Dr. Mariana Past, Spanish & Portuguese

Experiential Learning Activities in Spanish Courses

The Valley and Ridge workshop evolved my thinking about sustainability integration into my courses in a significant way. In lieu of focusing on a brand-new, advanced-level Spanish seminar that I had not previously taught, I chose to infuse my Spanish language courses with place-based, experiential learning activities and vocabulary related to sustainability issues (using the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals in Spanish). The former – essentially, guided explorations of campus – are based upon the SPAN/PORT department’s well-established model of interactive visits to the Trout Gallery, wherein students engage creatively with art exhibits and carry out collaborative work to apply new vocabulary and foster language development. I designed a set of 50-minute (in-class) walking tours where students will visit sustainability-related sites on the Dickinson campus and learn about sustainable, situated ways of living (The Handlebar, Dining Hall, the new LEED Platinum residence hall, etc). These activities will allow them to develop conversational skills beyond the classroom and help familiarize them with their new college context (many SLP students are first years) by acquiring a better sense of place, our sustainable campus. Such formative experiences will benefit students who later study abroad, as sustainability issues are addressed within all of Dickinson’s programs abroad. Ultimately, this place-based learning approach will engage many students at an early point in their academic studies, allowing them to creatively navigate challenges in another language and become more knowledgeable about sustainability initiatives at Dickinson.