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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Hispanic Studies

Undergraduate Course: Spanish Language and Culture. Words, Phrases and Writing (ELCH09031)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySpanish phraseology - set phrases, idioms, proverbs, locutions, metaphorical and other expressions - is integral to the Spanish language and constitutes a rich and invaluable source of linguistic and cultural information shared by close to 600 million native speakers and over twenty-one Spanish-speaking nations across the world today. Spanish phrases give the language a richness, depth and imaginative specificity it lacks otherwise. The aim of this course is to enable students to use the Spanish language in the colourful, nuanced and lively way that its native speakers do. It will enhance their understanding of both Spanish and Hispanic cultures and their proficiency in the Spanish language through the study and practice of an ample and varied repertoire of idiomatic Spanish manifested in a variety of texts and contexts, primarily journalistic and literary. It will improve significantly students' written and oral expression, while complementing Language Paper 1 and Oral for Spanish, as well as Colloquial Spanish. (The latter are not co-requisites, so students need not be taking Colloquial Spanish, for example, to enrol on Spanish Language and Culture.)
Course description This course involves the study and practice of Spanish phraseology. Set phrases, idioms, proverbs, locutions, metaphorical and other expressions, as well as other cognate constructions, often traceable to specific regions, periods or events, and used in a variety of contexts, represent an important cultural dimension of language. Indeed, no other aspect of the Spanish language embodies Hispanic culture as effectively, nor is there another linguistic component that can transmit history and local character, mores and mindsets with equal distinctiveness and resonance. Such a component represents a unique source of linguistic and cultural information present in the language since its inception. The aim of this course is to enable students to move from passive knowledge and understanding of an important selection of the most widely used phrases in the Spanish-speaking world to an active use and to acquiring the structures and ability to use the language in the rich and sophisticated way that many of its native speakers do.

It will do so through the weekly study and practice of an ample and varied repertoire of idiomatic Spanish through a variety of texts and contexts; and it will provide students with an understanding of its cultural dimension. This will be done through the weekly study and practice of phrases classified into semantic fields (structures related to food, animals, trees, plants, nature, parts of the body, parts of the house, objects, clothing, colours, nationalities, languages and cultures, historical and literary figures, cultural sites and traditions), as well as in conjunction with prepositions and particular proverbs, and illustrated by a variety of examples to facilitate learning, mainly journalistic and literary texts: excerpts from newspapers, magazines and literature, including excerpts from the Quijote and the close reading of a novel over the course of the semester, from different Spanish-speaking countries, containing constructions recognized by the Real Academia Española and its CREA and CORDE databases.

Specifically, we will look at a selected number of expressions to introduce and illustrate the importance and usefulness of such linguistic constructions; classify common expressions into specific and easy-to-use categories; use cognitive and intuitive approaches that, through numerous types of weekly exercises, encourage students to engage in language creation; identify, explain and illustrate the connection between the Spanish language and Hispanic culture; work systematically through activities, exercises, strategies and other sources of information (incl. visual and mnemonic devices to aid recall) to facilitate the active use and acquisition of phrases, idiomatic language, proverbs, etc.

Moreover, practical weekly exercises will allow the student to practise using the phrases in both spoken and written form and to recognize and understand similarities and differences between English and Spanish linguistic structures; etymologies will help trace the origin of certain expressions and enable students to appreciate them as substantial sources of linguistic and cultural information; additional regular self-assessment activities will allow students to evaluate what they have learned by means of multiple-choice questions and exercises based on journalistic and literary passages. Finally, the study of a novel will allow students to engage with such structures in a larger context at the level of the sentence as they materialise through the linguistic, stylistic and imaginative richness of a full-length prose narrative. The course is assessed by way of 100% coursework: students will write a number of pieces of assessed coursework throughout the course. The course will enhance significantly students' written and oral expression, while complementing Language Paper 1 and Oral for Spanish activities, as well as Colloquial Spanish, with which it forms a two-part unit, if so desired, though Colloquial Spanish is not a co-requisite for Spanish Language and Culture.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework 100%: 2 written assignments (450 words +/- 10% each).
Feedback Formative feedback: mid-term individual report: 15 minutes interview with each student during mid semester.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and structure of phraseology in the Spanish language and the Spanish-Speaking World
  2. Produce written and oral contributions that develop the use of Spanish phrases.
  3. Demonstrate communication and interaction skills.
  4. Exercise autonomy and initiative and work responsibly with others, seeking guidance where appropriate from specialist practitioners.
Reading List
Essential readings:

Muñoz Basols, Javier, Yolanda Pérez Sinusía and Marianne David (2013). Spanish Idioms in Practice. Understanding Language and Culture. London: Routledge (ppbk/e-book).
Guelbenzu, José María (2007). El cadáver arrepentido. Madrid: Alfaguara.
Seco, Manuel, Olimpia Andrés y Gabino Ramos (2018). Diccionario fraseológico documentado del español actual. Madrid: JdeJ Editores.
Instituto Cervantes, Refranero multilingüe,
Centro Virtual Cervantes,

A list of essential readings available digitally via the Course Resource List will be provided each year.

Recommended readings:
Bosque, Ignacio, ed. (2011). Diccionario combinatorio práctico del español contemporáneo. Madrid: SM.
Martínez Kleiser, Luis (1993). Refranero general ideológico español. Madrid: Hernando.
Cantera Ortiz de Urbina, Jesús (2012). Diccionario Akal del refranero español. Madrid: Akal
García-Page Sánchez, M. (2008). Introducción a la fraseología española. Estudio de las locuciones. Barcelona: Anthropos
Ruiz Gurillo, L. (2001). Las locuciones en el español actual. Madrid: Arco Libros.
Ruiz Gurillo, L. (1998). La fraseología del español coloquial. Barcelona: Ariel.
Zuluaga, A. (1980). Introducción al estudio de las expresiones fijas. Frankfurt a. M.: Peter D. Lang.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Knowledge and understanding; 2. Practice: applied knowledge and understanding; 3. Written skills; 3. Generic cognitive skills; 4. Communications, ICT and numeracy skills; 5. Autonomy, accountability and working with others.

Course organiserProf Alexis Grohmann
Tel: (0131 6)50 3678
Course secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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