Voces is a module of the REACH(Recursos para la ense?anza y el aprendizaje de las culturas hispanas) web site, a project of the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. REACH is for Spanish teachers, Spanish-speaking students in the United States and the general public. Voces is the fifth of seven REACH modules and is designed to highlight the manner in which Latinos express themselves orally according to their dialect and cultural influences. The module also values the diversity of the Spanish language as spoken by the great variety of speakers in the Hispanic world and the USA. Each speaker records his/her personal story and recites a song. Bilingual listeners are encouraged to reflect on their cultural identity and to find their own voices.
Type of Material:
Audio and HTML text
This material would provide a great introduction to a unit on identity in a Spanish for Heritage Speakers course. The module allows for open-ended discussions about each "voice" heard, and for written and oral expansion assignments. The attention to ways of narrating, use of chronological markers in narrations, and use of discourse markers encourages the student to model appropriate patterns of speech.
Media player for sound files
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The module guides the user to analyze the oral discourse of three Spanish students by focusing on thematic and linguistic details that is unique to each "voice". Bilingual users will reflect on the way that the Voces speakers they express information about their cultural identity and bilingualism before reflecting on their own personal language use.
Target Student Population:
Native Spanish speakers and heritage speakers
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Native Spanish proficiency with near-native listening skills and intermediate writing proficiency.
This unique module is straightforward in its instructional design. Through the "interaction" with the three different speakers, two women from El Salvador and a young man from Mexico, bilingual speakers are invited to formulate their own answers to cultural identity questions. The module guides them to observe how the speakers organize their public speaking, how they take audience into account and the extent to which they share insights into their Latino identity. When speakers break cultural norms, as in the case of Julia who does not come from a traditional family background, these differences are noted. Special attention is paid to the way language is used as in the case of the linguistic transferal of Jorge in his use of the phrase "bastantamente bien." The oral accounts have an immediacy that will encourage students to speak up.The audioclips of each speaker provide autobiographical information and interests, e.g. lyrics to a song, creating a viable connection with the listener. It is very easy to imagine
students relating to the recorded statements becoming more at ease with speaking about themselves.
The speakers articulate clearly and use authentic speech consistent with their countries of origin.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This module can be a great starting point for classroom discussions on cultural identity and the changing role of language in the lives of students growing up bilingually. Teachers can undoubtedly find related print resources in the Hispanic Culture module of REACH. In asking the user to reflect on each speaker's language, the student is guided to reflect on himself and others in his community. The emphasis is on the richness of being bilingual,
never prescribing a "correct usage" of the language. An important aspect of each section is a focus on the "bicultural message" that each speaker gives about his identity as a Latino living the USA experience. This reflection helps the user to take a closer look at his own identity, and to clarify certain values inherent in his bicultural makeup.
Students can replicate the Voces project in their own classrooms, recording their own voices. The recitation of songs is an effective means of teaching a speaker to connect with an audience.
As a prelude to the student's reflection on each "Voces" segment, the instructor may want to set a context for the reflection. The speakers provide food for thought in a variety of contexts. Should the focus for reflection be a linguistic perspective, a bicultural comparison of related experiences or a comparison of values? The instructor could enrich the reflection experience by focusing the exercise this way.
The small sample of Voces is a good beginning.It would be interesting to hear other voices, perhaps those of non-traditional students, and to expand to other topics. Song transcripts would be a nice enhancement for the visual learner.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The module follows the consistent design of the main REACH web site. It is possible to listen to speakers in order or to click back and forth through different parts of the module. The color-coding of the REACH modules makes it easy for the user to know where she is. There is no danger of getting lost in the site. There are a variety of media player choices for the sound.
There is a lot of extraneous noise in the background. In Karla's recording, the voices in the background are loud and somewhat distracting.
There could be a longer space between the speaker's personal biography and the rendition of the lyrics. A written transcript could also be provided
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