This course will be set up similar to a mystery dinner theater. Each participant will be assigned a character to assume, and will be provided information about that character’s background, personality, and motives. At the beginning of the course, a mystery will be introduced, and the students will have to work together and interact with one another to solve the mystery before it is too late. Weekly clues and updates will be provided to the students.
Who Should Enroll?
- Students who have at least some background in Spanish. It will probably be a bit too difficult for a complete newcomer to stay in character and follow along with all the developments; however, all students are welcome, and lesser roles will be available for students who have little or no experience with Spanish.
- Students who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and assume the role of a character.
- Students who are looking for a fun way to practice and improve their Spanish.
Materials and Technical Requirements
High-speed internet is required for accessing course materials, as well as for participating in live class sessions.
Email access for creating a course account (student and parent must each have a separate email account)
Microphone (can be built into the computer or on a headset)
Before the first week of class, each student will be assigned a character, and will be provided with background information about that character – where he or she is from, what interests and personality quirks that person has, etc.
Each week, students will be provided with an update about their character, so that they can mentally prepare for that week’s live class. Students will be encouraged to come to class with simple costumes and props that help them play the role of their character.
In each week’s class, the students will discuss the latest developments in the unfolding mystery, and they will ask each other questions, bounce ideas off one another, etc., so that they can try to solve the mystery. The teacher will guide the conversation along when necessary, but for the most part it will be led by the students themselves.
Notes About Fluency and Proficiency
It takes a long time to attain fluency or a sufficient proficiency to pass CLEP or AP exams. Students will make progress and gain confidence in a summer course, and even if they do not take later courses, they will have established some positive footing in Spanish that will help them throughout their lives. However, if they hope to approach fluency or to pass the proficiency tests, students need to plan to spend several years in these courses.
Anyone can learn a second language. It is not particularly difficult, but it does require motivation, time, and effort. It can and should be a very enjoyable journey, not a stressful experience.
Different people have different expectations about learning a language. In this class, we will focus on practical skills and on what students can do, not on their shortcomings or deficiencies. Confidence plays a large part in learning a language, and students will get constant positive reinforcement for making an effort to get their point across, rather than having their every mistake pointed out to them.
By having a specific goal (solving the mystery) and having fun with the language, students will find themselves in a sense of “flow” that allows them to make progress with their Spanish proficiency without even realizing it.
About the Teacher
David Nance has extensive experience living and traveling in South and Central America. In addition to spending two years in Uruguay, he has also visited Panama, Chile, Peru, and Puerto Rico, and has set foot in Argentina and Mexico.
Mr. Nance has a BA in Spanish Teaching and an MSE in Curriculum and Instruction. He has taught distance-learning Spanish courses in a variety of formats since 2007.
Mr. Nance and his wife have five young children, and take a learning-by-doing approach to homeschooling them. They love the possibilities and adventures that homeschooling presents.
In addition to teaching, Mr. Nance has also created several popular resources to help people of all ages learn Spanish, including the following:
mySpanishgames.com – a site with Flash-based games, stories, and songs to help students learn and practice Spanish; the site regularly has more than 10,000 monthly visitors. As Flash technology is being replaced, David and Rachel are now working to create new types of games for the site, including virtual reality experiences, board games, card games, and a new mystery-by-mail program called Misterreos.
iTunes U Spanish courses – three self-guided courses available through iTunes U, focused on Spanish grammar; the Spanish I course has spent more than three years on the iTunes U top ten list for courses, and has more than 600,000 people enrolled from around the world.
Spanish I textbook for iPad – an interactive Spanish textbook; this book has spent more than three years on the top ten list for free textbooks on iTunes, and has been downloaded more than 130,000 times.
Spanish for Travelers course on Udemy – a paid, conversation-based approach to Spanish; free access included for students and their parents, upon request; published in 2014, the course has more than 6,600 students enrolled from more than 120 countries.