Aligning Expectations for Mutually Beneficial Community Service-Learning: The Case of Spanish Language Proficiency, Cultural Knowledge, and Professional Skills

Annie Ruth Abbott, Darcy Lear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The growing importance of Spanish in the U. S. has generated an impressive growth in the number of university Spanish programs that offer community service learning. However, students' and community partners' misaligned expectations can create tensions and problems in these programs. Instructors must make a special effort to articulate and align students' capabilities and the community partners' needs in three areas: language proficiency, cultural knowledge, and professional skills. Drawing on our experiences, this paper details the problems that occur when expectations are not aligned, presents strategies for bringing expectations into alignment, and provides examples for creating relevant teaching materials. Although we focus on Spanish community service learning, the issues we raise are pertinent to all programs in which second language learners participate in community service learning.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-323
JournalHispania
Volume92
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2009

Keywords

  • civic engagement
  • community-based learning
  • cultural knowledge
  • cultural sterotypes
  • materials development
  • oral proficiency
  • professional skills
  • service learning
  • student expectations
  • U.S. Spanish-speaking communities

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