Terrell Morgan, The Ohio State University
Ever since eighteen Ohioans inaugurated the program in 1991, OSU’s Summer Seminars Abroad for Spanish Teachers (SSAST) have been held in eleven different Spanish-speaking countries and on three continents. Summer of 2013 will find the group in Peru, studying linguistics in Lima and taking advantage of a long weekend in Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Now in its 23rd edition, the 16-day program moves every two years as a way of presenting as many faces as possible of the Spanish-speaking world to educators. Although it was originally designed for Ohio teachers, the SSAST now has a national following, and quite a number of participants return every few years, expanding their first-hand knowledge of ethnic and dialectological diversity of the Hispanic world. Combined enrollment for the first 22 years totaled 488 students.
The central pillar of the program is an intensive, graduate-level course consisting of 40-45 hours of instruction in some aspect of Spanish linguistics. The course format facilitates the participants’ search for applications of the material to their own teaching, but instead of pedagogy or classroom methodologies, the mainstay of the SSAST curriculum is linguistic analysis. Students spend time with native speakers, collecting data, testing hypotheses, conducting interviews, and in other ways “getting their hands dirty” doing linguistic field research.
This year’s linguistics seminars are “Verbal Aspect: Preterit and Imperfect in Spanish,” taught by Dr. Patricia V. Lunn (Professor Emerita, Michigan State University), and “Spanish Pronouns,” taught by Dr. Terrell A. Morgan (Professor, The Ohio State University), founder and director of the program.
The course topics might seem surprisingly monographic, especially considering that every year there are participants who have no training in formal linguistics. Clearly, though, they are developed with middle and high school teachers in mind, and they offer the academic challenge (and the breath of fresh air!) that comes from looking at an “old” topic from an entirely new perspective.
Beginning instruction in “less commonly taught languages” (LCTLs) has also been offered in five locations, as students have been able to learn and practice Catalan, Guarani, Kaqchikel, Quechua, and Miskito with native speakers of each vernacular. Relevant to the Andean context, Beginning Quechua will again appear on the list of courses for 2013.
For more information—including a list of former venues, photos of previous groups, and contact information for former participants—visit the program website at http://oia.osu.edu/ssast.
The first SSAST group poses outside tropical classrooms in Cuernavaca, Mexico in June, 1991.
The 2011 group takes a break while on a hike in the snow near Córdoba, Argentina.