Spanish for Reading and Translation: Basic

Upcoming dates (2)

For registration assistance: 608-262-2451


You will develop the skills you need to read and accurately translate Spanish texts to English. Using texts from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, you learn the fundamentals of the Spanish language and Spanish-to-English translation. Start with the basics and work your way through progressively more challenging grammatical concepts that appear in the scholarly texts you translate. Along the way, you will learn key grammar structures and reading strategies and build your vocabulary.

While no prior knowledge of the language is required, familiarity with common grammar terminology in English is highly recommended. Basic to high-intermediate Spanish speakers can use the course to review essential grammar, build vocabulary and increase accuracy in translation. The higher the level of Spanish you have, the more you will gain from this course. 

This course is open to all. You do not have to be a UW–Madison student to register. The graduate student fee is applicable to graduate students from any institution.

Note: You will not be able to view the course on your Canvas Dashboard or access the materials until the course start date.


Course components

There are no synchronous class meetings and you will work at your own pace to complete weekly assignments. This course uses a free open online textbook and builds on that material through more examples and explanations, as well as a variety of interactive activities and assessments that you access via the Canvas course site:

  • Comprehension checks (quick, interactive, non-graded self-checks)
  • 29 quizzes (in-depth, graded practice that can be repeated)
  • 4 self-practice activities (short texts that you translate and compare to sample translations for extra practice)
  • 5 written assignments (assignments that increase in complexity and are corrected by the instructor with personal feedback)
  • Final project (you choose 1 of 3 scholarly texts to translate and submit to the instructor for comments)

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Read and understand, with the help of a dictionary, scholarly texts pertinent to their field of research
  • Identify fundamental Spanish grammatical structures and syntax
  • Recognize essential Spanish vocabulary words
  • Have increased confidence in translation abilities

Required reading

Is this course right for you?

If the following statements accurately describe you, you are a good candidate for our online course:

  • I am a skilled reader who is at ease with written instructions and lessons
  • I am a self-directed learner, with the initiative to visit a course site regularly
  • I am comfortable participating in a course in writing
  • I can continue learning independently while waiting for feedback on assignments
  • I am organized and able to meet deadlines
  • I enjoy working on a computer
  • I have 5 to 8 hours weekly that I can devote to this online course

If these statements do not accurately describe you, please consider taking a face-to-face class.

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Course Outline

Course organization

This course consists of 13 modules or units. Here you can see the major topics covered in each module.

Modules 1-2

  • Alphabet, how to use a dictionary, punctuation and capitalization rules
  • Gender of nouns
  • Definite and indefinite articles
  • Adjective/noun agreement

Module 3

  • Introduction to present tense verbs
  • Ser, estar, tener
  • Adjective placement

Module 4

  • More present tense verbs
  • Irregular verbs in the present
  • Article omission
  • Infinitives

Module 5

  • Stem-changing verbs
  • Demonstrative adjectives
  • Prepositions por and para

Module 6

  • Reflexive verbs
  • Imperfect tense
  • Adverbs and prepositional phrases
  • Uses of se

Module 7

  • Preterite tense (Part 1)
  • Negative, positive, and indefinite words
  • Pronouns (Direct and Indirect)

Module 8

  • Other verbs used to express "to be"
  • Present participle and progressive forms
  • Irregular verbs in the preterite

Module 9

  • Pronouns (Double-object, prepositional)
  • Pronoun summary
  • Verbs like gustar

Module 10

  • Structures with hacer
  • Past participle and compound tenses

Module 11

  • Introduction to the subjunctive
  • Forms of the present subjunctive
  • Verbs that mean "to become"

Module 12

  • Future tense
  • Conditional tense
  • Past subjunctive
  • Contrary-to-fact sentences
  • Begin to review the Final Project instructions

Module 13

  • Past perfect subjunctive
  • Relative pronouns
  • Passive voice

Work on Final Project

Earn Continuing Education Hours

By participating in this class you will earn:

Instructional Hours 30
University of Wisconsin Continuing Education Units 3

Explanation of Continuing Education Hours

Upcoming dates (2)

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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 instructor

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. 

What Attendees Are Saying

"The professor provided excellent feedback."
Amy Bauschicher
"The feedback provided throughout the course was invaluable — I don't think I would have progressed through the term as easily or quickly without the timely and easy-to-understand feedback that was given."
Kyle Keeler
"This course was well-organized and the instructor was very responsive to student communication. I liked that the modules were designed in a way that people who learn in different ways had the opportunity to practice Spanish in the way they learn best."
Lyndsey Key, English Instructor
"Prof. Paul was extremely quick in her response to emails and feedback on assignments. Even specific, nit-picky questions were answered quickly and thoroughly. Her feedback on assignments was thorough and very helpful in moving forward in the class. Thank you so much for this opportunity. The flexibility and organization made this class such a pleasure."
Andrea Sheridan, Associate Professor, SUNY Orange