A new platform for advanced learners

Over the past years, Spanish teaching at SPO has undergone a process of curricular redesign whereby teaching materials have been adapted to integrate cultural exploration and critical analysis alongside communicative, grammatical and lexical skills.

In answer to this call for the abandonment of generic manuals and textbooks in favor of original materials and assignments that would help us gain a better control of the pacing, activities, and topics covered in class, lecturers Gorka Bilbao Terreros & Iria González Becerra (supported by a Summer Fellowship Grant from the PCLS and in collaboration with Ben Johnston), designed ConTextos.

This text-based platform for advanced levels, now fully integrated in SPA 108, approaches language instruction from a functional perspective, using written assignments as pedagogical frame to demonstrate how different genres call for certain language functions which can be expressed through varying grammatical and lexical constructions. All the texts and activities found in ConTextos are framed within the SPA108 critical curriculum, focusing on issues of identity, gender, nation and culture.

ConTextos also offers a different way to engage with class readings, motivating learners to navigate through content and style as if the text was a sort of map that could be zoomed in and out, moving from a broad whole-text view, to a more focused and detailed view. Thus, when using ConTextos, students focus first on the broad stylistic and structural characteristics of the texts presented to them (i.e. identify sections -intro, conclusion, etc.-, narrative bridges, tone and voice, etc.). Then, they explore the language functions relevant to the genre (presenting claims, creating comparisons, expressing impersonality, proposing hypotheses, etc.). Finally, they practice the grammatical structures associated with those functions (subjunctive, impersonal forms, if clauses, connectors, etc.) in context. The modular nature of this platform will also allow teachers to embed their own texts and activities in the platform easily.

A demo unit is available via the following link: (Link coming soon)

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