Establishing a Spanish Writing Center

Upper division students in the Spanish Studies Major (91% of whom are Latino and 80% of whom are EOP students) need support in writing effective essays and/or research papers. This has historically been an unmet campus need, as there has been no place for students to go (except for office hours with their instructor) for help with writing in Spanish.

With these funds, the Spanish writing center, Puño y Letra, opened its doors in early January, 2017 with a physical location in the Humanities building. A website was created and students began to sign up for individual, 45-minute appointments with an experienced writing tutor. Two graduate students and one lecturer met with students during their appointment times as well as during drop-in hours. 

Services were advertised by visiting upper-division classes taught in Spanish; these recruitment efforts were successful, and word about the writing center quickly spread among students.

We encouraged students to visit Puño y Letra at all stages in the writing process, not just to polish a final version. Students received substantial support in writing an effective academic paper, including, but not limited to: content, organization, text coherence, vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics. The one-to-one contact with an experienced writer also allowed students to target specific problem areas in their writing, as well as develop ideas in Spanish. A critical aspect of the Center was that students felt comfortable with the writing tutors, thus allowing them to gain confidence in their skills and engage in the writing process.

Demographic data of the students who visited the writing center are as follows: 81.4% Latina/o; 67.4% first-generation; 72.1% EOP; and 86% female. The first-language date is also revealing: 72% of the students report a non-English language or English and another language as their first language. In other words, the majority of students who benefited from the Spanish writing center are heritage speakers of Spanish, who generally have strong speaking and listening skills, but less experience with reading and writing.

 

Lead Contact Name: Eve Zyzik
Lead Contact Email: ezyzik@ucsc.edu
Theme: Promoting Academic Excellence