When I began teaching Latinos Spanish I realized that my job consisted of more than just teaching. I began to realize that my high school students needed more than to maintain their Spanish;they needed to be pushed and motivated to think about life after high school. In order to do this I created a unit that focused just on Latinos and education. The following were our unit "metas":
(1) Investigar sobre personas latinas que han sobresalido en los Estados Unidos
(2) Investigar opciones laborales y académicas después de la preparatoria
(3) Hacer una aplicación para la universidad
(4) Entender lo que es FAFSA
(6) Escribir un personal statement
(7)Crear un resumé y carta de presentación
(7) Practicar una entrevista laboral
I began by providing my students with statistics on Latinos in higher education. I wanted my students to realize that Latinos are underrepresented in the professional world. After analyzing statistics, students were asked to write about their plans after high school. Some said they weren't going to write because they didn't want to go to college. My response to this was that it was fine if they didn't want to go to college but they still had to have a plan. Their future couldn't consist of working at McDonald's or Burger King ; I wanted something concrete.
The next step was to write a personal statement, a resume and a cover letter. We also practiced and prepared for mock interviews. All of this was done in our Spanish r classroom. Sure, students probably would never have to apply to a Latin American university or have a job interview in Spanish, but they got the experience and could easily transfer their acquired skills to English. I think one of the most empowering assessments of this unit were the mock interviews. For this component of the unit, professionals from the community came and interviewed our students in Spanish. Near the end of the unit we took a field trip to the University of Illinois at Chicago where students got a tour of the campus, went into dorms and got to learn about LARES a Latino organization that focuses on Latino student retention. Overall, this is one of my favorite units to teach! If we don't empower them to become their best versions of themselves, who will?
Below I will share some of the resources I utilized in this empowering unit. Feel free to comment or message me for more resources.
Materials I utilized in my classroom:
FAFSA form in Spanish: studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/2017-18-fafsa-spanish.pdf
FAFSA information in Spanish: https://ifap.ed.gov/fafsa/attachments/0607FAFSAInsert(sp)100605.pdf
University cost research database: collegescorecard.ed.gov/
Tuition Net Price Calculator: financialaid.uic.edu/npcalc.shtml
The Common Application: www.commonapp.org/
Video: Personal Statement :www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWxFVtSUAsQ
Graduate: Una ayuda financiera para el exito: sites.ed.gov/hispanic-initiative/files/2014/04/Spanish.pdf
Después de la escuela secundaria… ¿Y ahora qué?: www.palmbeachschools.org/spanish/wp-content/uploads/sites/113/2016/04/after_high_school_booklet_12-2011_SPANISH.pdf
“ Pero mamá, ¡no cabo en el carro!” “ ¿No cabo? ¡Así no se dice! ¡No puedo creer que no sepas hablar español bien con ese nopal en la frente!!”
Students in our Heritage Spanish classroom have lived a similar experience to the one above at least once in their life. They constantly get corrected and are expected to speak proper Spanish. If they don’t, then they aren’t Latinos. How can you BE Latino and not speak Spanish? What a shame! The worst part is that it’s parents and family members that make these comments not knowing the consequences they can have on the formation of the student's’ identity. As teachers, we have to find a way to better communicate with parents in order for them to understand WHY their student doesn’t speak ‘proper’ Spanish. See, in most cases, heritage speakers only have exposure to the heritage language at home. Heritage learners are ,for the most part, educated in a monolingual setting which limits the formal contexts in which they can use their heritage language. So then, why do we expect them to speak the same as a native speaker of Spanish?
When creating our curriculum, we need to keep this idea in mind. More than likely, our students aren’t going to leave our heritage Spanish program writing and speaking like Cervantes or Octavio Paz. The reality is that many of our students are going to be hesitant to speak Spanish. We need to help them fall in love with their heritage language and culture. The linguistic goals for our program should be centered around our students’ needs. Why do they need or want to speak the language? But, how can we do this? How can we help our students reach their full potential in their heritage language? Here are some suggestions which include strategies I have used in my classroom and/or that I have seen or read about:
What other advice would you give or add on to this list to help other educators in heritage Spanish field? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that one has to speak Spanish to be Latino (this is a hot topic you can discuss with your students)?
The questions in the title of this blog always run through my head as the beginning of each school year approaches. Many of us try to guess what topics, readings and or activities would attract our students. But why don’t we stop guessing and start asking? What has worked for me in the past is creating a survey and giving it to my students at the beginning and at the end of each school year. Like this, I find out what their interests are and I try to incorporate them into their curriculum.
The first year I gave my students a survey it was by projecting 4-5 questions on a power point slide, but now with google sheets, everything is much easier! You can give your students the survey and within seconds you will have your results! This is a powerful tool to use in your classroom if you want to really incorporate your students’ interests when creating materials for the classroom. Here is a link to a survey I created to use for these purposes:
Heritage Spanish Survey
Feel free to use it :) Also, here are some of the topics my students suggested should be included in a heritage Spanish curriculum:
Hasta la vista,