Sarah Geegan


College: Arts and Sciences

Students Engage in Service Learning, Enhance Second Language Proficiency

Published: Jan 30, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2013) Everyone knows that one of the best means to attaining proficient knowledge of a language is immersion. But is there a way to make this experience even better? Researchers and teachers are currently seeking ways to expand the immersion technique.


Francisco Salgado-Robles, lecturer in the Department of Hispanic Studies, believes the answer to this question is to get the students outside of the classroom. Salgado-Robles is an advocate of service learning, which is producing positive educational experiences in many departments on campuses across the globe.


“Service learning is experiential education that engages students in activities that address human and community needs together," Salgado-Robles said. "It is conducted through structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development.”


In other words, it is a way to get students out of their desks and into another learning environment – one where they can simultaneously improve their conversation skills and participate in community service.


“From what the literature shows and from what I have experienced, I believe that incorporating service learning into the language classroom engages students in responsible and challenging actions for the common good,” Salgado-Robles said. “It provides the students with structured opportunities to reflect critically on their service experience, to expand their awareness and understanding of social problems and, overall, it enables them to learn from a different segment of society.”


Salgado-Robles first became interested in the benefits of service learning during his graduate studies at the University of Florida. He investigated the extent to which learners of Spanish acquired variable structures of language and concluded that students who participated in service learning during their sojourn abroad experience had a stronger grasp of Spanish language variation at the end of the term.


After graduating in 2011 with a doctorate in Hispanic Linguistics, Salgado-Robles moved to Lexington and began teaching Spanish and linguistic courses at the University of Kentucky. It was a beneficial and exciting move for Salgado-Robles because he was able to develop a Spanish service learning educational program in Lexington with the support of his colleagues.


Students in Salgado-Robles’ courses work with a variety of partners across the city, with groups such as the Center for Family and Community Services and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center.


“At the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, the students are usually door greeters at a bilingual tax help service, which helps administer a free legal consultation for migrant workers. It’s a fruitful experience for the students,” he said.


The students converse with community members regarding cultural customs, habits, festivities and so forth. Salgado- Robles said that the students usually come to class telling their classmates the stories they learned from the people they were helping.


Opportunities also exist for students in more specific disciplines to integrate service learning into their educational experience. Advanced medical students are able to develop their communicative and translation skills thanks to Salgado-Robles’ relationship with the Samaritan’s Touch Clinic at the UK Hospital.


Other partners in Salgado-Robles’ service learning initiatives include the Village Branch Public Library, Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate, the YMCA, and Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary Church.


The list does not end here, because Salgado-Robles encourages his students to seek out other community partners for group projects. The students in his Spanish for Business Professionals class last spring and fall met with Hispanic business owners and associates throughout the city.


Outside of Lexington, Salgado-Robles initiated a new and successful education abroad program last summer: “Cultivating Intercultural Competence through Service-Learning in Seville.”


He took 15 undergraduate students to his hometown of Seville, Spain, where he explored the effects of service learning in a very different setting from Lexington, Ky.


“In Spain, it’s a Spanish-only policy," he said. "It’s not even a policy, it’s a reality. Southern Spain has little exposure to foreign people, so not very many people in the region speak English.”


Students also learned to be familiar and comfortable with the cultural components of the language. This was the primary emphasis behind Salgado-Robles' service learning programs in Lexington and Seville.


The broader region of southern Spain was another opportunity to expose the students to cultural and linguistic variation.


“Every weekend we went out of Seville,” Salgado-Robles said. “One weekend we went to Granada, visited gypsies’ caves and had the opportunity to learn about their culture and language (calé), one week in the south of Portugal we could expand our knowledge about the border language portuñol (half Portuguese, half “Español”), and another weekend was in Gibraltar, where we could see the effects of language contact, Spanglish. I chose these places because they were contact zones, where there was a fusion of language and cultures.”


From Lexington to Seville, it is that fusion of cultures that enhances the educational experience for Salgado-Robles’ students.




MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365;

Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Screening of the documentary Teached
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference

Fri, 10/24/2014

Repeats every week until Sat Nov 29 2014 except Sat Sep 20 2014, Sat Oct 18 2014.
Sat, 10/25/2014

Sun, 10/26/2014

Reset Page