Applying the Model UN in the Foreign Language Classroom

           Over the last year, I have been participating in the Model United Nations conferences at my university and collaborating with their leadership team to adapt their “crisis committee” conference structure to a foreign language classroom. In the spring, I will be piloting a mock bilingual crisis meeting in my intermediate Spanish course. The proposed presentation at KFLC would be a report and analysis of my findings.

            The crisis topic will be Catalonian secession. Students will each adopt a role (e.g. the separatist leader, Carlos Puigdemont, or Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy) and research their positions on secession. Additionally, they will research the history and current circumstances of the crisis. On the day of the meeting,  students will debate and negotiate (in character) and attempt to come to a resolution to the crisis. Periodically, “crisis updates” (in the form of news briefs) will be introduced, which will influence the course of events. All public debate will take place in English, while small group break-out sessions and news briefs will be in Spanish.

            My presentation will address the following questions:

  1. How has Model UN been used in the foreign language classroom thus far?
  2. Model UN is generally a voluntary activity composed of students interested in international affairs. How is it best adapted to a class activity?
  3. What is the optimal proportion of Spanish to English for an intermediate course?

This session would be open to all languages, as it is applicable in any language classroom.


  • Intercultural Studies