AS Spanish Syllabus

Component 1: Speaking Test – 20 minutes, 100 marks (30%)

Section 1: Presentation

No more than 3½ minutes, 20 marks

The candidate gives a presentation, lasting about three minutes, on a specific topic taken from one of the topic areas listed at the end of the appendix.

The presentation must demonstrate the candidate’s knowledge of the contemporary society or cultural heritage of a country where the target language is spoken. Candidates who do not do this will have their mark for Content/Presentation halved.

The candidate should be able to present relevant facts, express opinions and hypotheses, and put forward points for discussion. Ideally, the candidate should prepare a topic in which they have a personal interest, aiming to give a lively and interesting presentation. Candidates may prepare a ‘cue card’ (such as a postcard) in the target language (6 headings) to remind them of the main points they wish to make, to bring into the examination room. Candidates may also bring in a limited quantity of illustrative material, such as maps, diagrams, statistics, pictures or short articles.

A script of the presentation is not allowed.

Examiners will only interrupt candidates to ask questions if the presentation shows no sign of finishing after 3½ minutes, or to prompt a candidate having obvious difficulty in continuing with their presentation.


Section 2: Topic conversation

7–8 minutes, 40 marks

The presentation will lead into a conversation about the chosen topic. During the presentation, the examiner can make notes in order to help them ask appropriate questions. Candidates must be prepared to supply additional factual material where appropriate and to express and defend a point of view. In order to give the candidate every opportunity to do this, examiners will use open-ended questions (such as ‘tell me more about…’, ‘why…?’, ‘how…?’), rather than closed questions which may be answered by ‘yes/no’. When choosing a topic, candidates should consider how the subsequent conversation might develop: if they cannot think of six or more possible questions that the examiner could ask, the topic is unlikely to be a fruitful source of discussion.

The examiner will encourage the candidate to contribute as much as possible to the conversation. As part of this, the candidate is required to seek information from and the opinions of the examiner, and must be given every opportunity to do so.


Section 3: General conversation

8–9 minutes, 40 marks

This section begins with fairly straightforward questions about the candidate’s background and interests, and moves quickly on to a more mature conversation discussing more abstract and/or current issues within the general topic areas.

The subjects covered in this section will depend on the candidate’s interests and the subject of the presentation: for example, it would not be appropriate to continue talking about the environment if the candidate has already chosen to discuss ecology for the topic.

Candidates should be able to discuss some matters of current interest, though examiners should not expect candidates to be well informed on all matters of serious contemporary concern. If the candidate seems unresponsive, the examiner will try a change of topic.

For example, the examiner might begin this section with questions such as ‘How do you spend your spare time?’, leading rapidly to matters of contemporary interest/current affairs. The type of question is important: closed questions may, of course, be used to gain some information on the candidate’s interests, but openended questions beginning with ‘why…?’, ‘how…?’, or ‘what do you think about…?’ will give the candidate more scope in their responses.

Each ‘starter’ question could, depending on the reaction of the candidate, lead away from factual matters towards more abstract areas, for example:

  • ‘How long have you lived here?’ could lead on to ‘What do you think of the area?’ → ‘What would attract people to the area/make them leave it?’ → ‘What would be your ideal place to live and why?’
  • ‘What subjects are you studying?’ → ‘What do you think of the way you’ve been taught?’ → ‘How could it be improved?’ → discussion of school/education system, comparison with other countries.


Reference may be made to a candidate’s reading but candidates must not be examined in detail on the content of any set books. Questions will act as stepping-stones to the discussion of wider issues. Candidates must seek information and opinions from the examiner, and should be given every opportunity to do so.

The General Conversation section might only cover two or three topic areas, possibly more if the examiner has difficulty finding something the candidate is interested in, or can talk about. Candidates who cannot sustain the conversation at a level appropriate to a 17/18+ examination (when given every opportunity to do

so) cannot expect a high mark.


