The Bates Student runs a regular column covering Bates foreign language teaching assistants, highlighting the invaluable work they do and gaining insight into their cultural background.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to Daniel Guarín, the Spanish teaching assistant who hails from Armenia, Colombia. Recently, he reached out to me to cover a new learning initiative he has taken on: Bates Habla Español. The program, which comes in the form of a Facebook group, aims to digitally engage Spanish students at Bates through informal dialogue in Spanish. I spoke with him to learn more about the program and what it hopes to achieve at Bates.
Madeline Polkinghorn (MP): What is Bates Habla Español? What are its objectives?
Daniel Guarín (DG): Bates Habla Español (Bates Speaks Spanish) is a group created thinking about the needs of my Spanish students as a boost for their language acquisition. It is a group in which students can feel free to comment and interact in Spanish, out of the classroom and its formality: no stress, no pressure, just fun…
Bates Habla Español is a public group and it is available for all the Bates students who want to learn, improve or practice Spanish. And of course, learn more about Latin American and Spanish culture, literature, history, etc.
MP: How did you get the idea to start Bates Habla Español?
DG: The idea of creating this group was born during one of my master’s degree courses called ‘The Role of the 21st Century Language Professor’. The Internet is changing the world, it is changing communication, education and languages. We – language teachers – must be ready to face these changes and take advantage of them. We must also know that those formal and archaic language classes belong to the 19th century; now is the time to think about the informal ways of learning and teaching a language outside the walls of a classroom.
MP: How will this project help Bates students learn Spanish?
DG: There are many articles, books, videos, memes, and pictures that I would love to share with my students in class, but time is never enough and it flies when you are having fun, so this group is the opportunity for students to go deeper with Spanish and practice, because the more you practice the more fluent you become.
MP: What kind of content will be shared in the group?
DG: Well, everything has to have an educational purpose, even if I’m sharing memes, they must have an impact and must help students improve or learn or think. So there are many different kinds of content, such as videos about poets, writers, history. There will be pictures with fun facts about Spanish language and Hispanic culture, memes, music, etc. Everything in Spanish.
Interested students can access the group by searching Bates Habla Espanol, or following this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BatesHablaEspanol/.