FSI Spanish Headstart for Puerto Rico Course

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What is Headstart Spanish for Puerto Rico?

The Headstart courses were created by the US Defense Language Institute for service personnel who were stationed abroad and who needed to acquire a working knowledge of the language of the countries where they were stationed. They focus on the kind of communication that is likely to take place in situations you will often encounter while living abroad.

This Headstart Spanish course, which was first published in 1982, teaches you the kind of Spanish that is spoken in Puerto Rico. It consists of four modules, each made up of two or three units.

The modules all begin with a summary of the module objectives, and then each unit consists of dialogs that present the new language along with exercises to allow you to practice it. The course is accompanied by audio recordings that are designed to help you work on your pronunciation, and all the instructions you need for the course are also found on the recordings.

Finally, the course includes a series of quizzes that allow you to evaluate your progress, and you will also find a glossary of all the vocabulary items you meet during the course.

How can you use Headstart Spanish for Puerto Rico?

Since Headstart courses were designed for autonomous study, you can simply work through these materials as they are. Start by reading the objectives at the beginning of each module and then follow the instructions on the recording. When studying this course, you should work through the modules in order, starting with Module 1 and finishing with Module 4.

Headstart courses are supposed to be flexible, so you should study in whatever way benefits you most. It is recommended that you listen to the Spanish before looking at the text to help you focus on the sounds of the words rather than the way they are written, but otherwise, it is up to you. You can repeat dialogs and exercises as many times as you need to master the new language, and if you find a method that works well for you, then you should stick to it.

There are no prizes for finishing the course quickly, so you should work through in your own time. However, for most people who have never studied any Spanish before, it usually takes around 30-40 hours to finish all the lessons.

Since this course was created for service personnel, you will find there is a lot of material related to military matters. However, don’t feel you need to memorize all of this – simply focus on the language you think is most relevant to you and ignore the parts you think will be less useful.

Taking it further

However you decide to study, you can’t learn Spanish from books alone, so as soon as you can, you should look for opportunities to practice what you have learned. Try to find native speakers and make speaking Spanish a part of your daily life – and when you go to Puerto Rico, make sure you speak as much as you can. Then, when you do this, you will realize how much Spanish you have already learned.

Recommended Spanish Learning Material

I've used and recommend these books when learning Spanish. Modern Spanish Grammar in particular is highly recommended. It is by far the best way to understand how Spanish is spoken in the real world, with colloquial phrases included for everyday situations, like greeting a group of friends, to addressing a business colleague and answering the phone.