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Academic: Regular Courses: General Info

In the first trimester, you learn how to function in Spanish.  In the second trimester, you learn how to be conversant.  In the third trimester, you learn how to share your heart. -Joe Maschhoff, 2014The Regular Course is a one-year long program, divided into three trimesters. A student may enter the program in January, May, or August. Classes are held from 7:30 a.m. to 12:05 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Group size ranges from 6 to 12 depending on the subject. Placement is determined through a short grammar test and an oral interview which take place during Orientation.

Since students may know some Spanish before arrival, all courses will be adapted to the levels of the students. The scale used for levels is the ACTFL Guidelines, which divides learners into Beginners, Intermediates, Advanced, and Superiors.

Tests are given in each course, but students may choose to have grades or not. The Institute provides official documents: (a) transcripts—include number of hours studied, names of courses taken and grades; $10 per copy; (b) certificates—include only the number of hours studied; no charge; and (c) diplomas—for students that reach the Advanced Level orally and in writing; no charge.

Books are written by the Institute faculty.

The Regular Course has two tracks, "Spanish for Ministry" and "Spanish for Communication."

Choose a Track

"Spanish for Communication" is designed to meet the needs of those whose ministry is primarily focused on "service" in local communities and specialized ministries, such as, providing food and health care to the poor and indigent, caring for children at risk and conducting building programs.

The course may also be appropriate in the following situations:


"Spanish for Ministry" is the traditional program, with a more grammar-oriented approach. It is appropriate for learners who


On your application form you will be asked to indicate which of the two tracks you prefer to enroll in. Here are some things you should consider:

Which track should I take?

It depends on your learning style and your objectives. If you are academically oriented and your future ministry requires you to teach or preach, you will probably want to take "Spanish for Ministry."

If it's been awhile since you were in school and your future ministry will be assisting people in practical ways, you may prefer "Spanish for Communication."

Is there a difference in cost? Or in the amount of time in class?

No, the cost is the same, and the number of hours in the classroom is also the same. The only difference is in the distribution of time.

Students in "Spanish for Ministry" receive two hours of grammar per day, while students in "Spanish for Conversation" receive one hour of grammar and one hour of oral exercises. Students in both courses receive two hours of "Language/Conversation."

How many trimesters does it take to finish the course?

Both courses can be completed in three trimesters. "Spanish for Ministry" has an optional fourth trimester, in which students receive Advanced Grammar and Translation.

How much Spanish will I know at the end of the course?

The objective in "Spanish for Ministry" is to reach a minimum level of "Advanced Low" after three trimesters. The objective in "Spanish for Communication" is to reach Intermediate High by the end of the third trimester.

Both of these levels are considered advanced. The difference is that an Intermediate High speaker cannot sustain the advanced level consistently. Intermediate High is usually the minimum level that mission agencies want their missionary personnel to achieve.

What if I'm still not sure?

Feel free to use our Contact Us page to contact the Academic Director, Graciela Arguedas, who will be happy to help you decide which track is best for you.


Non-missionary come with a full realization of the missionary nature and focus of the Spanish Language Institute and are expected to abide by the same high ethical and moral standards for which Institute students have been known through the years. Students must be at least 21 years of age and must include a letter of recommendation from their pastor as part of the application process.


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