Language Class Builds a Bridge to Local Hispanic Community

A Moravian College Spanish class could serve as a model for other language classes who wish to take their lessons beyond the classroom and, in the process, build bridges with their local communities.

For the past two years, the Spanish 110 students taught by Silvia Mandler, visiting instructor of Spanish, have written stories in Spanish for seventh-grade students at Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown—where a large percentage of the students speak Spanish fluently. The Moravian students also created small salt-dough puppets to illustrate their stories. At the end of the semester, the class boards a bus and travels to Roberto Clemente, where the College students present their stories and interact with the seventh-graders.

Everyone benefits. "The College students gain language proficiency, leadership skills, and a better understanding of the Hispanic community," says Mandler. "The inner-city students get to see our students as role models. They learn about college life, sports, and anything else they want to ask. Seeing our students also encourages them to stay in school—and to start thinking about college."

In July, Mandler presented a paper, "Teaching beyond the classroom walls: A bridge to the Hispanic Community," about her real-world language lessons at the 92nd Annual AATSP (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese) Conference in Guadalajara, México.