Certificate Degree - Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language

Program Presentation

In recent times, the privileged position that Spanish has occupied, among all the languages in the world, and the consequent increase in the demand for Spanish teaching have uncovered the need for advancing, investigating and training in this area.

Currently, Spanish is the second language of international communication and the fourth most spoken language in the world. It is the mother tongue of more than 400 million people living in more than 20 countries. There are more than 30 million Spanish speakers in the United States and, in Canada, Spanish is the language with the highest growth. In addition, the explosive demand for courses of Spanish as a foreign language, originated at the beginning of the 90s, and which has been progressively increasing until now, is another positive factor that denotes the importance of training good professionals.

Europe begins to experience a quite similar situation. According to data from the Instituto Cervantes, between four and five million people are studying Spanish as a foreign language in the European Union. Also, there has been an increase in the interest for the Spanish language in those countries that newly joined the EU or in others such as Norway or Switzerland, where the rise in the number of students is very significant. A consequence of this trend is the sharp increase in the demand for Spanish courses emerging at the global level.

In this context, a group of Spanish and Latin American universities jointly offer an online inter-university master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language (FOPELE) which provides an answer to this new reality. It seeks to create a synergy by combining the existing capacities in each institution.

As a result of this collaboration has developed a type of training which prioritizes the autonomy of learning without neglecting a constant and flexible interaction, which is adjusted to the needs of the trainee teachers.

For this reason, the materials that are offered have been prepared to be used through the Internet in an interface designed for the purpose. This type of training focuses on a virtual interaction through channels such as e-mail, forums, chat, etc.

General Information

Our courses consist of three different types:

  • MASTER in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. (81 credits)
  • SPECIALIZATION in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. (40 credits)
  • UNIVERSITY EXTENSION in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language:
    • A - Foundations of Teaching and Learning Languages (18 credits)
    • B - Applications in Teaching and Learning Languages (12 credits)
    • C - Spanish Culture and Language (12 credits)

These courses are an innovation both in the field of teaching foreign languages, such as post-graduate and distance education.

The practical focus of the program encourages faculty’s pedagogical and critical thinking regarding their teaching, without neglecting the theoretic information; stimulates adaptation of new approaches and strategies on particular contexts and evaluation of new classroom teaching practices. On the other hand, the program provides students with the foundation for progress towards self-study of their own practice.

Who is the programme for?

The general profile of course recipients is as follows:

  • Professors of Spanish as a SL in primary and secondary education, both in public as well as private institutions.
  • Professors of Spanish as a SL in adult education.
  • Associate and bachelor degree graduates in related specialties who intend to work as professors of Spanish as a SL.

To access the courses, it is necessary to meet the following requirements:

Applicants must hold a university degree or equivalent in order to access the program courses except the University Extension Courses A, B and C. If they have a degree in another area, they must take an entrance test.

To enter the program is necessary to prove sufficient command of Spanish as the language used in the academic context. This domain recognizes those who have completed an accredited university degree in a related area in universities of Spanish speaking countries. However, this recognition is not automatic and is materialized after carefully studying the documentation that the applicant provides.

In the event that no such qualification is available, sufficient language proficiency must be established by submitting documents such as the Higher Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language from the Cervantes Institute or other equivalents.

If applicants do not have any certificate attesting their language level or their university degree does not have the correct one, they must take an entrance test in order to enter the program. The results of the test are assessed as APT, CONDITIONALLY APT, NOT APT. APT qualification gives the applicant direct access to program courses. In the event that the applicant obtains a CONDITIONALLY APT, they must take a mandatory course of academic Spanish and writing that allows them to catch up on the level of the required language before starting the program. On the other hand, if the applicant receives a NOT APT, they are given the opportunity to also take the language course that matches their level in the virtual context of AVE from the Cervantes Institute to meet the required language requirements and gain access to the program.

Once applicants have notified the result of the entrance exam and enroll in this program agree with the conditions listed above, they will be given a placement test to place them in the appropriate language course.

Obtaining the corresponding title in TPSSL is subject to the student reaching the required level of required language.

