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Student and tutor module reviews

Viento en popa: upper intermediate Spanish

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: L204
  • Level: 2

Student reviews

This was my first language course with The Open University. My Spanish background came from travelling and lessons in south America and some evening classes so The Open University was a big change. The material is excellent - great videos about interesting subjects with an easy to follow book. I got a lot of support from my tutor who was very professional and never made anyone feel stupid in tutorials for saying completely the wrong thing.

The highlight of the course was the summer school in Spain which really consolidated all our learning and which was a really positive experience.

My only issue with this course would be the constant difficulties with eluminate which made every tutorial a trial as at least one student would be struggling with the program. The open university really need to find a different, more user-friendly program to run tutorials with.

In summary I would recommend this course to Spanish learners. As with all courses it is important to keep up with the work but at this stage it begins to become a pleasure as the subjects are varied and interesting. They included literature, architecture, ecology and you are supported by your tutor and other members of your group to seek out other learning opportunities for example reading Wikipedia online, listening to radio and getting access to material that just isn't always translated into English.

Course starting: February 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This was a very good course. I found the engagement required of the student stimulating, even if learning a spoken language at a distance is never ideal. The compulsory summer school in Spain was excellent - well planned and well executed. It took place in a region where Gallego, a dialect different from Castillian Spanish, is strongly represented, and this was in effect an interesting case-study of the linguistic diversity within Spain.

The focus of the course was more general than just linguistic, with the summer school being a good example. This involved all sorts of demands on our linguistic skills, including group decision-making and problem-solving.

My only slight criticism was that there was not quite enough face-to-face tutor contact and therefore quite an onus on the student to advance their own language mastery. But, all in all, it was a good preparation for the final Diploma course, L314.

Nigel John Pearce

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: October 2012

This is a well taught course, the materials were very useful. Although a bit nervous of the residential school, it was very beneficial, and well worth going to. Try to make use of Elluminate as much as possible to practice the language.

Course starting: February 2011

Review posted: January 2012

A highly enjoyable course made all the better by our tutor who had a real grasp of how to put across the essence of what is required by the curriculum. The course books, although quite old, had resisted using topics that would become too out of date.

As with all OU language courses, the face-to-face tutorials are a little too few and far between for a course where learning new methods of communication is the main aim. It makes speaking alone to the computer to complete the oral TMAs intimidating, even though this is my fourth course of this type.

I understand that the number of face-to-face tutorials is being reduced due to funding problems, and I think this is a shame. I would recommend any students taking this course to organise to meet up now and then for study support seminars. That way, they can get some interactive speaking practice in advance of the oral exam.

Nicholas Lusty

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: October 2010

I thoroughly enjoyed the course - the content was interesting and the residential school was very helpful. I am now looking forward to the next Spanish course.

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: February 2010

I am so glad I studied Viento en Popa. When a new OU course is delivered, it's like Christmas. A box full of beautifully prepared books, the cds and dvds, the various bits of printed materials, it is hard to accept the discipline of reading the printed materials first.

Everything about this course rocks. It builds upon itself so gradually, and the topics that are focused upon are so interesting, that by the end of the course you have learned an enormous amount, without really realising it.
The residential school was also fantastic; very hard work, but so much fun. I would gladly go every year.

The exam was extremely difficult. The written paper was very much as expected, an example paper having been provided, and I did practice it. The oral however came a bit out of left field. Either I had misunderstood the instructions, or they were less than comprehensive.

My tutor was a gem, and the tutorials were the highlight of my month, I would have traveled twice the distance to attend them. I would recommend attending live tutorials if at all possible, for any language course. I would also recommend going to extreme lengths never to miss one.

For anybody who has the remotest interest in learning Spanish, this is a course that just shines, despite its age (all money is referred to in Pesetas). Just get on and do it. You will not be disappointed.

Course starting: February 2009

Review posted: December 2009

An excellent course. The materials are all well integrated and are in a similar structure to that of the Level 1 course making it easy to get going.

The oral exam scared all of us going in because it can't be fully prepared in advance but worked out really well in practice. The course team seem to have gone out of their way to make it clear exactly what they want from you which makes it much easier to work towards that (which isn't to say that the course is easy!).

John Arnold Stewart

Course starting: February 2006

Review posted: September 2007

I thought the materials were excellent and consolidated and developed reading, writing and listening skills, and the subject matter was fascinating. However, unless you already have a good standard of spoken Spanish, I think it is important to top up speaking practice with an evening class or regular conversation with a Spanish speaker.

Obviously the lack of opportunity for speaking practice has to be a disadvantage to distance learning. Some students (including me) found the Summer School in Santiago a little intimidating due to be being at a lower standard than some of the other students. There was a wide range of ability as some students who do this course can already speak Spanish fluently and are doing it for the points towards an OU degree.

