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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Spanish CBL Article in "Hispania"

Tacelosky, Kathleen. "Service-Learning as a Way to Authentic Dialogue." Hispania 91.4 (2008): 877-886.

I just received the new issue of Hispania and was happy to see an article about Spanish community-based learning. The article details a Spanish service-learning course at the intermediate level and uses the theories of Martin Buber and Paulo Freire to describe ways in which the students reached an "authentic dialogue" with native speakers of Spanish.

It's great to see Spanish community-based learning's expanding practice and publications.

However, we need to report the negatives (and there are negatives!) along with the positives. (Darcy Lear and I have an article accepted at Hispania which does focus on the potential problems of Spanish CBL.)

I found two quotes especially thought-provoking:

1. "The benefit to processing [students'] reactions to the project before it begins is that when students enter the experience with an appropriate view of where they may be deficient, there is an increased potential for them to see the others that they work alongside as people who can teach them something. If students are given only information about the contributions they will make to a person or project, they may be inclined to focus only on how much their help is needed and how they will be of assistance. However, it is important to direct students' attention to how they might need to be helped as well." (881-82)

2. "Less obvious than the gap between persons who are clearly different from one another is the expanse that lies between a person and her or his assumptions. Sometimes these assumptions are so subtle or entrenched that one does not evene realize that there is an alternative way to perceive things. Exposure to other worldviews or cultures is an oft-stated objective in language classes. However, quite often students are either introduced to the otherness of the speakers of the language they study so superficially as to be virtually unaffected, or they have no opportunity to process what they are learning in relation to their own beliefs or practices. However, in the service learning setting, students are confronted, not with a simple text about some value or cultural aspect for the speakers of the language under study, but with living texts that have the potential to have a profound impact on them." (882, emphasis mine)

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