Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blogging Hiatus During the Holidays

I'll be taking a break from blogging from now through the holidays.

Our spring semester starts January 21, so I'll be back before then.

My plans for this blog in the new year:

  • New student bloggers.
  • At least one invited expert blogger.
  • I will extend an invitation to community partners to join the blog.
  • A renewed focus on Spanish & entrepreneurship because I'll be teaching that class.
  • More grab-and-go activities for your Spanish community service learning classes.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Answers to How to File Hispanic Names

Marcos Campillo wins the prize for correctly answering the questions about filing names in this post.

Still, no one has answered the question about how to file the names in this other post.

Marcos, if you answer this one correctly too, then you win a free lunch at the Courier Cafe in beautiful downtown Urbana, Illinois.

Anyone else up for trying?

Friday, December 19, 2008

UIUC Undergrads' Video in Contest

Find more videos like this on ExchangesConnect Online Video Contest

Update: Tim won!!!!! He won a 2-week exchange trip to almost anywhere in the world. Felicidades. :)

I went to China in the summer of 2006 with the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership. I learned a lot, had fun, and really enjoyed getting to know three undergrads that took the trip with us.

One of those undergrads, Tim Peters, just wrote to me and sent a link to the video he and the group made about their trip. He has entered it into a contest. Watch it and vote for it!

Carolyn: Website on Current Events

By Carolyn Kloecker

I recently came across a very interesting website called I was researching for a paper on Obama's policies in Latin America, and some articles on this website came up at the top of the list. The site is a compelation of articles regarding "Activism and Politics in Latin America". I find this very relaevant to cultural studies of Spanish-speaking countries, and much of the information comes from Latin American countries themselves, rather than U.S. news sources.

Although I did find a few of the articles very opinionated, I did not see this as a bad thing, as one might in other forms of news. I was very interested in the opinions of the writers and how they would back up their opinions. For example, in an article about what Obama "promises" in Latin America (, I was surprised to find critiques of the President-Elect, as I thought he would present a positive change to the Bush administration in the eyes of Latin Americans or Latinos. But this article noted how his choices in advisors were actually continuing the cycle of U.S. hegemony in the hemisphere. I found some of these points interesting, and it made me take a new look at our soon-to-be President (although I am very supportive of almost all of his policies, including his openness to talk to other world leaders).

Also see a previous post about Obama -

Another article on the subject:

Classroom Exercises to Promote Entrepreneurial Thinking

The latest newsletter from The Entrepreneurship Educator suggests a classroom activity involving marshmallows and spaghetti. You can an image search on Google and find many pictures of students of different ages and in various types of courses working on this exercise.

I'll copy entire information below, but what interests me most about the exercise is the list of entrepreneurial concepts that the process teaches.

I'm wondering how I might adapt this exercise to meet the goals of my course which is Spanish & Entrepreneurship. Could the students be required to work with materials that come from outside their own cultural experiences (e.g., some type of soft candy from Latin America and fideos)? Could they be required to build a structure that has some cultural resonance from outside their own culture? In sum, I would want the exercise to reveal one of the main issues in my course--language and cultural knowledge provide insights and opportunities for the entrepreneurial process and enrich the teamwork process.

Here is the newsletter item:

"Using Marshmallows and Spaghetti to Teach the Creative Process

Minet Schindehutte at Syracuse University and Jose Gonzalez of Belmont University have found a creative way to teach the creative process.

Students get two resources – spaghetti & marshmallows – and are told to build the highest possible structure in 15 minutes using only those two materials. The winning structure captured on a photograph gets a prize -- this helps ensure only the structure remaining stable long enough to be filmed is considered as the winner.

The learning outcomes can focus around any of the following (all should be part of debriefing after the exercise):

  • To learn about working as a team and analyze their effectiveness as a team
  • To experience the product development process from start to finish without telling students what it is
  • To see how different teams interpret the same instructions and the difference “out of the box” thinking and approaches make (i.e. entrepreneurial or conformist)
  • To understand the benefits of rapid prototyping and or working with a modular approach (there is always a team that tries 3 or 4 different things from the beginning while all the others work on only one structure)
  • To examine why some students didn’t ‘get into the game’ and factors that caused some out of the creative process.
  • To discuss the role of contribution and leadership.
  • To recognize that stimulus rich environments are much more conducive to creativity than incentives
  • To understand how planning pays off – those who took time to plan tend to come up with better structures at the end than those that jumped into sticking marshmallows to noodles right away
  • To experience how competition and having fun enhances the creative process."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Environment at our Community Partners' Organizations Cannot Be Duplicated in the Language Classroom

The Refugee Center was our very first community partner for very good reasons. It's located just about ten blocks away from the Foreign Languages Building, but it opens up an entirely new world to our students.

