Module Catalogues

The Sounds of Spanish

Module Title The Sounds of Spanish
Module Level Level 0
Module Credits 2.50
Academic Year 2024/25
Semester SEM2

Aims and Fit of Module

This module is intended for anyone interested in improving their Spanish pronunciation, whether seeking to continue studying Spanish and strengthen their competencies to progress throughout their bachelor’s degree (e.g., IBL students) or merely aiming for a basic but solid foundational level of this language. This module can also support students’ EAP pathway and additionally benefit HSS students since its design integrates multiple types of contrastive-linguistic activities between languages (Spanish, English, and Chinese).
Module aims:
- Through a cross-linguistic approach, this module will provide students with the essential tools and skills to reflect on the most significant phonetic and phonological similarities and differences between Spanish, British/American English, and Chinese to promote linguistic awareness and, thus, the development of their second language pronunciation.
- This module will also rely on the analysis of authentic and meaningful audio and audiovisual materials to expose them to major geographical, social, and contextual varieties of Spanish.
- In addition, this module will transversally facilitate student’s awareness of, and reflection on, the relationship between phonetic/phonological variation and the formation, development, and perception of social and cultural identities, as well as on the development of their own identity as adult speakers of a second language.

Learning outcomes

A [Segmental Level]:
Identify the sounds of Spanish, describe how they are articulated using basic linguistic terminology, and analyze how they are organized into the Spanish phonological system.
B [Suprasegmental Level]:
Recognize the main prosodic characteristics of the Spanish language (rhythm, stress, and intonation) and their contribution to meaning.
C [Comparisons]:
Identify and describe some of the main phonetic and phonological similarities and differences between 1) the Spanish, British/American English, and Chinese phonological systems, and 2) the most prominent geographical varieties of Spanish.
D [Pronunciation Practice]:
Explain how to improve their pronunciation of Spanish based on the analysis of, and reflection on, their speech and on native speakers’ speech models, as well as demonstrate improvement of their pronunciation in controlled situations.

Method of teaching and learning

- This module will be delivered through two (2) 1.5-hour onsite seminars per week, and students must spend around 2.5 hours of self-study hours per week to prepare for class and consolidate their learning.
- The module will be taught mainly in English, but Spanish and periodically Chinese will exemplify course content and facilitate cross-linguistic comparisons. Spanish will also be frequently used to progress students’ pronunciation skills.
- This course is mainly built on a cross-linguistic approach, which will guide students in the discovery of phonetic and phonological phenomena that they already implicitly know in their native language (and potentially in other non-native languages in which they are proficient), and that they will be able to discuss explicitly through guided pair and small group activities. More precisely, phonetic and phonological knowledge and awareness will typically follow inductive techniques. Students will explore, identify, and reflect on phonetic and phonological patterns and models of Spanish, American/British, and Chinese to improve their pronunciation skills and lay the foundations for future growth.
- The seminars will comprise a variety of student-centered learning activities such as guided pair and small group discussions, listening and pronunciation practice with peers, and informal presentations. Authentic audiovisual materials will be incorporated to engage with geographical, social, and contextual Spanish varieties.
- Flipped-classroom principles will be incorporated since students must complete weekly take-home tasks (e.g., readings, listening and pronunciation practice, phonetic/phonological transcriptions) to prepare for the class discussions and activities. Other materials and activities will also be provided to students for practicing and consolidating their knowledge and skills during their self-study hours. This course also integrates cooperative learning practices by, for instance, requiring students to give feedback to one another about accent features, possible causes, and suggestions for improvement via an online portfolio, among others.
- The assessment will be continuous through activities distributed throughout the semester, and these tools will also play an essential role in the students’ learning process. This assessment will include the following: tests that will evaluate students’ progress and understanding of the course topics and materials presented in class; an electronic portfolio where students will complete brief practice recordings that focus on one or more aspects of Spanish pronunciation and give feedback to their peers on their performance; and a task-based project, which will provide clear outcomes that can be reached through scaffolded activities. This final project will typically consist of students’ beginning- and end-semester recordings of a short presentation in Spanish, completion of self-evaluation sheets, and reflections on their performance.