TEACHING SPANISH IN THE AMERICAN COLLEGES: A GLOBAL APPROACH
Fairleigh Dickinson University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:Those trained to teach foreign languages with the Rassias method back in the late 1960's and into the 1980's, now look back and cannot help note how this method defined the approach to language pedagogy of a whole generation of teachers. After all, the Rassias method was a response to the somewhat anachronistically and ancient grammar-translation approach, which was not fully discarded or discredited then. On the other hand, the ALM (Audio-Lingual Method) approach continued to be the preferred method for foreign language teachers in high school and undergraduates college professors alike. Nevertheless, 1990's arrives with the so-called TPR (Total Physical Response) method burring and implicitly ridiculing all previous pedagogical approaches gaining few followers.
All of these varying methodologies used to impart Spanish seem to have worked in particular settings, and thus no one is in any way suggesting that they will be discarded. This paper instead is about an approach that has been working in many Spanish classrooms, and keeping all concerned parties happy: the students, the faculty, the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and even those who are profoundly terrified when it comes to fulfilling a language requirement. This method is called “The Global Approach.”
Although the implementation of the five C’s (Culture, Communication, Community, Comparisons and Connections) stipulated by the National Standards is an essential part of this proposal, The Global Approach calls for a more interdisciplinary application than the National Standards in order to reach all learners. The latter also include those who experience extreme difficulty in acquiring a foreign tongue, among them many who have a documented learning disability. Based on careful observations over a period of twenty years and, after having used The Global Approach, there is enough evidence of its effectiveness. The incorporation of The Five Cs, the use of technology, music, and film, and an intense segment of culture taught in English can, and does, reach all learners in a global way. It is an approach that reflects the era of globalization and multiculturalism, with both their content and discontent realities.
The inclusion of multiple areas in foundation courses comes at the price of a reduction in the amount of grammar and verb tenses taught. This is perhaps the most significant change, for it means teachers of foreign languages in general have to resign themselves to the fact that college students, after taking the requisite two or three semesters of Spanish, will only be able to communicate in two or perhaps three tenses. To compensate for this, however, students would be significantly familiarized with the music, arts, film, politics and media of a given country or countries. Even more, they would be trained to describe simple thoughts with simple vocabulary in the target language. Since most of the focus on stultifying grammatical concepts would be significantly reduced, the opportunities for oral communication would increase considerably. At the same time, rather than fighting the use of English in the Spanish classroom, its use would become an teaching aid. Thus, students would learn more about the culture of Hispanicity (The Culture of Spain in the United States) and become enthusiastic about the language itself. The globalization of foreign language foundation courses not only reflects the student's daily reality but also that of our times.
Keywords: Pedagogy, Culture, and Language Studies.