EUROCALL: European Association for Computer Assisted Language Learning

El Camino de Santiago.
Localización y movimiento, causa y finalidad, características y estados

Matilde Asencio
Cégep du Vieux-Montréal



Produced by Cégep du Vieux-Montréal with technical and financial support from the Centre collégial de développement de matériel didactique (CCDMD) of Quebec's Ministry of Education. Author: Matilde Asencio, with the collaboration of Annie Desnoyers.

Figure 1. Homepage.

El Camino de Santiago is an enrichment resource for ELE (Spanish as a Foreign Language) corresponding to levels A1 and A2 of the CEFRL (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).

A virtual journey through the most famous pilgrimage route of the Spanish speaking world, it facilitates the practice of oral comprehension, reading comprehension, written expression as well as of some elements of grammar that are difficult for students of Spanish at the Basic User level. This website is also useful for expanding vocabulary and cultural knowledge.

1. Content

1.1 Grammar

  • En, a por, para + place complement: location and movement.
  • Por, para : cause and purpose.
  • Ser, estar : identification, definition and location.
  • Ser, estar + adjective: characteristics and states.

1.2 Culture and Vocabulary

The cultural content includes legends, traditions, characters from folklore, art, history, as well as esoteric and practical aspects of the Camino de Santiago.

Work on those themes implies the use of a vocabulary very different from the one usually found in level A1 and A2 textbooks, where the language refers to everyday life and the student's immediate environment. But this possible difficulty is compensated by the fact that because of its attractiveness and the interest that it awakens, El Camino de Santiago will motivate students. In any case, the vocabulary used is relatively simple and, when difficult words occur, when you run the mouse over them, a definition or a synonym appears. Furthermore, terms related to the Camino have links to a glossary. For example:

Figure 2. Sample glossary entry.

Several exercises involve choosing options that are not only grammatically correct but also true. Of course, most students will not have sufficient cultural knowledge about the Camino to know the real answer but this doesn't matter: you choose an answer as you do in a guessing game and you learn the missing information with the feedback. This way, the playful aspect of the riddle and, most of all, the centering of attention on form and content at once, make the use of the language significant. Naturally, in the Progresión del estudiante (record of the work done) section, only linguistic errors are counted, not the cultural ones.

We would like to point out that culture is present everywhere, as much in the content of the exercises as in the grammar explanations, which contributes to consolidate significantly the learning of the language.

Many exercises are based on authentic materials: pilgrims' diaries and blogs, fragments of novels, a poster, a tag, messages left along the Camino... For example:

Figure 3. Sample exercise based on authentic materials.

In the case of a text that has been adapted, at the end of the exercise access is given to the original text, as in the exercise Dormir en Grañón:

Figure 4. Adapted text.


Figure 5. Original text.

Since the cultural content of this website is Spain, the language used is Spanish from Spain.

2. Content Organization

2.1 Grammar Explanations

Grammar explanations are presented in a clear and accessible language. They are presented in two ways: as multimedia animations in the Observación y aprendizaje section and in an identical or extended printable version in the Gramática file.

Let's see an example of grammar animation:

Media file 1. Video sequence explaining the difference between Por and Para ( Click on the image to watch the video.

2.2 Exercises

There are a total of 48 exercises. They are divided into two levels:

Level Introducción al Camino

It consists of 7 very easy grammar exercises. You practice location with en, location with estar, purpose with para, ser + noun and ser + adjective that classifies or adjective indicating an inherent characteristic. At this level vocabulary and elements of geography are introduced to orient the student in the context of the Camino.

Level Hacer el Camino

It contains 41 exercises couched in the metaphor of a virtual 790 km journey taking the Camino Francés, from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela, a route that is prolonged to Finisterre. The "student-pilgrim" advances through 400 images of the itinerary. The captions under the photos feature numerous uses of the grammar elements studied in this material. Occasionally the student is encouraged to do an exercise related to the place visited.

There are three types of exercise in Level Hacer el Camino:

1. Reading comprehension

Authentic texts and slideshows on cultural themes. For example:

Figure 6. Use of authentic texts.

