Mi Cuidad Latina: Building Bridges to Local Language Communities in the World Languages Classroom

By Matthew Kelly, Spanish teacher, Independence High School
2018 CTI Fellow in the Insights to Latino Communities seminar

In my CTI seminar on Latino Communities I wrote a curriculum unit focused on building bridges between classroom communities of Spanish learners and Latino school and neighborhood communities of Spanish speakers. A variety of building bridges activities were incorporated into this unit of study.

Students in my Spanish language classes collaborated with Latino students at my school who had participated in quinceañera celebrations. Our Latin students got out their dresses and suits and staged a recreation of a quinceañera at the mall to explain their traditions to an audience of mostly non-Spanish speakers.

An Afro-Colombian poet from our community, Kurma Murrain, came to speak with students at our school. She shared her experiences navigating dual identities as an Afro-Latina in Colombia and the United States.

Last Spring, as part of our study of the Mexican muralist movement, we looked at murals in our own community. We took a trip to Camp North End to learn about the role of public art in urban development and urban renewal. We invited two muralists, John Hairston Jr. and Rosalía Torres-Weiner to come share their experience.

Our intern from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Mark Sealy, had experience in Chile as a dance instructor as well as having worked in business consulting and as a wilderness guide. He taught our students how to dance salsa! Mark worked with us throughout the semester.

I’m so grateful to Charlotte Teachers Institute for an implementation grant that allowed us to get a bus for our school field trip to Camp North End, and for helping connect me with UNCC’s Modern Languages internship program to provide interns in my classroom.

Read Matt’s curriculum unit: Mi ciudad latina: Building Bridges to Local Language Communities in the World Languages Classroom