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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Su llama

I know that all our lives should be dedicated to the sacred goal of raising enrollments but I’m convinced that the honest and decent thing to do is to tell some students that they should drop Spanish as their major and go do something that they actually care about.

A good indicator is that if you have gotten to the fourth (and last) year in your major and you still don’t know how to say “His name is Pedro” in Spanish, then this is not a program for you. Everybody who cares even a tiny little bit about Spanish has already found an opportunity to discover that it’s “Se llama Pedro” and not “Su llama es Pedro.”

I get it why people end up in STEM in spite of having zero interest in STEM. They have heard that untold riches await them at the end of the road, so they are suffering it out. But Spanish? In our region that is totally bereft of Hispanics? If you’ve got no love for it, then what can it possibly be that makes you do it? If you’ve got to suffer, then go into dentistry. There’s a chance of getting paid for the pain, at least.

Never ceases to amaze me.

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8 thoughts on “Su llama

  1. Shakti on said:

    I get it why people end up in STEM in spite of having zero interest in STEM. They have heard that untold riches await them at the end of the road, so they are suffering it out
    Or you know, they hope to make a living wage sooner rather than later and have student loans to pay back. People have this perception of STEM fields about them being less dependent of “who you know” for employment. Internships in STEM fields tend to be paid. Internships that aren’t in finance or stem tend to be unpaid.

    But Spanish? In our region that is totally bereft of Hispanics? If you’ve got no love for it, then what can it possibly be that makes you do it
    How many majors does your school offer that require more than two years of a language? For example my undergraduate major required four years of a language ( I did not major in French though.) Or they’re in another major that requires that they know that particular language at a higher level (try doing research on Brazilian history without knowing how to read Portuguese.)

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    • “How many majors does your school offer that require more than two years of a language?”

      • None. We can’t even convince the administration that a major in International Studies requires at least the most basic knowledge of the language of the region one specializes in. We couldn’t get a single course offered by our department either in Spanish or in English into the International studies major with the specialization in Latin America. Forget courses, we couldn’t get any of the professors of Latin American studies to be included into planning the major! Students will take courses offered by the Business School, Departments of Anthropology, Geography, History and English but not a single course (!!!!!) offered by our department.

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      • Shakti on said:

        None. We can’t even convince the administration that a major in International Studies requires at least the most basic knowledge of the language of the region one specializes in. We couldn’t get a single course offered by our department either in Spanish or in English into the International studies major with the specialization in Latin America. Forget courses, we couldn’t get any of the professors of Latin American studies to be included into planning the major! Students will take courses offered by the Business School, Departments of Anthropology, Geography, History and English but not a single course (!!!!!) offered by our department.

        So you’re not getting Latin American studies majors in your advanced classes? Or students specializing in Latin American history either?
        Odd.
        When I took International Studies it was mostly political science and those specific major courses had coursework in English. There was no real specialities in regions other than Europe. But you have a bigger school, so…

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  2. I tried to talk someone like this into changing their major yesterday, and failed. They insisted upon Spanish and yet refuse to learn it because “I will not use it in my life.” Yet they are “interested in it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dreidel on said:

    How is it possible nowadays to earn a degree in a foreign language major without demonstrating that you can actually converse in the language???

    When I majored in German way back in the 1960s (to get my bachelor’s degree to get into medical school), conversational classes spoken entirely in German were among the required courses, along with German literature classes where we read the entire orginal German works of classic authors like Schiller and Goethe.

    Has the quality of a college education really fallen that far in 50 years?

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    • That’s the thing. He won’t graduate, and he’ll have a huge meltdown on me as a result.

      He wouldn’t have gotten to the stage had his teachers been professors. But up to now he’s only had instructors. And we can never manage to make them speak only Spanish in class. We try but it’s not happening because they don’t want to make the effort.

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      • Dreidel on said:

        “And we can never manage to make them speak only Spanish in class.”

        So specific conversational Spanish-only classes aren’t even required for a major in Spanish?

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        • They are all supposed to be conversational Spanish-only classes. We officially use the communicative method of language learning, which means that starting from Spanish 101, the classes are structured as conversation practice in Spanish. That’s how I teach. But then I go to observe an instructor, I discover that she keeps lecturing IN ENGLISH. We could get rid of the instructor, but where will we get a better one with these working conditions?

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