How do students best learn Spanish? What keeps them motivated? And how can instructors keep them engaged? These are a few of the questions that Dr. Mariana Stone pursues in her research, and they inform her approach to teaching, as well. Recently, she revised her Spanish Conversation class with the goal of making it more dynamic and entertaining. The result was a class centered around a murder mystery: Among their many activities, students listen to Spanish-language podcasts, create their own podcasts, investigate characters’ histories, and will eventually assume those characters’ roles in an end-of-semester dinner party where they must work together to determine the guilty party. Students have responded enthusiastically to the new direction …

Carlos Jonathan Guerra, for one, sees the class dynamic as both engaging and culturally sensitive:

“I personally love this class. It is something very different compared to any conversation class I have had taken at UNG before. This class has a very captivating topic where you will always be surprised with every case you hear. If you are a person who is interested in murder cases, this class will be a blast. Especially if the class is taught by Mariana Stone; her bubbly, positive attitude gives the class a whole other level of entertaining and it makes it easier to be engaged and motivated. But apart from learning about crazy murders from Argentina, this class also covers topics that are an issue to our contemporary society. It is a well-balanced class.”

A native of Argentina and an assistant professor of Spanish, Dr. Stone teaches all levels of Spanish and researches curriculum design, efficacy, and language assessment.