Saturday, November 21, 2015

Business Spanish: Week 13

Week 13
by Ann Abbott

This week reflects a re-ordering of last week's lesson plans.

Lunes: Latinos in the US

This reading focuses on US Latinos. I'll try to accomplish three things in the class (though time might be tight). 
(I'm putting this here more for my reference than anything else: the pages in Chapter 14 are messed up in my desk copy of Éxito comercial, so I need to use my copy from CourseSmart which is changing to VitalSource.) 
  1. Pew Hispanic Center. I'll ask students to explore and read the information at the Pew Hispanic Center for several minutes (7-10). Then I'll put them into pairs and ask them to draw at least three big-picture trends that come from looking at the information from more than one piece. That is, I want them to see trends among the pieces, not just within the pieces.
  2. Census dataWe'll do an activity similar to the one I do with my Spanish in the Community students using the Quick Facts from the US census data. First, we'll do an analysis of state-level information. I'll include states that are traditional recipients of Latino immigrants (California, Florida, Illinois), one that is part of the New Latino Diaspora (Georgia) and one that is not (Maine). Then we'll narrow our focus to various counties in Illinois. Finally, I'll share this recent article: Mapa hispano de los EEUU 2015.
  3. La Línea. Since half the class has been doing the social media marketing and outreach for La Línea this whole semester, I will partner each one of them with a student from the other social media marketing team. Their task will be to explain what they have learned about the local Latino community through their work with La Línea this semester.

Miércoles: Mincaso práctico

This minicaso práctico is different from the other chapters'. The facilitators had to ask interview questions. The students did a very good job with this, but I think that I need to add a final step that creates accountability. Maybe they have to actually choose the person they would give the job to. Or fill out an interview form, etc.

Viernes: Taller de asesoría

Last week students read about and started creating interactive quizzes for the Facebook page. One of the students finished the quiz and submitted it to be posted this week. As you can see from the screenshot below, it has had over 1,500 views! The most we have ever had on this page for anything is around 200, but most of the time we have 20-50 views. So what a wonderful lesson! I'm very prouded 
Add caption

Sunday, November 15, 2015

What Can Business Professionals Tell Us about Language Studies?

My camera-shy husband, Ben Barbieri, and me on a recent drive to Chicago.
by Ann Abbott

My personal and professional lives tend to blend. On Facebook I post pictures of my kids alongside links to resources for colleagues. While I wait for my boys at Sylvan, I answer work emails. I would even go so far to say that my work provides some of the most important sources of my personal satisfaction.

But this is a first: I am going to interview my husband for an LSP webinar. As an entrepreneur with a business that has 50% international sales, Beniamino has given me insights into business and professionalism that I then bring into my teaching. Now is my chance to bring those same insights to my LSP colleagues. And if any students want to listen in and ask questions--in English, Italian or Spanish--they are welcome!

Questions I will pose to Beniamino for the NOBLE Webinar.
  • What is your business? Because it can be very technical, can you explain it as if you were talking to your mother?
  • I try to explain to my entrepreneurship students that business is about solving clients' pain. What is your clients' pain and how do you solve it?
  • Who are you? Tell us about yourself. 
  • Tell us about the role of languages in your business, with clients and with your employees.
  • How do you know whether or not one of your employees has transcultural competence? How do you think you would spot that on a resume, cover letter or interview?
  • Please give us an example of a time that: 
    • languages caused a problem for ISS.
    • a multilingual person solved a problem for ISS.
    • cultural misunderstanding caused a problem for ISS.
    • someone's cultural know-how solved a problem for ISS.
  • Many college students imagine themselves working in huge companies in the downtown area of a big city. What do you wish young people knew about working in a small company? About living in a small city?
Tuesday, November 17, 2015      4:00 p.m. EST  Global Relations/Small Business Management  

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Student Spotlight: Nicole Tauster

by Ann Abbott

This is just a quick post to share Nicole Tauster's blog, What I Did in Madrid. She is there for the year, living and teaching English. In her blog, she gives a detailed and fun accounting of her activities.

When she was a student at the University of Illinois, Urban-Champaign, Nicole studied abroad in Granada, Spain. I was also happy to have her in my "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" classes. She was a dedicated, interested and prepared student. She was able to make connections between her personal and work experiences to the content we studied in the class.

Perhaps most importantly, Nicole was an extroverted, social and friendly person. Aside from simply being pleasant, Nicole had story after story of how those qualities allowed her to meet Spanish-speakers and use her Spanish (on the job and in social setting). That, my friends, is how you become a more fluent, more confident speaker: by seeking opportunities to use the language, without it being forced or fake. Nicole is genuinely interested in people and in striking up friendly conversation! Furthermore, Nicole has a great sense of humor. She can even laugh at herself, and that is also key for language learning. She's not afraid to speak up for fear of making mistakes. She knows that mistakes happen, she can laugh them off and she can count those mistakes as lessons learned.

I look forward to following your blog, Nicole!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Business Spanish: Week 12

Image of a computer and tablet with Business Spanish lesson plans @AnnAbbott written over it
Week 12
by Ann Abbott

Thanksgiving break is nearing, but we still have two more weeks to go. So I need to keep my eye on my goals: give students opportunities to take information and transform it into something useful. In other words, read the book then come to class and DO SOMETHING.

Our last chapter of the semester was voted on and chosen by students: Chapter 14, Las perspectivas para el futuro. Last year students chose the same chapter. I probably would have chosen the same one, too.

