By Paul Coats, Lecturer and Supervisor in the Basic Language Program and AATSP Indiana Vice President
After a hiatus of over three years, the Indiana chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese held their most recent Día de inmersión on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University on September 28, 2019. It was an all-inclusive and immersive workshop on culture geared toward language instructors and conducted entirely in the languages of the countries and cultures being studied—in this case, Brazil and Spain. According to Paul Coats, the organizer of this event and current Vice President of the AATSP Indiana chapter: "The primary purpose of Día de inmersión workshops like this one are to provide professional development to teachers of Spanish and Portuguese who would like to learn about different Luso-Hispanic cultures and bring what they learn back to their classrooms. What better way of doing so than through being immersed for a day in the languages and cultures themselves!"
The event began with a microlesson in Brazilian Portuguese, taught by Vânia Castro and Ricardo Martins of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, to acclimate the audience (the majority of whom were Spanish language instructors) and prepare them to follow along with the presentations and workshops in this language. The attendees later attested to the effectiveness of the lesson and the remarkable ease with which they were able to understand and even participate, despite not having any prior experience with the language.
The rest of the morning was dedicated to the various presenters, all natives of Brazil and Spain. They taught participants about numerous aspects of their cultures and languages, such as regional festivities in Spain and the influence of the African diaspora in Brazil. They also shared new perspectives on more familiar topics like Brazilian soccer culture, life in the favelas, and Spanish Flamenco. Among the presenters were several graduate students from the programs in our department, including Marcela Lemos, Ricardo Martins, and Lara Oliveira Santos Vanin. Nina Morais from the Department of Germanic Studies, Mª Pilar Lara Burgos from the Consulado General de España in Chicago, Pablo García of Summit Elementary School, and Esther Álvarez of Pleasant Run Elementary School also presented.
The presentations were followed by a full Brazilian buffet with traditional desserts from both Spain and Brazil. Attendees were able to mingle and converse with various faculty, graduate students, and community members from both countries, honing their Spanish skills and developing their Portuguese. The day was not complete, however, until everyone participated in the Brazilian forró dance workshop, led (in Portuguese) by our own Carlos Heber da Silva Viana from the linguistics program.
We hope to see you this fall for our Día de inmersión: Colombia! (Dates and location TBD)