The Spanish faculty has recently adopted the content-based method of instruction in their lower level courses. Content-based instruction aims to utilize the target language as a vehicle through which content is learned. In essence, the target language is not taught in an isolated manner, but rather implicitly. This allows for an optimal opportunity for students to enhance their cultural knowledge.
For example, currently in the Spanish 101 and 102 courses, Professors Jeremy Robinson, Angelique Dwyer, Marisa Kalbermatten, and Nancy Hanway are using a content-based textbook, Ritmos (Foster & Antoniuk), to direct their instruction. The objectives of Ritmos are for students to understand not only the Spanish language, but to also gain a cultural understanding of Spanish speakers through an in depth look at the products, practices, and perspectives of various Spanish-speaking countries in addition to studying the history and geography. The intention is for students to make comparisons with their own culture and gain respect for similarities and differences, as well as recognizing cultural biases. Content-based instruction has received positive feedback from the students and led to an increased interest in the courses, as the material is very comprehensive. The development of the target language is emphasized through several writing and conversational activities in the book that ask the students to consider the content and add their own analysis or personal experience as an extension. Connecting the students’ lives to the material is essential. As a result of the successful implementation of content-based instruction, the Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department will engage in a CBI workshop at the end of the semester, funded by a Departmental Mini-Grant, to further their knowledge on this innovative pedagogical approach that enhances student learning.