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ABSTRACT  The structure of university language courses at the elementary level tends to be governed by the chapters of textbooks which, in turn, have been determined by the presentation of grammar items. The authors have developed a thematic, communication-oriented approach to the first-year sequence in French and Spanish, under a larger developmental NEH grant for the restructuring of the elementary and intermediate curriculum in French, German, and Spanish. This article discusses the design of the syllabus and the materials and teaching techniques that were employed.