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.