Meet Dr. Valentín-Rivera

Dr. Valentín-Rivera is an Assistant Professor of Spanish, Second Language Acquisition, and Linguistics. She is also the Director of our annual summer study abroad program in Mexico, “Spanish and Culture in Mexico, with K-State Faculty and Students

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TEACHING: While at K-State Dr. Valentín-Rivera has mainly taught SPAN 410 (Composition and Grammar), SPAN 580 (Introduction to Linguistics) and SPAN 776 (History of the Spanish Language). She also created a course on the particularities of the type of Spanish spoken in the U.S. (SPAN 779, Spanish in the US). This class surveyed the sociolinguistic elements and socio-historical events that have resulted in the widely spread variation of Spanish in the U.S. As such, Spanish is perceived as a minority language that is often times minorized (i.e., stigmatized). Spanish as a minority language in the U.S. is acquired at an early age in informal contexts (e.g., at home), and displays specific linguistic features, such as code switching, which is often referred to as “Spanglish.” LauraVR_SpanishinUSmemeIn class, Dr. Valentin-Rivera and her students focus on exploring the cognitive representation of the grammatical system of Spanish in the U.S., thus analyzing how differently heritage speakers process the inherent elements of the language (e.g., morphology, syntax, pragmatics, phonology and phonetics), especially when compared to native speakers. Ultimately, this class successfully develops a deeper linguistic understanding of this variation, as well as a positive perspective toward it. Last summer (2019), Dr. Valentín-Rivera led a study abroad program in Querétaro, México, which she is planning on doing again this summer (2020), and which will be an annual program for the Spanish program at Kansas State. Contact her if you’re interested in participating, in 2020 or beyond!

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#KStateSpanish students in Mexico City during the summer program led by Dr. Valentín-Rivera in 2019

RESEARCH: The main focus of Dr. Valentín-Rivera’s research is literacy development, especially among heritage language learners, that is, individuals who are exposed to Spanish from birth at home. She became interested in this topic after living in Texas for six years, where she realized that Spanish spoken in the U.S. presents some linguistic features that differ from the mainstream Iberian and Latin American varieties of said language. Dr. Valentín-Rivera recently published two studies that shed light on how to better guide heritage language learners of Spanish in the development of writing strategies to become more effective writers. One of these studies was published by Estudios de Lingüística Aplicada (ELA), a magazine housed by Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM), one of the most renowned universities in Latin America – you can read her article here.  Dr. Valentín-Rivera enjoys showcasing her academic work at conferences such as the Symposium on Second Language Writing (SSLW), the Annual Convention and World Languages Expo organized by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium (HLS).

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GENERAL: Dr. Valentín-Rivera is originally from Acatlipa, Morelos (México). She completed her B.A in ESL in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos. Upon the completion of her undergraduate studies, she moved to Lubbock, Texas, to complete a Master’s Degree and a PhD in Spanish at Texas Tech University. While living in Texas, Dr. Valentín-Rivera developed a passion for CrossFit. She still completes workouts related to this sport while also engaging in continuous short distance runs. Her favorite Sunday hobby is running a 10K. One of her goals is to partake in a half marathon by next summer in Mexico City, one of her favorite places in the world to visit during the summer break.

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Dr. Valentín-Rivera is the proud mom of two cats: “Pancho” and “Satan” and loves spending time with them after work. She also loves visiting her family and friends in Mexico and Texas, watching movies and Netflix, especially original shows in Spanish such as Club de Cuervos; playing soccer; playing fetch with “Satan”; traveling around the world; completing crossword puzzles; watching the CrossFit Games; sharing memes; reading the news and improving her linguistic skills in Portuguese. Her favorite holidays are El Día de los Muertos and Halloween; she enjoys getting different costumes for each celebration each year.

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If you’re interested in taking courses or working on a linguistics research project with Dr. Valentín-Rivera, send an email [lvalentin] or stop by her office in EH 213. She’d be more than happy to chat with you about a Spanish major, study abroad in Mexico, or anything related to her research.

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