Lunes: Lectura comercial, Capítulo 14  *Changes below

After a quick review of the main topics and trends, I will put students into groups and give them the following assignment: create a four-year plan for college students that will prepare them to be successful in the environment the authors outline. Here are some details they will need to fill in:
  1. Classes. The should suggest at least two courses per semester. They can "create" two courses; the others should be pulled from courses already offered at the University of Illinois.
  2. Study abroad. When? Where? How long? Essential courses/experiences while abroad.
  3. Extracurriculars. What should students do outside of classes? Jobs? Internships? RSOs? Research projects? Start-ups? Etc.
  4. Portfolio. At the end of each semester, what two pieces of evidence should students add to a portfolio to demonstrate to potential employers their ability to be successful in this new and future environment? Pull at least one piece of evidence from a course; the other can come from an outside experience but doesn't have to.
  5. Something else. What other element would you include systematically into those four years of college? Why?
Students need to present this in the form of a 5-minute screencast.

Students needed more time to do this activity, so we spent all of Monday and Wednesday on it. Here are some observations:

  • Students needed to see an example of a screencast, so I showed them one of mine
  • They were not familiar with screencasts, so I should have spent more time showing them how to do it, and analyzing the elements in it. In other words, I need to explicitly show them that my screencast includes PowerPoint slides, web pages, pictures, etc. And I should have brought my laptop to the classroom and showed myself making one--including how you can pause the recording while you change things on your screen.
  • They were actually quite uncomfortable about using the program to make a screencast. Creating an account was a big deal (negative) to some of them. I am guessing that this is because they are more used to using apps and have "account fatigue."
  • In general, I should have spent one day on asking them to make the 4-year plan and given them a checklist of items to create for that plan (an outline on a Word doc, links to pertinent websites, etc.), that would then be used to make the screencast the following class period.
  • Because I noticed quite a bit of resistance from the students, I asked them to 

Miércoles: Lectura cultural, Capítulo 14

This reading focuses on US Latinos. I'll try to accomplish three things in the class (though time might be tight). 
(I'm putting this here more for my reference than anything else: the pages in Chapter 14 are messed up in my desk copy of Éxito comercial, so I need to use my copy from CourseSmart which is changing to VitalSource.) 
  1. Census data. We'll do an activity similar to the one I do with my Spanish in the Community students using the Quick Facts from the US census data. First, we'll do an analysis of state-level information. I'll include states that are traditional recipients of Latino immigrants (California, Florida, Illinois), one that is part of the New Latino Diaspora (Georgia) and one that is not (Maine). Then we'll narrow our focus to various counties in Illinois. Finally, I'll share this recent article: Mapa hispano de los EEUU 2015.
  2. Pew Hispanic Center. I'll ask students to explore and read the information at the Pew Hispanic Center for several minutes (7-10). Then I'll put them into pairs and ask them to draw at least three big-picture trends that come from looking at the information from more than one piece. That is, I want them to see trends among the pieces, not just within the pieces.
  3. La Línea. Since half the class has been doing the social media marketing and outreach for La Línea this whole semester, I will partner each one of them with a student from the other social media marketing team. Their task will be to explain what they have learned about the local Latino community through their work with La Línea this semester.

Viernes: Taller de asesoría

My students are doing a great job with the Spanish Advising-Illinois page. Our client (Tasha Robles) is happy. Many of the posts are being viewed by dozens of people--sometimes reaching close to 100 or beyond. We have definitely seen that posts that have the most views are those that people have liked, commented on and/or tagged other people on.

To take this idea of engagement further, I am going to challenge the students to make interactive quizzes for the page. Here's a quick list of ideas that occur to me off the top of my head: 
  • Spanish minors: should you take SPAN 250, 252 or 254.
  • Which study abroad program best suits you?
  • Just how dedicated are you to learning Spanish? (They can use my "Level Up" slides as a starting point.)
  • Which 300-level class being offered next semester best fits you?
  • Do you actually know Spanish? (List some words/phrases/facts/etc. that students pick up during their Spanish major.)
  • Let's see what the students come up with!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Want to Live and Work in Chile after You Graduate with Your Spanish Major? Try Chile's English Opens Doors Program

by Ann Abbott

I recently received a message from a former student who applied to the "English Opens Doors" program in Chile and asked for a letter of recommendation. 
"I'm emailing you to let you know that I applied for the English Opens Doors Program. It's a government run volunteer program in Chile were they place you in a classroom (5th-12th grade) with another Chilean teacher and you help teach the speaking/listening part of English."
I was delighted to write her letter because she was a model student and person. (As an aside, you might be interested to see what I ask all my students to provide me when they ask for a letter. I didn't ask this student, though, because the form was short and the details of her work with me were fresh in my mind.) Furthermore, one of my former students went on this same program several years ago: Jason Flynn.

I quickly submitted her letter and received this message from her in response:
"I will definitely let you know if I get accepted. And if you have other students that are looking into something similar this program is nice because even though you are a "volunteer" they provide health care, housing, meals (you can chose to be with a host family) and a $100 stipend per month. So it is not like other programs were you pay a high fee for them to place you."
I hope many students will look into this opportunity. My students who have done community service learning are especially well suited to this.

Medical Spanish: Where Are We Now?

Image of mountain climber looking down the mountain with a map in his hands and the text overlay says Medical Spanish Where are we?
by Ann Abbott

More and more I come to the conclusion that approaches like "Medical Spanish," "Business Spanish" or "Spanish for Social Workers" is the wrong approach at the undergraduate level at a university like mine, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I have written about this (see especially my 2014 with Barbara Lafford and Darcy Lear). It's too soon to specialize. It's useless to memorize long lists of overly-specific vocabulary that students might or might not use in the future. (Who knows if they'll even be accepted into medical school? Or get a job in marketing? Or stick around in social work for more than a couple of years?)