I just received the holiday letter from the Refugee Center. Here are a few quotes that show that our students are exposed to languages, cultures and social issues there that they could never directly encounter in our classes.

"Since last year we have had refugees/asylees arrive from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Iraq and China. We have also had families from Liberia, Vietnam, Colombia, Mexico, Somalia and India (and I am sure I have overlooked someone) reunite with their families.

"For first quarter of FY09 we have had contact with over 770 unduplicated individuals and 77 of them (a 16% increase from last year) lived in Rantoul.

"Volunteers from the U of I Spanish 232 class have been helping some of our elder clients improve their English. It is rewarding for all involved when a senior gains enough confidence to try using the English they are slowly learning."

The letter also gives some financial information. Like all social service agencies, they are doing more work with fewer resources. If you'd like to contribute to their mission, you can send your tax-deductible donation to:
302 S. Birch
Urbana, IL 61801
For questions, call 217-344-8455

Carolyn: My Spanish Courses in the Spring

By Carolyn Kloecker

Next semester, at the Universidad de San Francisco in Quito, I plan on taking a number of courses, all of them being taught in Spanish. Luckily, my schedule works out to have no classes on Fridays, so I will be able to travel quite often on 3-day weekends.

My first class is Antropologia Andina, which I will be taking as the final course to complete my anthropology minor. I am very interested in anthropology, and to be able to study a culture within that cultural environment will be especially rewarding.

The next course I'm taking is Politica Ecuatoriana y Su Pensamiento, which is of great interest to me especially considering the leftist movement occurring throughout Latin America. This will likely count towards my area studies in my International Studies major, as will another course I am registered for, Problemas Sociales en el Ecuador. As I plan on working in the community a significant amount while in Ecuador, it will be valuable to know social promlems plaguing the country and Andean region. Another class that will count for my International Studies major, within my Business Communications focus, is Marketing Principios y Fundamentos. I predict this to be my most challenging course, as it may be taught using some technical vocabulary that I am not sure I would know in Spanish yet. However, I am looking to at least try this course as a challenge for myself while studying abroad.

For my Spanish major, I am taking El Cuento Hispanoamericano to count for a literature course (SPAN 314 or 316, previously 454/456). I am also excited about this class because, in terms of Spanish literature, I am mostly a fan of short stories and realismo mágico, which I hope to encounter in that course. Finally, for no credit, I am enrolled in a Capoeira class, which I hope will keep me active while learning about an amazing cultural dance/martial art from Brazil. Here's a video, but I'm not sure if I will ever be able to do anything that cool.

Anyways, wish me luck in all these courses, en Español!

Carolyn: My Host Family

By Carolyn Kloecker
I recently recieved some exciting news about the family I will be living with in Ecuador! My host mom's name is Yolanda Cordova, and she is an older woman with one of her sons living in the house, as well as her daughter and her respective family (including four kids) living next door. This is a family that a good friend of mine suggested I live with, because she had already been on the program to Ecuador in Fall 2007. I will also have wireless internet, which will be a big plus so that I can keep in contact with friends and family.
Liz Girten, a fellow 'blogger' for Spanish & Illinois, has told me all about the area I will be living in. We looked at Google Maps together and she showed me how the bus system works and where I can get a chip for a cell phone while in Ecuador. The house I will be living in is very close to the bus station, where I will take a bus to Cumbayá (a town just outside of Quito, about 15 minutes) where the university is located.
In terms of my host family, I am very excited about being able to have young children nearby. I love to work with kids, and in college that does not usually get to happen very often, except when I teach swim lessons for a couple of hours a week, or when I do community work with kids. I have also heard so much about how nice Yolanda is from my friend who lived with her, and they still keep in contact often. I really can't wait to meet my new familia!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Authentic Materials for In-class Listening Comprehension Activity

This morning I received the message below on the Latino Partnership list-serv. Aside from the important content of the e-mail message, I immediately thought about the potential to use the message as the basis of an in-class listening comprehension activity for our students.

Here are some ideas:
  • Read the message and have students take down the information on a telephone message pad for the social services or educational setting where they are doing their own community service learning work. Would they know to whom the message should go?
  • Read the message aloud and have students fill out a form that you prepare ahead of time that asks them to list specific information from the message.
  • Prepare various scenarios (real or fictitous) about issues that Mexican nationals are facing, and ask students to decide if they should contact the Cónsul del Departamento de Protección en el Consulado General de México en Chicago, or not.

Students will find this challenging, I'm sure. To begin with, I doubt that they understand the personnel and duties of a Consulate. We have also seen throughout this semester that even advanced students have real problems understanding spoken numbers, letters and names. Finally, the last suggested listening comprehension activity requires that students both process the language and do critical thinking at the same time.

If you use this in your class, please leave a comment here or contact me ( to let me know how it goes!