It is recommended that applicants have a minimum of experience as teacher of Spanish as a SL. If the applicant does not have teaching experience, if it is deemed necessary, their entrance to the program will be assessed.

  1. Academic requirements:
  2. Language requirements:
  3. Teaching experience:

Program Structure

Credit System

Candidates must pass a certain number of credits in order to obtain corresponding degrees. The following table shows the credits that make up each course and its distribution.

A* B** C***
Subjects 51 33 18 12 12
Practicum 10 7 --- --- ---
Master's Report 20 --- --- --- ---
Total credits 81 40 18 12 12

* Foundations of Teaching and Learning Languages
** Applications in Teaching and Learning Languages
*** Spanish Culture and Language

The course the best suits individual needs can be chosen. In this sense, it is not necessary to have previously taken any of the other courses in order to pursue the Master.

One or more courses of the Specialization (A, B, C), Expert or Master can be taken.

Specialization courses allow obtaining validation for future registrations in the Expert or the Master.

Also, -as indicated below– completion of the TPSSL Master gives access to undertake the master in TESL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) validation of the common subjects.


The following table shows the length of each program:

Master 25 months
Expert 18 months
Specialist A 9 months
Specialist B 5 months
Specialist C 5 months

Study materials

Course curriculum is based on rigorous educational planning and provides high quality teaching resources and study materials.

At the beginning of each term, students are provided a set of distance learning materials, written by specialists in FUNIBER and universities participating in the program.

Course methodology is tested and evaluated, and reflects the experience gained over the years, both in the field of distance education and training in the field of foreign language teaching, which is why it provides the highest level.

Course content is continually revised and updated, which can offer training according to the present context of the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language.

The Master and Expert program are divided into four main modules: Acquisition and Learning; Social Aspects of Learning; Spanish as a Foreign Language and Methodology; preceded by an introductory module (Introduction), which consists of guidance on key issues in teaching Spanish as a foreign language. Each semester study materials for three or four subjects are provided with content according to the order of subject content.

Regarding Specialist Programs, each one corresponds to one of the following modules: Foundations of teaching and learning languages, Applications in teaching and learning languages, Spanish Culture and Language.

Study materials for each subject include:

  • A preliminary introduction to general course objectives.
  • Subject content (theory and pedagogical implications).
  • Self-assessment assignments to help the insight of the literature.
  • Reference suggestions
  • Complete bibliography on the subject.
  • Access to all compulsory reference material through online profile.

Study materials are written in a way that does not require profound prior knowledge on the subject. It uses simple language with clear explanations of specific topic terminology.

Study materials include case studies and practical classroom work to ensure their relationship with professional experience, today and in the future.

Also, the materials of the first term include a Study Guide containing useful information to study most effectively as well as evaluation criterial and detailed guidelines for drafting work.


Assessments aim to optimize academic achievement and teacher performance of the teacher in training. This is done through examinations, papers and other parallel activities carried out during tutorials for each of the subjects.


General objective

The overall objective of the TPSSL program is to offer a wide and updated training and provide the basis for development of academic and professional skills needed to teach Spanish as a SL in any of the different teacher-learning contexts.

It aims to support professional practice on current knowledge; provide insights regarding the nature of teaching and learning in general; and develop perceptions, knowledge, resources and practical skills necessary to complete the theoretical basis.

Stimulation of critical insight is one aspect that defines the nature of the project and makes a good bridge between basic theoretical training and necessary practical application, key action area.

Specific objectives

  • Provide comprehensive understanding of the work of a professor of Spanish as a SL and help develop strategies to improve the most important aspects of it, considering its context, now and in the future-.
  • Acquaint the professor with the most relevant methodological proposals in the field of teaching Spanish as a SL and help develop a greater understanding and sensitivity to the nature of language, its use and learning.
  • Emphasize the importance of individual professional development and innovation in the area.
  • Provide students with the necessary advice to enable them to independently carry out research on their own teaching assignment and thus advance professionally.

