Another spring semester has begun (albeit with 2 feet of snow all around) and HISP 305 has re-emerged in the course offerings. This semester, we did a couple of things differently. First, the use of blogs, iPods and Skype is clearly mentioned in the course description.
HISP 305: Communication in a Spanish Speaking World: 3 HU, CD
Second Semester. The goal of this course is to prepare non-native Spanish speakers for the rigors and the rewards of living, studying, or working in a Spanish-speaking environment. Using blogs, podcasts and voice-over-IP tools, students will communicate with each other and native speakers of Spanish to develop speaking, writing and listening skills. Attention will be given to the different registers of written and spoken Spanish, as well as effective strategies for communication in a variety of contexts.
Second, it is clear what the intended outcome of this course is to be: students are using this class to prepare themselves for using their language skills abroad… en el extranjero.
We have not yet begin to explore the ipods and the iTalk microphones yet (they just returned from Winterterm with a group that went to Japan) and quite frankly it takes a while to load music (all legal and from the lab’s collection) and Spanish podcasts on 18 little hand-helds… which actually might be a very good thing.
As I think about last year and how I taught the course, I realize now that I jumped into every technology bell and whistle with perhaps too much vigor… it was overwhelming for me so I can only imagine it was even more so for my students. We did not spend enough time centering ourselves and getting to know each other as I would have liked. While I mentioned L2 acquisition theory in the syllabus and explained how research shows that writing should be an integral part of a conversation class, I did not do, I believe, a good enough job connecting with the class and their learning styles, that is, finding out how they learned and what constituted a productive learning experience for them.
(I did however ask them even before the class began what they wanted to get out of the class. 80% of the students expressed amazement over the fact that they were even being asked that question. As one student said “No one ever asks —us— what we want to learn”)
So this semester we have spent a couple of weeks talking about models for teaching and learning, bothj in a classroom setting as well as outside of it (we read a bit of The Wisdom of Crowds, Emergence, and excerpts from Paolo Freire’s
The Pedagogy of the Oppressed). I was pleased to know that some of my readings overlapped with one student’s course on Revolutions that is being taught in the Politics Dept. (heheheheh, my Latin American Studies degree rears its ugly head once more…)
Last week I also asked them to come to class ready to talk (in Spanish) about at least one moment where they feel they had a of deep, memorable learning experience (an exercise adapted from Rita Pougiales at Evergreen State College and brought to my attention by BG. The exercise is available on BG’s site…)
Some fotos of the exercise (and the colored post it notes that accompanied it) in my class…
Coming up… what this exercise revealed and what is going on in class… how social software tools are once again stretching our minds (be it language teacher or student!) as well as how blogging is extending the boundaries and the possibilities of the learning environment…