Spanish Basic Language ProgramDepartment of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese

Course Policies and Procedures – FAQ

Course Policies and Procedures – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions on Course Policies and Procedures

Note: Some of the policies and procedures listed on this page may temporarily change due to COVID-19. Please see your syllabus or contact your instructor for the latest information.


It is your responsibility to complete the online coursework in the week provided. If you are unable to complete the work, you must contact your instructor immediately and provide written documentation about your missing work. Technology failures are not an excuse for unfinished work. Please plan accordingly. We recommend that you do the assignments ahead of time since this has the added benefit of allowing you enough time to contact your instructor to address questions you may have.

These weekly folders include a Presentations folder and a Quizzes folder. Spanish 1 and World Campus courses also include the Actividades de comunicación (Communication Activity) for the week.

Presentations folder:

Here you will find video presentations, written explanations, and PowerPoint presentations of the week’s material. Activities found in this folder are not graded.

Quizzes folder:

Here you will find quizzes about the material presented in the ‘Presentations’ folder. You will have one attempt for activities with only 2 possible answers and two attempts for those with 3 or more possible answers. If an activity does not follow these guidelines, this will be indicated in the instructions. It is strongly recommended that before you log off, you check to see that your work has been properly recorded. There is no time limit in the quizzes; you have to complete them in the week that is written in the syllabus. All quizzes are mandatory and graded. Your grade for the quiz is the highest grade from the 2 attempts.

Actividades de comunicación:

Each week Spanish 1 and World Campus students you will complete one of three communication activities: Zona culturalForo de experiencias, or Tertulia. In the Zona cultural, you will post a response to a prompt based on a cultural theme, and you will respond to your classmates’ posts. The Foro de experiencias works similarly. You will post a response to the prompt (which usually asks about you, your friends, and your family), and you will comment on the posts made by your classmates. The Tertulia involves working in a small group to record a 5-minute conversation about a topic related to our new vocabulary. Please, read your syllabus for further explanation.

Each folder will open as the semester progresses, one per week, in both Canvas and MySpanishLab. For the exact dates, check the syllabus or course calendar.

Throughout the semester, UP students are allowed to have two unexcused absences for Spanish 1, 2 and 3, five unexcused absences for Spanish 10 and 20. These are to cover things such as minor illness, weddings, funerals, job interviews, etc. For more information on absences, please see the Policies Document for your level of Spanish.

Yes. Each new textbook comes with an access code that is required in order to complete the online assignments. You are not able to purchase the code by itself, it is currently only offered as a package with a new textbook. Please DO NOT purchase a used book as you will not be able to use the access code. For more information, please review the technical FAQ on how to register for MySpanishLab.

For questions about Spanish, course content, extensions, or how your work was graded, you’ll need to contact your instructor. Check the People page if you don’t already have their contact information.

Yes. This questionnaire is simply a way for us to get a better idea of your background with the Spanish language and to determine if you are in the correct level based on your experience.

It depends. The Placement Policy for Penn State World Language Courses dictates the minimum level language course a student is allowed to take for credit, based on the student’s high school admissions information. The guideline for span 1 is as follows:

  • Students who took 1 year or less of high school Spanish are allowed to receive credit for Spanish 1. Therefore, if you have taken more than 1 year of Spanish in high school you will not receive credit.
  • 7 and 8th grades do not count. Also, if you graduated four or more years ago, you are eligible for Span 1.

If you need a definitive answer, contact the Basic and Intermediate Language Assistant.

No. The use of an online translator is forbidden in this language class. Online translators are considered a form of academic dishonesty (cheating) and if you use them in this course an Academic Integrity Form will be reported to the College of Liberal Arts.

Course Specific

Grades for Spanish are worth different amounts of the total course grade:
Spanish 1 and World Campus
MSL Online Quizzes 20%
Foro de experiencias 4%
Zona cultural 4%
Tertulia 7%
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Exam 3 25%
Spanish 2 and 3 UP
Canvas Online Assignments 1%
MSL Online Quizzes 11%
Participation 14%
Escritura – First Versions 6%
Escritura – Final Versions 3%
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Exam 3 20%
Oral Exam 5%
Spanish 10 and 20
Online Assignments 10%
Participation 15%
Escritura – First Draft 6%
Escritura – Final Draft 4%
Exam 1 15%
Exam 2 15%
Exam 3 15%
Exam 4 15%
Oral Exam 5%

Canvas will not automatically organize you into a group. You need to form a group by replying to the posts in the Teammates Wanted discussion within the Communication Activity Resources module. If you end up without a group, we will randomly assign you to one.

No. Because this is an online course, there is no requirement for you to physically meet with your classmates. The program we use for the Tertulia activities, Zoom, can be accessed from anywhere in the world as long as there is an internet connection. Therefore you simply need to decide on a time to meet in this virtual room to complete the assignment.

See the Evaluation Criteria for Written Expression (First Version) and Evaluation Criteria for Written Expression (Final Version) for more information.

The topics for the escrituras will be provided by your instructor in class on the day of the assignment.

Exam Questions

Spanish 1, 2, and 3 will have 3 regular exams. Exams 1, 2 and 3 will each consist of listening comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension and a short essay.

Spanish 10 and 20 students will have 4 exams held in class the day of the exam.

Spanish 2, 3, 10 and 20 UP will have an oral exam in addition to the regular exams described above. The oral exam is a 5 minute dialogue between two students and will take place in class.

More information on the exams can be found in the course syllabus or policies document.

University Park Students:

Yes. You are responsible for supplying your own headphones for the exams. The Testing Center does not have any headphones to loan to students. If you arrive at the Testing Center without your headphones, you will not be able to take the exam and will be asked to reschedule.

World Campus Students

No. You should use built-in or external speakers. Using headphones is not permitted with Honorlock.

Universty Park students:

Yes. You will be provided with a piece of bar-coded scratch paper when entering for your exam. This is the only form of paper you will be permitted to use during the exam. When exiting the Testing Center, you will be required to scan and return your scratch paper to the Testing Center staff. Failure to do this will result in an F for your final course grade.

World Campus students:


There are no exams during finals week for any of the SBLP courses (Spanish 1, 2, 3, 10, or 20).

University Park students:

All exams for Spanish 1, 2 and 3 will be administered through the Testing Center in Pollock Building. You will be able to complete your exam at any time during the exam week, however there are time constraints. An email notification from the Testing Center will be sent to all students in advance of the exams requiring pre-registration. See the course syllabus for dates and specifics about the exams and their content.

World Campus students:

If you are enrolled in a World Campus Spanish language course, you must meet with a proctor in-person to complete your exams.