What we could do--and do very well--is the following:
  • Spanish language. Work on students' Spanish proficiency. There is no magic bullet, but our classes should be designed to help students along that path and study abroad (especially one-year programs) should be encouraged.
  • Community-based learning. Students should do community service learning. If they can do it in a medical setting (if they are interested in medical Spanish), great. But even if they work in another professional setting, they will still be well served by learning all the foundational vocabularly and professional behaviors that must happen in all professional settings. Mostly, they will gain a deeper understanding of the Spanish-speaking individuals who are the patients (or any other number of roles they play) students imagine themselves having one day. They will also, hopefully, gain a fuller understanding of issues concerning immigrant communities--structural and political issues--that go far beyond a list of medical terms yet have a huge impact on their health and their access to health care.
  • Being a bilingual professional. Equip our students with an understanding of the unique responsibilities and skills required of bilingual professionals--whatever the profession. They should learn some fundamentals about interpreting and translation, especially the ethical questions involved. They should understand the mental strain and time commitment of being a (the only?) bilingual in their office. (Lissette Piedra and Glenn Martinez's work is important here.) They should understand the institutional pressures they will feel to often play a role for which they are not entirely prepared. (Soria Colomer's work is important here.) They need an understanding of the policies that shape the realities of many Latinos' lives. (I'm working on a chapter about this.) They need to be trained in how to be resourceful language learners after they graduate--and how to critically evaluate the language tools they might turn to. And so much more!
We already have many, thought not all, of these components in our curriculum, but we have yet to put them together into a coherent whole. And many of the courses students would actually need to accomplish this "don't count" for the major/minor.

So that's where we are. Close, but not there. We need to clarify--and offer!--courses that explicitly build their general proficiency and their knowledge of how to be a good advocate for Spanish-speaking patients (or clients, or service recipients, etc.) by understanding their lives far beyond a list of medical symptoms.

For the sake of our truly wonderful students who learn Spanish in large part to build better relationships with and responses to our Latino communities throughout their careers, I hope that we can move forward. I'm including here an email conversation with a very good student to highlight some of the issues and to show what can be done even now, even with an imperfect "course-based" approach to Medical Spanish.

Student email

Querida Profesora Abbott,

Greetings from Quito, Ecuador!  How are you?  I write you to update you on my experiences thus far being abroad and also to inquire about the potential for the Spanish for medical professionals course next Spring.  I just passed the halfway mark of my semester abroad in Ecuador and it's sad to think I have less than 2 months left here.  Four months is not enough time, but now I have an excuse to come back to South America :) !  That being said, I have truly enjoyed the first few months of being here and have fallen in love with the culture, people and natural beauty of Ecuador.  I feel I have a strong relationship with my host family, I have increased my fluency in Spanish and I have found a way to combine my two passions of speaking Spanish and helping others at a free public health clinic in Tumbaco, Ecuador.  Seeing that I only have one more semester left at the university, I am currently constructing my class schedule for the Spring and I was wondering, will the Spanish department be offering a course for medical professionals next semester?  If so, I would love to be apart of it.  If not, do you have any suggestions for me on how I can use my Spanish and my medical / public health experiences in the community next semester?  I know that you are connected with several community organizations and I would be interested in volunteering or interning on my own time for any group in the Champaign-Urbana community.  As a side note, I have signed up for your Spanish and Entrepreneurship course and look forward to taking the course with you.  Finally, I was hoping to get involved in research next semester.  If you are aware of any professors or graduate students working on projects or papers involving health care, public health, Spanish, health communication interpretation, etc - would you mind passing along their names to me?  I would greatly appreciate it.


My response

Hola, [student]. Me alegra saber de ti. Espero que estés muy bien y que estés aprendiendo mucho en Ecuador.

[Another student] is working on putting together a special section of SPAN 232. If she gets enough enrollment, I’ll try to offer it. But since you already took the course, I don’t think you can repeat it. How about working with me to personalize your assignments in SPAN 332 so that you can do the kind of learning you want about what you want?

For SPAN 332, you can definitely work in a hospital or clinical setting here. I’m copying [yet another student] here; she is currently working at Presence hospital in SPAN 232, and maybe you could ask her questions about that.

In the Spanish department, we don’t have anyone that I know of who works on those issues. In the School of Social Work, Prof. Lissette Piedra does fascinating work on mental health and Latinas. I would also be open to doing an independent study with you; maybe you could create a case study about Latino health issues in Champaign-Urbana.

If you’re interested in advocacy, perhaps you could become involved in this effort:


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Student Spotlight: Kimberly Soto

Picture of Kimberly Soto
by Ann Abbott

Kimberly Soto was a student in my SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course last semester and did her community service learning (CSL) work at Child Care Resource Center with Milagros Jerrell. Now she is taking SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" with Liz Moreno and works with Alejandra Coronel at Presence Covenant Health Center. Students usually take these courses in the reverse order, but for Kimberly, a strong Spanish speaker with an equally strong work ethic and sense of solidarity with the Latino community, the order of the courses didn't matter at all. What matter was that she always stood out for her intelligence, dedication and specific examples of what she was seeing and observing during her community service learning work.

So it was no surprise to me to hear that she is interested in a pursuing a Masters in Social Work. In fact, I have had several students in recent years who have gone on to MSW programs, either her at UIUC or UI Chicago. Bilingual social worker do very important work. (See my colleague Lissette Piedra's publications for more information about that topic.)

Kimberly shared her reflections about her Spanish CSL experiences and its connections with her plans to study social work. She gave me permission to share her thoughts, and I hope that all my current students of Spanish will also see how studying Spanish can lead to continued professional service to the Latino community.
Kimberly's words:

In my CSL I gained quite an experience. Last semester, Milagros was working on a new project, "Abriendo Caminos". We were creating the sustainability and programs that would run Abriendo Caminos [and I noticed the importance of]: 
  • Effective translation - there were many slides that needed translations, but consistency within the PowerPoint was key to bringing a successful workshop. I was part of a team of translators, but I realized the inconsistency of our language use was becoming a problem. I brought this to Milagros and she realized it was an issue. Luckily, we had a professor that would go through edits and highlight the inconsistency! 
  • Learning about the community - We can create a program and share it with the community, but it will not be effective if the families in the community do not involve themselves with the project. Milagros had interviews with the families and reported back to the team. We learned about family needs and what not to include as part of our project. 
  • Awareness - With Alejandra Coronel, I am becoming familiar with the resources available in the community. With the knowledge I am collecting, I can easily identify resources for individuals that do not know about the things that surround them. 
  • Terms - Little by little I am learning about medical terms in Spanish and English. It is important to understand the terms being used, especially when translating documents or speaking with an individual. 

