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October 20, 2014 6:14 AM   Subscribe

I have the opportunity to request materials related to my discipline for my community college library. What should a language teacher ask for?

Every year in my community college (2-year university) department, faculty members get to make requests for library purchases. This year we each have about $150 to use, and once again I am stumped.

It's not that I don't know what to ask for - I have tons of ideas! But our library is so basic and really has no language learning resources at all, and I want to buy all the things! The first year I worked here, I asked for a desk copy of the Spanish textbook we use, plus a copy of "English Grammar for Students of Spanish" and one of those "501 Verbs" books. Last year I was so indecisive that I didn't get a request in on time.

So I want to do it right this year. Which books/movies/other media do you consider the most basic fundamentals for a college-level language program? I teach Spanish, so either general or Spanish-language materials would be best, although I suppose ordering material for learning other languages might spark interest and get us to offer something else here. I also have this (fanciful) idea that if we had some basic literature/easy readers, more people would be motivated to continue their Spanish studies after they finish the introductory levels, but the sheer number of choices has me stymied.
posted by chainsofreedom to Education (2 answers total)
Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal is still the only Spanish-language novel I've attempted and made any headway with. It's easier to fill in vocabulary from context with a story you know like the back of your hand.
posted by Sequence at 6:43 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm an enthusiastic language learner, not an educator, so these are the suggestions of a student rather than a teacher.

(I was actually going to recommend "English Grammar for Students of Spanish" - I think that was an excellent choice!)

I really like using children's books for reading practice. I've been learning Japanese on my own and I'm working on "Make Way for Ducklings" in Japanese now, and it's very satisfying to be able to read a page and understand most of the text.

So, I would recommend:
* Spanish translations of familiar children's books, like Curious George and Ferdinand. (I might avoid things like Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh because the non-standard language - like "Hallo Piglit" - can be a challenge in translation.)
* Maybe some of the Dorling-Kindersley Eyewitness books in Spanish - it looks like their Navegadores series might be similar.
* Spanish translations of popular fiction - the Harry Potter recommendation is great, and there are also Spanish translations of things like Bridget Jones' Diary.
* A few books originally written in Spanish - Cien Años de Soledad can be a tough read for beginning (or even intermediate) readers, but Relato de un Naufrago is available in both Spanish and English, has pretty straightforward language, and is really interesting.

Do they have to be new books, or can you buy used books? Used books could stretch your budget.

For example, here are used copies of Jorge el Curioso at ABE books. (Note that some of those are bilingual, which could be really nice for your early readers!)

Also, for any of your students who would like some additional practice, point them to Destinos and Nuevos Destinos, which they can watch online for free.

Finally, since this is something that typically happens every year, go ahead and get whatever you can this year, and then use the coming year to poll your students, and also (if possible) monitor circulation of the materials you've gotten so far. What gets used, and what do your students think they might enjoy?
posted by kristi at 9:35 AM on October 22, 2014

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