Study abroad in Edinburgh

Course finder

Semester 1

Spanish Language and Culture. Words, Phrases and Writing (ELCH09031)


European Languages and Cultures - Hispanic Studies





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Entry is subject to a language proficiency test within the relevant subject area and at the discretion of the Course Organiser. Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s).

Course Summary

Spanish phraseology - set phrases, idioms, proverbs, locutions, metaphorical and other expressions - is integral to the Spanish language and constitutes a rich and invaluable source of linguistic and cultural information shared by close to 600 million native speakers and over twenty-one Spanish-speaking nations across the world today. Spanish phrases give the language a richness, depth and imaginative specificity it lacks otherwise. The aim of this course is to enable students to use the Spanish language in the colourful, nuanced and lively way that its native speakers do. It will enhance their understanding of both Spanish and Hispanic cultures and their proficiency in the Spanish language through the study and practice of an ample and varied repertoire of idiomatic Spanish manifested in a variety of texts and contexts, primarily journalistic and literary. It will improve significantly students' written and oral expression, while complementing Language Paper 1 and Oral for Spanish, as well as Colloquial Spanish. (The latter are not co-requisites, so students need not be taking Colloquial Spanish, for example, to enrol on Spanish Language and Culture.)

Course Description

This course involves the study and practice of Spanish phraseology. Set phrases, idioms, proverbs, locutions, metaphorical and other expressions, as well as other cognate constructions, often traceable to specific regions, periods or events, and used in a variety of contexts, represent an important cultural dimension of language. Indeed, no other aspect of the Spanish language embodies Hispanic culture as effectively, nor is there another linguistic component that can transmit history and local character, mores and mindsets with equal distinctiveness and resonance. Such a component represents a unique source of linguistic and cultural information present in the language since its inception. The aim of this course is to enable students to move from passive knowledge and understanding of an important selection of the most widely used phrases in the Spanish-speaking world to an active use and to acquiring the structures and ability to use the language in the rich and sophisticated way that many of its native speakers do. It will do so through the weekly study and practice of an ample and varied repertoire of idiomatic Spanish through a variety of texts and contexts; and it will provide students with an understanding of its cultural dimension. This will be done through the weekly study and practice of phrases classified into semantic fields (structures related to food, animals, trees, plants, nature, parts of the body, parts of the house, objects, clothing, colours, nationalities, languages and cultures, historical and literary figures, cultural sites and traditions), as well as in conjunction with prepositions and particular proverbs, and illustrated by a variety of examples to facilitate learning, mainly journalistic and literary texts: excerpts from newspapers, magazines and literature, including excerpts from the Quijote and the close reading of a novel over the course of the semester, from different Spanish-speaking countries, containing constructions recognized by the Real Academia EspaƱola and its CREA and CORDE databases. Specifically, we will look at a selected number of expressions to introduce and illustrate the importance and usefulness of such linguistic constructions; classify common expressions into specific and easy-to-use categories; use cognitive and intuitive approaches that, through numerous types of weekly exercises, encourage students to engage in language creation; identify, explain and illustrate the connection between the Spanish language and Hispanic culture; work systematically through activities, exercises, strategies and other sources of information (incl. visual and mnemonic devices to aid recall) to facilitate the active use and acquisition of phrases, idiomatic language, proverbs, etc. Moreover, practical weekly exercises will allow the student to practise using the phrases in both spoken and written form and to recognize and understand similarities and differences between English and Spanish linguistic structures; etymologies will help trace the origin of certain expressions and enable students to appreciate them as substantial sources of linguistic and cultural information; additional regular self-assessment activities will allow students to evaluate what they have learned by means of multiple-choice questions and exercises based on journalistic and literary passages. Finally, the study of a novel will allow students to engage with such structures in a larger context at the level of the sentence as they materialise through the linguistic, stylistic and imaginative richness of a full-length prose narrative. The course is assessed by way of 100% coursework: students will write a number of pieces of assessed coursework throughout the course. The course will enhance significantly students' written and oral expression, while complementing Language Paper 1 and Oral for Spanish activities, as well as Colloquial Spanish, with which it forms a two-part unit, if so desired, though Colloquial Spanish is not a co-requisite for Spanish Language and Culture.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

view the timetable and further details for this course


All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer