So after three years of high school Spanish and a year of Intermediate-level Spanish in college, I am now enrolled in an actual Spanish course-- as in a course that is taught in Spanish. The class is a prerequisite for any major or minor in Hispanic Studies and is called "Visions of the Hispanic World: Oral and Written Expression." It's a conversation-based class with regular readings from a textbook that presents Hispanic literature, artwork, and political treatises from such infamous personages as Gabriel García Márquez (author of Love in the Time of Cholera and 100 Years of Solitude), Subcomandante Marcos (enigmatic leader of the Zapatistas-- pictured left), and Frida Kahlo (innovative Mexican painter).
The class is perhaps the most immersive language course I've ever taken (and I've taken many a language course) and has improved my fluidity in spoken Spanish markedly, not to mention my knowledge of Latin American politics and culture. Assignments usually take the form of 3-6 page papers on subjects such as personal narratives, informative pieces, reviews, or interviews (with Spanish speakers, of course). There is, however, latitude for more creative projects. In the spirit of Día de los Muertos our professor had us craft papier-mâché Calaveras (decorative skulls) to be sold in a silent auction with the proceeds going to Centro-- an organization that assists Latino families in the Twin Cities, where our class took a field trip.
Check out my Calavera:
Written on the side is a verse from a poem by Cesar Vallejo entitled "Los Heraldos Negros" from a book of his poems I found at the annual Mac rummage sale. This verse reads:
"Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes. . . Yo no sé.
Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,
la resaca de todo lo sufrido
se empozara en el alma. . . Yo no sé."
The class itself is perhaps my most enjoyable course. Teresa (la profe) is an animated and enthusiastic professor with a healthy sense of humor and an effervescent laugh. You can locate her classroom by following the sounds of Juanes, Shakira and Bebe playing in the Humanities building's halls. The other students in the class, at this level, are typically very engaged and intent upon learning and improving their Spanish language skills which makes class discussions ripe and entertaining.