My Program Center Classes
0on j This semester, I am taking four classes—one at the Universidad Autonóma de Madrid and three at the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program center. One of my courses, Lengua española avanzada, or Advanced Spanish Language, is mandatory and I chose to take two literature courses, Literaturas transatlánticas (Translatlantic Literature) and En boca de mujer (In Women’s Words). Each of these classes meet for an hour and twenty minutes twice a week.
For Advanced Spanish Language, we took a placement test to split us up into four classes, so we are in small groups with people with similar levels of Spanish. There is also a class for heritage speakers that follows a different curriculum. Because I have learned Spanish mostly through reading and discussing literature in class, this class is very different than the Spanish courses I have taken in high school and college. It is primarily focused on grammar and vocabulary, with units on pronunciation and Spanish culture.
Going back to the basics, and learning some more complex concepts, of Spanish grammar has been really helpful to me because as upperclass(wo)man Spanish major at Skidmore, the most grammatical correction I get is feedback on my essays. Many of the concepts and vocabulary terms we discuss in Advanced Spanish Language are not typically used in a literature class. For example, I didn’t remember how to do commands because I never tell anyone to do anything in my Spanish class, but it’s important to know in a more casually context. I have found this especially useful with my host sisters. We also learn vocabulary like pinza (clothespin) and tiquismiquis (picky), which has not come up in classes at Skidmore but is useful to know in my homestay or while talking to friends. Although I have found learning more grammar helpful, my favorite part of class is discussing Spanish culture and politics. We have been discussing the Catalan Independence Movement in class and it is absolutely fascinating in addition to being useful to know while traveling around Spain.
I have the same professor, Bethania Guerra de Lemos, for both Literaturas transatlánticas and En boca de mujer. In Literaturas transatlánticas, we study Latin American and Spanish literature with a focus on the cultural exchange and influence between Europe and Latin America. It is really interesting comparing and contrasting the works of iconic Spanish authors such as Miguel de Cervantes and Federico García Lorca with iconic Latin American authors like Rubén Darío and Gabriel García Márquez. I have also learned a lot about Spanish culture and history through learning the political context of our readings.
In En boca de mujer, we have read feminist essays, short stories, fragments of books, and watched movies by and about women from a variety of different countries and time periods. Although we have read a number of texts by Spanish-speaking authors such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Rosario Castellanos, we have also read classic texts by Betty Friedan, Virginia Woolf, and Angela Davis. In addition to the excitement of reading in English in Spanish class, having a broad selection of feminist texts allows us to learn about the international feminist consciousness. One of my favorite parts of the class is the discussions we have as a group of women, although men were definitely welcome to join the class, about our own personal experiences as women and with feminism.
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