Beginning in the fall 2022 semester, RLL will begin offering topics versions of Spanish 231. This will be similar to the topics sections of Spanish 232 that RLL already offers. The pilot course, taught by Lecturer III, María “Coquis” Galvan-Santibanez is entitled “Ecología y compromiso social.”
The purpose of the class is to teach Spanish in a way that aligns the pedagogical goals of the course with the DEI mission of the university. While still focusing on the language and grammar skills that an introductory course requires, the class will also highlight a specific topic within Hispanic culture.
“We want to talk about relevant issues for young people,” Galvan-Santibanez said. “It will give a critical-thinking approach to real-world problems and situations that are arising not only in the U.S, but in Spanish-speaking countries as well.”
The class will compare and contrast events that are going on in different Spanish-speaking countries. This will be done by listening to authentic materials about relevant topics so students can create their own thoughts and ideas in regards to each important issue.
Galvan-Santibanez explained that by looking at topics through the lens of another country, we are able to take a step back and become more critical about our own country’s issues.
“Potentially in the future if we are open-minded, it will be easier to make better decisions for ourselves,” Galvan-Santibanez said. “It’s not just the language – it’s about going back and thinking about what we do on a daily basis, what we have around us, and how we connect with other societies and people.”
She hopes that teaching Spanish language through a topic will motivate students and help engage them. Through making the content more relevant, she aims for students to learn to empathize more readily with people in addition to learning the course content.
After the fall pilot-session of the class, there will be four more sections added to the winter semester. Galvan-Santibanez, who coordinates the course, will be joined by a few more instructors. They will all teach the Ecologia y compromiso social class. Then, in fall of 2023, one more new topic will be added, possibly exploring the influence of the Latinx community in Detroit.
“The coordinators and administration are moving in a direction to try to make language instruction more relevant and interesting for the students,” Galvan-Santibanez said. “They are very happy about this opportunity and very supportive.”
At the end of the class, Galvan-Santibanez hopes that she can attract more potential students to the RLL department to continue their Spanish studies into the future.