"Soy la Cónsul del Departamento de Protección en el Consulado General de México en Chicago. La labor de protección incluye orientar a los nacionales Mexicanos en el área que cubrimos (Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana) sobre asuntos migratorios, penales, laborales, civiles, entre otros. El número directo del Departamento de Protección es 312-7382023 de Lunes a Viernes de 8 a 5pm vía telefónica y en persona hasta la 1pm. En una emergencia pueden comunicarse fuera de horario al 18887555511.

"Estoy a sus órdenes para cualquier pregunta adicional.


"Ioana Navarrete Pellicer

"Cónsul de Protección

"Consulado General de México

"204 S. Ashland Ave.

"Chicago, IL 60607


Interest High in Refugee Center

Within the past twelve hours I have received two e-mails from University of Illinois students who are interested in the Refugee Center. One student studies journalism and wants to write about it; the other student wants to volunteer or intern there.

The employees at the Refugee Center field many questions from college students and professional reporters. Every time immigration issues come up in the news, someone does a story with a local spin. I know that this takes a lot of the employees' time, but it also raises awareness about their clients, the issues they face and the good work of the Refugee Center.

Students from many majors can benefit from volunteering there. The student who just contacted me studies International Studies. That makes a lot of sense. The Refugee Center deals with refugees, asylees and immigrants from around the world. Students from law, political sciences, social work, community and human development, languages, sociology, etc. can see the issues that the study about come to life at the Refugee Center.

We want students to make connections between their Spanish community service learning and the other subjects that they study. Here are some issues that students can connect across the disciplines:

  • immigration policies and laws, today and through a historical comparison

  • issues of discrimination

  • language and culture maintainance and/or loss

  • access to public health

  • international politics (as related to refugee vs. immigrant status)

  • literacy

  • etc.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Students: A Course to Continue Learning about Immigration

Students: If you would like to learn more about the immigration that you have seen in Champaign-Urbana through your community-based learning work and put it into a global context, consider the following course for this spring.

NEW Spring 2009 Course:
CAS 587, CRN 31696, Advanced Study: Special Topics
Topic: Immigration: History and Policy
Mondays, 3:00 - 4:50 pm
at Levis Faculty Center, , 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana
This is an interdisciplinary seminar focusing on the history and current policy issues involving transnational migration. Some of the reading and discussion will deal with immigration to the United States from the nineteenth century to the present, but we intend to consider migration as a global phenomenon and to study other societies as well. Offered under the auspices of the Center for Advanced Study Campus-wide Initiative on Immigration, the seminar integrates a series of visitors dealing with Asian, Latin American, and European immigration and will be augmented with a speaker series, forums, and other events.
Instructors: Gale Summerfield and Jim Barrett
Enrollment by permission of instructor

On-line Spanish Listening Comprehension Materials and/or Activities

Following up on my previous post about listening comprehension, I did a simply Google search for "how to improve Spanish listening comprehension." That turned up some sites with useful information that I will consider when I continue to develop in-class and homework listening comprehension activities for our Spanish community-based learning students.

  • Materials from Argentina. The audio project has very good materials for real-world uses of Spanish in the US. Click around and find the free newsletters; those have some interesting audio plus video activities that could be useful.

  • Podcasts from Spain. Some topics of the podcasts could appeal to our students and connect to the topics we cover. Seems to concentrate on Spain though, and our students need to become familiarized with Mexican and Central American dialects. I like the fact that one of the speakers is a non-native speaker (but very good!), and the native speaker corrects him.

  • Music. Many students like to listen to music in Spanish and many teachers like to use music in the classroom. I'm not convinced about music's use in a Spanish CBL course, but I suppose it depends on the content of the lyrics and if it relates to the content of the course. This page has some links and written lyrics.

Those sites came up with a very, very simple Google search. Students, you can find all kinds of listening materials on-line if you try. Don't expect your classes to be the only place where you learn (and maintain) your Spanish!

How to Improve Students' Oral Comprehension in a Spanish Community-based Learning Course

At the end of the semester our students reflect on their experiences with Spanish community service learning, my TAs reflect on teaching it, and I reflect on coordinating it.

Those different perspectives often see different things. And it's not always possible to reconcile them all. So it's helpful to me to always read what students write in their reflections (whether they are my students are not) and listen carefully to what the TAs have to say to me. And I use this blog to represent my own perspective.

One of my TAs suspects that students' listening comprehension skills need improvement. It is possible that simple misunderstandings in Spanish complicated students' in-class work,homework and community interactions. The TA suggested that mid-semester oral reports on their community work might replace one of their written auto-evaluaciones and students could evaluate each other.

