|My involvement in creation teaching materials for my students and colleagues’ students began over 13 years ago when I started teaching Spanish and Hispanic Linguistics in the US. |
Over the years many of those materials have become more sophisticated and effective thanks to feedback from students and colleagues and my experiences working with them. The goal of all these materials is the same: to teach the students Spanish, my native language, by paying close attention to its social situation and scope.
Thanks to an Open Educational Resources grant sponsoring course redesign, my initial enthusiasm and commitment towards teaching and using authentic cultural content that welcomes critical thinking reached a new stage. A solitary quest became a group project in which three other colleagues, each from a different discipline and visions, sum up their dedication, talent and love for teaching Spanish in the US. Through the University of Texas/Austin, our OER will now reach more classrooms and more importantly, our materials will continue to evolve thanks to our colleagues and their students. Our articles will inspire a multitude of initiatives addressing interdisciplinary collaboration, collegiality, and course enhancement, without the burden of buying expensive textbooks.
“La música y las dictaduras en Latinoamérica” ('Music and dictatorships in Latin America') is one of the readings that is part of the OER team project mentioned above, and is one of the articles I wrote. The topic of this reading is absent in all of seven 300-level Spanish textbooks I have read. This absence is unfortunate because:
1. If something distinguishes Latin America from the United States it is its turbulent political life that, regardless of geographic location, often manifests itself in the form of dictatorships. Therefore, it is essential that our students acquire a deep understanding of Latin America, which is impossible to do if one ignores its dictatorships.
2. Merengue, bachata, guaguancó, cumbia, etc. are popular music genres associated with Latin America. However, they rarely touch on the themes of injustice or sacrifice that characterizes the vibrant and brave music created by and for the youth who had to fight and survive repression, imprisonment and torture at the hands of their own governments. In sum, the intricate history of the musical manifestations that flourished under the long shadow of Latin America’s dictatorships deserves its own space in our teaching of Spanish and culture in US classrooms.
In addition to accessing different bibliographic sources, I had two crucial sources necessary to ensure I was providing both fair information and material tailored to 300-level Spanish students. One of my colleagues, Dr. Alexia Vikis, read the articles and provided valuable suggestions. Mainly, she emphasized the need to include short readings, which was challenging but not impossible. The other important component that guided my writing process were the testimonials of people who had personally endured dictatorships in their countries or whose relatives had. It is important to note that my OER colleagues contributed ingenious exercises that complement my articles and connect the reading to the vocabulary being taught