[A Masters in social work would] reflect back on the work I did for Child Care Resource Services and what I am currently doing with Presence Covenant Center. In CCRS, I worked with Social Workers and understood how to work with clients to meet their needs. In social work, more specifically social work on a macro level, it is important to understand the community for program development. In Presence Covenant Center, I am exposed to community resources that can be communicated to the rest of the community. In the health care setting of social work, it is highly encouragd that e we learn about different resources available to the community, for this is a great way to connect clients with resources. There's training for SW to continue learning about new methods, resources and new community issues. Plus, in the health care setting of social work one must learn the language of terms to better serve the client. If I do not understand a certain sickness, I will not be able to understand the doctors, nurses or my client. My work with the patient will not be effective. Luckily, I am learning valuable skills that will help me in my future profession. 

Overall, this comes back to the passion of empowering vulnerable individuals, 
families and groups. In my CSL, I believe I have done well for the community by [helping] individuals find their resources based on needs. 

Spanish Community Service Learning in an Intermediate Course

by Ann Abbott

I wanted to teach our fourth-semester Spanish language course this semester so that I could use the intermediate Spanish textbook that Holly and I had worked so hard on (and that I believed in), and also because I wanted to see for myself what it means to do foreign language community service learning at the 100-level. 

My plan was to do what I have always said you could do: focus on one-time events (to start, at least), match the task to the students' abilities, and lower or raise the supervision depending on "the stakes" of the task at hand. 

So I did that. The goal for the experience was not necessarily about language learning at all. Instead it was about learning about the local Latino community. About seeing themselves as language learners in a world where people speak Spanish outside of the classroom. About feeling a connection, seeing a reason for learning Spanish, recognizing themselves as possessing valuable knowledge.

For the students who had the personality and the Spanish for it, I specifically pushed them to work at the parent-teacher conferences. Almost all the heritage language students. Some of the second language learners. Jack. Specifically, Jack. I pushed him to at least consider it. We role-played it a bit in class with Daniel. He saw that he could do it.

And he did it! Jack gave me permission to post his reflection here. I'm so glad he did. That they have all done something in the community. Hurray!

The Translator
by Jack Lipinsky

Going into the parent teacher conferences last Thursday night, I was very worried that I was going to be unable to relay any of the information that the teacher was trying to convey to the parents about their child’s performance in school. I really was not very confident in my Spanish speaking abilities at the time. When I was finally assigned to a parent and student, I was as mentally prepared as I ever was going to be. I introduced myself to Juanita and her father. Juanita was extremely shy and her father did not speak much English at all. With some hesitation, we set off to our first conference of the night.  Much to my surprise, the first teacher, Ms. Thompson, asked the father if he would prefer to communicate in English or Spanish and proceeded to fluently converse with him in Spanish much better than I ever could have. She made it quite easy on me and allowed me to just observe and learn in an auditory fashion. It was an extremely easy first conference, but the rest of the night would be much more hands-on.

Later in the night, while we were waiting outside of a classroom for a conference to start, I had a conversation in Spanish with the parents of another one of the students I was helping translate for. I asked them for their patience with me because I was by no means an expert in Spanish but that I would try my best. The father told me that I am better than I think and that this was one of the best ways to get practice with the language. He understood the difficulties with learning and becoming adept at a new language. He told me that he understands English pretty well when hearing it, but the difficulty comes when he has to produce what he wants to say back to them. I shared this same difficulty when translating throughout the night. I could understand both parties, and could internalize what they wanted me to convey to the others but it would take me a while to vocalize the same meaning. I don’t know that the parent understood how much this conversation meant to me, but, at the time, it really helped calm my nerves for the remainder of the night.

For the most part, all parties involved with the process (the parents, students, and teachers) were all very accommodating and understanding throughout the night. It was implicitly understood that we were all there to help further the education and development of the students. I believe that the knowledge that I gained from previous courses benefited me greatly. The majority of the vocabulary that they used to describe their school experiences was quite easy to translate because it was some of the first Spanish that I ever learned.

Overall, it was an extremely satisfying experience being able to help the teachers and parents communicate with each other! There’s nothing quite like seeing the joy in a parent’s expression when you relay that their child is succeeding and actively participating in class. I realized that I may not be the most experienced or fluent Spanish speaker, but I know a lot more than I believed I did. When you completely immerse yourself in the language, it is so much more beneficial to learning than if you are conversing with other people who would much rather be speaking in English. This was by far the most rewarding experience that I have ever had from being able to communicate in Spanish! This experience has made me want to travel to a Spanish speaking country after I graduate and see how well I can communicate and live normally in a foreign culture.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fourth-semester Spanish: Week 11

Week 11
by Ann Abbott

Martes: Capítulo 4, Parte 2, Vocabulario y Gramática III

We're moving from general discussions about "La conciencia social" to professions that related to that, like social services, international aid and politics. Students should have done their online work before class, so we will work, as usual, on putting the information to use on activities that require communication, exchange of ideas and conclusions.
  • Actividad 4-26, p. 164. First, students will rank the international aid activities from least to most dangerous. Then, in pairs, they'll compare and analyze their responses. I'll ask them what they think the role of being a language learner is in these jobs.
  • Actividad 4-27, p. 165. First, students will read through the three options of people they could ask for a letter of recommendation and choose one. Then in groups of three, they will have to come together to decide on which one, and why. 
  • Actividad 4-30, p. 168. We will review the answers to Paso 1, and then in pairs they will write mandatos for Paso 2.
We also made some decisions during class today. Instead of a final exam, we will take a 20-minute quiz at the end of each chapter. This is based on what I deemed to be their poor performance on the midterm test.

