By: Daniel Andrews
In the spring of 2018, Spanish professor Dr. Edwin Murillo taught a new kind of course: Spanish Creative Writing, the first of its kind at UTC. Students took on the challenge of writing in another language, an experience that has benefited them in more ways than one. “This is a different approach to language learning, a more innovative approach,” Dr. Murillo said about the course. “Pedagogically it’s very important and is an effective tool for helping them with their proficiency in the language while expanding their writing abilities.”
Over the course of the semester, students composed a variety of poetry and prose pieces, which were collected in an anthology at the end of the course. But the benefits of such a course run much more deeply than the writing itself. According to Dr. Murillo, “Writing in another language shows you the importance of precision; while writing in your native language you can become complacent, but in a another language you will make sure that that is exactly the word you’re looking for, and that will bleed over into your native language.” Additionally, writing in another language stimulates significant vocabulary growth, a vital part of the language learning process.
Furthermore, one of the most important lessons learned concerns the art of writing itself. Speaking about the students, Dr. Murillo said that “many thought of writing as a hobby or pastime, a leisurely activity, as not anything serious,” but they came to understand writing as a purposeful art form, as “a craft that must be learned and practiced daily in order to amount to anything of substance.”
In this view, the students not only improved their Spanish and writing skills, but they also gained invaluable appreciation for the discipline of writing as an art form with purpose. Dr. Murillo reports that “a lot of these students, by the end, were using their pieces for a purpose, using their writing to get a message across.” "This is a different approach to language learning, a more innovative approach," Dr. Edwin Murillo explained.