Aimed for native Spanish speakers, new course encourages nonnatives

Ahmed Aedan

A UNF world languages professor started a course for native Spanish speakers in spring 2012 that aims to build students’ conversation and public speaking skills.

Constanza Lopez will teach Communication and Communities for Speakers of Spanish for a second time in spring 2013. While the course is intended for native Spanish speakers, Lopez said three nonnatives took the class and showed great fluency in the language.

Throughout the course, the students have to interview a Spanish-speaking person, transcribe the interview, translate the interview to English and have discussions and conversations in class about various topics, including articles, short stories, films and music.

Photo Courtesy of Constanza Lopez

Jake Fagan, a UNF Spanish sophomore and a nonnative Spanish speaker who took the course, said the greatest obstacle for him was writing the transcription. But he said he had great time doing the interview and got to know the person he interviewed much better.

Lopez said she hopes her experience from teaching the class already will improve the course in spring 2013.

“This was a learning experience for me,” Lopez said.

Twenty-five students registered for the course in Spring 2012, and Lopez said she expects no less this semester.

Ashley Thompson, a UNF nutrition and Spanish senior, said she is interested in the course, even though she’s not a native speaker. She said she plans on taking it as soon as she becomes fluent in the language.

Although the course’s main goal is to nurture students’ speaking abilities, Lopez said she also hopes it will enhance the Hispanic community in Jacksonville by having its students conduct interviews. She said it also provides a cultural component by allowing students to learn more about their own heritage and culture.

Maria Caicedo, a UNF criminal justice junior and Colombia native, said she took the course because she wanted to learn more about the Spanish culture. And through the interview, she said she gained insight into the difficulties experienced by the Cuban Albert.

Lopez said the class instigated a lot of the students to appreciate their own heritage and diverge from the mainstream culture, which proves the course’s success.

Students’ work from the spring 2012 class is present at an exhibition in the Library.

Email Ahmed Aedan at reporter[email protected]