text boxes written in spanishby Kameko Jacobs, Instructional Communications Specialist

Maybe you, like me, took Spanish in grade school and have all but lost it, and long for ways to recover your ability to read and speak the language. Maybe you grew up speaking Spanish but would love more opportunities to speak about higher education in the Spanish language alongside ACC colleagues.

Or, you just miss connecting with co-workers in an informal setting. This past summer, the Teaching and Learning Excellence Division (TLED) hosted Spanish language ‘practice’ sessions as a fun, friendly way for ACC employees to gain exposure to reading, listening and speaking Spanish. Each session was led by an ACC facilitator who chose a spanish-language article to discuss. The following were the sessions and facilitators:

Date Facilitator Article
June 10 Susan Thomason Diálogo “Los Futuros de la Educación: aprender a transformarse” de la UNESCO
June 24 Antonio Lujan ¿Cómo saber si el estrés que padeces no es en realidad ansiedad?
July 8 Rachel Barerra Nancy, la curandera de Los Reyes
July 23 Alejandra Polcik ¿Puedes leer este artículo sin distraerte?
Aug 5 Victor Sibaja-Molina El origen de los refranes y dichos populares and Refranes Alusivos a la Enseñanza

Austin Community College (ACC) employees from a wide range of disciplines and departments joined together during these Charlas to practice Spanish and discuss spanish-language articles on topics such as study techniques, cultural differences between the United States and Latin America, and the benefits of bilingual education. Participants read the article and came to the discussion ready to practice higher education Spanish terms by listening, typing in the chat, and speaking. Facilitators helped guide the conversation, translated as needed, and posted or shared vocabulary specific to the article.

Participants surveyed shared how beneficial these informal sessions were in both allowing a space to practice Spanish and also providing opportunities for employees to connect with one another. One participant shared via the evaluation:

“¡Gracias! Durante la pandemia he tenido pocas oportunidades de conversar en español y de leer cosas interesantes. Las Charlas también me han dado la oportunidad de conectarme con colegas en todo ACC.”

“Thank you! During the pandemic I have had few opportunities to converse in Spanish and to read interesting things. The Charlas have also given me the opportunity to connect with colleagues throughout ACC.”

Not only do Charlas allow for spaces for ACC employees to practice Spanish and connect with each other, these Charlas are a part of the TLED mission to build a supportive learning environment for all students. As Angela Valenzuela wrote in her book ‘Subtractive Schooling’: “In a world that does not value bilingualism or biculturalism, youth may fall prey to the subtle yet unrelenting message of the worthlessness of their communities.”

TLED recognizes the importance of language in providing a learning environment that celebrates all students. With this knowledge in mind, TLED provides Charlas as one way to support Latinx students and ACC’s Hispanic Serving Institution status.

Thank you to all who attended!
Visit the Charla website for links to the articles discussed.

Reference: Valenzuela, Angela. Subtractive Schooling : U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. Albany :State University of New York Press, 1999.