Spanish Resource Centre hosts teaching event

The Association of Hispanic Teachers in collaboration with the Spanish Resource Centre at York organized a round table discussion on teaching resources and methods of improving the academic performance of Hispanic students on Oct. 22. More than 100 teachers participated in the seven-hour event, held at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE). Here are some of the highlights:

In a comprehensive presentation, Gloria Ramírez, a doctoral candidate with OISE/University of Toronto, demonstrated how audio and visual media can be used as effective teaching tools to enhance students’ communication skills and to make language classes more engaging.

Right: Round table particpants

Elizabeth Meneses, a journalist with Correo Canadiense, talked about the educational supplement published by the Spanish-language newspaper on a monthly basis. The two-page supplement features useful information on Spanish teaching resources, ideas for class activities, and announcements of interests for teachers and parents.

Jorge Bonilla and Yolanda Castro – both teachers with the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) – promoted Educación al día, a weekly radio program addressing topics such as methodology of teaching, educational psychology and promotion of education programs for the Hispanic community.

York’s Spanish Resource Centre representative, Ramona Diaconescu, described for teachers in the audience the rich collection of resources offered by the centre, as well as two of the programs promoted by the centre on behalf of the Spanish Embassy in Ottawa: the Language Assistants Program meant for Canadian graduate students who wish to work in Spain as teaching assistants for a period of nine months; and the Program of Summer Courses in a Spanish University opened to elementary and secondary school teachers, members of Ontario Modern Languages Teachers’ Association).

High-school Spanish and Latin-American students are able to improve their academic performance in various subjects thanks to Tutorías para Jóvenes Hispanos – a program of free tutorials offered by the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples in collaboration with the Organization of Latin-American Students (OLAS) at York. CSSP representative Carmen Lía Murall and Aurie Escobar, president of OLAS at York, described the program details.

Luz Bascuñan talked about Escuela Pioneros de la Paz  a multidisciplinary program aimed at promoting a culture of peace and social justice, developing strategies for non-violent conflict resolution and promoting democracy and equality as part of everyday life. The school provides students an enriched educational experience in the areas of language arts, music, visual arts, dance and movement within the context of Latin American culture and delivered in the Spanish language. The program is offered to children 31/2-14 years of age on Saturday mornings at George Syme Community School (St. Clair Ave. & Jane St.) and is free of charge.

Maria Figueredo, a professor with Wilfrid Laurier University and president of the American Association of Spanish and Portuguese Teachers’ Ontario Chapter provided an insight into the resources offered by the AASPT, such as publications, a video resource library, professional development workshops and an online database for instructional and cultural resources. Figueredo also reminded the participants about the upcoming annual conference of the Ontario Chapter on Nov. 11, at Ryerson University.

Anabelle Chacón of the Universidade Técnica Toja-Ecuador and Janet Martínez Jensen of the TCDSB, shared with the participants numerous “tricks” on how to teach mathematics and to strengthen logical reasoning in children at a young age.

Guelph University Spanish Professor Olga Mendieta introduced the participants to online Spanish courses as a efficient way of acquiring and improving Spanish skills, while Prof. Myram Martel talked about “Spanish at Ryerson University” a program functioning under the French department, which is about to expend.

The constant growth in the needs of Spanish translation professionals was the theme of a speech by Marzena Walkowiak of McMaster University. Drawing on her personal experience as a translator and interpreter with the Ministry of Immigration, Walkowiak offered an insight into the programs and resources available to those interested in pursuing such a career.

Toronto District School Board teacher Sandra Hryhor talked about student exchange programs as one of the best ways of helping students learn foreign languages, while making the teachers aware of the numerous and often challenging responsibilities they will have to face when they embark upon such projects.
The president of Canadian Central American Relief Effort, Hilda Rossi, added a global dimension to the topic of teaching resources by presenting a talk on CCARE, an educational and economic development initiative underway in the Merendon Mountains of Guatemala. By opening a multi-skill centre and a model rural integrated school, CCARE aims at enhancing the Merendon community’s capacity to become self-sufficient.

This article was submitted to YFile by Ramona Diaconescu of the Spanish Resource Centre at York.