Spanish 1

Upcoming dates (7)

For registration assistance: 608-262-2451


Watch this short video about why our online Language program is one of the best in the country!

This practical beginner’s course (A1.1), developed fully by UW-Madison for adult language learners, explores the cultural richness of the Spanish-speaking world while helping you master the basics of Spanish. Learn to talk about life, family, work and travel with our award-winning approach.

Our unique materials allow you to listen to the voices and stories of speakers from more than 10 different Spanish-speaking countries. A proven communicative approach emphasizes speaking competency while also building skills in listening, reading and writing. See Outline for complete details. Participants with no previous experience with Spanish are encouraged to begin with Spanish 0. All materials included.

Prerequisite: None.

Find out if this is the right level for you with these placement tests: Spanish 1 self-placement test, Spanish 2 self-placement test.

Want to know more about learning a language online? Read Dr. Julie Dahl's blog post about our online course format.

Course format

You will practice speaking in weekly 30-minute online sessions led by an experienced instructor, with a maximum of 3-6 other participants. In order to get to know all of your classmates, your conversation time will vary between the first or second 30-minute time slot of the hour you registered for. You should be available for either.

The live online sessions begin one week after the scheduled course start date to allow time to work through the first unit of learning material in preparation for the live conversation practice.

Online course materials introduce new grammar and vocabulary and teach pronunciation, listening, and reading skills through videos, audio, and interactive exercises. Budget 3-4 hours a week to work through the online asynchronous content.

Course materials become available online on the scheduled course start date and remain accessible for one month after the course ends.

A printable workbook (PDF) is included in the price. All other materials are available through the course platform.

Sections anticipated for summer 2024 (See upcoming dates for open sections and more detail):

Thursdays, July 18–Sept. 26, 8–9 a.m. CT

Sections anticipated for fall 2024 (See upcoming dates for open sections and more detail):

Tuesdays, Sept. 10–Nov. 19, 5:30–6:30 p.m. CT

Tuesdays, Sept. 10–Nov. 19, 6:45–7:45 p.m. CT

Wednesdays, Sept. 11–Nov. 20, 4:30–5:30 p.m. CT

Tuesdays, Sept. 24–Dec. 10, 5–6 p.m. CT (No virtual conversation on Nov. 26)

Tuesdays, Oct. 1–Dec. 17, 8:30–9:30 a.m. CT (No virtual conversation on Nov. 26)

Wednesdays, Oct. 2–Dec. 18, 5:30–6:30 p.m. CT (No virtual conversation on Nov. 27)

Thursdays, Oct. 3–Dec. 19, 5:30–6:30 p.m. CT (No virtual conversation on Nov. 28)

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Course Outline

Course outline

Below are the themes and language outcomes for each unit. Each unit also contains 10-15 listening activities, an extended reading activity, review dialogues and cultural information related to the unit theme.

Unidad 1: Greetings

  • Common greetings and goodbyes
  • Asking and answering common questions: name, place of origin, telephone number
  • Formal vs. informal address
  • Numbers 0-10
  • Pronunciation: Y and LL

Unidad 2: We are speaking!

  • Getting to know each other
  • Personal pronouns
  • Conjugating regular –ar verbs in the present tense
  • The verb ser
  • Interrogative words and forming questions
  • Numbers 11-20
  • Names of languages
  • Pronunciation: C, S and Z

Unidad 3: My activities

  • Talking about common activities
  • Strategies for forming and answering questions
  • Days of the week
  • Gender of nouns and making nouns plural
  • The definite articles el/las/los/las
  • Conjugating -er and -ir verbs in the present tense.
  • Pronunciation: Ñ

Unidad 4: My work

  • Talking about professions
  • The indefinite articles un/una/unos/unas
  • The verbs estar, ir and dar
  • Talking about frequency of activities
  • Pronunciation: R

Unidad 5: My world

  • Talking about countries and organizations
  • Alphabet and spelling
  • Expressing agreement and disagreement in conversations
  • Numbers 20-100
  • Personal A
  • Countries, industries and products
  • Review of Unidades 1-4
  • Pronunciation: H

