Bienvenido.

He preparado esta página web con el fin de compartir una porción de lo que he aprendido a lo largo de mis estudios del idioma español en la universidad. Cada sección a continuación contiene una selección de ensayos, certificados, o proyectos que he desempeñado con afán. Para ver los documentos al tamaño estándar se hace clic in la primera página. Desde allí se puede ir de una página a otra con facilidad tocando las flechas del teclado. Al pie de cada sección se incluye una reflexión mía comentando por qué he elegido los documentos seleccionados, las habilidades y el conocimiento he conseguido desarrollar durante mi estancia en el programa, y como iré mejorando mi español a lo largo de mi vida, siendo siempre un aprendiz continuo.

 

Language Competence.

Speaking/Writing/Reading/Listening

Certificados demostrando mi nivel de comunicación de una manera imparcial.

Written Reflection

When I first received my ACTFL test scores, I admit that I was disappointed. Having dedicated so much time to learning a language that I love, I had hoped that my performance would have rendered a more noteworthy score, something that I could truly be proud of. However, I see now that these scores only mark a point on the timeline in my evolution as a Spanish-speaker and indicate that I have been able to develop a lot in the past 5 years that I’ve been speaking Spanish. There is room to improve, and I plan on taking advantage of that. These scores have left me with a fire under my feet that motivates me to practice more often and more intensively. Currently my regime consists of watching Spanish-language television and reading all of my news in Spanish, in addition to communicating with my wife’s Argentine family in Spanish whenever we are together. I feel that I write and read well in Spanish, and that I can understand most everything in a conversation with the exception of colloquialisms and industry-specific terminology that I have yet to be expose to. My greatest weakest is my ability to speak. This is true in Spanish and English for me. I’ve always preferred writing to speaking and I don’t expect that to change, but I can certainly improve my Spanish speaking abilities. One of the big obstacles for me is having enough confidence to say things that might not be accurate. I’ve reached a point where I can communicate anything in a roundabout way and as a result I have plateaued. My ability to work around speaking situations that I’m uncomfortable with has become a handicap that limits me from employing new vocabulary and idioms that are currently outside of my comfort zone. My goal is to continue to study vocabulary and idioms, and to improve my accent to the point where I can finally pronounce the “rr” properly, which has always driven me crazy.

 

Cultural Competence.

Cultural Product

Análisis de Rima LVI: Hoy como ayer, mañana como hoy de Gustavo Bécquer

Cultural Practice

Ensayo sobre la sidra asturiana, sus orígines, y su impacto cultural

Written Reflection

I’m of the opinion that a knowledge of language without an equal understanding of culture is entirely incomplete. Just as language affects culture, culture has an equal impact on language and nothing has helped me to grasp the Spanish language more than the time I’ve spent studying various Spanish-speaking cultures. The artifacts I’ve chosen to present here display some of the efforts I’ve put into understanding and interpreting Spanish culture. The first is an analysis of Rima LVI: Hoy como ayer, ayer como mañana, a poem written by one of my favorite Spanish authors, Gustavo Bécquer. Studying the works and life of Bécquer gave me a glimpse into post-Romantic Spain and how his dreams of riches and fames that led him to Madrid ultimately left him disillusioned, poor, and physically ill. He was killed by the wave of tuberculosis that swept across the nation in the late-19th century, and in a way his life represents the lives of so many Spaniards who sought to find their place in society at the time but never truly did. I also included a short paper written on the topic of Asturian cider. Having spent several months living in Asturias, the cultural significance of Asturian cider was clear to me and studying its role in society and culture helped me to better understand why its such a source of pride and belonging for so many Asturians. As I reflect on my time in Spain, and the time I’ve spent with my wife’s Argentine family, and the time I’ve enjoyed interacting with incredible people from Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and more, I acknowledge that the Spanish speaking world is larger than I could ever begin to understand. There are so many rich pockets of culture dotted across the globe that I have yet to experience, so many untold stories and unexplained customs that I’m unaware of. Understanding seems to be the key to learning a language. One must understand basic rules, words, accents, etc. Understanding is also the key to finding peace in a cultural melting pot like the United States. I truly believe that if we all took more time to understand our neighbors, the sociopolitical climate in our country would be far healthier than it is today. As a Spanish-speaker, I have a responsibility to constantly seek to understand the cultures that surround me, whether they are Hispanic or not. Learning a new language opens a door to a new world, but only we can choose to take that step forward and embrace a new culture as if it were our own. My goal is to continue to learn, to evolve, to understand, and to accept the various cultures that make up this great country. I want to take interact with a wealth of people and expose myself to a variety of ideas that will enrich my life, and in return I hope that I can give back to those cultures in the way I act and serve. I will talk to strangers. I will read books from other countries, in other languages. I will take time to learn the stories of a people who aren’t biologically my own. I will consume media from diverse places. I will encourage others to do the same.

