Teaching with AHLOT: A Spanish Teacher Shares Her Classroom Tips

We thank our colleague Catalina Gómez of the Library’s Hispanic Division and the Curator for the Archives of Hispanic Literature on Tape for this post previously published on the Four Corners of the World: International Collections blog. This post has been excerpted from the original; find the complete text here.

Earlier this year, Sirianna Santacrose, a Spanish teacher, approached us with an interest in incorporating our Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT) into her class curriculum. She had learned of the collection and quickly realized that this historic archive of audio recordings of literary figures from the Hispanic world would be a useful tool for enhancing her students’ language skills and their knowledge about Hispanic literature and culture.

I interviewed Ms. Santacrose to learn, in more detail, about her experience using the collection. I hope that her methods will inspire other educators teaching literature, Spanish, Portuguese, or any of the languages represented in the material (the archive has recordings in more than 10 languages) to take advantage of this digital resource.

Catalina Gómez with students.

  • Catalina Gómez: Tell us about the school where you serve as a teacher, your class, and a bit about your approach to teaching Spanish as a second language.

Sirianna Santacrose: I teach Spanish at The School for Ethics and Global Leadership, a residential program for 11th graders from around the United States. SEGL students, who come from a range of socio-economic, political, and educational backgrounds, study ethics and leadership in the nation’s capital for one semester of their junior year. In my classes, we explore the history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries through the lens of leadership studies.

  • CG: What attracted you to our Archive of Hispanic literature?

SS: Last year, I was looking for a way to integrate more Spanish literature and poetry into my curriculum. When I discovered the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape online, I was immediately excited! The Archive provides the public with access to audio clips of some of the most famous Latin American and Spanish writers in the world reading their works.

  • CG: You incorporated some content from our collection in your class syllabus. Can you tell us how you went about doing this?

SS: Last semester, I based my class’s final assignment on the Archive. We listened to audio clips from it together, and I asked my students to pay close attention to the choices the authors made in terms of intonation, volume, and speed; factors like these played a key role in how I graded their projects. They were tasked with researching an author from the Archive and writing a short biography of their life. They then wrote an analysis of one of their chosen author’s works and recorded themselves reciting this work aloud. Each student also performed this piece on the final day of class, providing an opportunity to both visually and orally interpret it in front of an audience. The auditory nature of the Archive provided the perfect inspiration for this final assignment.

  • CG: Would you recommend this material to other Spanish or Portuguese teachers or university professors? What advice would you give them?

SS: I would recommend that teachers or professors of Spanish and Portuguese consider incorporating this material into their courses. I was so pleased with the way my students actively engaged with the Archive and its history that I plan to integrate this material into my future classes. My one piece of advice for educators would be to plan a class visit to the Hispanic Reading Room if they can; it is an invaluable resource and the librarians there are so willing to help. I am grateful to you and your colleagues for your work on building this digital archive and truly hope that more people learn about it!

Archives of Hispanic Literature on Tape

Click here to learn more about the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. Currently, 259 out of the 800 recordings from the archive are available for online streaming. To consult the rest of the Archive, contact the Hispanic Division through our Ask a Librarian portal.


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