Tuesday, March 29, 2011

by Ann Abbott

Teaching the first class after spring break can be challenging. The students are refreshed, but are starting to feel the itch to finish the semester.

In today's "Spanish in the Community" class, we did Lección 15 in Comunidades: ¿Son noticias para nosotros? The activities in the lesson analyze how informed students´ are about the news in general, the news in Spanish and the news in their local Spanish-language newspapers/radio stations/blogs/etc.

My students reported that they are not very well informed about the news in general. A few students are, but just a few. They have discovered over the course of the semester that there is a lot of information about immigration that they don't know, and they realize that being uninformed means that misinformation can take hold. Still, most say that they're just not very interested in the news.

So the next activity was both fun and informative. I printed out seven articles from today's La Raza, Chicago's Spanish-language newspaper, and cut them in half. In one class I have fourteen students, so everyone got one half of an article. They read their half. Then they had to stand up, circulate, explain their "noticia" to their classmates in order to find the person who had the other half of their article. I think they had fun and at the same time learned about the other articles.

I learned, too.  Did you know that in the US, human trafficking generates more money than drug trafficking? I didn't.

Here are the articles students read:

  • Fascinación por el narco y su vida. Students compared this to gangster rap.
  • Tráfico de personas a EEUU genera $6,600 millones. We talked about border crossing and coyotes in in Lección 14 ¨¿Por que emigrar?¨ And when we talked about culture and numbers, students learned (most of them for the first time, I think) that billion in English is mil millones in Spanish. Seeing that in the headline was a good review.
  • Activistas declaran: Illinois no es Arizona. One of my students is from Arizona, so she has added a lot of perspective to our class discussions about national discourses on immigration. This article showed students that Illinois wants to be hospitable to all members of its communities. (Well, at least some people do.)
  • Ponen rostro a la inmigración. This article talked about undocumented students who are publicly declaring their status in order to effect change. Since so many of my students wrote their second reflective essay on the Dream Act, this was a good connecting article.
  • Superan situaciones traumaticas con terapias grupales exclusivas para hispanos. Especially for students who are working in human service agencies for their CSL work, this is a good reminder that programs that are important in all communities still need to be both linguistically and culturally appropriate.
  • Salvan pie a indocumentada. One of the activities in Lección 14 asks students to ennumerate the dangers of different forms of border crossing: rafts, coyotes, walking through the desert, hidden in a truck-trailer, and hopping a train. This was a good reminder that what we talk about in the book and in class is real, not just theoretical.
Do your CSL students read the news in Spanish? Are they informed enough to be able to challenge people around them who repeat the commonplaces about immigration? This was a good lesson: it got the students up and moving around, and it informed them.

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