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Sí se puede! aims at teaching Spanish heritage speakers

The latest book by Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci, associate professor of foreign languages and literature, focuses on further developing speaking, reading, and writing skills for students who have been exposed to Spanish outside of the classroom.

The textbook, ¡Sí se puede!Un curso intermedio para hispanohablantes de herencia (Yes You Can! An Intermediate Course for Heritage Speakers of Spanish), was co-authored by Maria Carreira, associate professor of Spanish at California State University, Long Beach.

The principal objective of the book is to expose transitional-level heritage speakers who have had little or no formal instruction in Spanish to the linguistic structures of the language. A heritage speaker is a student who is exposed to a language other than English at home or in their community.

The result of nine years of “energy, love, and research,” Geoffrion-Vinci felt the need for such a textbook in the classroom.

“Co-author Dr. Maria Carreira and I realized through our own experiences in the classroom that available course materials for heritage speakers, a demographic that is increasing exponentially in number at all education levels, are woefully insufficient in quantity and approach. We elected as a result to put our experience in Spanish for Native Speakers (SNS) research and pedagogy to the test and create our own materials.”

The text is designed so that it could be used in part in a one semester course or in full for a one-year course.

¡Sí se puede! provides students with the opportunity to read, write, peer edit, discuss, and give oral presentations extensively in Spanish. It also offers a variety of cultural readings on the world’s many Spanish-speaking countries and on the diverse groups of Latinos in the United States.

“This cross-cultural approach is designed to foster increased pride in students’ cultural diversity,” says Geoffrion-Vinci.

She will use the text next semester in her Transitional Advanced Spanish course.

Geoffrion-Vinci specializes in contemporary literature of Spain, applied linguistics, and language-teaching methodologies. Her research interests include contemporary poetry and Spanish women writers from the 19th century to the present. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from Stanford University and an A.B. from Wellesley College

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