Saturday, June 5, 2010
Journal Review: Foreign Language Annals 43.2 Summer 2010
by Ann Abbott
I have five complimentary copies of the latest issue of Foreign Language Annals sitting on my office shelf. (If you want one, let me know!) It's always very exciting to see your work published. Here is the reference:
Abbott, Annie & Darcy Lear. "The Connections Goal Area in Spanish Community Service-Learning: Possibilities and Limitations." Foreign Language Annals 43 (2010): 231-45.
The issue includes another article pertinent to Spanish community service learning (CSL):
Polansky, Susan G., et al. "Tales of Tutors: The Role of Narrative in Language Learning and Service-Learning." Foreign Language Annals 43 (2010): 304-23.
It describes an interesting curricular project at Carnegie Mellon University in which students studying any foreign language (including ESL) enrolled in the same service learning course. I encourage you to read the whole article to see how "narrative" played out in the students' reading, writing and understanding of their experiences in the community.
I am interested in the example it gives of yet one more structural model for foreign language service learning. Whereas our Spanish CSL program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign involves two separate courses ("Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship") and an average of 100 students per semester, this article described a seven-student class with one community partner. My students meet in class 100 minutes per week; theirs met 50 minutes. My students work in the community an average of 2 hours each week of the semester; theirs worked 4-6 hours per week. All my students' work is done in the target language; their work (it seems) was all done in English.
Obviously, there are many structural differences in our two programs. I think it is good that we are building a practice of foreign language CSL that holds many possibilities. That makes it easier for each institution to find and tweak a model that best fits their unique context. However, I do think that we should be having a dialogue as a field (are we a field yet?) about some sense of standardization and adherence to best practices.
As always, please look on the left hand navigation column of this blog to find an up-to-date bibliography on Spanish CSL. I hope that this is a good resource for all of us teaching and researching foreign language CSL so that our work can build on each other's and so that our bibliographies refer to each other's work.