“It’s not just about improving my Spanish.” Student Perceptions of Service Learning

No se trata solo de mejorar mi español”. Percepciones de los estudiantes sobre el aprendizaje-servicio

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Abstract

In the last few decades, service learning (SL) has emerged as an instructional model that facilitates connections between learning experiences in and outside the classroom, and highlights the socio-political nature of language use (Grim, 2010; Bettencourt, 2015; Moreno-López et. al, 2017). However, its effective and relevant curricular implementation remains a challenge for educators. This exploratory paper examines how SL impacts advanced learners’ beliefs, attitudes, and motivation towards learning Spanish, as well as their ability to connect their service experiences with course content. Findings show that learners evaluate service experiences through a proficiency-based lens, where the success of their experiences depended on the amount of Spanish used and perceived improvements in proficiency. Additionally, while participants were frequently able to connect their SL experiences with course content, they did not necessarily recognize those learning moments as beneficial.

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