UCI Spanish professor Julio Torres wins School of Humanities Teaching Award
Julio Torres, assistant professor of Spanish and director of the Spanish Language Program, has won the 2020 School of Humanities Teaching Award. Selected from nominations across the school, he was chosen for both the quality of his teaching and the impact his programmatic work has had UCI.
Torres’ innovative approach to teaching has been cited in countless student evaluations that note his enthusiasm and engaging class delivery. For some upper division undergraduate courses, Torres implemented a project-based approach that involves experiential learning. For example, in “Spanish in the United States,” students conducted linguistic landscape projects in the city of Santa Ana by analyzing street, store and park signs in Spanish and English and applying linguistic principles to what they observed.
Torres has been instrumental in revamping UCI’s Spanish language series. He implemented a task-based model for language teaching that is used by all teaching assistants in the Spanish program. He has professionalized the TAs by coordinating their pedagogy with standards and best practices supported by the Modern Language Association and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. He also developed a successful mentoring program in which advanced graduate students observe new teachers and advise them. As language director, Torres and teams of TAs have run pedagogical workshops at local professional conferences in Southern California to share some of the foreign language approaches developed at UCI.
Torres also co-developed the new minor in Spanish/English bilingual education with the goal of creating a pathway to better prepare future bilingual teachers. The minor provides undergraduates with foundational knowledge of current issues in bilingual education and linguistic and cultural phenomena, along with opportunities for hand-on experience in a K-12 bilingual classroom.
"To get recognized for what has never felt like work is so rewarding,” said Torres. “From the hats I wear as a professor at UCI, teaching is the most meaningful to me because our students often inspire my research and administrative work."