Entering the classroom with Sarah Booker
This is the second post in a series about using Radio Ambulante in the classroom. Read the first post here.
We talked to Sarah Booker to learn more about how she uses Radio Ambulante with her students.
1) Tell us a little bit about the class you teach.
I am a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill where I teach Spanish language courses. I primarily teach the first semester of intermediate Spanish (SPAN 203), which is considered to be the third semester of language track here. It is also the last general requirement for students in terms of language. Students are all undergraduates and there are approximately twenty to a class. The course is designed so that students both build on the grammar and content that they have previously learned in order to apply it in new ways. The course is taught using the communicative method and encourages students to work on using the language. We also cover a lot of culture topics throughout the semester. It is to discuss culture that I have found Radio Ambulante to be most useful.
2) When was the last time you used Radio Ambulante in the classroom? How did you use Radio Ambulante with your students?
I have primarily used Radio Ambulante as a homework assignment, however this past semester I dedicated an entire class period to working through the episode “Everyone Returns.” We listened to this episode while studying Spain in the textbook. I chose it because of the way it connected Latin America and Spain and because it raised issues of immigration from a different perspective then students in the US are accustomed to. I gave students background to the podcast and to this specific episode and then we worked through the episode by listening to 1-3 minute sections and then working through a series of questions. Students also had a glossed transcript of the episode. While the language was quite advanced for the students’ level, by giving them the background and working through smaller chunks, they were able to understand and appreciate the episode.
Some students were discouraged by the challenge while others enjoyed the challenge of listening to native speakers. I have had more success with using Radio Ambulante as part of a semester-long culture project that I have been assigning for three semesters now. At the beginning of the semester I ask students to select a radio program, television show, or film series to follow throughout the semester. Students keep a viewing/listening journal that they turn in five times over the semester and then write a final report summarizing their experience. Many students choose Radio Ambulante and these tend to be the most successful projects.
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3) Based upon your experience, what benefit do these stories provide in your curriculum? what were the outcomes?
These stories have benefitted students and the course in general by taking students beyond the textbook to begin to put together a more nuanced picture of the diversity of Latin American culture. The stories produced by Radio Ambulante are also more in depth than information in the textbook is able to be. Furthermore, listening to Radio Ambulante gives students the opportunity to listen to native Spanish-speakers in a context meant for other Spanish-speakers rather than in the language classroom context. The production quality as well as resources made available by the Radio Ambulante team, too, make these episodes easy and beneficial to use in the classroom.
4) What has been the reaction of your students to using Radio Ambulante in the classroom? Can you share some quotes from them?
Students are generally very excited about the podcast and those that start listening to it for homework often tell me that they will continue to listen to it after the end of the semester.
Students are excited to hear these stories and are even more excited that their newly-developed Spanish skills allow them to understand the stories.