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Clarissa's Blog

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

Textbook Hatred

The textbook we are supposed to use is total crap. Here are the vocabulary topics we must cover in Intermediate Spanish, Part II: technology, cultural diversity, environmental causes, politics, and “world without borders.” As a result, students end up being completely useless when they need to go to a store and buy something or name body parts or participate in daily conversations where globalization and diversity don’t tend to come up a whole lot.

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9 thoughts on “Textbook Hatred

  1. I once had to teach “alunizar” in intermediate Spanish.

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  2. lb on said:

    What book is it? And; doesn’t the first year cover buying things in stores, names of body parts?

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    • It’s Cuadros. And the 1st year is completely irredeemable.

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      • lb on said:

        Oh, one of the 4-semester ones. Ugh.

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        • And the cultural content is introduced exclusively by way of dry texts about the population density and square mileage of Spanish-speaking countries. I haven’t been able to read a single one of these texts because I’m bored. The grammar and the vocabulary have their own, very separated little ghettos in the book. As if it were so hard to bring grammar, vocab, and cultural content together.

          I will be relying mostly on my own activities again but it bugs me that we paid for a textbook that is yet another obstacle to teaching. We will be changing it if I have anything to do with it.

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          • lb on said:

            If each person is relying on their own activities, how do you get any consistency in the courses?

            I am the only one who expects speaking and so on from the beginning, as opposed to multiple choice, fill in the blank and translation. It means my expectations are really different, students aren’t ready, and I have low evaluations and a lot of complaints because I expect them to participate, as in a seminar, not just regurgitate, which they think is correct language learning.

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            • My literature students this semester was stunned that I only speak Spanish in class. I asked them if other courses weren’t like that, too, and they laughed like I’d said something ludicrous.

              We do have a requirement that 200 and 300 level courses be taught in Spanish but, judging by the way students react to me, nobody is following the requirement.

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  3. This is the basic problem with all textbooks–they imagine a certain type of student that is almost certainly not in your classroom because they don’t really exist. This problem is compounded when teachers either a) do nothing but complain about the textbook or b) treat it like some sacred object (we must get to chapter 5! and cover all the drills!). I have a system for reworking the textbook over time to make it more relevant, useful, and based on language learning research that I’m happy to describe if you are interested (though it takes a lot of time, you probably won’t like it since we don’t agree on language teaching, and if there’s a lot of oversight of your course you might get into trouble for changing things).

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