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Course Levels

  • About
  • Level Summary
  • Beginning 1
  • Beginning 2
  • Beginning 3
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • Spanish for Travelers

About our Course Levels: We offer Spanish classes at a full range of levels plus special short-courses for those planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country -- click the appropriate tab above. If you are uncertain about which one is best for you, contact us. We'll help you choose the level or class that is most appropriate for you based on your skill, experience and what you hope to learn. The following information applies to all our courses except Spanish for Travelers.

We adapt the pace of each class and the subject matter covered to fit the students and their needs. As such, the levels flex to you, not the other way around. We have always been able to place students in a "good fit" class.

Our class sizes are small by design, and this allows us to tailor the class to fit students' needs while maximizing participation. Regardless of the level, you will begin speaking Spanish during the first class. Our classes are highly interactive and participatory. With a small group, you will enjoy a personal experience. As we learn your interests, we will make them part of what we teach. This makes learning more fun and more effective.

Your learning will include listening, reading, writing and speaking. We use subject matter that will introduce you to the Hispanic culture while you learn the language. A friend of ours once said that learning a new language is like learning a new culture. Indeed, the two are strongly interconnected.

While our classes include much more, course levels can to some extent be described by the progression through the verb tenses, and we do so in the level descriptions. Again, the material covered may vary as appropriate to match students needs. The Level Summary tab provides a quick view of this breakdown.

As we learn a language, we need to review and practice what we learn in order to build our proficiency. Consequently, each class level includes some review, with material generally presented in a different way. This also helps to ensure that everyone has the needed base from which to build.

We have found that adults need to learn grammar in order to speak Spanish correctly. If you only want to learn a few phrases and words for a trip to Latin America, you don't need grammar. If you want to be able to understandably speak Spanish, you will need to learn how the language works (grammar). And don't worry, our classes are fun, with a focus on getting you communicating and using the language from day one. [Click to read Is Grammar Really Best Avoided?]  Learning a language is very much about immersing yourself in it as much as possible. Toward that end, we will use as much Spanish is possible in our classes, while using English where necessary for understanding.

Did you end up in the wrong class? This happens now and then, but don’t worry. If you wish, you are free to change to a different level during the session.

Level Summary Table: Our classes include much more than grammar and verbs! However, verbs are very important in Spanish, and our course levels can to some extent be described by the progression through the verb tenses. We do so in the level descriptions, and the following table provides a quick view of this breakdown. Please refer to the individual level descriptions for more information. Each course will include review and practice to assure that you assimilate the material and improve your proficiency.

Summary of Verb Tenses by Course Level
 Level
 Content
 Beginning 1  present tense
 Beginning 2  present tense, reflexive; begin preterite
 and compound tenses
 Beginning 3  preterite, compound, imperfect, future,  conditional, imperative
 Intermediate  imperative, subjunctive, build proficiency  with other tenses
 Advanced  improve proficiency, all tenses

The subject matter covered may vary somewhat, depending on each individual group.

Beginning 1: If you have no previous experience with Spanish, or just a small amount, this is the level for you. You will learn pronunciation, basic vocabulary, greetings and basic expressions, adjective-noun agreement, common verbs, and how to read and construct basic sentences. We'll cover the things you'll need in any language, from numbers to telling time to ordering at a restaurant. You will learn the present verb tense. You will begin speaking Spanish starting with the first class. If you had Spanish in school but don't remember much, this is likely the correct level for you. Our students always do better when they develop a solid foundation in the basics before advancing further. As is the case with building a house, a weak foundation is likely to lead to problems later on.

Your instructor will teach the class primarily in English, but will use more Spanish as you progress.

The subject matter covered may vary somewhat, depending on each individual group. Reviewing and practicing what we learn is an important part of building our proficiency. Each course level includes some review, with material generally presented in a different way. This also helps to ensure that everyone has the needed base from which to build.

Beginning 2: This course is basically a continuation of Beginning Spanish 1. Students taking this course should have already completed our Beginning 1 course or its equivalent. You should already have a good foundation in the basics such as pronunciation, gender, basic expressions, numbers, subject pronouns, some vocabulary, telling time, forming simple sentences, as well as knowing how to conjugate a verb in the present tense. If you've picked up some Spanish traveling but never had a class, you should start with our Beginning 1 course to build a good foundation in the structure and workings of the Spanish language.