 

Critical Thinking and Expression.

Argumentative Paper

Ensayo argumentativo proponiendo a San Manuel Bueno como el arquetipo de la religion moderna

Research Paper

Una breve mirada hacia la vida y las obras de Salvador Dalí

Written Reflection

The opportunity to research and present scholastic information in a well-organized and succinct way has reinforced my critical thinking skills and helped me to better express myself in a second language. The argumentative paper I prepared regarding Miguel de Unamuno’s book San Manuel Bueno, mártir displays my ability to take an abstract and unpopular interpretation of a fairly controversial story and present it clearly and persuasively. I hoped to provoke some of the same emotions I felt as I was reading the book for the first time and connecting dots between Miguel de Unamuno’s fictional world and our own. His story taught me a lot about myself and my personal spirituality. Stating my opinion on the matter is one thing but backing that opinion up with convincing facts and interpretations is another, and I hope that I managed to do just that. I also included a research paper on the life and works of Salvador Dalí, one of my favorite Spanish artists and thinkers. His ability to take something simple and morph and mold it to his liking and taste is otherworldly. The research paper is admittedly quite short and only marked the beginning of my continued interest in Dalí. Since then I have read several books about his life, including a short book that’s simply a compilation of his scattered writings, thoughts, commentaries, journal entries, and more. Reading his own words in his own language was eye-opening for me and taught me the importance of continued research in a field I enjoy. I feel that in the attached artifacts I effectively display my ability to form a coherent argument in Spanish and present it in an intelligible and convincing way. However, that is much easier done in writing than in speech, and I feel that my ability to do the same in an oral conversation without premeditated thought and preparation is not at the level it should be. My goal is to continue writing such pieces in Spanish, yes, but also to engage myself in similar conversations with my Spanish-speaking friends and relatives so that I might be able to better state and defend a dearly held opinion at any time. Despite my years of studying and practicing Spanish, I’m terribly self-aware regarding the gap between my writing ability and my speaking ability…the same is true in English, to be fair, but I won’t deny that this perceived imbalance is what most holds back my ability to express myself.

 

Connecting Learning to Life.

Personal Use of Language

Una muestra de mis capacidades en cuanto a la redacción creativa.

Professional Use of Language

Un currículum profesional preparado para distribuir a futuros empleadores potenciales y una carta de recomendación escrita por un mentor mío que conocí durante mi estancia como becario en el Real Oviedo.

Written Reflection

My experiences in a combination of academic, professional, and casual environments, both within the United States and abroad, have helped me to improve my vocabulary, my confidence, my knowledge of customs and practices, and my overall communication skills. I’m able to express my creatively (as seen by the creative writing artifact) and professionally (resume, letter of recommendation). I have a long term goal of developing my writing abilities to the point where I could work as an advertising copywriter both in English and Spanish. This would open many new doors for me and help me to secure an advertising job outside of the United States, preferably in Spain or Argentina, where my wife and I have always wanted to relocate. In order to work towards that goal, I plan on writing in Spanish during my free time and making a point to seek out Spanish speaking friends wherever I may be. Some of the best advertising agencies in the world are found in Madrid and Buenos Aires so it will require a combination of talent, hard-work, networking, and fortunate timing to make such a move, but it is a goal I am working towards in my professional life.