SPAN10002: Spanish 2

Spanish 2 was reviewed by Travis Lines. He is a second year student undertaking the Bachelor of Biomedicine and is studying intensive Spanish over the summer. 

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¿Por qué aprender español? (Why study Spanish?)

There are plenty of reasons that people choose to study Spanish. Perhaps you want to look like Antonio Banderas, or sing like Enrique Iglesias. Perhaps you’re sick of the lucky dip that is ordering a taco, or wish you could actually understand Sofía Vergara. Perhaps you want to get in on the Spanish in Breaking Bad, or try to sound like a sex God.

Whilst I can’t promise that Spanish 2 will result in any of those, I can say that you will be choosing to learn one of the most rewarding and exciting languages in the world. Spanish is the most widely spoken language after Mandarin (and notably above English), making it the dominant language of the western world in terms of speakers. It is the second language of the United States, where there is double the number of Spanish speakers than in Spain itself.

Spanish culture is ubiquitous in the Western World and is only becoming more dominant as racial barriers start to break down in the United States and Latin countries become wealthier. The Spanish-speaking world has given us Antonio Banderas, George Lopez, speedy Gonzales, Pitbull, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Isabel Allende, Gabriel García-Márquez, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Shakira and many more.

Most of all, the culture and the language are both extremely fun. There’s just something about Spanish that forces you to smile and to have a good time, and this is definitely reflected in the cultures of Spanish speaking countries. If you’re struggling with the men/ladies, Spanish may just be the key to everlasting amor.

¿Cómo es español en la Universidad de Melbourne? (What’s Spanish like at UniMelb?)

If you’re taking Spanish 2, you should have previously taken Spanish 1 or received an exemption from the University. Some of the tutors argue that Spanish 2 is easier, but in my experience nothing could be further from the truth (disclaimer: I speak French so this made Spanish 1 a breeze). Spanish 2 is definitely a step up from Spanish 1. You’re faced with much more difficult grammar.

The real pain with Spanish is the nuances in meaning. There are particular verbs and constructions that are foreign to English that can make things quite difficult. For example, there are three past tenses in Spanish in the indicative mood (don’t get freaked by the linguistic jargon), each with different uses. In English, we do actually have all three (think: I used to, I did, I have done), but the way we use them is slightly different. This can be a massive mindf*ck and poses a challenge for even the strongest of students.

On the upside though, the course is ran like clockwork. There is a clear syllabus given at the start of the semester and the classes never deviate from that. You know when the assessment is coming, if you miss a class you know exactly where you need to go in your book and which exercises to do. I have never in my life had a more organised class than this and doubt I will.

The tutors for this subject are absolutely incredible. I had Silvia, Isidro and Sandrine, all of whom put so much effort and were so enthusiastic about the subject. They were always available to answer questions outside of class and worked so hard to get the class to run smoothly. In a subject that is very intense and difficult, they make it all the more better and bring people who would otherwise do really poorly into H1 territory. It also makes it a good transition subject because it is a bit more similar to high school subjects than others at Uni.

¿Cómo evaluan el aprendizaje? (What’s the assessment?)

You should check the Handbook to get all the nitty gritties about the assessment. The biggest picture is that there aren’t any big assessments. The most one particular assessment will contribute is 30%, and that’s the exam. There are a couple of exercises called tareas, which are just grammar and vocab work.

The most onerous is the class presentation, which is entirely in Spanish. In groups of two or three, you are charged with speaking in Spanish for 15 minutes about the life of an immigrant. This sounds really scary, and for some it is, but it’s also good for a couple of reasons. Number one, you’re doing a WHOLE presentation in Spanish! After only 10-20 weeks of classes, that is a super effort so pat on the back. Secondly, this is the best environment for it. Everyone is in exactly the same position, so even the most timid and least talented speakers don’t find it a problem at all.

¿Qué más? (What else?)

I would highly recommend this subject to anyone. Yes, learning a language is a challenge, but it’s an extremely rewarding challenge. Unlike a lot of the science/biomed subjects I’ve taken, you’re left with a real sense of achievement after each class. You have the opportunity to appreciate and actually use what you’ve learned, and there’s no better feeling than that.

The classes are really fantastic and tight-knit (you are bound to make great friends in Spanish), the teachers are equally fantastic and best of all, you’ll finally realise your dream of rolling your Rs.

¡Va muy bien tomar esta clase! 

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More about Travis

Travis Lines is currently undertaking his second year of the Bachelor of Biomedicine. He is considering pursuing a career in medicine, public health, politics, teaching, research, academia or public service and cannot decide what to have for breakfast tomorrow either. You can find some of Travis’ thoughts at http://aboyfromdunt.blogspot.com.au/ or follow him on twitter @travislines.

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