Dr. Alejandro Azocar
Inspired by French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, Azocar’s work incorporates ethical principles of Otherness and Sameness into World Language Education. He postulates that Spanish education in the United States has been shaped unilaterally according to a Western/American mindset that does very little to maintain the Spanish language’s uniqueness as an unaltered “Other”. He contrasts two visions of Spanish: a dominant one (Western/American) which is highly controlled by local and national teaching standards; and an alternative vision, inspired by Professor Tochon’s Deep Approach, which invites students to explore, appreciate, and respect the humanity that resides in the Spanish language and its speakers.
Alejandro Azocar's perspective challenges American students to examine themselves as English-speaking Americans with the purpose of acquiring a comprehensive vision of Spanish as a second language. This alternative vision not only fosters the students’ “mental skills” to learn Spanish, but also promotes a spiritual responsibility with the Spanish language. Azocar considers the humanity of Spanish as immensely complex, contradictory and elusive; and yet very rich in traditions, cultures, and diverse ways of making sense of the world. These foundational principles, which Azocar considers ethical, are rarely discussed during Spanish instruction. The teaching of Spanish in the United States continues to rely heavily on the use of teachable forms (grammar) that primarily emphasizes communication in a total immersion method. Azocar argues that today’s ultimate purpose, which is to teach students to communicate in Spanish correctly, is indeed superficial because it prevents students from expanding their intellectual horizons into the important (and very current) role of Spanish in contemporary American society.