Western Michigan University
Dr. Robert E. Vann
(At a glance)


Current Rank: Professor
Office: 515B Sprau Tower
Email: robert.vann@wmich.edu
Phone: (269) 387-3042


  • PhD, Iberoromance Linguistics and Philology, University of Texas at Austin, 1996
  • MA, Spanish Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992
  • BA, Spanish, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1990


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About my teaching


Teaching  interests

  • Spanish linguistics
    • Spanish in contact with other languages
    • Spanish language documentation
    • Sociolinguistic theory and practice in Spanish
    • Spanish pragmatics
    • Introduction to Spanish linguistics
  • Hispanic culture
    • Cultural history of the Spanish language
    • Hispanic culture in the US
  • Spanish language
    • Basic language
    • Spanish conversation
    • Spanish grammar

New courses I have created at WMU

  • SPAN 3240 (Introduction to Spanish Linguistics)
  • SPAN 4100 (Hispanics in the US: Language and Culture)
    • Traditional delivery section
    • E-learning delivery section
  • SPAN 4900 (History of the Spanish Language)
  • SPAN 5400 (Spanish Bilingualism Worldwide)
  • SPAN 5400 (Spanish in the US)
  • SPAN 5400 (Spanish Language and Contemporary Society)
  • SPAN 5500 (Dialects of Spanish in the United States)
  • SPAN 5500 (Spanish Theoretical Linguistics)
  • SPAN 6050 (Foundation in Spanish Linguistics)
  • SPAN 6070 (Variations and Changes in Spanish)
  • SPAN 6100 (Cultural History of the Spanish Language)
  • SPAN 6100 (Hispanic Language and Culture in the US)
  • SPAN 6400 (General Survey of Spanish Linguistics)
  • SPAN 6400 (Spanish in Contact)
  • SPAN 6400 (Spanish Sociolinguistics)
  • SPAN 6400 (The Pragmatics of Spanish)
  • SPAN 6400 (US Spanish)
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Undergraduate courses I teach frequently

  • SPAN 3240: Introduction to the Study of Spanish Linguistics
  • SPAN 5400: Studies in Spanish Linguistics

Graduate courses I teach frequently

  • SPAN 6070: Variations and changes in Spanish
  • SPAN 6400: Topics in Spanish Linguistics

Sponsored teaching projects

    • E-teaching endorsement to create, develop, and teach Department's first e-learning course (hybrid, 75% on-line delivery) "Hispanics in the US: Language and Culture"
    • Project Director, WMU Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) grant (inaugural competition): "¡Oye, Mira! : Web Conferencing and Multimedia in Spanish Linguistics Courses"

Teaching honors                                

Nominated for WMU Distinguished Teaching Award                            

Charter faculty member of WMU Phi Beta Kappa Theta of Michigan Chapter                     


Teaching philosophy

I strongly believe that language use in part constitutes and in part reflects the cultural richness of human society.  Exposure to realia is therefore central to all of my classes, especially the Spanish linguistics classes that I teach.  I use information technology where possible to access real materials and I send students into the community when possible to observe real social and cultural events.

I strongly believe that students learn by doing.  This conviction guides all of my teaching, which is highly student-centered at all levels.  I frequently make use of cooperative learning techniques and my lessons regularly incorporate oral, aural, written, and visual learning modalities.

  • The Spanish language classes that I teach use a communicative, interactional approach.
  • The Hispanic culture classes that I teach involve making foods, learning dances, and creating artwork.
  • The Spanish linguistics classes that I teach integrate independent student field research. I often require students to teach a lesson as "profesor(a) del día" during the semester and then present original research to the class, conference-style, at the end of the semester.

I strongly believe that class interactions should not be limited to scheduled meetings. Elearning is integral to most of my classes.  My teaching and my course involvement often extend far beyond the four walls of the classroom.

  • Students engage in real time class discussions outside of class meetings, from anywhere they have internet service.
  • Multimedia materials that illustrate course lessons are published, distributed, and consumed outside of class meetings.
  • Paperless homework assignments are given, turned in, graded, and returned online.
  • Students have immediate access to their course grade at any time.


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About my research

Research interests concerning Spanish language, culture, and society in Catalonia

  • Documentation and digital preservation of spoken language data
  • Social, cultural, and linguistic effects of language contact and bilingualism
  • Pragmatic variation in ways of speaking Spanish
  • Ways of constructing linguistic identities and ideologies



Selected publications available online

(2007). "Doing Catalan Spanish: Pragmatic resources and discourse strategies in ways of speaking Spanish in Barcelona." In J. Holmquist, A. Lorenzino & L. Sayahi (eds.), Selected Proceedings of the Third Workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics (pp. 183-192). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project (print and web editions; web edition available at http://www.lingref.com/cpp/wss/3/index.html).

(2006). "Frustrations of the documentary linguist: The state of the art in digital language archiving and the archive that wasn’t." [Invited paper for the Electronic Metastructure for Endangered Languages Data Project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation]. In Proceedings of the EMELD Language Digitization Project Conference 2006: Tools and Standards: The State of the Art.
Available at http://emeld.org/workshop/2006/proceedings.html.

(2003). "Digitizing and transcribing field recordings of Catalonian Spanish." [Invited paper for the Electronic Metastructure for Endangered Languages Data Project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation]. In Proceedings of the EMELD Language Digitization Project Conference 2003: Workshop on Digitizing & Annotating Texts & Field RecordingsAvailable at http://emeld.org/workshop/2003/paper-Vann.html

Recent book publications

(2009). Materials for the sociolinguistic description and corpus-based study of Spanish in Barcelona: Toward a documentation of colloquial Spanish in naturally occurring groups. Lewiston, NY: Mellen.

*Announcement on Linguist List*
*Publisher's description*


Current research projects

(Digital ARchive to DOcument Spanish In the Països CATalans)

World's first language documentation project assembled by researchers worldwide that focuses on preserving and serving digital language corpora of Spanish in the Pa´sos Catalans from within an independently funded university institutional repository (WMU ScholarWorks, in collaboration with Berkeley Electronic Press)


Recent plenary lectures

November 2013. "The makings of DARDOSIPCAT, the Digital ARchive to DOcument Spanish In the Països CATalans."
2013 UdL International Conference on Linguistic and Cultural Transfer: Language, Instruction, and Translation. U Lleida, Spain

April 2012. "What's old is new: Data, documentation, and discipline (in)dependence."
Fourth annual meeting of the Illinois Language and Linguistics Society, U Illinois, Urbana, IL [Watch Streaming Video]

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About my service

Service interests

  • Community service to advance world language instruction in Southwest Michigan public schools

Recent service projects

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[Professor Vann's Home Page]  [Department of Spanish] [WMU

Contact: robert.vann@wmich.edu
Department of Spanish
410 Sprau Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5338
Phone: (269) 387-3042
Fax: (269) 387-3103

This page written and maintained by Dr. Robert E. Vann

Last revised August 24, 2018