In this sense, the program encourages the professor in training to:

  • Interpret relationship between theory and practice and keep it in mind.
  • Adapt new ideas and strategies to actual classroom situations.
  • Experiment and innovate the teaching practice.
  • Apply analytical skills to specific issues and problems.
  • Demonstrate ability to critically evaluate literature and current research work in the field of teaching Spanish as a foreign language.
  • Evaluate advantages and disadvantages of specific current teaching strategies and programs.
  • Apply knowledge and skills acquired during the program in the continuous improvement of teaching practices.
  • The program’s focus is that students engage in a process of professional development directly related to their current or future work.

Pedagogical Approach

Teaching method

The program is not limited to mere provision of content, but as if it were a good classroom course, a series of pedagogical actions are conducted to promote collaborative learning (between students and tutors). All courses in the program are based on the following teaching model:

  • Collaborative training model.
  • Based on dynamic and constructivism training and learning concept.
  • Stimulation of critical insight from the professor regarding their teaching practice and educational thinking.
  • Work method nest to research-action.
  • Interactive and multicultural groups.

Program Features

The main features of the program are flexibility and personal autonomy, continued advice of mentors and frequent interaction with peers and tutors. However this is achieved by encouraging motivation and allows students to adapt and plan a study schedule according to needs and time available to each one.

Study flexibility

One of the main advantages of distance learning courses is that they allow more flexibility than regular classroom courses. Therefore, the studies offered in this program are based on the premise that those enrolled possibly wish to invest a variable amount of time in studying. Tools such as forums, discussions and chats, and support from tutors, are motivating factors in dynamic study.

Tools such as forums, discussions and chats, and support of teachers are motivating factors in the dynamic study.


Another noteworthy feature of the course is continued support and advice offered by teachers. In this sense, student-teacher actions are aimed at all times for the students to feel supported in the learning process, both by their tutors as well as their peers. It is considered that collaborative learning is the basis of all academic progress and in this case, also professional. In the same line, we also encourage students to form working groups.

Although contact between students and tutors is maintained primarily through the virtual campus, if necessary, you can also contact tutors via phone.

Virtual Campus

FUNIBER has created a Virtual Campus which is accessed via Internet. In the Virtual Campus program, all courses are developed and established direct contact with tutors and course participants.

Chat sessions and discussions are held regularly. Tutors monitor and summarize the contributions of students and inform them about the Web sites of interest (for example, published online SSL articles) that can be visited to expand their knowledge. Also, resolve doubts and are an essential support in the Forum, one of the most interesting tools for interaction and collaborative development environment.

The Virtual Campus, in addition to the enormous potential as a means of communication and socialization, provides access to subject contents, all compulsory reference and performing all academic work (turning in papers, assignments, etc.).

The program setting has been developed based on a distinctly pedagogical approach, using the following criteria:

Therefore, in order to follow the course work, the student does not require prior knowledge of information technology.

During this period, students perform socialization assignments in order to create links between them and teachers while learning to manage the context (sending emails, opening and sending attachments, reading articles online, etc.). It has been found that these two weeks of context orientation are very useful and sometimes essential to establish a good group dynamic.

Students, who do not have the ability to access the Internet regularly, will request permission from the program coordinator to be able to use other resources (such as using traditional printed material and contacting their tutor via phone, e-mail, fax or letter).

Those who receive this authorization will be provided a password and an access code in the event they wish to connect in the future.

Feedback on student work

In distance education, the comments and corrections of the work done by the student are of enormous importance, since they directly tutor support and serve as a sign on progress made. Therefore, these aspects are considered essential and much time and effort is dedicated to it.

The goal is to offer students the opportunity to improve in future work and enhance professional development through the course. All assessment is aimed at training and reflection on the agenda so that the work serves to improve professional development.

In summary: these training programs for teachers of S/SL allow a process of autonomous and reflexive learning, with the collaboration and interaction with peers and tutors with the support of a multi-media infrastructure –the Virtual Campus designed for providing dynamic support of this process- and content (all subject material) that will allow you to adapt and improve the career prospects of your lives.

