FSI Language Instruction!


The materials in this course have been developed to present Spanish as a spoken language, and the skills of understanding and speaking are accordingly emphasized. The method of presentation will likely be new to students acquainted with more taditional methods of language teaching. In order to understand the materials, one must first understand the method upon which they are built.

Method of Teaching

The method is known as GUIDED IMITATION. It may appear to be new, but actually it has been used by a considerable number of teachers for many years, though its greatest popularity has come since the second World War. Its goal is to teach one to speak easily, fluently, with very little accent, and to do this without conscious effort, just as one speaks his own language without conscious effort.

There are two very important aspects of this method. First, learning a relatively small body of material so well that it requires very little effort to produce it. This is OVERLEARNING. If a student overlearns every dialog and drill as he goes through the course, he will almost certainly experience rapid progress in learning the language.

The second aspect is learning to authentically manipulate the sounds, sequences, and patterns of the language. The important implication here is the reality of both the model and imitation. The model (recording, written materials etc.) must provide Spanish as people really speak it in actual conversation, and the student must be helped to an accurate imitation. Above all, the normal tempo of pronunciation must be the classroom standard; slowing down is, in this context, distortion.

The complete course consists of 55 units, each requiring at least 10 hours of study to master. The course is a 550 hour course which may be which may be studied intensly over a period of about 6 months, or may be spread at the rate of a unit a week over a period of 55 weeks ( four college semesters). The audio uses native speakers, as this is necessary for the model of imitation.


The first two units are focused primarily on pronunciation problems. Drills on other aspects of the language are deliberately postponed because of the importance of developing pronunciation habits from the very beginning of the course. Pronunciation is very important. It is the basis of real fluency. A person is readily able to understand anything he can meaningful say himself, if the correlation between the way he hears it and the way he says it is reasonable similar. Probably the more similar, the greater the ease of comprehension.