Home / Case Studies / AULA EN ACCIÓN

Practical communicative applications with AULA EN ACCIÓN


Professor Irena Čajková shares how her first-year Spanish students demonstrated rapid improvement in skills and confidence to communicate through AULA EN ACCIÓN.

Irena Čajková
Instructor Profile

Irena Čajková has been an Instructional Professor in Spanish and Czech for over twenty years. At the University of Chicago since 2005,  she has served as the First-Year Spanish Coordinator and as a member of the textbook committee that selected AULA EN ACCIÓN. She is involved in a number of different academic and outreach endeavors within the Spanish-speaking and Czech-speaking communities in the Chicago area and beyond.

Lecture hall
Institution Profile

The University of Chicago is a private research university located in the heart of Chicago with a total enrollment of 14,500 students across its undergraduate and graduate programs. The university is well-known for its academic rigor, contributions to local and global communities, and dedication to free expression. As part of the university’s Core Curriculum, all undergraduate students must demonstrate at least a beginning-level competency in a language other than English.

The Challenge

The textbooks being used in the University of Chicago’s introductory Spanish courses were dense with an excessive focus on grammatical elements and often incorporated topics and themes students found to be unrelatable and unmotivating. While Irena believes that the previous course books offered some effective communicative exercises, on the whole the books lacked practical applications and authentic resources, and failed to meet the concerns and interests of the students’ reality. 

To remedy waning student engagement with the course materials, Irena and the textbook committee sought new materials that would meet the practical, communicative objectives of the program curriculum and the students themselves. The materials would also need to connect with the students’ day-to-day life and future professional realities. The University of Chicago’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures selected AULA EN ACCIÓN as the solution to their varied needs. 

“Our previous first-year textbook packed in too much grammar and focused too much on topics that did not motivate students to have a spontaneous and interesting conversation.“

The Solution

AULA EN ACCIÓN’s emphasis on communication for practical applications proved to be the perfect remedy to the difficulties faced by Irena and her students. Irena affirms that through its task-based approach rooted in topics relevant to a modern university student’s daily reality, AULA EN ACCIÓN “[has] successfully bridged the gap between classroom learning and practical application. This approach has not only made the topics covered more engaging and relevant to the students’ lives, but it has also enabled them to connect with the content on a personal level. 

Through its truly communicative methodology and backward design, AULA EN ACCIÓN engages students to explore the language beyond the traditional constraints of their classroom. As a result, students are empowered to communicate and gain confidence in their own abilities at a faster pace than other methods. Irena has witnessed this firsthand through the experiences of her Beginning Elementary Spanish 1 students.

“The moment that truly highlighted the progress made by my Spanish 10100 students occurred approximately five or six weeks into the course. During a class discussion, a student shared an anecdote about being able to engage in an actual conversation with his Spanish-speaking Uber driver. This interaction stood out because in previous instances at this stage of their studies, the student would have been limited to discussing their college schedule and family information… This incident exemplified the student’s enhanced language skills and their ability to engage in meaningful conversations beyond basic topics.” 

She also notes how the authentic resources incorporated throughout AULA EN ACCIÓN play an important role in her students’ communicative journeys: “The exposure to a wide range of geographical locations and important personalities from different countries has greatly contributed to expanding their vocabulary and cultural competence.”

“By incorporating real-life tasks into the learning process, such as shopping at a market or describing a neighborhood or apartment where students live or would like to live in the future, [AULA EN ACCIÓN] has successfully bridged the gap between classroom learning and practical application.”

Learn more about the AULA EN ACCIÓN textbook series by visiting our online store.