  • All students can take the course through the Virtual Campus, in addition to printed materials and access to mandatory reference material, without assuming any additional cost.
  • The Campus is a basic tool in overall training that allows access to several Virtual resources such as, course documents, references and recommended web pages, and self-assessment activities, glossaries, etc.
  • The Virtual Campus also allows sharing views and experiences between students and professors through discussion forums and socialization, consult calendars of events related to worldwide S/SL teaching and participate in chats and tutorials.
  • At the beginning of the course, students are sent a password and personal and un-transferrable access code so they can access the Virtual Campus. Also, prior to working the specific program content, during a two week period, a virtual context orientation course is conducted.

Study Plan


1 Second language acquisition 3 credits
2 Individual factors in learning 3 credits
1 Pragmalinguistic communication and adaptation 3 credits
1 Spanish grammar for teachers of SSL 3 credits
1 Final Project

Description of the Subjects

Module: Introduction

  1. Classroom Management Techniques and Practice Reflection (3 credits)

    Identifying the basic characteristics of the classroom and how to manage it, how to correct, teamwork and the first language usage. Analyzing the current theories on learning in groups with different capacities and on classroom discipline. The subject deals with a very important task for the teacher: reflection on actions.

  2. Observation and Research in the classroom (3 credits)

    Most influential traditional ways of investigation and philosophy of the skill on which they are based. Current approaches of investigation in the classroom like, for example, the theory that observation is selective and a cultural construct. This subject gives a solid skills and techniques foundation that enable to approach the Report and the Research Project.

Module: Acquisition and learning

  1. Second Language Acquisition (3 credits)

    Second language acquisition’s main models and their influence in the classroom. First language acquisition is taken into account and the parallelisms between both processes are shown. Analysis of the context’s influence in second language acquisition. Consideration of the factors that may affect the student’s language acquisition in a real classroom context in which the teaching staff works.

  2. Individual Factors in Learning (3 credits)

    All classrooms include a group of people, and each person has a unique life experience, linguistic patterns, emotional and intellectual development and learning style. Current investigations highlight the role of individual factors in the student’s linguistic development. This subject investigates the cognitive, affective, physical and psychological factors that influence individual learning and critically examines concepts like intelligence, ability, motivation and personality.

  3. Learning Strategies (3 credits)

    Analysis of the current investigation projects in the learning strategies field and the many ways to encourage students to develop them. Classification of the diverse learning strategies and their relationship with the current trends on textbooks.

Module: Social Aspects of the Language

  1. Communication and Pragmalinguistic Proficiency (3 credits)

    Communication as animal and human phenomenon. Communicative functions. Components: participants, context, code. The communication process as a model of interaction. Basic concepts in the pragmatic and sociolinguistic adequacy.

  2. Language, Culture and Bilingualism (3 credits)

    Language and culture: factors of the cultural component. Historical perspective. Interculturality. Intercultural communication. Contrastive analysis: methodology. Bilingualism: psicolinguistic and linguistic aspects. Bilingualism and education. Educational policy and bilingual education programs.

Module: Spanish as a Foreign Language

  1. Spanish Grammar for ELE Teachers (3 credits)

    The role of grammar in the ELE classroom. Basic grammar topics: the present tense, past simple, the future and the conditional, the imperative, the subjunctive, the indirect style, ser and estar, the personal pronouns.

  2. Spanish Language and its varieties

    The current situation of the Spanish language in the Hispanic world: unity and diversity. Spanish or Castilian: Terminological issues? Characterization of the diatopic varieties of Spanish. Description of the sociocultural and diaphasic varieties. The Spanish ideal as a model for the teaching of E/LE.

  3. Vocabulary Teaching (3 credits)

    On the words: some fundamental notions of lexicology: the lexical unit, its relationships, and structure. Which words must be taught: "fundamental” lexicon, "aerolite” words, levels and linguistic registers. How to teach those words: playing with the lexicon; correcting and evaluating. More than words: idioms. The use of dictionaries in teaching E/LE. Other channels: cinema, television, music, the Internet.

Module: Methodology

  1. Methodological Bases (3 credits)

    Main methodological approaches of language teaching and its historical evolution: grammar translation, audiolingual and direct. This course examines modern approaches such as the humanistic, communicative and lexical, the one which is focused on the student and the method concept is analyzed in detail.

  2. Developing language skills in the classroom (3 credits)

    Detailed analysis of the different learning approaches in listening, reading comprehension, writing and speaking. Current research on this abilities and assessment of different classroom tasks and learning techniques, so that students improve in their Spanish language usage.

