Writing in Spanish

Recommendations from the Spanish Program on how to prepare for writing assignments:

  1. Consider the audience for whom you are writing as this may influence the amount of background information you need to present and in what manner to present it.
  2. Carefully follow instructor’s guidelines in order to have a clear idea of the goal of the assignment.
  3. For formal essays and research papers, make sure to have a clear outline and thesis statement before beginning.
  4. Consult grading rubrics to determine how your writing will be evaluated.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the format required by your instructor (MLA, APA, etc.).
  6. Have at your disposal the reference tools you will need to consult (online or print dictionaries, grammar manuals, style guides, etc.).
  7. Make sure that your computer is configured to allow you to use Spanish characters, accent marks, and to check your spelling in Spanish.

Writing Assignments

  • Compositions
  • Diary entries
  • Short stories (creative writing)
  • Research papers (of varying lengths)
  • E-mails
  • Presentations
  • Summaries
  • Daily writing in class
  • Blogs
  • Discussion threads

Students entering the Spanish major

Most students begin the Spanish major at the second or intermediate level, SPAN 201: Intermediate Spanish I or SPAN 211: Spanish for Heritage Speakers I.

Non-Heritage Students of Spanish

Able to meet a number of practical writing needs. Can write a composition of onepage in length. Content involves personal preferences, daily routine, everyday events, and other topics grounded in personal experience. Can express present time or at least one other time frame or aspect consistently, (e.g., preterit or imperfect). Evidence of control of the syntax of noncomplex sentences and conjugation of commonly used verbs. Writing tends to be a loose collection of sentences on a given topic without a lot of organization. Vocabulary is limited, with occasional interference of English. Writing can be understood by native speakers of Spanish used to the writing of non-natives. [Adopted from ACTFL Guidelines, Intermediate-Mid level]

Heritage Students of Spanish

Able to meet basic work and/or academic writing needs. Can write a composition of at least one-page in length. Content involves personal issues, topics grounded in personal experience and summaries of a factual nature. Demonstrates the ability to narrate and describe in major time frames with some control of aspect, although there may not be consistency in the use of verb tenses throughout the text. Good control of a range of grammatical structures and a fairly wide general vocabulary. Writing shows evidence of some use of code-switching and transfer of structures from English. Use of accent marks is poor and spelling mistakes are frequent.

Students graduating with a Spanish major

Upon graduating from the Spanish Program, undergraduates should be able to…

  1. Write effectively in several genres using the conventions appropriate to each: summary, narration, description, analytical essay, and research paper.
  2. Employ appropriate voice, tone, and level of formality in all forms of writing.
  3. Use correct grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, and accents in Spanish.
  4. Appropriately document bibliographic sources—both electronic and print—when integrating their ideas with those of others.
  5. Revise and edit their work with the understanding that effective writing is the result of a process.
  6. Make appropriate use of technology to research, edit, and present their work.

Non-Heritage Students of Spanish

Able to write on a variety of topics with general precision and detail. Can describe and narrate personal experiences fully but has difficulty supporting points of view. Often shows fluency and ease of expression, but under time constraints and pressure writing will be inaccurate. Some misuse of vocabulary and grammar is common. Style may still be obviously non-native.

Heritage Students of Spanish

Able to meet basic work and/or academic writing needs. Demonstrates the ability to narrate and describe in major time frames with some control of aspect, although there may not be consistency in reported speech and different types of conditional sentences. Good control of most frequently used target-language syntactic structures. Most thoughts are supported by some elaboration. In terms of the mechanics of the language, heritage speakers at this level some command of accentuation and spelling of high frequency words, but not with less common words. Good control of a range of grammatical structures and a fairly wide general vocabulary.

Code-switching is infrequent, but signs of transfer from English may still be present at times.

Samples