Despite all this I managed a Grade 2 pass and feel I really have improved.

Course starting: February 2006

Review posted: December 2006

Personally I would judge this course as "ok", I don't feel that the material was outstanding but it was certainly up-to-date. I found a few topics too "art" based but that's up to everybody's taste.

One major improvement which has to be carried out is the introduction of TMA tasks other than essay writing and oral presentations because they do not necessarily enhance your language skills (they will enhance your essay writing though and you learn how to structure your work).

I have studied languages at Uni in Germany and a major part of my language studies were translations and grammar exams. This is where you really have to show knowledge about a language and understand how it is used.

The down-point of the entire course was the summer school. The teaching of the classes was not on university level, and although the OU courses are open to people w/o A-Levels or Uni-degrees you would expect that the range of people attracted to these courses show more interest than only speaking about food and buying houses. There was not real Spanish interaction between English and Spanish non-students. This might have been due to the uni-holidays and age differences, but certainly this is what I expected from the week: improve my communication skills in Spanish. Upon criticising this we were told, that we have to communicate with other ENGLISH students in Spanish. Now if I want to impove my foreign language skills I do not want to speak to someone who's language skills are just as bad as mine.

Maybe I have got too high expectations of these courses because I thought they are on true uni-level, but I feel that this is a fair point. I cannot recommend this course to somebody who truly wants to achieve thorough language skills on uni-level. For anybody else who is really only interested to be able to speak a bit more Spanish than the typical "holiday phrases" or who wants to move to Southern Spain and buy a property this course is brilliant! You will have to keep on track with you studying, but the volume and what is expected from you is managable while still providing you with a good basis of Spanish.

Kerstin Rosenkranz

Course starting: February 2004

Review posted: October 2005

I can not fault this course! Well presented, highly enjoyable, varied and extremely interesting topics covered.

Although I was not able to attend a single tutorial, I thoroughly enjoyed the course!

If you are able, I would HIGHLY recommend attending the residential school in Spain. The whole experience was first class. The tutors could not do enough to help. Fellow students and the academic and social experience was far better than I had hoped for. Fantastic.

It also gave you the chance to realise that each student is at a different level, some fluent, some not, most somewhere, struggling in between. We all worry am I good enough? am I going to pass? What on earth does that word mean?

10 out of 10. If you are self motivated and hard working (as most OU students undoubtedly are), you will enjoy the course to no end.

Jolene Gomez

Course starting: February 2004

Review posted: January 2005

The material was very good indeed not only from a language view point but also from the wide-range of topics covered. The combination made for a course which was full of interest.

I believe there should be more practice in oral skills in the tutorials rather than various exercises. Whilst of course there were the pronounciation and the palabra justa books and tapes, I found very difficult to know whether my pronounciation was correct.

Course starting: February 2000

Review posted: December 2004

Having done L140, L204 is more of the same. The course audio and video materials are excellent, and the emphasis on world Spanish is great, very useful indeed. It has certainly helped get my ear around South American spoken Spanish. However, I found the structure/format of the course rather monotonous, after a while (and even more so going on to do L314!!). I would have liked the approaches to be different. I also got a bit bored with being taught "how to" all the time. Is that still necessary for people who are studying second level courses?

Martin Ecott

Course starting: February 2003

Review posted: November 2004


Tutor reviews

Having come to the end of my third presentation of this course I would like to say that year on year I have been surprised at how well most students have managed the demands this course places on them, both intellectually and in terms of time management. The result of this sense of achievement is a real high.

However, to get such a positive result it is essential to have a good base knowledge of the language (such as might have been obtained via L140 or similar) to underpin the new learning that will take place during L204.

Also, time management will be very important - I would recommend setting aside blocks of time, preferably little and often, which can be timetabled into the student's normal lifestyle.

Finally, my personal piece of advice is: Enjoy the challenge and when/if it gets too much don't hesitate to seek help and assurance from both the tutor and fellow course students via tutorials, Lyceum, FirstClass conferencing etc., rather than struggling on alone... we are all here to help each other.

Magdalena Martinez De Cosgrave

Review posted: September 2006

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.


Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the February 2013 presentation of L204. The survey was carried out in 2014. 47% of our students responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module. See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 93.7 %
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 88 %
The module provided good value for money 81.5 %
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 83.2 %
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 90.7 %
The module met its stated learning outcomes 94.4 %
I would recommend this module to other students 90.1 %
The module met my expectations 86.6 %
I enjoyed studying this module 87.3 %
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 72.5 %
Faculty comment: "The module team is very pleased to see that our students continue to enjoy the module, and that the vast majority of students have found the experience of studying this module very satisfying and would recommend the module. Our students have particularly praised the quality of the module and teaching materials, and the support received from their tutors. "
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