  3. Assessment, Adaptation and Creation of Materials and Sources (3 credits)

    Assessment of the materials for English learning (textbooks and complementary materials) that are used nowadays. Weaknesses and strengths of that material regarding the characteristics of each context and curriculum design. Material assessment principles and priorities when applying them. The creating, testing and reviewing processes in specific learning contexts.

  4. Educational technology in language learning (3 credits)

    Ways of using computers to develop the language skills and the relationship between technology and learning methods. Implications of using computers as learning tools. Software assessment is encouraged, including multimedia software innovations and Internet apps.

  5. Projects and Tasks (3 credits)

    Learning based on projects and tasks. Examination of a task’s structure and its components. Structuring a didactic unit based on tasks. Criterion for the assessment of tasks and current discussion on the need to focus on the form of the examined tasks. Analysis of the implications of learning based on tasks in curriculum designing and programming, especially in the context of working with projects.

  6. Evaluation of the Language Learning Process (3 credits)

    Assessment foundations: formal and informal assessment, language learning, assessment phases and components. Main topics: what to assess, prospective, perfective and perfect variables, to whom, when, for whom (audience). Assessment tools: observation, test Criteria to assess the tools. Data collection Data analysis. Conclusions and proposals.

  7. Programming and Curriculum Development - Theory and Practice (3 credits)

    Curriculum language designing. Curriculum E/LE designing. Status analysis and setting objectives: at a ministerial level, international (Instituto Cervantes curriculum) and local. Programming: methodology at the three levels. Assessment.


The Practicum consists in presenting a paper about one of the theoretical aspects addressed during the course from a practical perspective.

The paper is carried out during the third and fourth quarter of the course and must be submitted in the fifth quarter.

One possibility is to carry out an action-research work on the own professional context and the application in actual class sessions of the knowledge acquired during the course. This enables the students to become aware, analyze and improve their teaching skills and abilities of self-analysis, reflection, observation and participation in the classroom work; skills that they may continue to apply after the course.

Master’s Degree Report

Once completed the subjects of the course and submitted the practicum, the student must carry out the Master’s Degree Report.

This work may be theoretical, practical or a combination of both. In addition, for the implementation of the Master’s Degree Report, the student also has the option to take as a basis the submitted Practicum and broaden the research carried out in it.

The Master’s Degree Director of each university - or, as the case may be, the Program Coordinator in cooperation with the Director - helps the trainee teacher in the election of the topic and is responsible to advise and oversee the work development.

Note: The contents of the academic program may be subject to slight modifications, depending on the updates or the improvements made.



  • Dr. Jesús Arzamendi. Iberoamerican International University - FUNIBER
  • Dr. Jesús López Peláez. European University of the Atlantic (UNEATLANTICO)
  • Dr. Antonio Bueno. European University of the Atlantic (UNEATLANTICO)
  • Dr. Narciso Contreras. European University of the Atlantic (UNEATLANTICO)
  • Dr. Mercedes Roldán. European University of the Atlantic (UNEATLANTICO)


  • Dr. (c) Silvia Pueyo. Iberoamerican International University - FUNIBER


Students are linked to the university where they are enrolled. They receive personal advice from the university, particularly for performing the practicum masters report and research project.

Students maintain contact with the program’s Academic Director at the University where they are enrolled, but also, have the support and guidance of the program coordinator and the essential support of a team of tutors selected from the participating universities in the program and FUNIBER. This support is available through the virtual campus, e-mail or phone. Our tutors provide help to resolve any questions or academic consultation about study materials. Contact through the Virtual Campus is the most important mode of interaction of the course.

FUNIBER Training Scholarships

The Iberoamerican University Foundation (FUNIBER) allocates periodically an extraordinary economic item for FUNIBER Training Scholarships.

To apply, please fill out the information request form that appears in the web of FUNIBER or contact directly the Foundation’s headquarters in your country that will inform you if you need to provide some additional information.

Once the documentation is received, the Evaluation Committee will determine your application's eligibility for the FUNIBER Training Scholarship.