Spanish 497 - Writing Proficiency

SPAN 497: Miller

Catalog definition:

Writing Essays in English on Hispanic literature or culture. The purpose is to ensure ability to write correct English in a style suitable to general essay writing. This is a writing proficiency, WP, course; a grade of C- or better certifies writing proficiency for majors.


To be taken concurrently with any upper-division Spanish course. It is suggested to take this course AFTER having passed SPAN 341 or 342 (Introduction to Latin American Literature/Spanish Literature).

Expanded Course Description:

This course is an independent study course. The student will select the full-time instructor s/he wishes to work with, usually her/his major advisor. The student should ascertain the professor's willingness to work with the student before enrolling in that professor's section. Then the student is responsible for meeting all deadlines and maintaining communication with the professor.

The course builds on knowledge and skills that the student has been acquiring through studies in the Spanish program. In completing the requirements of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate the ability:

  • to read in Spanish a full-length novel, drama, collection of poems or collection of short stories from Latin America, Spain, or the Hispanic diaspora
  • to research an aspect of the novel, using resources and sources that are primary in the field of foreign languages and literatures (especially the MLA International Bibliography database)
  • to plan and write a 5-7 page argumentative essay in English on the novel, utilizing secondary criticism as appropriate

Course Plan:

Request an appointment with Professor in the first two weeks of the semester (or attend office hours or e-mail) to choose a novel or other substantial literary work to read in Spanish. If you have something in mind, check with the professor--otherwise we will talk about your likes and I will recommend something.

Read your text in the first month of the semester (by the end of February or September), during which time you should choose some aspect of the novel that you will research and write about. Some possible topics include: use of language, treatment of women; portrayal of men; historical context; theme of love (or war); literary style (like magical realism). Many other topics are possible--you should pick something that can interest you through the entire semester project.

Toward the end of September or February, you should request an appointment with your professor to discuss your novel and your theme before you go any further. However, the next steps are:

  1. Research your topic/author/book in the MLA International Bibliography database (available through the library) and compile an initial bibliography of ten sources.
  2. Find the sources, in the library or through Inter-Library Loan.
  3. Read through the sources to check for their usefulness, making notes. At this time, scan the bibliographies of the books and articles you are reading, to make sure you are not missing what could be the best article for your project.
  4. As you do your research, craft a thesis sentence: a claim or hypothesis about the literary work that you think you can prove or demonstrate with reference to your research and reference to the literary work itself.
  5. Go back and find passages from the literary work that support your claims.
  6. Sketch out an outline that will help you write your essay. Decide where you will place quotations from your novel and from your secondary research sources.
  7. Once you feel you have enough resources to support your thesis, begin to write your first draft IN ENGLISH.
  8. Be sure and use correct MLA style for citations and list of Works Cited; the library reference section has copies of the MLA handbook as does the bookstore. Double space and use 12 point font, 1-inch margins, and spell check.
  9. Turn in the final draft to your professor the last Friday in November (Fall) or April (Spring).

For Pre-credential Major the Course Plan also includes:

I. The Subject Matter Competency Exam, which cover linguistics, literature, culture, grammar, language, etc.  It covers all the major subjects studied during the pre-credential major.  Since this is the case, this course should be taken at the end of the last semester of studies at CSU, Chico.  A minimum of C (75%) must be obtained on the exam to pass this course.

II. An oral proficiency exam with the faculty member who administers the course.  A rating of Advanced Low in ACTFL oral proficiency must be obtained to pass the course.