Foreign Languages in the Process of Building Bridges Across Cultures
Dr. Esperanza Granados-Bezi.
The increase in conflict, violence, and terrorism, which affects our daily lives at the local and international level, must force all educators to reexamine our responsibility toward society. The disturbing events we constantly witness in the media are sending us a clear message: Our classrooms should become the place where we begin building the foundations of human understanding. It is well known that ignorance and intolerance have generated a great deal of crisis throughout human history. And it is obvious that they still continue to cause us trouble. Therefore, the Humanities, in general, and Foreign Languages in particular, are more relevant than ever. Our subjects are being called on to play a more active role in the process of shaping a better world. Indeed, our courses offer us unique opportunities to build bridges of understanding between individuals and across cultures.
This paper reflects upon the significance of Foreign Language teaching in developing cultural awareness in the classroom. It also presents a variety of activities oriented toward helping students move from the gray zone of superficial generalizations, stereotypes and prejudices, to a genuine respect for other people’s traditions, beliefs, and customs. There is no doubt that with the help of new technologies, we can expand the cultural horizons of our students, so that they become more sensitive to the value of all human experience in its rich diversity.
Dr. Esperanza Granados-Bezi (United States)
Modern Languages Department
I completed my PH.D. in Spanish at Penn State University, where I was also a teaching assistant for four years. My specialty was contemporary Latin American literature and culture. In fact, My doctorate dissertation studied Magical realism in the novels of Isabel Allende. My Master’s studies were done in Comparative Literature at Ohio University, where I wrote a thesis comparing the works of Gabriel García-Márquez and Toni Morrison. I got a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language Teaching (Spanish, English and French) at Universidad Industrial de Santander in Colombia. I taught Spanish language courses at Lock Haven University and courses in English and Spanish for foreign students in Mexico . I also gave two seminars for the Master’s program. Later, I worked in Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico City) where I taught several courses in Spanish such as Spanish Composition, Oral Communication, Advanced Reading, and Contemporary Latin American Literature.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)