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SPAN1002 Introduction to the Languages of the Spanish-Speaking World

Module Overview

The aim of this course will be to introduce students to the general issues surrounding the role of language in society, and in particular its role in nation-building. This general context will be presented through a study of the Spanish-speaking world.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce you to the issues surrounding the role of language in society and particularly those concerning nation-building • Examine the phenomena of language spread, language shift and language death in the Spanish-spekaing world • Problematise the concept of Spanish as a global language

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The problems of contested definitions (such as ‘nation’ ‘language’ ‘dialect’ etc)
  • The history of the growth and spread of Spanish
  • The role of language in nation-building across the world
  • The interaction between Portuguese and Spanish as ‘world’ languages
  • The roles of education and specifically literacy in the formation of national identity, particularly in the Spanish-speaking world
  • Concepts of ‘world’ or ‘global’ languages
  • The close relationship between politics and language issues
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Present arguments and ideas in oral forms both informally and formally, appreciating the different registers
  • Write a critical book review
  • Compile a bibliography using accurate conventions
  • Appreciate the difference between academic written English and other registers
  • Use an academic library to its full potential
  • Collaborate and benefit from peer group work
  • Use internet sources critically
  • Attribute and reference sources
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the situation today of certain significant linguistic minorities in the Spanish-speaking world
  • Understand the relationship of Castilian to other languages with which it comes into contact
  • Form an opinion on the future of Spanish and its place in an era of globalisation
  • Feel confident in using sources concerning the Spanish-speaking world written in Iberian languages such as Catalan, Galician and other Romance languages other than simply Castilian and Portuguese
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Question critically ‘black and white’ definitions
  • Reflect critically on your own arguments and opinions against an analysis of a range of expert opinion
  • Appreciate the difference between presenting and describing information as opposed to analysing and arguing positions arising from the information
  • Make connections across different disciplinary focuses when discussing issues relating to the Spanish-Speaking world


The Module will introduce concepts such as language, dialect, boundary, speech community and nation, state, nationalism etc. it will outline the emergence of Castilian since the pivotal date of 1492 and trace its development, problematizing the distinction (or not) between Castilian (Castellano) and Spanish (español). It will examine the conflict and tensions between the linguistic minorities both in Spain and in Latin America with which Castilian comes into contact and analyse the ways language planning, especially constitutional policies and the education system, have sought to deal with these. It will look at the spread of Castilian to the Americas, giving a linguistic context of the pre-Conquest languages to this understanding. It will discuss bilingual and bicultural programmes in Spain and in Latin America. The present position of Spanish in the US will be discussed and speculation and predictions about the future use and role of Spanish in a global era will be problematized.

Special Features

The topics of the lectures and seminars will allow you to gather the information outlined in the learning outcomes. The weekly tasks set and the formal assessment will require you to acquire the skills outlined in the learning outcomes. Feedback in class and on the assessed work will ensure these skills and information are being acquired.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures and seminars • Class small group discussions based on guiding questions • Group and individual class presentations Learning activities include • Writing a critical book review • Using internet resources critically • Identifying how to access relevant Library resources • Writing a reflective and analytical essay Innovative or special features of this module

Follow-up work4
Completion of assessment task40
Preparation for scheduled sessions2
Wider reading or practice40
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Mar-Molinero, C. (199). The Spanish Speaking World: Introduction to Sociolinguistic Issues. 

Stewart, M (2000). The Spanish Language Today. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • Preparation for weekly seminar tasks • Regular group class presentations • Participation in seminars • The focus and role as a learning and teaching tool of the critical book review


MethodPercentage contribution
Analytical essay  (1500 words) 50%
Class participation 10%
Critical book review  (600 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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