and South America.

For English speakers, it doesn’t pose as many problems as languages such as Arabic, Japanese, Russian, and Korean, mainly because it shares the Latin alphabet that we use in English, and certain parts of the grammar are very similar.

The rise of language learning worldwide has seen Spanish become more and more popular. You can choose to learn Spanish with a tutor, at a language school, or even online. But most people’s first encounter with the language of Cervantes is at school as part of their national curriculum.

National education systems generally aim to train students in foreign languages so that they can fend for themselves if they travel abroad.

And although these systems differ across the world, we can see some overall patterns about what level of Spanish is taught at different stages of the national education process.

Learn Spanish Early on in your Education

Your first exposure to learning Spanish will more than likely aim to allow you to understand, write and speak traditional and conversational Spanish.

Spanish vocabulary (Spanish words and phrases), Spanish grammar (adverbs, adjectives, possessive pronouns, personal pronouns, syntax, alphabet…), conjugation (tenses, verbs) and spelling are only one part of linguistic training!

Keep a positive attitude to learning Spanish Learning Spanish from an early age gives you a solid foundation in the language.

This is because learning a foreign language is largely based around spoken training and Spanish conversation. And don’t forget the importance of learning about Spanish and South American culture (literature, painting, history, geography, politics, and civilization)!

Ideally, students should aim to understand, interact, and express themselves in the Spanish language in their goal of fluency. Training in a foreign language opens them up to another culture, and this should not be underestimated throughout the course of your Spanish learning.

In learning Spanish, students will acquire a valuable communication tool to travel or work abroad (particularly the Spanish speaking countries of Europe and Latin America: Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Colombia etc). They will know how to speak to a native speaker easily.

Generally speaking, Spanish in the national curriculum delves deeper into the language, with more frequent training in reading and oral and written expression.

But don’t worry if the country that you live in doesn’t offer Spanish until a lot later on in the education process. You can always take classes with a tutor, but you should make sure that you choose the right Spanish teacher for you.

Spanish Language and Culture: An Indispensable Duo For Becoming Bilingual!

When you are a beginner, studying the Spanish language isn’t just training in grammar rules and verb memorisation all the time!

No, the language of Cervantes and Picasso is before all else a rich civilisation, full of important historic figures including Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo. It comprises beautiful countries and landscapes, from the vibrant Spanish capital of Madrid to the Mexican beaches of Puerto Vallarta.

This is why students, throughout their primary school studies, learn to:

  • Speak about their daily life in Spanish via story telling, explication, description of facts, debates on current events…
  • Communicate verbally using polite, everyday expressions and phrases.
  • Analyze using various materials and resources, such as music, poetry, and films.

The aims of most Spanish teachers center around 3 points:

  1. Study Spanish to express yourself and understand others.
  2. Study Spanish to discover and meet others.
  3. Study Spanish to develop arguments.

These 3 points add to other notions that students must absorb:

  • Everyday Spanish vocabulary to do with meals, time, family, professions, transportation, numbers, distances…
  • The arts: Spanish literature, music, cinema, and art…
  • Geographical points: mountains, rivers, countryside…
  • Heritage: monuments (Alhambra, Sagrada Familia…), Spanish and South American traditions, gastronomy…

All kinds of music and parties are available in Spain Cultures from the Spanish speaking world are very important to the Spanish language. source: visualhunt.com

If you plan on taking your Spanish learning further, perhaps even as far as university, you’ll need supplemental instruction on Spanish literature, and other cultural studies, as well as a more rigorous training in grammar and conversation. Better get those flashcards ready!

Spanish Language Programs for Teenagers

For some students, their Spanish language training won’t start until they are 11 or 12. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn languages beforehand. Spanish language programs for teenagers allow students to improve their linguistic abilities, from verbal to written expression and comprehension, through quizzes and other types of testing.

It is probably at this age that students start to take their first tests in Spanish.

So let’s dive a bit deeper in the depths of this scholastic program, whose final goal is to bring each student closer to fluency of the Spanish language:

  • Spanish alphabet: well yes, Spanish speakers possess their own alphabet accents! There is the famous “tilde,” mainly found over the “n” like this: ñ. And also the double “l” as in “Cómo se llama.”
  • Punctuation: students discover early on that exclamation points and question marks are sometimes inversed in Spanish! Examples: “¡Estoy aquí!” and “¿Cómo te llamas?
  • Hours, dates and seasons
  • Prepositions, adverbs, and connecting words
  • Personal pronouns, the formal voice (USTED and USTEDES in plural).
  • Numbers and adjectives
  • Gerunds and associated expressions
  • Qualitative adjectives and possessives
  • Present indicative
  • The foundational verbs “ser” and “estar”
  • Spanish verbs and tenses
  • Expressing habit and repetition

You can expect the examination of Spanish civilization to play a role as well throughout their training, although the degree to which this happens depends on the local and national education authorities where you live. Typical you can expect to see some of the following topics:

  • The professional world
  • Spanish in the world
  • Important Spanish and South American cities and monuments
  • Local lifestyle and food
  • Spanish media
  • Famous works of art
  • Famous people in the Spanish speaking world
  • Humanitarian activism

Picasso was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century Pablo Picasso is an emblem of Spanish culture.

