APU Online Learning Original

Learning Spanish and Other Languages through Literature

Learning Spanish and other languages involves more than just studying dictionaries and learning grammar rules. There are many dimensions to learning a language, such as becoming familiar with another culture’s pronunciation, facial expressions, colloquialisms and hand gestures.

Language is an essential part of a foreign culture. To really learn a language and the culture to which it belongs, it is best to learn that language through cooking, listening to music, dancing, shopping and traveling.

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going. ­– Rita Mae Brown, American author

Why Literature Is a Useful Tool for Learning Spanish and Other Languages

Studying the literature from another country is useful in learning Spanish and other languages.

Another strategy for learning Spanish and other languages is by studying the different genres of literature. That does not necessarily mean reading Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote” on the first day of Spanish class, however. Literature consists of many different genres appropriate for learning Spanish or other foreign languages, such as:  

  • Dramas
  • Fables and the life lessons associated with them
  • Autobiographies
  • Biographies
  • Poetry
  • Prose
  • Science fiction
  • Journalistic literature – books, newspapers and magazines

In most cultures, legends, myths and stories are shared from generation to generation. When you read the literature from another country, you can learn even more vocabulary, common expressions and slang. As a result, you gain further insight into a country, a region, an era, native folklore and the author’s experience.

RELATED: 5 Good Reasons Why It’s Good for You to Learn a Foreign Language

For instance, a student learning Spanish can become familiar with Mexico’s La Llorona (the Weeping Woman) and the cultures, values, and traditions associated with her story. Parents use this story to scare their children before and after those children cause mischief.

Myths are powerful in each culture as they teach about ancestors and life’s journey. In Mexico, there are many different myths about the creation of the country, such as the Aztec legends of the five suns, according to the blog Ancient Origins®.

RELATED: Is Spanish a Hard Language to Learn for English Speakers?

Similarly, people around Mendoza in northern Argentina fear an eerie light that appears above the ground between Puente del Inca and Las Cueva, according to the blog Indigenous Peoples Literature. Many people attest to seeing this light and believe it is a “luz mala” (bad light). The light is impossible to investigate as it disappears too fast.

However, the legend says that the light is an evil fireball. Others believe that when a person sees the light in a white color, it is a good luck charm. However, others believe that seeing any other color means being cursed for life.

With languages, you are at home anywhere. – Edmund de Waal, British author

How Learning Spanish and Other Languages Has Evolved

In previous eras, books were considered the center of knowledge and reading books was a privilege, according to BookRiot. Reading was considered entertainment in the 12th century, and since then, books have been educational tools tool.

Nowadays, students learn a foreign language through smartphone apps, podcasts and blogs. At the same time, they discover a new vocabulary and observe how grammar is properly used by native speakers of that language.

Change your language and you change your thoughts. ‒ Dr. Karl Albrecht, American author

For those students who are learning Spanish or other languages, literature is another outstanding way to understand cultural values, traditions and beliefs. In linguistic terms, students can also improve their ability to understand vocabulary and grammar and practice their reading, writing and pronunciation skills.

What will you read next? For students learning Spanish or other languages through literature, there are a few sites I recommend:

About the Author

Dr. Karolina Kopczyński is a native of Poland, and her passion is learning foreign languages and their cultures. She completed her study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain, and she also lived and studied in Russia, Mexico, and Greece.

Dr. Kopczyński obtained her M.A.T. in Spanish and ESOL from the School for International Training, VT. She also completed M.A. from the University of Jaén in Spain and the University Iberoamericana in Puerto Rico in Applied Linguistics in Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language and Formation of Professors of Spanish as a Foreign Language. Furthermore, Dr. Kopczyński earned an M.A. in psychology from American Public University and a M.Ed. in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University. Dr. Kopczyński completed her Ed.D. from the University of Phoenix in Curriculum and Instruction. Recently, she received the 2021 Undergraduate Excellence in Teaching Award from the University. She is also a co-advisor of the Spanish Club.

Dr. Kopczyński presented at the Teaching Excellence Summit on the Implementation of Technology in Spanish Online Classes to increase participation. She has also presented at Northeast OER Summit about Interactive Tools to Engage Participation and MaFla about Podcasts for Presentational Communication and Communicative Tools for Interpretative Communication in Online Spanish Classes.

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