Advanced Spanish Learning Community: 

An innovative program for native/heritage speakers and advanced second language learners


The Spanish Learning community is an intensive, team-taught course in which learners gain knowledge and skills needed to interact with Spanish-speaking communities through the interdisciplinary exploration of a single theme. The theme for the Learning Community changes yearly. Contact World Languages and Cultures for more information:

Program Description:

The Learning Community is a language and culture experience like no other in the nation. We have stepped away from familiar educational paradigms and used the learning community model as a means of shifting the focus of instruction back to the population with which our students will have the most contact in their daily lives.  The course is built around elements of critical pedagogy theory, current research on student engagement and success, and an expanded version of the National Standards Project that includes Consciousness as a sixth standard.

History of the Program

The OSU Advanced Spanish Coordinated Studies course started in the spring of 2006 as a 12-credit course titled "Media as an Instrument of Social Change." World Languages and Cultures faculty members Loren Chavarría, María Olaya, Juan Antonio Trujillo, and 20 students watched films, read books on agents of change in Latin America, analyzed the use of propaganda and stereotypes to control public opinion, wrote research papers, and worked together on a participatory media project. In addition to the classroom activities, students engaged in a minimum of six hours per week of community service within the local Spanish-speaking community.

The second course, taught in 2007, was called Fronteras. We explored the physical and psychological barriers that impact the way we relate to each other.

The 2008 learning community experience was centered on the theme of SABOR -- Sustento, Agricultura, Biodiversidad, Orígenes, Resistencia. Participants gained hands-on research experience with the Comidas Latinas food security assessment project, created short videos documenting the lives of Latinos in the region, and spent Fridays cooking complete meals from scratch in the MU East International Kitchen.

In 2013 the Learning Community theme was leadership, Liderazgo. Liderazgo, was designed to highlight points of convergence or contact between English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities. The course addressed all communicative skill areas and included content in the areas of literature, linguistics, culture, and civic engagement. In addition, the course included a strong service learning component where students worked together for and with the community and Oregon’s farmworker union (PCUN), not only to use Spanish as a tool for social justice, but to create bridges with the Hispanic community.