Slides - University of Chicago Language Center

Intercambio: A
Language Exchange
Service Learning
Opportunity for
Spanish Courses
Clara Burgo
DePaul University
Chicago Language Symposium 2014
• Spanish Intermediate Sequence 124-125-126
with service learning
• Vincentian Philosophy of DePaul University 
doing service and learning from the
community, values of human dignity and social
• Environment of mutual interest, cooperation,
and dedication
• A reciprocal arrangement between campus and
• Enhances the student’s knowledge about the
Spanish-speaking world through community
• Tutoring and mentoring forming relationships
that expose commonalities at the core of
• An exemplary model for service learning at DePaul
The community sites
3 Latino community sites:
• Erie House
• Centro Romero
• 25 hours a quarter (3 hours a week) for 8
The community sites
• A mutually beneficial relationship
• Through advocacy and education, these sites
serve new immigrants from Mexico and
Central America who are integrating into
their new cultural environments
• Awareness of the social realities of Latino
communities in Chicago and responsibility of
ensuring justice and equality
How Intercambio Works
• A mentor of Intercambio visits the classroom
for placement and questions
• A key role in learning and practicing Spanish,
informing class discussions, enriching their
writing, and adding to their Spanish cultural
• Improving Spanish conversation skills while
exchanging perspectives on social justice
issues and culture
Service is a requirement for this course
Junior Year Experience Learning (JYEL) credit:
Apply their knowledge of Spanish to the analysis of lived
Use the experiences to understand a new understanding
of issues
Use their understanding of Spanish to solve problems
Service in the classroom
3 reflections by student mentors and the
Director of Intercambio
D2L Discussion Board Weekly Questions:
Orientation Week
Orientation Week
• First impressions:
• How did you like it there? If you were in
Intercambio before, did you notice any
differences? Are there more community
• Describe your first impressions about your
comunity site and your expectations
• How many community members visited the site this week?
What are the activities that you did in interaction with them
that you enjoyed the most and that are more beneficial for
your service learning experience?
• After 1 or 2 sessions with Intercambio, do you have a more
specific idea of what Intercambio is about and its dynamics?
Could you describe it? Is it what you thought it was going to
be? Explain.
• Any challenges or things you have been struggling with?
Fluency? Any improvements? Feel free to discuss any
aspects that have been hard for you and suggestions about
how to overcome any difficulties.
• How did you like them? Do you think these
sessions help to improve Intercambio?
• Do you think it is an effective way of
connecting Intercambio with the classroom?
• In what ways has intercambio changed your
life? What have your learned? have you
changed your mind about the community
members once you got to meet them?
Arlach et al. (2009)
• Community members changing views of
university students, of themselves and of
social issues
• Service-learning class format where
community recipients can have expert roles
• Knowledge is co-created and multi-directional,
and time is devoted to dialogue about current
social issues
• To increase civic engagement in students and
narrow the distance between universities and
• Service-learning is better positioned, in terms
of legitimacy, funding, research, and following,
to fulfill its mission than in the past
• A need for knowledge to be local and cocreated WITH the community.
• To improve communities
• The format of Intercambio and the research
method to empower the community members
to be on equal ground with their university
• Community members had a valuable asset to
• For the first half, pairs practiced English and
Spanish. During the second half, the group
reflected together on a social problem
• Intercambio was designed so that community
members were on equal footing with
university students rather than being served
by them
• Honest dialogue leading to a more complex
understanding of reality and a desire to
change unfair aspects of that reality
• The highest stage of learning is
conscientización, the awareness of social
problems to the point of intervening to change
Centro Romero
• Centro Romero is a community agency for the
immigrant Latino population in Chicago:
citizenship preparation, youth after-school
programs, leadership programs, ESL, GED, and
literacy classes
• Foreign language textbook exercises that
students did in both languages to encourage
partners to get to know one another's
background, as well as practice vocabulary
Dynamics of the sessions
• A game or presentation and a reflection,
exploring cultural, power, and class
differences between the community and
university students dialogue between the
oppressors and the oppressed
• Stories and articles related to social issues, and
reflection in a group format. The reflection
topics included immigration reform,
neighborhood violence, job prospects after
graduation, and the war in Iraq
• Discussions tended to be democratic
• Most community students’ family of origin was
low-income with an education of high school
or less vs. the university students tended to be
more homogenous in age (18-22) and
socioeconomic status (primarily middle class)
and they were legal U.S. citizens
Community Members
• Feeling more trust (confianza) and comfort 
reduction in stereotypes
• Stopped seeing the university students in
terms of class or race, and began to see them
as human beings with stories, aspirations, and
struggles similar to their own
• Humanizing the Other  feeling equal
What Community
Members Gained from
• Learning to speak up
• Reflection as support group
• Reflective actions: watching the news
• Infrequent actions: serving as a translator
• Committed action: teaching a literacy class
• Hopelessness: Immigration issues
• A template for a reciprocal, asset-based,
community-university partnership
• Knowledge flowed bi-directionally
• Community members learned they had to rely
on themselves for the betterment of their own
• Changing views of university students, of
themselves and of social issues
3 elements for success
(1) a reciprocal, long-term engagement
between people of different backgrounds and
levels of privilege
(2) ample time to reflect on current social issues
(3) an acceptance that reflections might be
uncomfortable, awkward, or downright painful.
• Service Learning following the mission of
DePaul University
• Intercambio as mutual exchange between
DePaul students and Latino community
• Centro Romero, RICS and Erie House as the
service sites where language exchange and
social justice reflections take place
• Arlach, Sanchez and Feuer (2009) Voices from
the Community: A Case for Reciprocity in
Service-Learning. Michigan Journal of
Community Service Learning, pp. 5-16.
Image from:
Steans Center

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