2. Oral comprehension

Interviews with pilgrims and people of the Camino. The student's perception is aimed at partial comprehension: it's about understanding the essential or the meaning of what they're saying, not understanding everything. Let's hear the beginning of the exercise Experiencias:

The interviews with pilgrims and people of the Camino appear fragmented in the oral comprehension exercises, but the integral version of six of them is accessible in the Acerca de este sitio menu's Lista de vídeos . The complete interviews can be used by teachers to develop free practice activities. The video El albergue de Grañón, accessible at the end of the exercise Dormir en Grañón can be used for the same purpose.

3. Grammar

The points of grammar are always practiced in context. Attention is focused on form and meaning at the same time.

The difficulty and the complexity of Level Hacer el Camino (difficulty caused by vocabulary or by grammar rules) increases progressively along the journey. Half way through the route, in some exercises several points of grammar are combined. The degree of difficulty is indicated with an icon of one, two or three pilgrim's staffs.

At the end of exercises on the Camino's legends and traditions you can listen to the text read by actors. Let's hear an example:

Media file 2. Sample audio file: Leyenda de Felicia y Guillén. Click on the image to listen to the sound file.

Feedback on the student's answers (correct as well as incorrect) includes an explanation. In exercises where one writes a verb, the student receives personalized feedback: a variety of possible feedback has been foreseen to allow for the correction of the student's concrete answer, since errors of various types (spelling, lexical, morphological, syntactic or combinations thereof) may be present. Clues are given to the student to actively look for the right answer. And after four unsuccessful attempts, the answer is given to enable the student to continue the exercise. Let's see an example of personalized feedback in which the student's answer contains two errors, one syntactic (agreement) and one lexical (verb estar):

Figure 7. Feedback.

2.3 Culture

It includes three printable files: Mapa, Cronología and Glosario (explanation of terms related to the Camino).

2.4 Student's Progress

In this file the exercises done and the exercises completed without making any mistake are tabulated. If the student has registered in Iniciar sesión, the results of successive working periods accumulate and they can be printed.

For the exercises of Hacer el Camino, the file Progresión represent metaphorically a Credencial (pilgrim's "passport" that indicates the places visited) and, therefore, when an exercise is completed, the stamp that shows the passage through the corresponding place of the itinerary appears:

Figure 8. Learner progress.

3. Navigating the site

Navigation is totally free and doesn't favor any particular type of learning (by rules or by practical exercises). All explanations and exercises are immediately available.

In the section Hacer el Camino, students, like the real pilgrims, can start their journey at different points of the itinerary. These exercises can be accessed in two ways:

From the virtual route:

Go to the Hacer el Camino menu, pick Caminar and start the journey from the beginning or click on one of the names of the itinerary's cities and towns that appear in the picture below, on the left. Along the way, exercises (marked with an icon of the scallop shell) are offered to the student who always has the option of stopping to do them or continuing on the route.

From a list:

Go to the Acerca de este sitio menu and click on Lista de ejercicios.

You can choose according to the order it appears along the Camino or according to a grammar theme. The oral comprehension exercises are also accessible on the same menu by clicking on Lista de vídeos.

4. Suggestions for use to learn grammar

El Camino de Santiago is an enrichment resource that can be used for self-learning and in class.

4.1 Self-Learning

Students wishing to study grammar rules before applying them can first view an animation of the Observación y aprendizaje section, consult the section corresponding to this animation in the Gramática file and, then, pick the exercises of the grammar point studied in the Lista de ejercicios of the Acerca de este sitio menu.

Students preferring to discover the rules by themselves can do the exercises and see their answers confirmed or corrected with the feedback.

4.2 In class use

In the classroom, grammar rules can be presented to the group with the animations of Observación y aprendizaje.

Exercises where content options are selected by guessing which are the true ones (Leyenda de Felicia y Guillén, La Virgen del txori , El Camino esotérico, Dormir en Grañón, Peligros de la peregrinación medieval, El estilo románico, Leyenda de la mula, Pinturas románicas and Leyenda de Virila) can be done collectively in class by having the group vote. In the case of the three legends mentioned and of Dormir en Grañón , students should be made aware of the fact that it is possible to guess the true answer by paying attention to grammatical correctness.

All exercises can be assigned as homework to be done in the lab or at home.

To conclude, we would like to point out that access to the site of El Camino de Santiago is free of charge.

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Universitat Politècnica de València

e-ISSN: 1695-2618