On July 6 through 9 I attended the 99th Annual Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese held in Chicago.
The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) is an innovative educational organization dedicated to the promotion preservation and practice of the Spanish and Portuguese languages. Its members are active teachers and professors who remain committed to raising and maintaining the standards of language education and literature across the canon. The conference offered inspired programming, sessions, workshops, and networking events that unite diverse educators while also providing the leadership and opportunity to exchange ideas in pedagogy among educators.
This year theme was Building a Pipeline from Classroom to Career which stressed the importance of language teaching as an integral force in STEAM curriculum and the global community. There were more than 260 sessions, workshops and events, many of them focused on educational programs that emphasized the use of Spanish or Portuguese in fields such as business, law, medicine, tourism, and translating/interpreting.
I attended some interactive workshops which provided me with an in-depth and comprehensive treatment of relevant topics and materials to use as classroom resources.
Connecting with the Community: Experiential Learning and Community Engagement
In this session, the presenter emphasized how developing a human connection through community service can help motivate both students and teachers to engage with language for specific purposes material. He discussed two examples from a university context: a service learning project in which student teams created translations for local community organizations, and teacher experience as a volunteer translator to develop business Spanish expertise. Lesson plans, rubrics, and reflection activities were shared.
How will I use what I have learned in my classroom?
Students can participate with Seattle community-based organizations that require the use of the Spanish language. They will have the opportunity to encounter real-life experiences that will afford them opportunities to expand their linguistic and cultural knowledge. Through the service learning project, students will apply the classroom learning to solve real-world problems in the Hispanic community. The writing of a reflective journal will provide them a guide for reflection and critical thought. The entries will include critical and personal opinions and will link the visits to class discussions and readings.
Students will prepare step by step thoroughly for these encounters. They will be assigned weekly readings in Spanish (including journal entries, short stories, poems, newspaper articles) related to the topic, which will be previously discussed in class. The main satisfaction will derive from being able to speak Spanish while reaching out to the community. The reflective activities they have to prepare (journal, essays and oral presentations) will turn simple exposure into a deliberately constructed learning opportunity at the same time they add a meaningful learning value. Among the things students will learn, will be stronger motivation to use Spanish and self-confidence in doing so; a sense of fulfillment; development of empathy and intercultural sensitivity; positive attitudes toward the Hispanic culture; and greater willingness to interact and communicate in Spanish outside of the classroom. Their responses and in-class discussions will inform me of the students deeper understanding of the diversity found in the Hispanic population.