Anti-racism teaching resources for Spanish language classes

For the past 5 years, I have had the extraordinary good luck to work with the team that produces the NPR distributed podcast Radio Ambulante. If you have read posts here before, you know what Radio Ambulante is and what I have been doing along the way.

If none of that rings a bell, go ahead and check out these series:

~~No worries, I’ll wait right here~~

….Welcome back! So yes, I have been creating materials, and working with other teachers to create materials that use RA for a while now. This is the part of teaching that I REALLLY like… CREATING. Thinking about topics that the textbook only touches oh so gently… and then doing a full bodied cannonball into the subject with authentic materials that show these issues in all their messy complexity.

“The semester like no other” is about to launch and I am teaching three sections of first semester intermediate Spanish from my basement. In my sweatpants. The creative stuff is what keeps me going. It gives me joy.

The world has blown up in the past few months/years. We have been reminded yet again of the structural racism that empowers the few and ignores, degrades, and even kills those who don’t have that same level of power and privilege.

So my choice? I’m not ignoring the world in which we live. I am teaching it.

What follows are a list of Radio Ambulante episodes that deal with the topic of racism… and several episodes have very specific connections to racism concerning latinx people in the United States. This “playlist” was curated by the RA team and is intended to be used by teachers for their classroom. My plan is to have my students listen to some/all of these episodes and then use them to talk about our own world. Since I teach in Maine, “Soy marrón” will be an obvious choice. “Confesión” is about racial profiling and wrongful imprisonment in Chicago. “Ciudad en dos” is about the awful shooting that happened at the Walmart in El Paso Texas on 3 August 2019.

These are beautifully crafted Spanish language stories that will inspire conversation. And yes, there are transcriptions in Spanish and translations in English available on the RA website.

(Click on image to access the playlist)

In my “spare time” (cough, sputter) I run two projects for RA for Teachers:

~The Teaching with Radio Ambulante private Facebook group where teachers (over 1300 at last count!) are sharing lesson plans and asking for help, support advice. Please consider joining, and remember to answer the membership questions (mention LLU too!)

~I write a bi-monthly newsletter for teachers who use/want to use RA in the classroom. It is open to everyone. Each newsletter features a teacher and his/her lesson plans, as well as a bunch of topic specific resources. You can sign up here.

The most recent issue specifically talked about teaching social justice and ideas for creating an anti-racist lesson plan. Here’s the link:

These two projects give me joy and hope, mostly because I am constantly connecting with other language teachers who are creative, motivated, hopeful. Many of them are also eager to make their classrooms a place where students don’t avoid the reality of the world, rather, they have a place to discuss, share, and hopefully be motivated to make change happen in their communities.

I wish each of you strength, a sense of humor, and good health this academic year. We are gonna need it….

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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