I heard from one student who worked at the parent-teacher conferences that he really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I look forward to reading the reflections.

Jueves: Capítulo 4, Parte 2, Gramática IV y Lectura literaria

We're talking about jobs again today.
  • Actividad 4-34. What kind of career and job are they looking for? They'll have to write an original sentence that tells the truth for them.
  • Actividad 4-35. This is a chance for them to put together original sentences and really think about what they want.
  • Job ad. I'll bring in an actual job ad from, and students will have to write a summary: Se busca una persona que...
  • "El fotógrafo de la muerte." We will work on very discrete paragraphs of the story, all with the intent of looking at jobs that make you face difficult things.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Community Service Learning Opportunities: Events

by Ann Abbott

There are more opportunities to use your Spanish with native speakers and learn about the local Latino community. Please correspond directly with the person in charge.

Spanish Story Time

Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 14

OJO: note that Tolono is a town just a few miles south of Champaign. You will need transportation and some extra travel time if you choose to participate in that particular event.

CLACS has two Spanish Story Time programs in November. Spanish and Illinois students are invited to participate :

     1. Spanish Story Time at Tolono Public Library

            - Friday November 6
            - 10:30 am
            - Tolono Public Library. 111 E. Main, Tolono, IL 61880
On Friday November 6th we will present the book Biblioburro
Come with your children to listen the story in English/Spanish, enjoy Latin American songs, and make an Alphabet booklet!
2.       Spanish Story Time at the Urbana Free Library

·         Sat Nov.  14
·         2:30 PM
·         The Urbana Free Library

On Saturday November 14, we will present Arthur Dorros' book:
Come with your children to listen the story in English/Spanish, enjoy Latin American songs, and make a poncho!

Muchas gracias,

Alejandra S-Seufferheld
Outreach and FLAS Coordinator
Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS)
202 ISB | MC-481 |910 S. Fifth Street |Champaign, IL 61820
Ph: 217.244.2790 |

Immigrant Friendly Health Fair and Forum

Tuesday, November 10 from 5pm to 8pm

Here is a note from Ms. Megan Flowers to me: If you have a group of volunteers would are interested in working different areas of the health fair and forum, we could use help at the welcome table (from 5pm to 8pm) or playing with the kids in the nursery. Volunteers could help out in one hour shifts at least. 
You can sign up at this online form. Please contact Megan if you have specific questions:

The Fair & Forum: At the event, all residents of Champaign County are welcome to receive free medical screenings, information about healthcare resources such as free medical clinics and attend presentations on navigating the healthcare marketplace, dealing with culture shock and transitioning as a newcomer, and getting connected with low-cost immigration legal assistance. Childcare will be provided at the event. 

During the Fair, Healthy Illinois will host a community forum on ensuring Illinois’s future by insuring all Illinoisans from 7pm to 8pm, which will take place in the Children’s Fellowship Hall of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Champaign-Urbana. The mission of the Healthy Illinois Campaign is to make quality, affordable health care coverage accessible to all people in Illinois. For more information about Healthy Illinois, please click here for a one page overview. For further questions, please contact Campaign Director Jesse Hoyt of the Healthy Illinois Campaign [(773)507-4809;].

Immigrant-Friendly Fair & Forum events:
Fellowship Hall: 5pm to 8pm
-Free Healthcare Screenings
-Immigrant-Friendly Health & Community Resource Booths

Children’s Fellowship Hall: 5:30pm to 8pm
5:30pm Navigating the Healthcare System
6:00pm Connecting to Low-Cost Immigration Legal Assistance
6:30pm Dealing with Culture Shock & Transitioning
7:00pm Healthy Illinois: Ensuring Health Care Access to All Illinoisans

Sponsors of the Immigrant-Friendly Health Fair & Forum include: Healthy Illinois, Avicenna, Smile Healthy, Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Association, HeRMES, Champaign County Health Care Consumers, The Immigration Project, The La Linea Community Helpline, CU Immigration Forum & Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Champaign-Urbana

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Business Spanish: Week 11

Image of a computer and tablet with the words Business Spanish Lesson Plans from Annie Abbott
by Ann Abbott

It's so hard to believe that we're already in Week 11 of the semester. On our campus, classes last for 14 1/2 weeks, so now that we're in November there truly is not much time left. As always, I both wish for more time (to do more with the students) and for it to come to its timely conclusion (I can feel that we're all in a slump).

Here are my plans for this week.

Lunes: Una vista panorámica del Perú y de Bolivia (Capítulo 9, Éxito comercial)

We´re still on Chapter 9 of Éxito comercial this week, and today we´re focusing on sections focusing on the countries of Peru and Bolivia. This is how I will use our 50 minutes together.

First, I will put students in six pairs (or groups of three) and give them an assignment. 
  1. Find, analyze and describe one Peruvian business in the tourism sector.
  2. Find, analyze and describe one Peruvian business in the mining sector.
  3. Find, analyze and describe one Peruvian business in the petroleum sector.
  4. Research and inform yourself about some ideas about tourism and indigenous communities. Use this blog post as a starting point.
  5. Research and inform yourself about some ideas about mining and indigenous communities. Use this blog post as a starting point as well as this piece of natural resources and indigenous people´s rights.
  6. Research and inform yourself about some ideas about the petroleum sector and indigenous communities. Use this blog post as a starting point and then skim the entire blog Cultural to formulate some ideas about global indigenous values, struggles and environmental issues.
Then I will put groups 1 and 4 together, 2 and 5, 3 and 6. The first group will present what they found. The second group will present what they found. Together, they should do a critique of the business, trying to see it from an indigenous person´s perspective.

