Resource centre director advocates poetry for teaching Spanish

The Spanish Resource Centre at York sent the following article to YFile.

Magdalena Aguinaga, director of the Spanish Resource Centre at York University, participated in the 2004 NABE (National Association for Bilingual Education) conference entitled, “Bilingual Education: An Enlightened Path to Academic Excellence”. The 33rd annual NABE congress, held Feb. 4 to 7 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hosted more than 4,000 speakers from North America.

Aguinaga’s presentation, “Poetry Workshops in the Classroom”, was about the use of poems in teaching Spanish, both as a first and second language. She addressed the study of poetry as a way to get students acquainted with individual poets’ works as well as a practice for developing creative skills. Her presentation stressed the reading of poetry’s unusual language patterns as an exercise leading to the increase of students’ reading pleasure.

Right: Magdalena Aguinaga 

Poetry for children and poetry composed by children were the two main didactic instruments Aguinaga proposed for expanding students’ literacy and language abilities. She also suggested that teachers encourage children to communicate their feelings after reading, writing and thinking about poetry, as the first step in children learning how to create new poems.

In her interactive presentation, Aguinaga proposed models of activities involving poetry in the classroom, as well as a rich list of written, audio and video resources to help teachers become efficient organizers, animators and transmitters of language. “Workshops of creative writing transform a school into a place of beauty where language is celebrated,” said Aguinaga, “and writing poems invites students to learn in a joyful way.”

Left: Alma Flor Ada

Right: Charles Garcia


Many notable speakers made presentations at the congress, including opening day keynote speaker Alma Flor Ada, professor of multicultural education at the University of San Francisco, renowned author of more than 50 children’s books and advocate of bilingual education; and plenary keynote speaker Charles Garcia, called one of the most influential Hispanic leaders in the United States, and currently on the Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.