Important note:

It is intended that both conversation elements will be lively and spontaneous. Teachers should warn their candidates not to produce chunks of pre-learned material since CIE’s moderators are advised to penalise candidates who do so. Equally, teachers who may also be conducting the final examination should guard against over-rehearsing the tests in advance. Any suspicion of collusion in the conduct of speaking tests (e.g. pre-prepared questions, candidates or teachers using pre-determined scripts) will be dealt with in accordance with CIE’s Malpractice procedures.


Component 2: Reading and Writing – 1 hour 45 minutes, 70 marks (50%)

Two passages in the target language are set which deal with related themes.

Candidates answer specific and general comprehension questions on the two passages, and respond to a task requiring a summary or comparison of issues raised. The target language will be used for all questions and answers.

The passages will have been written during the last twenty years, and will reflect the international scene. In addition:

  • the two passages, taken together, will not exceed 750 words
  • on the first passage, two tests (5 marks each) will cover vocabulary recognition and grammatical manipulation. These will be followed by a series of comprehension questions (15 marks for content and 5 marks for quality of language)
  • on the second passage, there will be a series of comprehension questions (15 marks for content and 5 marks for quality of language)
  • the last question will require candidates to write about 140 words, drawing information from both passages and adding their own opinions, (10 marks for information drawn from the passages, 5 marks for personal response to the material, and 5 marks for quality of language).


Component 3: Essay – 1 hour 30 minutes, 40 marks (20%)

A list of five topics, is published annually in the syllabus, and changes every year. A question will be set on each of the five topics; candidates choose one question and write an essay in the target language of 250–400 words. Of the 40 marks available, 24 are for the quality of the language and 16 for the content.


Topic Areas

Teachers can explore the topic areas in any way they choose. The following examples (which are not prescriptive) are a useful guide to planning courses. All these suggestions, and other themes chosen by the teacher from within the topic areas, should be studied with reference to countries/communities where the language is spoken.


Human relationships – family – generation gap – young people
  • family activities; new patterns of family relationships; the status of the elderly and responsibility for their care
  • generation gap; conflicts in the family circle; young people and the older generation; attitudes of young people to the family environment
  • young people; young people and their peer group; young people as a target group for advertisers and politicians


Patterns of daily life – urban and rural life – the media – food and drink – law and order – religion and belief – health and fitness
  • daily routine; school; the individual’s way of life; living conditions
  • advantages and disadvantages of urban and rural life; transport and communications; shopping; housing
  • the role and influence of the media; the power of advertising
  • healthy eating; fast-food; national traditions of eating and drinking
  • violence and crime; drug-related crime; the role of the police; law-enforcement
  • the place of religion in society; attitudes to religious belief; patterns of attendance; religious minorities
  • healthy living; exercise; dieting; drugs; health care provision; stress; AIDS


Work and leisure – equality of opportunity – employment and unemployment – sport – free time activities – travel and tourism – education – cultural life/heritage
  • women in society and in the workforce; equality of opportunity for minority groups
  • preparation for work and job opportunities; career plans; qualifications and job routines; plight of the unemployed, areas of high unemployment; demise of traditional industries; possible solutions, immigrant workers
  • individual and team sports; amateur and professional sport
  • value of leisure; balance between leisure and work; planning leisure time
  • tourism as a modern phenomenon; friction between tourists and local inhabitants; holidays and foreign travel
  • education systems and types of school; patterns of curriculum; relationship between education and training; further and higher education provision; examinations
  • the world of the arts; significant figures and trends in the arts; the place of culture and the arts in the life of the nation


War and peace – the developing world
  • conflicts in the world: ethnic, religious, ideological
  • problems of developing countries; future trends


Medical advances – scientific and technological innovation
  • advances in the treatment of disease; ethical issues of medical and other technologies
  • cloning; genetic modifications; modern communications systems


Environment – pollution – conservation
  • the individual in his/her surroundings; effect of environment on individuals; protest action to protect one’s locality; ways of contributing to environmental awareness
  • global warming; acid rain; air pollution; water pollution; noise pollution; destruction of rain forests; damage to animal world; solutions and cost implications
  • saving endangered species and landscapes


Contemporary aspects of the country/ies where the language is spoken
  • e.g. political, regional, social issues



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