Finally, I will share a little bit about my friend (and UIUC PhD) Amy Firestone´s work at the US Department of Labor, dealing with unfair labor practices in the US and Latin America. Specifically, we will look at ¨¿Qué son el trabajo infantil y el trabajo forzoso?

Miércoles: Minicaso práctico

This minicaso práctico (pp. 320-21) is a little different than the others. Actually, the follow-up questions are the part that is different. Everyone has to do a good job preparing in order for the analysis to flow.

With the leftover time, I will put students into three teams, and they will begin to outline a message to one of the three alums that they chose to invite to Skype into our class or to interview in some way. 
They need to have an outline by the end of class.

Viernes: Taller de asesoría

I think I will have to dedicate this session to teamwork. To collaboration. To critique. To editing. 

And then I want to talk to them about the necessity of creating a series of posts about one event (or class, in our case) because people need to see things several times before they will take action. 

Finally, I want them to work on crafting specific, useful calls to action.

More lesson plans

Highlights of The Language Educator 10.4 2015

The Language Educator Volume 10.4 and the Poster on Oral Proficiency in the Workplace
The latest issue of The Language Educator includes a poster on Oral Proficiency in the Workplace.
by Ann Abbott

I always enjoy reading The Language Educator, ACTFL's magazine that goes out to all its members. Here are some highlights from this issue.

Poster: Oral Proficiency Levels in the Workplace. 

This is the first thing you will notice in the magazine, because as soon as you pick it up, the glued in poster has a different feel. Here are some quick ideas about how you might use it.
  1. Goal setting. Ask students (and colleagues!) to look at the right hand column and see how much time and energy they need to dedicate to language learning in order to reach higher proficiency and more complex professional tasks.
  2. Script writing. Match up the Intermediate Mid row with the Corresponding Professions/Positions column, and ask students to discern what some of the "highly predictable contexts" would be for those positions, and have them write scripts based on the repetitive language they would use.
  3. Study abroad offerings. Ask students to analyze the study abroad offerings at their college and draw conclusions about how far they can go in the proficiency level with each program.
  4. Narrate. Looking at the Advanced categories, ask students to choose one of the professions-positions listed and write a brief, pertinent narration in past, present and future.
  5. What else? I´m sure you could come up with many ideas. Take a look at these interviews with professionals to see what skills and types of language are needed.

Leadership and Languages

I have heard Sheri Spain Long present on this topic at a conference and in a webinar, and the article in this issue builds on that work of hers. I think that our students want to know how to be ethical leaders, working across languages and cultures. Let´s guide them!

Focus: Transforming the Pathway to Learning

I found ¨A Roadmap for Implementing Can-Do Statements in the Language Classroom¨ to be helpful, especially because of its concrete examples. p. 29. I learned about something new: protocols. The examples on pages 37-39 are very interesting and suggestive. I think that we can all identify with the examples of disengaged and disheartened students in ¨The Roles of Competence, Perception, Identities, and Selves in Language Learning Motivation¨ (pp. 44-48). All the articles are good and informative.


My children like gaming, but I do not. So I tend to ignore that emerging area of language instruction. The piece by Julie Sykes (p. 59), however, gives insight into games, both about specific places and those that are simply in the target language.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Business Spanish: Week 10

Image of a computer and tablet with the words Business Spanish Lesson Plans from Annie Abbott
by Ann Abbott

This week we have moved on to Chapter 9 in Éxito comercial: Marketing I. This is especially pertinent to our class because of the marketing projects that students are working on for La Línea and Spanish Advising. Here's what we'll do.

Lunes: Lectura comercial

This is a long, detailed reading. My goal with students is to pull out just a few main concepts and then illustrate them with examples.

1. Warm up. I began by asking students: Tell me one concept or one piece of information that stood out to you in this reading. We listened to a few of their answers. (I'm always impressed by what they take away from the course; these readings are not easy!)

2. Conversar sin parar. I like to start most of my classes by putting students into pairs, giving them a topic (or no topic!), setting the timer on my iPhone and telling them to hablar cinco minutos sin parar. It is a good way for them to get to know each other, use their Spanish and prepare for the speaking they will do in the rest in the class. But more importantly, I remind them often that in business situations you must be able to make small talk with people who you sometimes have never spoken to before. So getting back to today's lesson: students had to first identify the last few purchases they had made, and then they had to talk to each other about the marketing that had gone into their decisions to make that purchase. There were a lot of food purchases--and a lot of those were based on promotions and discounts.

3. Social marketing. I pulled this term out of the reading and focused on it for a bit. First we defined what it is: associating your brand with a certain social/cultural cause. For example, Yoplait's connection with breast cancer awareness creates a positive image for their target market. (Everybody eats yogurt; everybody supports finding a cure for breast cancer.) Then I explained that you have to find a cause that resonates with your target audience. So for example, if your target audience is immigrants, then you can probably safely associate your brand with political causes about comprehensive immigration reform. They likely support that cause. But many people do not. That's why it's so important to know your target audience inside and out. Then we looked at this example of social marketing from Goya Foods and analyzed it: how does it reflect the values of Goya's target market?

4. Localization. I then asked students to compare the Goya Foods Facebook page with Goya Puerto Rico's page. What are some of the very specific ways in which the two pages are both the same and different. OJO: make sure that students understand that it's not just a matter of Spanish versus English; it's the *kind* of Spanish that is used. And of course there are many other differences that go beyond language.

5. Packaging. I wanted to really emphasize to students that marketing is much more than just the ads and Facebook pages that you create. So zoomed in on packaging as a marketing tool. 

For our first example we looked at soap. These two photos show the same product: soap. They're selling soap. But what are they really selling? What kind of experience? What kind of values? What kind of self image?

