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May 23, 2016
by Elise Goitia '18
Learning a second language is difficult, but Knox Associate Professor of Modern Languages Claudia Fernández just made it a little easier.
Fernández recently published a book titled Input Destacado y Adquisición de la Gramática, or Enhanced Input and Grammar Acquisition, meant for both experts and non-experts interested in teaching Spanish as a second language.
"This is for future professors of language, or students who want to become professors of a second language, especially of Spanish," said Fernández. "Almost anyone can learn. This is the objective of the series, to make it accessible for people."
In the past, Fernández has published articles and book chapters on the subject of acquiring a second language, such as "Approaches to Grammar Instruction in Teaching Materials: A Study in Current L2-Beginning-Level Spanish Textbooks" (Hispania 94.1) and "Four L2 Learning Objectives to Guide Podcast Design" (Podcasting and Mobile Assisted Language Learning: Applications and Outcomes).
Fernández, who teaches Spanish at Knox, is fascinated by the acquisition of a second language. Through her book, she delves into the mechanics of learning Spanish as a second language in an approachable way for students to understand.
"Teaching a second language is my passion," said Ferández. "When I was thinking of becoming a teacher of second languages, it occurred to me that for me to become a good language teacher, I needed to know the process of learning a second language."
The work is part of a collection of books published by Difusión called Cuadernos de Didactica, or Teaching Notebooks, dedicated to training educators how to teach Spanish as a foreign language.
Fernández' monograph is based on four teaching techniques. For example, the "input and output cycle" is a technique in which a student is shown a familiar text for a small amount of time and then is asked to rewrite the text verbatim. This is repeated until the student completes the text perfectly.
"One thing that is important that I say in my book, is that in order for you to learn a second language or a first language, you need to be exposed to the language," she commented. "Our task as teachers is to expose students" to language.
Fernández is currently working on a textbook with two co-editors in hopes of further influencing the acquisition of a new language.
"You need to continue being updated," she said. "The process of learning a second language is a very young field."
"When you learn a second language, you can do so many things," she added. "This project took a lot of time and effort, but I think it was a good start to help with that."
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