SPAN 3374: Topics in Spanish-American Civilization
This course is a survey of Spanish-American culture and societies highlighting selected topics; the topic selected for the J Term semester is: Issues Surrounding Spanish and Spanglish in the United States. The course discusses the cultural, political, educational and linguistic aspects of Spanish and Spanglish in the U.S. and is conducted in Spanish. The purpose of the course is twofold: (1) to broaden the students’ understanding and perspective on topics such as bilingualism, linguistic variation, and attitudes toward language; and (2) to utilize these topics as a springboard for improving the students’ overall competence in Spanish through reading assignments, class discussions, oral presentations, and written assignments.
Specific topics that will be covered in this course include: attitudes toward Spanish in the United States; bilingualism in the United States versus bilingualism around the world; bilingual education; English-only laws; the difference between heritage speakers and native speakers and the unique issues facing each group; linguistic features of Spanglish and its acceptance/non-acceptance and the resulting consequences politically, culturally and educationally; the linguistic status of Spanglish (language, dialect, neither?); and Spanish/Spanglish literature, songs and dictionaries.
Given the increase in Hispanic populations in the United States, it is becoming increasingly necessary to be aware of the cultural, political, and educational issues surrounding the use of Spanish in the United States. Furthermore, today’s students regularly come into contact with Spanish speakers who speak a non-standard variety of Spanish. Future Spanish teachers, as well as Spanish majors who will work with Hispanic populations in a variety of settings, need to be aware of the linguistic features of Spanish as spoken in the U.S. and need to understand the related issues. This course counts toward the Spanish major and minor and is ideal for all students studying Spanish.
Instructor Biography: Joy Saunders
My interest in the use of Spanish in the United States has developed and grown over the past fifteen years, since I received my Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout my years of teaching and my contact with Hispanic populations, I have gained an appreciation for the complex issues surrounding the use of Spanish in the U.S., as well as a sense of intrigue for the varieties of Spanish that continue to evolve. I am interested in the mechanical aspects of the language itself, as well as the practical use of Spanish and how it impacts our society. In the Summer of 2012, I taught this course at SMU, and the students who took the course were surprised and excited by what they learned. At my previous institution, I taught several Spanish linguistics courses that touched on many of the topics covered in this course. I have taught Spanish at the university level for over twenty years and continually find new and exciting aspects of the Spanish language and the culture it reflects.
Learning Outcomes and Benefits
Upon completion of the semester, a successful student will have:
- Developed an awareness and appreciation of issues related to Hispanic language and culture in the United States
- Developed an awareness of the varieties of the Spanish language, especially as used in the United States, and will have an understanding of how language variation impacts cultural, political and social issues
- Developed the ability to discuss and evaluate controversial issues surrounding the use of Spanish in the United States
- Acquired a more diverse and elaborate vocabulary in Spanish pertaining to the topics discussed
- Improved his/her skills in listening comprehension, speaking ability, reading and writing in Spanish
- Improved his/her grammar skills in Spanish