Kathleen Bulger-Barnett, Ph.D.

 SP303W - Spanish Composition and Conversation

 Fall 2014 

Profesora: Col. K. Bulger-Barnett
Oficina: 428 Scott Shipp
Horas de despacho: lunes, miércoles, viernes 2:00
Teléfono: 464-7457

 Course description:

Spanish 303W is designed for students who wish to gain a command of spoken and written Spanish. This course emphasizes the refinement of previously acquired language skills. Whereas beginning and intermediate Spanish concentrate on basic grammar acquisition and the ability to communicate an idea correctly (although in a non-native fashion), SP 303W seeks to embellish these skills further. As such, a high degree of proficiency and mastery level in both written and oral Spanish is expected for an average or better grade. The 3-day breakdown of this course will be as follows: Day A--topics to be assigned; Day B--In-class discussion regarding world news and current events (especially information that pertains to your major); Day C—In-lab work writing and rewriting compositions with my help.


Course goals--The goals of this course are for each student to:

  1. Reach a level of sophisticated expression in written and oral Spanish.
  2. Broaden vocabulary and grammar.
  3. Improve pronunciation.
  4. Refine listening skills, through exposure to the language in and out of the classroom.
  5. Utilize correct grammar, syntax and a choice of words in a style appropriate for composition.


501 Verbs, Christopher Kendris, any edition.

A good Spanish-English dictionary (Recommended Larousse). Many are available for check out at Preston Library.

Useful links for news and current events

Grading scale: The grading scale will be as follows:


Grade Distribution:

Written compositions 30%
Conversational ability and daily speaking 25%
Daily journal 15%
Final examination 30%

Written compositions..............................................30%

Each week you will write compositions in Spanish. These are certified. Work alone. You may ask me questions and you may use references such as grammar books and dictionaries, and you must cite these at the end of the assignment.

Composition defined: an original essay of 18-23 typed lines, of original material, written for the purpose of practicing grammar and rhetoric.

The errors will be marked with symbols that should aid you in correcting the compositions. All compositions must then be corrected, revised, and resubmitted, along with the original. You will receive a grade only on the rewrite. You will be given a chart with the symbols that I use. After I return your original composition and you have made your revisions, count the number for each particular type of error and enter it on a spreadsheet. This way you can see your progress during the course, and thus know which areas still need improvement. You should track errors on all drafts of compositions.

We will dedicate one in-class hour per week to working on compositions. The topics from these compositions will be assigned by the professor and will include items such as those from the text, international politics, domestic politics, news, economics, ecology, social issues, leisure, sports, pop culture, and the arts, among others. Students are encouraged to submit editorials of a non-VMI nature to the CADET newspaper. In order to help you learn about the topics above, you should browse various news links such as the Lanic newsroom, CNNenespanol.com, SCOLA, http://www.maximum.tv/#/HomeTV broadcasts, and CNN en audio.

OJO--The grading of compositions and oral performance in this class will be assessed on accuracy, refinement, and assimilation of new material. Your grade will be determined not only on accuracy, but on your ability to incorporate new material, as well. You should be careful to avoid elementary mistakes yet, remember, that an almost correct, but sophisticated expression, is worth more than a safe but elementary way.

Conversational ability and daily speaking.......................................25%

Language acquisition is an active skill rather than a passive one. You must learn to speak actively instead of responding only when prompted. On a daily basis I will evaluate your spoken contribution to the class. In particular, I am grading you on pronunciation, preparedness, quality and accuracy of your expression. I am also most interested in your incorporation into classroom discussions of more native, sophisticated expression as well as of new vocabulary from our text.


Daily written journal....................................................................…15%

Cadets will keep an informal daily journal to be turned in once per week, on Wednesdays. Journals can be left and retrieved outside my office door.  They can be handwritten or typed and are of an informal nature, meaning that there is not an assigned topic, unlike formal compositions. The goal is to encourage writing and new vocabulary growth.  Each Wednesday cadets will turn in journal entries that accumulate to at least a one-page  8.5x 11 notebook page, regardless of how many entries are collected. Grades will be assigned based on incorporation of  level-appropriate grammar and vocabulary and attempts to broaden language usage and flow.  If  penmanship is a challenge, then the professor may request that the cadet type the entries.  I will not accept post facto or late journals.

