Audiovisual Assignments as Service-learning for Social Justice in Latinx Communities

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Rachel Showstack


Although digital media projects are not new to Spanish heritage language education, the increased digitization of communication during the Covid-19 pandemic has afforded new digital educational opportunities (Guillén, Sawin, & Avineri, 2020). In Fall 2020, in lieu of a service-learning assignment in which students had to be physically present in a classroom context, I created a new final assignment for my SHL course: in small groups, students collaborated (virtually and/or in-person) to create a Spanish-language audiovisual project, such as a short video, to address an issue of social equity that affects Latinxs in Kansas, and they disseminated their work to a local Spanish-speaking public. The students engaged in the project in different phases throughout the semester: planning and investigation, script writing and revising, production, dissemination, and reflection. The assignment allowed them to develop both written and oral communication skills, gain experience working in teams, and connect their Spanish language development with their career goals and with social justice (Avineri et al., 2018). In Kansas, where many of our Latinx students describe having been instructed not to speak Spanish in school or targeted for their use of Spanish in public, students had the opportunity to challenge previously held perceptions and circulating societal and institutional discourses about what they, as children of immigrants, could do with the Spanish language.

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