During the third week of July I took part in the 99th Annual Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese held in Chicago. This association is dedicated to promoting, preserving and practicing the Spanish and Portuguese languages. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend multiple sessions, including workshops, panels, and most importantly, networking events. The focus of this year´s event was “Building a Pipeline from Classroom to Career”. There were over 260 sessions, including workshops and events, many of them focused on educational programs in fields such as business, law, medicine, tourism, and translating/interpreting. Most of the talks I attended were related to my recent research, which is focused on students of Spanish as a heritage language or pragmatics. I also presented a paper entitled “Requests in the Spanish language classroom: a comparative study between heritage learners of Spanish and learners of Spanish as a foreign language”
One of the workshops I attended was “Social Deixis and Pragmatic Variation as Displayed in Literary Discourse in Changes of Forms of Address in Spanish: What Does ‘You’ Mean?” taught by Diana Frantzen. In this session, the presenter explained the concepts of social deixis and pragmatics variation in Spanish. She also pointed out that languages such as Spanish use different verbal forms and pronouns to make these social distances overt. These forms are used differently depending on the dialect. They also can be diverse within dialect between individuals in society. These aspects are difficult to understand and they complicate our students’ learning of Spanish as a foreign language. In order to facilitate their understanding of social deixis and pragmatic variation, the presenter provided some examples of literary discourses to be used in the Spanish language classroom.
Of all the things I learned in this workshop, what I found the most practical were the literature texts provided, which I plan to use in my classroom. I will provide my students with the opportunity to discover the formal and informal ways of addressing people in Spanish speaking countries. The texts will not only help my students with the pragmatic aspects of addressing people in Spanish speaking countries but will also provide them with the opportunity to expand their vocabulary.