Typically, when students reach the age of 14 or 15, they should be capable of exchanging basic information verbally and in writing, and understanding the gist of a simple text.

A foreign language is not just a grouping of words, tenses and grammar rules. It’s a whole universe to learn! 

In high school, private lessons in addition to the regular Spanish course could become useful, especially to prepare for college entrance exams. Be careful to find out how much Spanish lessons cost in order to not bankrupt yourself!

You have to choose the right Spanish instructor to help you learn a second language. To do so, we recommend figuring out your expectations and communicate this clearly to your teacher candidates. Questions to discuss are your aims, his or her methodology, where you will be working, etc.

Once you have found the right teacher, he or she will prepare personalised classes to help you learn to speak Spanish. Your specific needs, strengths, and weaknesses will determine the exact make-up of the class. This means that the focus could centre around Spanish verbs or conversational Spanish, depending on you.

Spanish Language Program in High School

As you get older and have more years of Spanish under your belt, you can naturally expect to study more complex aspects of the language. The students should possess intermediate level Spanish, although they are probably not bilingual in English and Spanish.

High school Spanish programs cannot be explained in a few lines. Still, here are a few points that students will learn:

  • Nouns, suffixes and articles.
  • Indirect speech and tense agreement
  • The conditional and imperative tenses
  • Subjunctive imperfect and pluperfect tenses
  • Qualifying adjectives, superlatives
  • Negation and restrictive construction “no…si no”
  • Aspects of action
  • Personal and impersonal obligations
  • Expression of desire, need and regret

In terms of Spanish civilization, students might encounter aspects of the following in a Spanish test:

  • Spain
  • Latin America
  • Important cities in Spain and South America
  • Legends and tales of the Hispanic world
  • Economic and social Spanish life
  • The modernization of cities
  • The Spanish Civil War and its heroes
  • New family roles
  • Latin American dictators

Architecture is an important part of major Spanish cities Spain has beautiful cities, like Madrid!

 Aims of High School Spanish Programs

The objective of the high school Spanish program is to make students more independent in their practice of the Spanish language. They must become actors in the learning process and not just spectators!

At the end of high school, students should ideally be able to:

  • Engage verbally in discussions of two or more people.
  • Understand the majority of verbal messages: debates, radios shows, news on television, etc.
  • Present, formulate or readapt a work on paper: synthesis, presentation, etc.
  • Be able to give a point of view and opinion in Spanish verbally and in writing.

At the end of their training, students should be able to comment on a document, and know about the history and culture of Spanish speaking countries.

They must also be able to understand more complicated speeches, verbally present an artistic or literary worktake part in a debate, discussion or even read a text to a speaking partner with little difficulty.

Students today are lucky as they benefit from new technology to help them learn how to speak Spanish. This includes a variety of YouTube channels with Spanish videos. Such channels offer free Spanish lessons, podcasts, and a variety of other Spanish online tools. This permits them to learn Spanish fast.

YouTube videos are great because you can hear the words pronounced by a native speaker in many cases. This gives you a true picture of Spanish vocabulary that you won’t get in your Spanish class textbook. Instead of learning conjugation on paper, listen to how correct verb usage sounds with your own ears!

Because they are unlimited, videos allow you to learn Spanish online at your personal rhythm: when you wake up, in the car, while you eat lunch or exercise, or at night before sleeping… On YouTube, you can benefit from Spanish tutorials (made by Spanish language teachers, native Spanish speakers and Spanish enthusiasts) and find free Spanish lessons and exercises.

There is a huge variety of YouTube videos available to help you. The video sharing website has over one billion users everyday, so naturally the content is vast and varied. Some examples include PolyglotPablo, 123TeachMe, Why Not Spanish, Maria Espanol, Spanish101pod.com, Learn Spanish with Paulino, Professor Jason, ProSpanish, and a personal favorite, Tu escuela de español!

With all of these resources, you have everything you need to do well on your high school Spanish courses and exams. Be sure to use these resources to prepare for your Spanish lessons, so that you can cement the basics in order to give you a great foundation to tackle the trickier parts of the Spanish language.

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