Make up/ late policy:

I will not accept any late, incomplete, and/or illegible work. If you are going to be absent for guard duty, a VMI sponsored event, or a 3.0 cut, you may submit a composition or do your oral presentation early. You may also e-mail these to me at the following address: Bulger-BarnettKD@vmi.edu. If you are ill or on "last-minute" guard duty, you may complete any assignments before the next class, and do your oral presentation at the beginning of the next class. I will not permit make-up oral presentations for taking a day, or extended weekends.

Final exam................................................30%

Helped received clarification:

Unless the work assigned is certified and specifically for a grade, you are encouraged to work together. For example, please work together on grammar review exercises from our text. At the end of the assignment, please cite the name(s) of cadets with whom you are working. You should rehearse with one another any oral reports assigned, and critique each other, as well. Correct each other's grammar when you are speaking Spanish outside of class.

VMI WORK FOR GRADE POLICY, quoted from pp 24-26 of Academic Regulations 

Development of the spirit as well as the skills of academic inquiry is central to the mission of VMI's Academic Program.  As a community of scholars, posing questions and seeking answers, we invariably consult and build upon the ideas, discoveries, and products of others who have wrestled with related issues and problems before us.  We are obligated ethically and in many instances legally to acknowledge the sources of all borrowed material that we use in our own work.  This is the case whether we find that material in conventional resources, such as the library or cyberspace, or discover it in other places like conversations with our peers.  

Academic integrity requires the full and proper documentation of any material that is not original with us.  It is therefore a matter of honor.  To misrepresent someone else's words, ideas, images, data, or other intellectual property as one's own is stealing, lying, and cheating all at once.  

Because the offense of improper or incomplete documentation is so serious, and the consequences so potentially grave, the following policies regarding work for grade have been adopted as a guide to cadets and faculty in upholding the Honor Code under which all VMI cadets live:  

1)         Cadets' responsibilities 

"Work for grade" is defined as any work presented to an instructor for a formal grade or undertaken in satisfaction of a requirement for successful completion of a course or degree requirement.  All work submitted for grade is considered the cadet's own work.  "Cadet's own work" means that he or she has composed the work from his or her general accumulation of knowledge and skill except as clearly and fully documented and that it has been composed especially for the current assignment.  No work previously submitted in any course at VMI or elsewhere will be resubmitted or reformatted for submission in a current course without the specific approval of the instructor.  

In all work for grade, failure to distinguish between the cadet's own work and ideas and the work and ideas of others is known as plagiarism.  Proper documentation clearly and fully identifies the sources of all borrowed ideas, quotations, or other assistance. The cadet is referred to the VMI-authorized handbook for rules concerning quotations, paraphrases, and documentation.  

Cadets are prohibited from discussing the contents of a quiz/exam until it is returned to them or final course grades are posted.  This enjoinder does not imply that any inadvertent expression or behavior that might indicate one's feeling about the test should be considered a breach of honor.  The real issue is whether cadets received information, not available to everyone else in the class, which would give them an unfair advantage.  If a cadet inadvertently gives or receives information, the incident must be reported to the professor and the Honor Court.  

Each cadet bears the responsibility for familiarizing himself or herself thoroughly with the policies stated in this section, with any supplementary statement regarding work for grade expressed by the academic department in which he or she is taking a course, and with any special conditions provided in writing by the professor for a given assignment.  If there is any doubt or uncertainty about the correct interpretation of a policy, the cadet should consult the instructor of the course. There should be no confusion, however, on the basic principle that it is never acceptable to submit someone else's work, written or otherwise, formally graded or not, as one's own.  