Then we moved to another example of packaging so important that it has become an icon, a piece of art much like Andy Warhol's focus on Campbell's Soup cans: Café Bustelo.
I asked students to raise their hand if they have an account on Instagram. To those students I told them to open their app and to search for #CafeBustelo. To the other students (only a few) I told them to go to and search for Cafe Bustelo. I gave them several minutes to look, click, explore. Then we analyzed how the packaging was used in their marketing. Here are a few things that stood out: their packaging is so striking that they have created other merchandise around it; the colors of yellow and red are tightly associated with their product; after people have consumed the product, they keep and reuse the packaging (to store paint brushes, tools, pencils, etc.); it is part of a lifestyle. What else could you and your students come up with?

6. Bilingual social media marketing. We didn't have time in class to look at Café Bustelo's Facebook page, but it is a wonderful example of truly bilingual Facebook marketing. If you have time, explore it and think about how you and your students could analyze and emulate their work.

Miércoles: Lectura cultural

Again, we are working on Chapter 9 of Éxito comercial. Since we ended the previous class with an analysis of Café Bustelo, I will begin this class with a commercial from Café Bustelo. In fact, during the class we will watch a series of commercials for coffee with the sole intent of analyzing the very specific cultural components of each one. My hope is that students walk away from the lesson today with a very clear idea that one does not market to "Latinos" or "Latin Americans." Instead, you market to a very specific segment of that market, and that you must know that segment very well in order to speak to them effectively.

Here is a link to the series of commercials I use with the students. And by the way, I use that photo of me in  our kitchen in Italy in this way: I ask them what this photo has to do with coffee. They recognize the coffee mug immediately (it's very American anyway). But very, very few students even "see" the cafetera on the stove. It doesn't register to them because many of them have never seen it before.

Viernes: Taller de asesoría

The team of students working with La Línea will meet with them at the Y. Unfortunately, I will be out of town on Friday for a CIC meeting in Chicago. I will put one student in charge of our Spanish Advising team and expect them to still meet up in our classroom and create/edit/critique their Facebook posts for next week. And by the way, I'm so happy with the videos that they are creating about Spanish courses. They gain more reach and receive way more views than other posts.

Other posts

Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fourth-semester Spanish: Week 9

My lesson plans are based on my textbook Día a día: de lo personal a lo profesional

by Ann Abbott

This is the week when everything the students have been working on culminates. This is a little later than other courses, but I don't think that's a problem. For me, it gives them more time to really use the language before being tested.

Martes: Proyecto 1, una composición

Last week students worked on the short writing assignments of the section titled "La expresión escrita" en Chapters 1-3. Now they will spend the class period working on the longer piece of writing from whichever chapter they choose.
  • Chapter 1, p. 44. The short writing assignment (p. 43) was to write a negative review. If students choose to work on this topic, they will change perspectives and write a professional response to the bad review they previously wrote. 
  • Chapter 2, p. 90. The short writing assignment was a list. We talked about the trapped Chilean miners, and they had to write a list of five things they would have wanted to be dropped down to them if they would have been one of the miners. If students choose to work on this topic, they will change perspectives and write a letter down to one of the trapped miners.
  • Chapter 3, pp. 135-36. The short writing assignment was to write a very brief scenario and very brief message to convey an emotional message (p. 135, 3-52). If students choose to work on this topic, they will switch from informal language to formal language. They will write an email to a professor, asking for a letter of recommendation.
These are the requirements for the final composition:
  • 1 full page, double space. (Only use one line to write your name; start the composition on the second line.)
  • Times New Roman, 12 point, 1 inch margins all around.
And this is the schedule for the composition:
  • Today. Spend the entire class period thinking, planning, writing, editing, asking questions, etc. The goal is to have a complete rough draft.
  • Next Tuesday. We will dedicate 10 minutes at the end of class to questions and edits.
  • Next Thursday. Hand in the composition. I want a hard copy in class and an electronic copy in MySpanishLab (or Compass, I need to see how to set that up.)


Students will take the exam. It will be exactly like the activities in the MySpanishLab that they have done all semester as homework. To review for the exam, they can simply review those activities.

For their project (based on the activities in the section of each chapter titled "Actividades culminantes"), students will

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Business Spanish: Week 9

Photo of a computer and tablet with the words Business Spanish Lesson Plans from Annie Abbott
by Ann Abbott

This week we will work again on Chapter 6 of Éxito comercial: La oficina. Last week we covered the Lectura comercial and the Lectural cultural. This week we will do the readings about the countries and the minicaso práctico.

Lunes: ¿Qué sabes de...?

This reading is about Costa Rica and Panama. I'll divide the students into the following groups:
  1. Costa Rica: Export. You must advise a US business person who is interested in creating an export business to Costa Rica. Advise him/her on what products/services he/she could successfully export and why. What risks/benefits should she/he anticipate? What specific steps should he/she take before making a final decision?
  2. Costa Rica: Import. You must advise a US business person who is interested in creating a business with import(s) from Costa Rica. Advise him/her on what products/services he/she could successfully import and why. What risks/benefits should she/he anticipate? What specific steps should he/she take before making a final decision?
  3. Costa Rica: Business Travel. Prepare the complete travel package (tickets, itinerary and detailed pre-departure instructions) for two Chicago business people (one male, one female) who want to spend three full days exploring a variety of import/export opportunities. Present them with two options: a deluxe travel package ($$$) and an economy travel package ($).
  4. The same three topics with Panama.
(Students did a great job. They worked hard during the class period. I pushed them to look up prices of shipping, research rules and regulations on certain products, look up information about local Chambers of Commerces, etc.)

Miércoles: Minicaso práctico

Three students will be the facilitators of the case analysis, p. 202. They will spend ~12 minutes on discussion and analysis with their small groups. They will then have ~5 minutes to come to a concrete decision that they will present to the protagonist(s) of the case. While the facilitators finish filling out the rubric, the other students will form new groups to compare/contrast their discussions and strategize for their turns as facilitators. Finally, each group will very briefly present their conclusion.

