Beginning Spanish Level 1-Home page

Welcome to Beginning Spanish Level One.  

This course is designed to help you learn to SPEAK Spanish. It is based on materials created by the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute, both long standing, highly effective language instruction powerhouses.  “Platiquemos,” an adaptation, created by Don Casteel, of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) “Spanish Basic Course,”  forms the nexus of our course. All work will revolve around speaking and understanding the material and dialogues presented in the “Platiquemos” books, provided online for your convenience.  Please focus on the Platiquemos oral exercises first when completing your assignments and repeat oral exercises three times.

Core materials links:
Below are links to your core reference materials.  Repaso is optional for this course. 
These materials are also linked on each of your lesson pages, which 
contain core assignments, required vocabulary lists, quizzes and course extras.

  • Core assignments are correlated between four *sources:
  1. Platiquemos online reference for oral exercises and course nexus.
  2. DLI Culmulative Grammar Notesonline reference for reading assignments.
  3. FSI Workbook I, FSI Workbook IIonline references for written work.
  4. “Repaso” hard copy book for further grammar explanations and practice.  link to purchase Repaso  (first edition, preferably)  *purchase is optional, not required
  5. Repaso answer key
  • Each numbered class page has a table with links to your oral exercises (#1 above), reading and written assignments (#s 2 &3 above) and the related “Repaso” pages, where you will find more vocabulary for your personal list, expanded grammar explanations and additional written exercises related to the unit/grammar issue you are working on.  Repaso is optional for the course, but is a great grammar and workbook.
  • Audio (found only on this page) is presented by native Spanish speakers, and includes all utterances you are expected to know so that you have a high quality example of how to pronounce everything you are expected to speak.  Even listening to it in the background as you do another task, like cleaning, would be worth something to your ears.  It is organized by numerical sub category for each unit, and includes a song per unit. Songs were chosen by Platiquemos’ creator, Don Casteel, to add more historical and cultural substance and context to the program. 

How to study and get the most out of this course:

  1. First, practice each “Platiquemos” unit out loud, starting with the “Basic Sentences” that introduce each unit in the course. It’s preferable to click the link in the table on your numbered class assignment page that links to the specific Platiquemos unit(s) by lesson. In the Platiquemos lessons, vocabulary is presented as an indented list that builds up to each “basic sentence,” in which you use the words just learned, sentence by sentence. These basic sentences become dialogues that you will be directed to speak at the end of each unit, starting with unit 3. Guidelines for using Platiquemos
  2. In parentheses in this vocabulary build up are all new infinitive verbs, which you should conjugate in written or typed form in present tense as soon as you know how to do that!  Each numbered class assignment page has a PDF list of the verbs presented by unit in the Platiquemos program for your convenience. (please click “Spanish verb basics” for a quick reference to conjugating verbs in Spanish)
  3. Write down or electronically type all vocabulary words into your personal list, in categories for infinitive verbs, nouns, adjectives and any other forms you recognize.  If you are really ambitious, say them into a recording device so you can practice them out loud and hear yourself saying them. (please click on “Some grammar term basics” and/or “parts of speech”  for some terminology you might find helpful).
  4. Read all notes that follow the basic sentences in Platiquemos and continue with the “Drills and Grammar” page just after them.  
  5. Make notes for yourself about the grammar issue presented there and complete the reading assignments (both “DLI Culmulative Grammar Notes” and “Repaso,”) for a deeper explanation of the grammar presented before moving on to the rest of the “Platiquemos” unit where you will orally drill this construct.  
  6. After completing the above, you will enjoy the oral drills that make up each unit.  Notice that the drills are varied in ways that help your brain and mouth connect to increase fluency while at the same time you are learning meaning, syntax (word order) and grammar.  *The spaces left in the Platiquemos drills are not intended to be written in, but rather to indicate which word(s) is/are missing for your oral exercises.
  7. Read all the assigned materials and make notes.
  8. Do all the assigned written work and check your answer keys included at the end of the online workbooks.  Repaso answer key is linked above with the core materials.
  9. Most Importantly: Go back to the oral exercises (the entire Platiquemos unit)  and repeat them out loud again and again.  The third time is truly the charm in this system.  If you don’t believe me, try doing one small part of any unit you choose out loud three times and see if it doesn’t flow by the third time. Even if you don’t know exactly what you are saying, in time you will.  On that note, if you are working on a drill that gives only the Spanish and that frustrates you, define or translate it for yourself using the beginning of the unit basic sentence vocabulary or the glossary, or any other reference you wish to use, so that you have an idea of what you are saying while you’re drilling.
  10. Feel free to change the order of any of the above to suit yourself, but doing all the work is really what will make things begin to make sense and allow you to speak.  Having said that, if you are strapped for time, concentrating on repeating the oral exercises three times and learning limited vocabulary in the Platiquemos materials is your best chance of acquiring the ability to speak a little bit.
  11. Be ready to SPEAK the oral assignments in class and participate in the guided dialogues that complete each unit from 3 on.
  12. Read these helpful basics.