When you live in the Appalachian mountains, Spanish textbooks don’t always speak to you. That’s the realization that led Harlan County, Kentucky schoolteachers Chris Anama-Green and Emmanuel Anama-Green to create their own language instruction curricula. “When you read many ‘mainstream’ Spanish textbooks, you find mostly vocabulary and scenarios related to city life,” Chris Anama-Green told Kentucky Teacher, a Kentucky Department of Education news site. In Appalachia, for example, students are more likely to live in houses than in apartment buildings and there are no city blocks or subways. “It’s harder for students to see the importance of learning a second language when the examples provided just aren’t relevant to them,” said Chris Anama-Green. “I wanted a textbook that students could relate to,” he told local Harlan Enterprise newspaper, “When I couldn’t find one, I decided to write my own.”
The two initially partnered on an introductory Spanish I textbook that uses rural scenarios and vocabulary instead of urban ones in order to promote students’ real-world communication abilities. A Spanish II textbook is currently underway. Entitled Viajes desde Appalachia (Travels from Appalachia), the curricula does meet Kentucky World Language and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages educational standards.
Viajes desde Appalachia references local spots within Harlan County by name and also includes full-color photographs the teachers took during their travels throughout Spanish-speaking countries.