Viernes: Taller de asesoría

My team is doing a great job on the Spanish Advising - Illinois Facebook page. But I think they're getting a little too comfortable. 

Last week I shook things up by telling them all that they needed to create an original video about courses on the spring timetable. (Because I have observed over the years that my students are terrific at scouring the internet for information to use in posts but not as good at taking the next step at creating original content.)

This week I will ask them to look at this trove of quote images. Using their creativity and thinking about what "Emily" (their ideal client) would like, I'd like them all to create at least two. They can continue using PowerPoint to edit their photos the way that I have showed them previously. Or they can try something new with an online photo-editing site: PicMonkey or Canva.

More lesson plans

Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Questions about Incorporating Professional Content in Basic Language Courses

by Ann Abbott

Webinars are a funny thing. You talk to your screen, and you have no idea if anyone is listening! But I did get positive feedback about a webinar I gave yesterday as part of a series that Pearson offered called Speaking About Webinar Week.

My talk was "Student Career Concerns and Aspirations: Integrating Languages for Specific Purposes into Basic Language Programs." The slides for the talks should be available at that page in the next week or so, but I'll include my slides from SlideShare toward the end of this post.

As I was talking, I couldn't see the questions that people were typing. So I wasn't sure if anything I was saying resonated with people. Turns out, it did! I received the list of questions that were posed, which is a good thing because I didn't have a chance to answer them all during the time allotted for the webinar.

I'll answer them here.

First, there were several questions about the activities that I shared. So let me start with just some basic information.

Basic information

  • Level. It was designed for fourth semester Spanish courses, but we have found that it works well in bridge courses, too (you know, that course that is intended to transition students from the basic language program to the major and minor courses). 
  • Book structure. As I said in the webinar, many textbooks dedicate one chapter to careers and professions. Our approach, instead, was to dedicate one half of each chapter to the professional realm. So it comes up over and over, reinforcing the idea that learning Spanish now is important for your future. There are six chapters.
  • Professions. Each chapter focuses on a different profession or professional field. Since there are six chapters there are six fields:
    • Tourism and hospitality.
    • Health professions.
    • Business.
    • Social services/International services.
    • Artistic/Creative fields
    • Education
  • Course syllabus. I'm happy to share my course syllabus and calendar with you. 
  • Hybrid. On my campus, this course is worth four credits, and we teach it as a hybrid. So each week, students spend two hours doing online work from the textbook and together we spend two hours doing communicative, active-learning activities in class. For their online work I assign the following work within MySpanishLab:
    • All the "e" activities within the textbook.
    • All the workbook (or SAM) activities. These activities move from input, to structured output, to short free discourse to longer connected discourse. It gives them good practice with the vocabulary and grammar so that when we do the communicative activities in class, they already know (not perfected, though!) those items and can put them to use. (Right now I'm a little overwhelmed with grading the "free response" activities, so I think I'll handle those differently next time.)
  • Community Service Learning. Because I am a huge proponent of Spanish community service learning, I included it in this course, too. But they only have to do one experience in the community. And the stakes are pretty low (except my best speakers, including heritage speakers, will work at the parent-teacher conferences at a local high school). This is my first time using CSL in the basic language program, so if it all goes well (it is going well so far), I can expand it. You can see the opportunities at this link.
Now, the other questions!

1. Do you interact with other departments/disciplines in regards to teaching professional Spanish at your institution? Is there some team-teaching, etc? Do other language departments at your institution also have a "professional language" approach, or is Spanish the forerunner? Do other languages emphasize other professions?

These are such good, important questions, and here is my sad answer: No.

I do interact with other disciplines because I am part of a campus-wide group of faculty who teach entrepreneurship, but unfortunately there is not much collaboration on teaching, and because everything I do in my teaching is in Spanish, that tends to exclude me.

As for other languages, there might be some feeble attempts going on. This is not meant as an insult to any individual faculty! I only mean this in the sense that it certainly not a departmental priority in any language department that I know of.

2. Do you have any recommendations for Spanish Business Online? Also, have you heard of professional track-oriented majors in Spanish or other languages?

I answered this during the webinar: my friend Prof. Maida Watson at Florida International University teaches Business Spanish online and has resources to share. I encourage you to contact her and to look for her publications on the topic. But if you are interested in Business Spanish in general, I am sharing my weekly lesson plans on my blog. Here's an example with this week's lesson plans. (I need to go back and post some of the earlier weeks.) 

3. Can you recommend a specific text for "Spanish for Health Occupations"? 

I have never taught that course, but I have heard a lot of people use A su salud.

4. Any recommendations for Spanish for Engineers (books or activities)?

No, I don't have any recommendations for that, either. I do know that the University of Rhode Island offers a highly successful International Engineering program that fully integrates language learning. Be sure to check out their program and people.

In general, though, I would approach it this way: I would ask some engineers what their day-to-day activities look like, and I would build my materials that way. In other words, I wouldn't try to teach lots and lots of technical vocabulary in Spanish. Rather, I would focus on things like clear communications within a team; interacting with designers; problem solving; etc.

5. Have you had success promoting this approach as a way to shore up languages at your respective schools? Are colleagues outside of the humanities receptive? Thanks, this was a very helpful webinar. Lots of food for thought.

I'm glad you found it useful! I'm going to be honest, though: until language departments decide to fully embrace languages for specific purposes as a complement to their other courses (not as a replacement), it probably won't do as much as it should to shore up the major. Many places now have a minor in Spanish for X or Spanish for the Professions. But if these kinds of courses are just elective "add-ons" instead of fully contributing to the major, we're still in a precarious situation all the way around. But if you have ideas, I'd love to hear from you.

Contact me!

I'd love to hear more from you and share ideas. You can email me at, call me at the office at 217-333-6714, friend me on Facebook or message me on Twitter (@AnnAbbott).