In order to enhance my Spanish teaching for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS), I participated in the XXIV Conference for Teachers of Spanish as a foreign Language in Barcelona last December. For two days, ELE (Spanish as a Foreign Language) teachers from all over the world met in the city of Barcelona in a Forum organized by the International House of Barcelona. Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city full of Spanish history and culture. I was especially amazed with the well-known Sagrada Familia basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí.
At the conference we attended theory classes taught by experts and researchers on learning and teaching of Spanish. The programme included;
- Estrella Montolío (Universitat de Barcelona): “New perspectives on connectors and structures of texts”.
- Reyes Llopis (Columbia University): “The contribution of Cognitive Linguistics to the teaching of grammar in Spanish as a Foreign Language: ideas for its application”.
We also participated in practical workshops on different topics that included; how to improve oral interaction in class; Facebook in the teaching of ELE; grammar for children, motivation and interaction in class; and humor as a teaching tool. Between sessions, I interacted with colleagues from different countries and once again realized how dynamic the teaching of Spanish is. We were few teachers from African countries so the participants were keen to know about the interest of our students in the Spanish language.
I started teaching Spanish at SHSS in June 2014. Since then, the number of students interested in learning the Spanish language and culture has been increasing. This year we will have students enrolling for the three new BA programmes – Communication Studies, International Studies and Development Studies and Philosophy - that are starting in June. We expect that this will increase the demand for Spanish language.
The Cervantes Institute has estimated, in its 2015 report, Spanish, a living language that around 559 million people in the world speak Spanish. This includes the native speakers, the limited speakers and the students of Spanish as a foreign language. It is exciting to note that Strathmore University is aware of this reality and wants to form professionals who can develop international careers. Therefore, the language lecturers need continuous training and development in order to facilitate the learning of the language and to share the advantages of learning a language in a global world with our students.
Thank you SHSS for making this experience possible. I came back with many new ideas and renewed energy to continue improving our Spanish experience in the University.
Story by Rocio Vicens – Spanish lecturer in SHSS