Spanish 317 - Writing, Context and Community

Writing, Context, and Community

Spanish 317 combines advanced writing instruction and language analysis with weekly hands-on experiences in the Atlanta Hispanic community. Students will hone their writing skills through a series of assignments organized around their experience working with members of the Hispanic community within the structures of one of several organizations who have agreed to collaborate with this course. There are opportunities for work in schools and a support group. The specific student assignment will be determined based on an interview with the professor and the needs of the organizations involved. An important theme in the course is the issue of literacy and how it is defined in different contexts. The course also includes an in-depth look at details of Spanish grammar and vocabulary. Students will be able to distinguish different registers of Spanish and learn to negotiate various writing styles, improving their writing skills through the analysis of different types of text in Spanish and their components, such as themes, idea organization, tone, interest-provoking strategies, etc. A central part of learning to write well is learning to edit one’s own work and to rewrite, and this process is emphasized in the course. A polished portfolio of texts by each student will be submitted to the respective organizations as a formal report at the end of the semester. It is important to note that the course is not solely focused on language skills, but rather integrates these into a learning and working experience that is in itself a kind of “text,” which students will learn to “read” and reflect upon, using different modes of writing.

Note: This course counts towards the Spanish major and minor.

Special Thanks & Recognition

This course was inspired by the example of Elena Mola. It was organized with the intellectual support of The Theory Practice Learning Program @ Emory and with the intellectual and financial support of The Office of University Community Partnerships.

The web-page came out of Vialla Hartfield-Méndez's and Jeremy Paden's collaboration during the Summer 2003 Emory College Online Workshop sponsored by the Emory Center for Interactive Teaching and the University Technology Services.

Student Responses

"Dear Vialla-

I just wanted to write to share the exciting news that last night I received a phone call from the University of Florida accepting me for their medical school class for next fall! Florida is my first choice. [...]

At the interview, we talked at length about my experiences during the course last semester, and she was very impressed with what we did. I would guess that this is yet another success story where taking the class has truly helped people in future endeavors, and I'm just so excited that I was able to take it and learn so much from it. [...]

Thank you again for everything!

Jonathan Cohen

". . . I have a new job that I will be starting on Monday at an organization called Starkids. It is a latino outreach/after school enrichment program in Roswell, GA. The organization is very community based and works with the latino community in Roswell. Their sites are located in high crime/high risk apartment complexes. THe organization has been around for about 8 years and everyone that works there is very passionate about the work they do. I will be working primarily with middle/high school kids. I am excited about the position because I have a lot of flexability in the activities and programs I do with the kids. I am also working in a program called "hermanitas" through Girl Scouts - it is a Girl Scouts Latino outreach program - and will be mentoring girls at Cary Reynolds."

Alyson Plotsky

The class far exceeded my expectations. I was positive that I would enjoy working with the children at Cary Reynolds, but I had no idea how valuable the writing portion of the class would be. At the end, all of our work was turned over to Cary Reynolds for the parents of the children we had worked with to see, and just knowing that my work would reach them added a whole new intensity to my writing. After the program, I felt very connected to a group of people that I would never have otherwise had such close contact with, and for that I will always be grateful. That program made me realize that I really do have what it takes to positively impact my community."

Jessica Clarke