Your final mark is 50% oral (including listening comprehension) and 50% written(including reading comprehension). YOU MUST DO BOTH AND GET MINIMUM MARKS IN BOTH AND AN OVERALL 60% TO PASS.
Teachers are happy to pass students. If you pray as hard as Madrid’s patron saint and then you get an angel help you study effortlessly, we’ll be happy to pass you. We wouldn’t be happy about any student of ours studying by means of voodoo, but we’d still be happy to pass him or her, just the same. In case you’re an average sort of human being here are some recommendations:
Most successful students at ADVANCED level have realized that they have reached a point where THEY are learning themselves- from books, cassettes, videos, other students, the teacher- rather than being just taught and full stop, for the most part.
Some of our previously successful students say they need 4 hours a week at home as well as classes, others, only 1 or 2. We expect you need around two hours or more.
Many- unsuccessful- students spend hours and hours studying passively to recite grammar from grammar books and textbooks, and learning vocabulary as isolated words (with the correct pronunciation?). This may have been enough for ELEMENTARY; for INTERMEDIATE AND ADVANCED it’s unlikely to give you good results. WE WANT TO HELP YOU TO USE YOUR STUDY TIME EFFECTIVELY, SO AS TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR CLASS TIME, USING YOUR INITIATIVE AND IMAGINATION.
It goes without saying that we assume you’ve got a dictionary at home. We advise you to have an INTERACTIVE grammar book as well. By ‘interactive’ we mean that it has integrated exercises- and an answer key- to help you learn the points in the book. We have suggested RAYMOND MURPHY’S with answers edition of Advanced Grammar in Use. (Advanced level). Ed. C.U.P. (Cambridge University Press); another possibility is JOHN EASTWOOD’S with answers edition of ‘OXFORD PRACTICE GRAMMAR’ (O.U.P.). (Both will do for aDVANCED). There are others on the market you may already have or prefer. We’d be interested to hear from any student who’s using a computerized dictionary &/or grammar on their home P.C., to evaluate it. AND- A VERY BIG AND – don’t forget to integrate all this orally somehow, in some such ways as suggested here.
The course will cover the WHOLE of the ‘grammatical’ contents at the back of the textbook. BUT:
A lot of the book is made up of texts. You will learn best reading them individually, even those which we do go through in class. Your dictionary will give you the meaning and PRONUNCIATION of words you don’t know, which in most cases will be enough for you to understand that section of the text. So: SAVE CLASS TIME FOR REAL DIFFICULTIES.
We also expect you to do the workbook exercise at home. They follow the units of the textbook. Correct your exercises yourself. DON’T HESITATE TO ASK IN CLASS WHEN YOU CANNOT SEE WHY THE KEY GIVES A DIFFERENT ANSWER TO YOURS; you may be equally right, and even if you’re wrong it’s useful to understand HOW and WHY. We all learn from our mistakes- AND from other people’s.
It shouldn’t be necessary to explain all over again in class the revision of structures from ELEMENTARY. If you’re preparing ahead of the class a little bit, as you should be doing, use your grammar book- we expect you to have one- to check up on what you have learnt before and forgotten about. Your teacher may refuse to help you on things from ELEMENTARY, if you haven’t done so.
As well as the ‘listenings’ on the cassette of the course you should have at home, you need to record YOURSELF on cassette. (It’s even better with other students).
ONE good scheme is to record yourself saying all the vocabulary of each unit, and large chunks of the texts from the textbook and the set reader (libro de lectura). Remember to try to make the divisions and stresses and so on you’ve been shown in class. ANOTHER is to learn short sections of dialogue, songs, poems, etc, by heart and record yourself. At the very least you’ll have got your old textbooks from ELEMENTARY as material, you’ve probably got the words to some songs from the album cover. A THIRD is to record exercises that you find exceptionally difficult, or texts that contain them. And- we repeat- how about getting together with another student or two and doing all this together?
As well as intensively going over what has already been covered, we expect you to do some preparation of what is to come. Use skimming and dipping practises: a few minutes daily is better than 8 hours one day a month. Come to class PREPARED.
It’s a big mistake to think that what another student is saying or asking has nothing to do with you. You can learn a lot remaining attentive. It’s a bigger mistake to keep your mouth shut and not practice English in class. PARTICIPATE IN CLASS.
Reading was traditionally the only way to progress. You should enjoy reading. Fast ‘eye reading’ and, as a result, automatic subconscious second language classification and learning IS possible. YOU CAN DO IT! Many, very many, much stupider people than you have done it in the past! So, as a minimum, READ YOUR SET READRES.
Compositions are a way for you to learn to express yourself, an opportunity for the teacher to give you individual help. Don’t think we’re looking for ways to ‘put you down’ and give you allow mark. If you don’t set out to find India, you’ll never reach America. Two compositions a year done in 5 minutes ‘para cubrir el expediente’ is NOT ENOUGH.