SJSU iSchool Students Reap Job Benefits from Customized Language and Culture Class


Graduate students at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information are already planning their spring 2015 schedules, and one of the many electives offered is Spanish 132: Spanish for the Professions. The Spanish language and culture course has been customized for graduate students in the school’s ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program.

Offered as a joint venture with the SJSU Department of World Languages and Literatures, the unique course was designed to give MLIS students the essential Spanish-language skills and cultural knowledge necessary to succeed in a Spanish-speaking library environment, a sure advantage in today’s job market. “Students will be able to use Spanish in their career search,” explained instructor Aurelio Días-Ferreira. “This should make them more marketable, due to its high demand.”

MLIS student Maryanne Daly Doran enrolled in the course to boost her job search success. “All of the assignments were applicable to any library job that interacts with the public, and the vocabulary lists and dialogues were so pertinent to any library assignment. This course gave me relevant skills necessary to compete in a job market that requires fluency in the Spanish language and culture,” she said.

According to Días-Ferreira, the online course integrates fundamental Spanish communication with professional terminology related to information careers. The goal of the course, said Días-Ferreira, is to equip students with the skills needed “to initiate and guide patrons and clients to the right place for information.” In addition, students acquire “conversational Spanish at a level required for building professional collaborations and relationships with Spanish-speaking librarians and public agencies.”

Like all master’s courses offered by the SJSU iSchool, the Spanish for the Professions course is taught entirely online and utilizes a variety of instructional technologies in order to maximize learning outcomes. In addition to employing the Canvas learning management system to access course materials and using an online textbook and workbook, graduate students also attend semi-weekly online group sessions and discussions, study groups, and office hours using Blackboard Collaborate.

MLIS student Katie Millsap found the online aspects of the course useful even beyond the acquisition of language skills needed on the job. “As a bonus,” she explained, “I have been able to incorporate a few of the group dialogue recordings as evidence for the e-portfolio.”

Spanish for the Professions is a three-credit course which can be taken as an elective for the MLIS degree once core courses are completed. The online course is also offered to individuals who hold an undergraduate degree through the i.School Open Classes program, providing space is available for spring 2015 enrollment. 

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