Julia Menendez Jardon

Julia Menéndez Jardón

Languages & Literature/College of Humanities


How to Increase the Literacy Component in a Language Course

Faculty Mentor: Tami Morris - Languages & Literature/College of Humanities

One of the key questions that a teacher must ask when designing a language course is the quality of the materials that she will use in class. These can be either graded or authentic materials.  Graded materials are designed to focus on the topic that one lesson is going to be about. On the other hand, authentic materials are created for native speakers of the target language and therefore do not focus on certain aspects of the language but on the content they transmit. Larimer and Schleicher (1999) state that the use of authentic materials leads to a higher exposure to variety of vocabulary and grammatical structures. These materials created for individuals of a certain culture will help students understand that culture (Larimer & Schleicher, 1999).

This project will focus on the use of literary texts in a Spanish intermediate language course. Its purpose is to develop a series of lesson plans that use authentic literary works in order to support the cultural component of the course.

This  project  will  focus  on  the  use  of  literary  texts  in  a  Spanish  Intermediate language  course.  Its  purpose  is  to  develop  a  series  of  lesson  plans  that  use authentic  literary works  which  were  used to support the cultural component  of the Spanish 2010 course during Spring 2015 at the University of Utah.

This  project  will  address  the  following  needs  of  the  Spanish  Intermediate course:

  • Students  will learn about Spanish and Latin American writers. The course is  structured  around  the  different  Spanish  speaking  countries,  each  unit addressing one  of these.  There  will be  at least  one  writer or literary work associated with each of the units.
  • Students  will  read  at  least  one  literary work  in  Spanish during each  unit. Due  to  time  constraints,  it  is  likely  that  these  will  not  be  read  in  full. However,  the instructor  will  make  sure  to make the material available for those students who want to read the whole text. ​
  • The  literary  works  will  allow  the  students  to  draw  comparisons  and reflect on their previous knowledge.


The main benefit of the use of authentic material of the classroom is the aforementioned extra exposure to new vocabulary and grammatical structures. Moreover, students will gain some experience with those literary works that they might have heard about. This project will allow students an opportunity to be exposed to and to judge the material while also providing a chance to increase knowledge on certain topics. For instructors, it will help contextualize the existing lessons for this course.

Because the instructor will select texts whose content is useful for the lesson, students will see how their cultural knowledge is applied.  This will help the students better understand a literary work. Also students may feel more motivated and challenged because the text they read is not simplified to their level.

Lastly, the lesson plans will be shared with the instructors of Spanish Intermediate at the University of Utah. At the end of the semester, students will have a short test on the literary component of the class and a possibility to give anonymous feedback and explain their thoughts about the implementation of the project.