Spanish students Miriah Keller, Meghan Ellsworth and Hilary Neal presented their work at the 2012 CAS Undergraduate Symposium on March 27, 2012.
Topic: From Topic to Publication: The Challenges of Advanced-Level Writing in Spanish
Meghan Ellsworth, Miriah Keller, Hilary Neal
Mentor: Dr. William Cummins
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As the Spanish-speaking population and need for cultural awareness in the United States grow, the ability to understand and to communicate in Spanish increases. However, developing advanced-level writing skills in a second language presents three significant challenges: 1) learning how to find and use precise and specialized vocabulary, 2) acquiring advanced grammatical structures for communication of more complex ideas, and 3) recognizing and mediating cultural differences in written expression. To increase our writing proficiency in Spanish, we first chose an Ashland University program or organization about which we are passionate. We then wrote four essays related to that theme, with each essay targeting one advanced-level function: description, comparison, narration, and persuasion. Finally, we compiled the revised essays into a newsletter or boletín intended for a Spanish-speaking audience. The writing process included peer-editing, review by the instructor, and revision based on a system of error codes that identified problems. The process broadened our knowledge and use of the foreign language. We learned new vocabulary, improved our grammatical accuracy and complexity, and found new ways to express ourselves in Spanish. Through practice, we learned to recognize idiomatic phrases and cultural practices that don’t translate directly from one language to the other. We learned to be more innovative in how we described and explained things. In short, we were challenged to communicate more effectively across languages and cultures. We now can express ourselves better in written Spanish in personal and professional contexts.