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M.A. Spanish Exams

Department of Modern & Classical Languages

Internationals Read From Every Angle

M.A. Exams

Stage I: Proficiency and Pedagogy


At the beginning of the third semester of the program, all graduate students take an oral exam graded by a committee (consisting of a minimum of 3 faculty including at least 1 member from an "outside" language). The exam will test two areas: (1) proficiency in the target language and (2) familiarity with contemporary second-language pedagogy.

The exam is a mock job interview. The candidate uses the target language to articulate a methodological vision for the second-language classroom. The candidate responds to questions in the target language and in English.

Students who score an "unsatisfactory" (or "not hired") on this exam will have one opportunity to retake the exam during the second semester. Inability to use the target language at a proficient level and/or inability to articulate an employable pedagogical vision will result in termination from the program.

Suggested readings: (Note: Some editions may be revised. Choose the most recent edition available.)

  1. Brown, Douglas. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. (2001)
  2. Griffith, Carol. Lessons from Good Language Learners. (2008)
  3. Lee, James, and Van Patten, Bill. Making Communicative Language Teaching Happen.  (1995)
  4. Omaggio Hadley, Alice. Teaching Language in Context. (2000)
  5. Richard-Amato, Patricia. Making It Happen: From Interactive to Participatory Language Teaching. (2003)
  6. Shrum, Judith and Eileen Glisan. Teacher's Handbook: Contextualized Language Instruction. (2010)
  7. Van Patten, Bill. From input to output: A Teacher's Guide to Second Language Acquisition. (2003)
  8. VanPatten, Bill and Jessica Williams. Theories in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction. (2007)

Stage II: General Knowledge and Specialization


During the first week of the fourth semester, a monitored written exam allows students to answer 3 questions of 7 possible topics regarding the Master's Reading List for each target language. Each answer reflects 20 minutes of writing time. (Note: The M.A. classes do not necessarily cover any of the works on the M.A. Reading List. Students should consult criticism on the assigned works for greater competency. See the librarians at Coe for help in learning to use the MLA and other relevant databases.)

With the written exam, students turn in an individually prepared list of texts that reflects an area of interest. This specialized list may end up informing the M.A. thesis. Each student will answer questions about this list in a final, group oral exam administered at the faculty members' leisure during the third semester.  (Note: In the case that a student opts not to write a thesis, this exam still applies.)

Areas of possible focus for the specialized exam (in alphabetical order):

  • Pedagogy
  • Theory/Criticism
  • Topics in Literature
  • Topics in Visual Culture
  • Topics in Linguistics
  • Translation


A grade of "unsatisfactory" on the written exam will result in one opportunity to retake the problematic portion(s) of the exam. Inability to score a grade of "satisfactory" on the second round of written exams will result in termination from the program.


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