Teaching Spanish Language in the Knowledge Society: A Canadian Experience

By Haydée E. Sainz Gimeno.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Educational Studies

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Poetic works are part of the Spanish curriculum either as cultural topics in textbooks for teaching the language or in literature classes where the work is discussed and analyzed. This paper presents the experiences of using poems by Hispano-Canadian writers living in Canada in the class SPAN 2123 “Culture and Composition: Spanish America” at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The population is mostly Anglophone and Francophone Canadians with some international students. The goal of the class is to practice Spanish in context, and to facilitate intercultural awareness, while practicing the four language skills—reading, writing, speaking and listening—by promoting discussion of issues relevant to students in the Canadian social context in the language they are learning. This approach nurtures a cosmopolitan identity characterized by tolerance to cultural differences and willingness to learn from others, both important skills for competing in a knowledge society. This paper has three parts: first, the introduction, where general considerations related to the course are given; second, the methodology with the objectives and structure of the course integrated into the theoretical foundations of language teaching along with the students’ experiences and our findings; and third, the conclusions. Our findings provide valuable insights into the importance of engaging students in learning by fostering discussions using authentic materials, such as poems, in the language classroom. In addition to learning the language the participants bring their own opinions in the subject after studying the point of views of poets in the position of cultural intermediaries. This is possible because the poets have Spanish American origins and cultural backgrounds, and they are fully integrated into Canadian society. The connection of the language learners and Hispano-Canadian poets facilitates the interaction of the students with the community.

Keywords: Hispano-Canadian Poets, Learning Language in Context, Spanish as a Foreign Language Knowledge Society, Globalization

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Educational Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.15-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 249.122KB).

Haydée E. Sainz Gimeno

Lecturer, Department of Romance Languages, St. Thomas University, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Haydée teaches Spanish as a Foreign Language at both St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, Canada. Her research interests and teaching domains are: Spanish Literature, Civilization and Culture; Literary Theory and Methodology, and Teaching Methodology. She has projects in Golden Age Spanish Literature, Latin American modern novel, Hispano-Canadian writers, cultural studies and identity, ecocriticism (interconnection between nature and culture, specifically literature, ideas, and language) and XX Century Spanish Literature. In the area of teaching methodology, Haydée works on new ways to engage students, teaching language in context, bringing the world into the classroom through technology and vice versa, error correction in second language teaching, and connecting students with the community to foster intercultural competence.