The violation by a cadet of any of these policies will, if he or she is found guilty by the Honor Court, result in his or her being dismissed from VMI.  Neither ignorance nor professed confusion about the correct interpretation of these policies is an excuse.  


Department of Modern Languages and Cultures: Departmental Statement Concerning VMI's Policies Regarding Work for Grade

The policies of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures concerning “Work for Grade” conform to the Institute policy as stated in the Academic Regulations. It is restated here for the information of all cadets and faculty concerned.

 Policy Concerning “Help Received” Statement  

In all written work for grade the cadet must include the words “Help Received” conspicuously on the document, and he or she must then do one of two things: (1) state “none”; or (2) explain in detail the nature of the help received. In oral work for grade, the cadet must make the same declaration before beginning the presentation. Admission of help received may result in a lower grade but will not result in prosecution for an honor violation.  

Policy Concerning the Use of Tutors  

A professor may have narrower parameters than those stated above. In order to minimize problems and confusion, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures expects every cadet enrolled in its classes to ALWAYS seek the authorization and follow the instructions given by his or her individual professor BEFORE SEEKING TUTORIAL HELP (Academic Center tutor, Athletic (NCAA) tutor, privately contracted tutor, native speaker—in short, anyone who serves in a tutorial capacity). All tutorial help MUST be limited to helping the cadet by offering critical comments. Critical comments must be limited to giving general advice on such matters as organization, thesis development, support for assertions, and patterns of errors: i.e., all help from a tutor must be limited to identifying errors rather than to correcting errors. Tutorial help may not include proofreading or editing.

Policy Concerning Peer Collaboration  

When a fellow cadet acts in a tutorial capacity, the same guidelines apply as do those for tutors as outlined above. In group projects “help received” needs to be explained only in those instances where the group seeks outside help.  


Policy Concerning the Appropriate Use of Electronic Technology  

In an age of rapidly expanding technologies, the student of modern languages and cultures may need guidance from his or her professor in the appropriate use of electronic devices. Therefore, in any work for grade context, the Department of Modern Languages and cultures designates as UNAUTHORIZED the use of hand-held computers, electronic translators, internet translation sites, and any service, fee or non-fee, electronic or otherwise that substitutes for the cadet’s own efforts in the completion of assigned work for grade. The student MUST ALWAYS CONSULT with the course instructor regarding authorized uses of such media and services.  

Modern Language Department policy stipulates that a cadet may leave the classroom during class ONLY in cases of emergency.  It is disruptive to classroom rhythm if students leave and return for water, restroom breaks, etc.   

Spanish 303W--Composition Symbols

PRO--omitted or superfluous pronoun; ex. [le] Dieron a él el libro.; includes reflexive usage.

PP--incorrect choice of preposition; omitted or superfluous preposition.

A--"Personal A"; ex. No conozco [a] tu amigo.

AX--Accentuation: omitted or superfluous accent or other written symbol, such as the ñ,u,u, ¿, .

NAG--Noun agreements (gender, number, or both with adjectives; also includes other noun-centered forms such as demonstratives, possessives, pronouns, etc.)

G--Incorrect gender assignment to a noun.

F--Form: often a regularized adjective, ex. "una niña muy [jovena].; or the wrong form of a conjugation, ex. hemos rompido for roto, hablemos for hablamos in preterit, irregulars [andé] for anduve; or stem changing, [empeza] for empieza.

WW--Wrong word: incorrect choice or selection of a term, ex. banco for orilla or caja fuerte for seguro.

COG--False cognates (ex. embarazada, actualmente, etc.); or non-existent, made-up words or expressions derived from English influence) ex. en facto for en realidad).

SAG--Subject-verb agreement.

ART--omitted or superfluous article, ex. Soy un alumno.

T--Any error in tense selection, including infinitives.

S/E--Confusion of ser and estar.

PRIM--PReterit / IMperfect confusion. (see T for other tenses)


M--Mood: incorrect choice of subjunctive, Indicative, or Imperative.

