Faculty of Arts


Spanish Language: Theory and Practice

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for SPANISH 700.


This course explores the structural components of the Spanish language (its sounds, words, phrases and sentences) to achieve two main goals: help students develop useful skills for linguistic analysis and continue advancing their Spanish proficiency. Accordingly, the content is delivered entirely in Spanish and all work students produce is entirely in Spanish as well.

The course is organised around eight chapters selected from Introducción a la lingüística Española (Alvar 2000). After an overview of the various grammatical components, we go on to examine each one of them using a bottom-up approach. The phonetic and phonological properties of the Spanish sound system are considered first because they provide the substance to create linguistic signs: the building blocks of language. We then undertake a journey through the hierarchy of linguistic signs, beginning with the morpheme, passing through the word and the phrase levels, and arriving at the sentence level. Plenty of interesting phenomena are unearthed in this process and many abstract linguistic concepts are explained and practised in parallel.

For each class, there is an assigned reading from the textbook and a questionnaire is supplied to help students work through the content. Classes involve active participation from all students. They take turns in presenting their understanding of the topics covered in the questionnaires, while the role of the teacher is limited to that of guiding and adding to what the students contribute. A plethora of customised exercises is provided through the course website and these are discussed and corrected at the beginning of every class to clear up any remaining doubts before moving on to the next topic.

As the semester unfolds, students develop their own research projects, for which they choose topics in Spanish linguistics not covered in class. There are various check points and consultations through the semester to help them make steady progress on their research essays. During the last week of the semester, students do oral presentations on the same topics on which they wrote their essays. It is an opportunity to share their findings with their classmates and demonstrate the analytical skills they have learned.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Not taught in 2018


Coordinator(s) Dr Eduardo Piñeros


Course Reading:

Introducción a la lingüística española, 2000. Manuel Alvar (Director), Barcelona: Editorial Ariel.

Students are not required to buy this book. There is a copy on reserve at the Kate Edger Short Loan Library (2-hour short loan) and electronic copies of the eight chapters that are covered in class (i.e., 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 17) are available on the course website for easy access.


SPANISH 700A: 15.0 points

SPANISH 700B: 15.0 points

SPANISH 700: 30.0 points

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