Unidad 6: My family

  • Talking about family
  • Possessive adjectives
  • Irregular verbs: e-ie
  • The verb tener
  • Talking about age
  • Pronunciation: common last names

Unidad 7: My likes

  • Talking about likes and dislikes
  • Months and seasons
  • Written accent marks
  • Using the verbs gustar and encantar
  • Using infinitives in a sentence
  • Pronunciation: RR

Unidad 8: My diet

  • Talking about food and diet
  • Ordering in a restaurant
  • Irregular verbs: o-ue
  • More on gustar
  • Pronunciation: J

Unidad 9: My favorite city

  • Talking about cities
  • Asking for information in a tourist office
  • Telling time
  • Talking about when activities are performed
  • The special verb hay
  • Pronunciation: Review

Unidad 10: My life

  • Talking about dates and birthdays
  • Contrasting ser and estar
  • Extensive review of Unidades 1-9
  • Extended speaking preparation

Earn Continuing Education Hours

By participating in this class you will earn:

Instructional Hours 35
University of Wisconsin Continuing Education Units 3.5

Explanation of Continuing Education Hours

Upcoming dates (7)

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Program Questions?

Contact Chris Moore at christopher.moore@wisc.edu or 608-262-7389

Registration Questions?

Email registrations@pyle.wisc.edu or call 608-262-2451.

Continuing Studies FAQs

Meet your instructors

Silvana Caterina Benzoni

(MA, Loyola University Chicago) has taught Spanish language, culture, and literature courses to traditional and non-traditional adult students for over 15 years. Born in Brazil and raised in Argentina, she enjoys sharing her first language with students and helping them grow their speaking skills with practical and fun learning activities.

Michelle Sharp

(PhD, UW-Madison) has worked with true beginners through graduate level pedagogy students in Spanish for over a decade. She loves working with students at all levels to discover something new. Her favorite moments are watching students build confidence in the new skills they've learned.

Julie M. Dahl

Julie M. Dahl (PhD, UW-Madison) has over 30 years of experience teaching languages and intercultural skills. She has lived and worked in Spain and Portugal and travelled extensively in Latin America. She has directed the Language program for the Division of Continuing Studies since 2013 and is the author of the Logros Spanish curriculum (used for Spanish 1-4). She designed the Online Business Spanish Certificate and frequently teaches workshops on Intercultural Communication.

Erin Paul-Schuetter

(PhD, UW-Madison) is the assistant director of the DCS language program. She has taught beginning through advanced Spanish language courses for adults for more a decade. She is dedicated to creating a welcoming learning environment in her courses and enjoys the diversity of thought and experiences that lifelong learners bring to a class.

Bicho Salto-Weis Azevedo

(PhD in Second Language Acquisition, UW-Madison) has taught beginning through advanced Spanish language and linguistic courses for over 20 years at different US universities. She enjoys learning from her students as they improve their Spanish skills. 

Denise Castillo

(PhD candidate, UW- Madison) is a passionate educator who has taught beginning through advanced Spanish culture and language courses for the last nine years in New Mexico and Wisconsin. Her grandparents' oral traditions and folk tales from Chihuahua and New Mexico inspired her to become a teacher and to study literature.

Ana Vanesa Hidalgo Del Rosario

(MA, UW-Madison) is a PhD candidate in Spanish applied linguistics from the Canary Islands, Spain. Her research interests include bilingualism, second language acquisition and pedagogy. She has taught Spanish at different levels in the United States, France and Spain.

What Attendees Are Saying

"The design of the course was excellent. The textbook felt tailored to adults and the content, with the different speakers and voices, was much more engaging than other language learning materials I've studied from before. The instructor was also great at facilitating the speaking activities during live sessions."
Gordon West
"I couldn't have been happier with this class. The instructor was amazing - knowledgeable, patient, and kind. The course was extraordinary in how it was laid out and used multiple ways of teaching."
"I love the class. I think it's very well organized and the class textbook is well-written. The class far exceeds my expectations. I am learning so much. Thank you!!!"
Jeannette Eicholz
"Excellent approach to learning a language! The virtual format works very well. The mix of audio, short videos, written handbook, and small group speaking practice was great. This format allows students to move through a week's worth of material at their own pace. Thank you!"
Janet White