In an increasingly interconnected world, issues of language, culture and identity are more important than ever before. At the III International Colloquium on Languages, Cultures and Identities in Schools & Society on July 5-7 in Soria, Spain, students and professionals gathered to address how the integration of these issues affects immigrant populations worldwide. The event was organized by the LMU School of Education, with the support of the Department of Culture of the City of Soria.
“Soria, and Spain as a whole, have witnessed a huge influx of immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa in recent years, which has raised new educational and social challenges,” said Francisco Ramos, professor in SOE’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and director of the colloquium. “As the only educational conference that combines language, culture and identity, this colloquium fills an important niche by gathering individuals from different countries to disseminate information and share views on this phenomenon.”
Ramos, who was born and raised in Soria, has spent the last 28 years in the United States, teaching in transitional bilingual education programs and, more recently, working with teachers of English Learners at the university level. His desire to bring his personal and professional experiences to his hometown came to fruition in 2015 with the first colloquium.
Three LMU colleagues presented at this year’s meeting. Darin Earley, director of the LMU Family of Schools, addressed how to improve teachers’ knowledge of African American and Chicano studies, as well as ways to improve the teaching of elementary school art, including through the incorporation of technology into content-based art instruction. LMU associate professor and independent filmmaker José García Moreno and LMU librarian-in-residence Javier Sepúlveda also presented.
Attending the colloquium as a student assistant to Ramos was Mariajose Gomez, a first-generation college student about to enter her senior year at LMU. “This opportunity has given me a newfound appreciation of diversity and a better understanding of the role culture and language play in the classroom,” Gomez said. “As a future educator, I hope to use my experiences abroad to teach students the importance of inclusion, solidarity and intercultural competence in and outside of the classroom. I met people who have inspired me to continue toward my goal of being a bilingual educator.”