A/P--Incorrect voice, i.e., "Active/Passive" usage : (1) If active change to passive, or vice versa; (2) incorrect passive form, i.e., se passive vs. ser passive.

SYN--syntax, i.e. word order.

Q--omitted or superfluous "que"; or wrong selection of "que" vs. "quien", "cual", etc.

X--Any basic grammatical error which the student should reasonably know.

R--Rewrite, or try another way of phrasing; you will probably have to consult me about sentences or phrases marked with brackets [...] which usually designate expressions that are too confusing to identify the error, or perhaps simply merit a stylistic suggestion.



WC--Word choice:

Technically a correct selection, but better choice of wording or a better phrase should be used, ex. finalmente for por fin, also the incorporation of idiomatic phrases, ex. Estaba de mala uva.

RD--Redundancies: correct usage, but excessive use of the same word(s). Consult the dictionary or thesaurus for other alternatives, or rephrase.

Symbols may appear in the margin or above the error. When two or more errors are made in the same word, the symbols are joined with a hyphen. Ex. S / E-M-T

Ex. Espero que ellas serán en la fiesta....Espero que estén en la fiesta.

** Always find the error, correct it, rewrite it, catalogue it on your chart, and reprint your composition for regrading.


 Statement on disabilities: 

Statement on disabilities:  “VMI abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 which mandate reasonable accommodations are provided for all cadets with documented disabilities. If you have a registered disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodations, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate provision of accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Office of Disabilities Services, the designated office on Post to provide services for cadets with disabilities. The office is located on the 2nd floor of the VMI Health Center. Please call or stop by the office of LTC Jones, Director of Disabilities Services, for more information, 464-7667 or jonessl10@vmi.edu.”

Guard duty and absences: Cadets "standing guard" are authorized to miss class.  Those cadets who are simply "on guard" must attend class.  In either case, if  an exam or other graded work is scheduled, cadets are expected to arrange a swap of guard duty.




SP303W Course Calendar  fall 2014



 M/1 Registration
T/ 2  Classes begin
W/3  Introduction
F/5   Introduction

M/8  topico     Academic convocation, 11:00
T/9  Last day  to add a course
W/10  Noticias

W/17  Noticias
F/19  Laboratorio

W/24  Noticias

T/30  End first grading period


W/1  Noticias
F/3 Laboratorio  Rat grades due at 4:00

4-5 October FTX

T/ 7
W/ 8  Noticias
R/ 9
F/ 10  Laboratorio

T/ 14
W/ 15  Noticias
R/ 16
F/ 17

Parents Weekend .......................................... Fri-Sat, 17-18 Oct   

T/ 21  Midterm grading period ends
W/ 22  Noticias
R/ 23
F/ 24  Laboratorio  Midterm grades due for all classes, 4:00

M/ 27
T/ 28
W/ 29   Noticias
R/ 30
F/ 31

M/ 3
T/ 4
W/ 5  Noticias
R/ 6
F/ 7  Laboratorio

M/ 10
T/ 11  No classes (Founders’ Day)
W/ 12  Noticias
R/ 13
F/ 14 

M/ 17
T/ 18  3rd grading  period ends. Last day to drop with automatic W
W/ 19  Noticias
R/ 20
F/ 21   Laboratorio. Grades due at 4:00, rats only

Ring Figure Fri, 21 Nov  
M/ 24
T/ 25
W/ 26- S/30  Thanksgiving Furlough

M/ 1
T/ 2
W/ 3   Noticias
R/ 4
F/ 5  Laboratorio

M/ 8 
T/ 9
W/ 10  Noticias
R/ 11
F/ 12    Laboratorio. last day of classes

M/ 15- /19  Final exams  

Grades due for graduating cadets 18 December, noon 
December Joint Commissioning Ceremony Thu, 18 Dec  
December Graduation  Fri, 19 Dec  
Dec 20--  Jan 13 Christmas  Furlough
Final grades due Dec 23 4:00