Reaching out to the Princeton Community

Students in SPA 211 engage in two community-outreach projects and reflect on social aspects of language use

By Catalina Méndez Vallejo

This semester, the students in SPA 211 (Varieties of Spanish) engaged in two community-outreach projects.

For the first project, Linguistic Landscape of Princeton, students explored the ways in which languages are used around Princeton University and in the town of Princeton. In particular, students documented cases of Spanish usage in various settings (banks, churches, train station, etc.) and cases of contact with other languages, such as English. By compiling this information, students analyzed the linguistic configuration of the on- and off- campus communities and reflected on multilingualism in Princeton.

For the second project, Ejercicio Comunitario, students engaged in two separate informal conversations with members of Latino Princetonians. This is a university group that connects Latino and non-Latino university staff members in an effort to build social connections in informal and formal settings. Thanks to the help of Jane Sánchez-Swain, coordinator of Community Action Program, the students had the opportunity to meet with a group of university employees to discuss a variety of topics, including the role of Spanish in the United States, dialectal variation throughout the Spanish-speaking world, Latino/Hispanic identity, immigration, bilingual education, and the current situation of the Latino community at Princeton.


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