2009 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (La Trobe University)“For designing and implementing a highly successful new curriculum which reflects an up-to-date command of foreign language pedagogy”.
2011 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching (La Trobe University) Awarded to the three lecturers in the Spanish Program (Dr Ana Maria Ducasse, Dr Isabel Moutinho and myself) for completing “research-based changes to curriculum and assessment for the Beginner language and the Advanced cultural studies streams. These have proven effective in fostering independent learning and have demonstrated success on measures of student participation and retention.”
SPANISH LANGUAGE: I have taught all levels of Spanish from beginners to advanced; however, my teaching has concentrated on year 1 beginners level, and year 3 advanced level. My teaching is informed by the task-based language teaching methodology, and is based on the following principles:
- All subjects are student-focused. The teacher is perceived as a facilitator of the students’ learning, and not as the centre of the learning process. The classroom is primarily a learning, not a teaching space.
- Students are given every opportunity to express their ideas, emotions and opinions in the classroom, and are encouraged to work with each other and to embrace co-operative learning.
- I favour a model in which the teaching is carried out in the target language whenever possible. Thus, the target language becomes a reality and not a detached academic study, and connections with the wider community are easier to establish.
- Language is seen as a means of communication and students learn to communicate and interact in situations as close to real-life as possible, using real-life language.
- Students are given materials with which they have to actively engage in order to perform a task.
- Fluency is perceived as more important than total accuracy.
- Formative assessment plays a vital role, as it provides constant feedback to student in their learning and enables them to find out the areas in which they need to concentrate their efforts.
- It is fundamental for students to “learn to learn” a language, a process which enables them to become autonomous, self-reflective learners and independently continue the learning process outside the classroom. In order to help with this process, language learning techniques are discussed in class.
- The emphasis is on deductive, not inductive learning.
- The ultimate aim of language instruction is for the student to achieve a deep acquaintance with the culture/s and society/ies concerned.
CONTENT SUBJECTS: Some of the courses I have taught in the past include:
- Cuba in the Special Period (1989-present): Economy, US-Cuba, homosexuality, racial issues, hip-hop, etc.
- Latin America today
- Spanish and Latin American Cinema
- Contemporary Latin American and Spanish Literature [Cuban dirty realism, Cuban Postmodernism, Carmen Martín Gaite]
- European Nationalism and the Terrorist Threat [section on terrorist group ETA]
- European Alterities [section on Roma people in Spain]
STUDENTS OPINION: Between 2007 and 2012 over 1000 students who took part in my courses were surveyed. 47% of them expressed total satisfaction (a mark of 5 out of 5), and the average was 4.4 out of 5.
Student: Malon James Sales, “Exo-grammatization within the paramenters of fidelity and equivalence in the translation of Tagalog missionary grammars: the case of Arte y reglas de la lengua tagala (1610) of Fr Francisco Blancas de San José. Supervisors: Wilson, Rita (Main); Uxo, Carlos (Associate). PhD started October 2013.