In this class, we'll review present tense regular verbs and then move on to irregular and reflexive verbs. You will start to learn the preterite past tense and some compound (perfect) tense usage. You'll build your vocabulary and work with sentences and beginning readings and conversation. You will start reading brief novels written for beginning readers.

Your instructor will teach the class partly in English and partly in Spanish.

The subject matter covered may vary somewhat, depending on each individual group. Reviewing and practicing what we learn is an important part of building our proficiency. Each course level includes some review, with material generally presented in a different way. This also helps to ensure that everyone has the needed base from which to build.

Beginning 3: For our continuing Beginning 2 students and new students who already have an equivalent background. You should already have learned about the present tense, reflexive verbs and started the preterite tense and be ready to move on to the imperfect (past), future, conditional and compound tenses.  We will expand your reading, writing and speaking skills beyond the basics. You'll start to converse in class. You will be reading brief novels written for novice readers. You will feel improving confidence with your communication skills.

Students should expect to be at the Beginning 3 level for more than one session before being ready to move on to the Intermediate level.

To improve listening skills and immersion, your instructor will teach the class as much as possible in Spanish, but use English as necessary for your understanding.

The subject matter covered may vary somewhat, depending on each individual group. Reviewing and practicing what we learn is an important part of building our proficiency. Each course level includes some review, with material generally presented in a different way. This also helps to ensure that everyone has the needed base from which to build.

Intermediate:This is your level if you already reasonably capable with basic Spanish, but want to increase your proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading and writing. You should already be familiar with the present, preterite, imperfect, future, conditional, imperative and compound tenses. We will continue to work with these tenses to improve your proficiency with them. We will introduce the subjunctive mood in this level.

You will also continue to expand your vocabulary and other aspects of grammar. You will be working with more reading, writing and conversation. Intermediate students should be able to converse (errors to be expected). At this level, students should have a strong enough base to start putting things together into conversation, and doing so will be part of the class format.

Students should expect to be at the Intermediate level for two or more sessions before being ready to move on to the Advanced level.

Your instructor will teach the class primarily in Spanish, using English as little as possible, as necessary for your understanding.

More about the Intermediate Class....

We have found that adults at this level benefit from a mix of both grammar and conversation practice, and this class includes considerable conversation. Your instructor will plan the lessons to integrate the two and help you habitualize correct sentences and usage. Conversation will also stimulate you to begin thought>to>talk speech where you don't translate everything in your head -- an important step toward fluency. You will find yourself thinking less about every word and becoming more comfortable and effective in conversation.

The subject matter covered may vary somewhat, depending on each individual group. Reviewing and practicing what we learn is an important part of building our proficiency. Each course level includes some review, with material generally presented in a different way. This also helps to ensure that everyone has the needed base from which to build.

Advanced: This level is for students with a good background in Spanish, perhaps with a few gaps, and who can converse in Spanish. You will further develop your proficiency in spoken and written Spanish through a combination of exercises and activities with vocabulary, grammar, reading, discussion, and writing. This level concentrates on building fluency. We will work on improving your listening comprehension skills, as understanding what a native speaker is saying is an important skill.

You should already be familiar with the following verb tenses: present, preterite, imperfect, future, conditional, imperative, compound (perfect tenses) and subjunctive mood. You should expect to considerably improve your proficiency in these tenses, integrating them more and more into your repertoire. This level has much more emphasis on conversation. It is for students who already have a good knowledge base but need to more fully integrate it into their use of the language. The class is taught entirely in Spanish and students are expected to use only Spanish during the class. We use textbooks and other materials that are written in Spanish.

More about the Advanced Class....

The Advanced class includes a significant amount of conversation. We have found that adults at this level need both grammar review and conversation. Your instructor will plan the lessons to integrate the two. In this way, you will assimilate and retain what you learn. Conversation will help you retain what you learn and what you already know while improving your fluency. This is guided practice, which ensures that you do not perpetuate mistakes and turn them into bad habits. You'll like the various special projects we do in the class and the enjoyable mix of language skill building with conversation.

Spanish for Travelers: This is a special short-course for those who plan to travel to a Spanish-speaking country and want to learn Spanish language basics for their trip. It is for beginners with little to no previous experience with the Spanish language.You will learn the things that travelers need for everyday situations, including pronunciation, greetings, asking directions, shopping, ordering at the restaurant, using public transportation and more.

Please go to the Spanish for Travelers page for more information.