Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

Beisbol and Tostones: Constructing Narratives of Puerto Rican Identity in Secondary Level, First Year Spanish Textbooks

Beisbol and Tostones: Constructing Narratives of Puerto Rican Identity in Secondary Level, First Year Spanish Textbooks

Rebecca Sawyer

While new methods of foreign language learning have been developed over the past thirty years that emphasize the importance of cultural context, language textbooks have been slow to adapt. In an increasingly complicated and politicized world, it is especially important for language learning texts to accurately reflect the perspectives of the target cultures. Opportunities for rich discussion of culture are even more important in the context of colonized cultures, with Puerto Rico as the most salient example for Spanish students in the United States. This study builds upon and updates existing research on the cultural messages within first year Spanish textbooks for secondary students with a specific focus on the representation of political perspectives in Puerto Rico. The discourse in six first year, secondary level Spanish texts was analyzed for the amount of information about Puerto Rico, kind of information, and how it is presented to the student. Rather than showing uptake of past recommendations, the results show that the most updated texts are ill suited to address topics that are more complicated than baseball or food.

April 6, 2017 - Posted by | abstract


  1. Just curious- not sure if you elaborate further in your paper, but: While information representing a culture should be accurately denoted, is the complicated nature of that information contingent on the level of Spanish the textbook is attempting to teach?

    Comment by Colleen L | April 16, 2017 | Reply

    • I do indeed elaborate further! A large portion of my conclusion section gives ideas to educators about how to incorporate more complicated information into their cultural teaching. Briefly, language teaching is stuck in a bit of a rut where the grammatical concepts drive both the vocabulary used and the culture taught. Instead, if culture is to be a main feature of teaching, then the language content needs to be built around that. This is actually an area of future research for me!

      Comment by Rebecca Sawyer | April 17, 2017 | Reply

  2. This is a great research topic and especially relevant in a time of increasing global migration. I have also noticed the lack of cultural information in foreign language textbooks. Often textbooks are only relevant for grammar lessons, while cultural information has to be obtained from other sources, some of which could be inaccurate if a student does not have access to a native speaker. It would be great if additional attention to this topic could bring future textbooks in line with language learning needs.

    Comment by Hanne Willeck | April 18, 2017 | Reply

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