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Introducción al Departamento de Estudios Hispánicos / Introduction to the Department of Hispanic Studies: Alan Brown

Alan Brown is a Spanish professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Hispanic Studies. In this podcast, Professor Brown discusses his new position in the department, his current research, and opportunities for students to connect to the community through the Department of Hispanic Studies. The conversation was held in Spanish. Below is an English translation.


A&S: You are listening to a University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences podcast. I’m Jonathan Beam. Alan Brown is a professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies and is the new Director of Undergraduate Studies. In this podcast, Professor Brown discusses his new position in the department, his current research, and opportunities to connect to the community through the Department of Hispanic Studies.

Brown: My name is Alan Brown and I am a Spanish professor interested in the acquisition of foreign languages, in this case, Spanish. My main areas of focus are the teaching, the pedagogy, and the acquisition of language. In addition to being a professor, I now have an administrative position, being the Director of Undergraduate Studies. So, I am in charge of finding equivalencies for transfer students or students that are studying abroad. Today, for example, I was with three or four students that either have already studied in Spain or are going to study there, and I have to evaluate the course descriptions to see if the classes they have taken or are going to take have an equivalent here in the department.

A&S:  Despite his new position, Professor Brown still continues with his research.

Brown: I’m still doing research. Right now, I’m researching the relationship between students’ final grades and their proficiency levels to see if there is a significant correlation between the two. In this case, these are students taking [Spanish]210 and 211, which are courses that act as a bridge between the basic level of [Spanish courses] 201 and 202 and an intermediate, slightly more advanced level. I’m also looking to see if there is a correlation between students’ final grades and the grades they receive on each project and component of the course. If there is no correlation, then we have to ask, “why?” Why would there not be a relationship between ability and command among the students when we assess them through an online test and their final grades? And what we are seeing is that maybe there isn’t much of a relationship between them.

A&S: Professor Brown also mentioned many ways students can volunteer and connect with the community, as well as an opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador.

Brown: They have sent me several opportunities for students. For example, the YMCA organization, I think the northside branch, is trying to strengthen their ties with the Hispanic people in the neighborhood. So they sent me a notice of possible volunteer jobs that work with Hispanics in this area. Also, a teacher from Athens-Chilesburg Elementary School contacted me looking for Spanish teachers that would teach after-school Spanish classes. And…. today, I am going to meet with people from the College of Medicine and the College of Health Sciences who go to Ecuador and conduct “Medical Brigades”. A physical therapy professor is going to lead a team of students that will offer medical services, and they want to bring Spanish students to serve as interpreters. 

A&S: Finally, Professor Brown explained the importance of having an international faculty and what it can offer students.

Brown: …Yes, I believe it’s extremely important. In the Department of Hispanic Studies, I’m in the minority. I’m a white, Anglo-Saxon, middle-class man, etc. and I’m in the minority. So I think that this [an international faculty] gives our students the opportunity to benefit from the perspectives that other people bring from their countries and their cultures. This is important, because I think a fundamental part of a college education is being able to expand one’s cultural horizons. And the best way to do this is to have direct contact with people that have different ideas and different perspectives having been born and raised in countries and in other cultures. This seems to be the most efficient way of reaching this goal of obtaining a broader education.

A&S:  Thanks for listening. And thanks to the College of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Hispanic Studies for making this podcast possible. 

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