I agree wholeheartedly. Students do need to improve their listening comprehension, and presentations on their community work sound great. But as an administrator of the course, these are the problems I see:
  • Listening comprehension and oral presenations are two separate issues. In fact, in practice, I don't think they are very related at all.
  • 20 students' individual oral presentations take up a whole lot of valuable classroom "real estate." That is time they could be using to work on language and cultural issues.
  • Most of our students are simply not capable of adequately evaluating each other's Spanish, even using the rubric included in their syllabus. And I don't think they really want to, either; peer pressure interferes with honest, tough, evaluations.
  • I have listened to many, many oral presentations in my teaching career. It is difficult to come up with a true communicative purpose for oral presentations, so students' eyes simply glaze over as their classmates speak into a vacuum.
  • Students do listening comprehension quizzes for Nuevos horizontes programs almost every week. They feature native speakers speaking at a normal rate on a variety of topics. This should be giving them practice. Many students don't really try to learn from these exercises; that is something to think about.
  • And just FYI, the diarios digitales/reflexiones orales were supposed to be students' "oral presentations" without all the problems of oral presentations. But we had to eliminate them because of technical problems.

So how do we teach so that our students improve their listening comprehension?

  1. We do lots of true comprehension checks (not, "?Entienden?" "?De acuerdo?") throughout the class periods.
  2. We provide more listening comprehension exercises.

I will remind TAs to do more of #1, and I'll work on creating more of #2.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Name Tags, Hispanic Names and Spanish Community-based Learning

Last week I attended a very nice luncheon sponsored by the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The Academy's new Faculty Fellows were announced, and old and new Faculty Fellows and other friends of the Acadmy had a chance to mingle.

I offered to pass out the name tags, and I was once again struck by the difficulties and the importance of teaching our students to understand the systems behind Hispanic names so that they can appropriately speak to people in the community and file their documents.

Prof. Feniosky Peña Mora is a professor of civil engineering and an Associate Provost. His name tag for the AEL luncheon was written this way: "Feni Pena-mora."

Just imagine our students were working in the community and encountered a document with his name written like that. What are the potential problems for our students if they need to access his file, add to it, or address him personally?
  • Titles. The name tag did not include his professional title, Prof. or Dr. And rightly so for the occasion. But all too often our students apply the same casual cultural rules that they have for addressing people--even adults they don't know--by their first names only, whereas in most Hispanic cultural context and even US professional contexts, one shows respect by using a person's professional, educational or status-related (Don, Doña) title.
  • Variety of first names. Our Spanish textbooks tend to present "typical" Hispanic names: Juan, María, José, Isabel, etc. Then students are surprised when they encounter first names that don't fit within their schema. Pere from Barcelona. Yorleni from Costa Rica. Saudi from Honduras. And Feniosky from the Dominican Republic. Written without any context, our students may not know if those are male or female names. I think they may also not know if they are first or last names. The same goes for last names. Many people from Latin America have Italian, Jewish, Russian or Asian last names.
  • Nicknames. If our students found documents about "Feniosky" and "Feni," hopefully they would recognize that "Feni" was short for "Feniosky." However, not all Spanish nicknames are so obvious. "Paco" can be short for "Francisco." Pepe = José. María Jesus = Chus. Nacho = Ignacio. If they found documents for Paco García and Francisco García would they know that they might be the same person and that they should look for other, identical information in order to file them together? I doubt that most would.
  • Diacritical marks. Accent marks over vowels, "ñ" and "ü" will probably not be written in many files. The "ñ" was missing from Feniosky's name tag. That's fine, but if you are helping someone submit official paperwork, their names must match! The birth certificate must match the name on the passport, for example. An apparently little item like "~" can cause real headaches and cost clients time and money when their papers get caught up in the system because of these types of inconsistencies. Finally, "Pena" is a legitimate Spanish word, so spellcheck wouldn't catch that. But given the meaning of "pena," would you really want that to be your last name?!
  • Hyphenated last names. Since most American documents only allow for one last name, some people with two Hispanic last names hyphenate them in order to preserve them both. I suspect this is the case with "Peña-Mora." (See Marcos' comment to see the alternative meaning to hyphenated last names.)
  • Other possible confusions. Hopefully our students would recognize the lower-case "m" of "Pena-mora" on the name tag as a simple typo. But what if they thought that they name went all together?: "Penamora."
Okay, so here is another little quiz. It's easy. Write your answers in a comment to this post. Answers posted next week.
  1. If there are files for "Peña Morales" and "Peña Mora," which name should be filed first?
  2. If there really was a last name "Peñamora," should it be filed before or after "Peña Mora"?
  3. Should "Peña" be filed before or after "Pena"?
p.s. I won't post answers to my previous quiz until at least one person tries to answer it in the comments. Come on, try! :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Difficult Events in Community Members' Lives are Part of Spanish Community-based Learning

Lately I have been reconnecting on Facebook with a lot of my childhood friends and reminiscing about how much fun I had as a child. High school had it's difficult moments, of course, but mostly I just had a lot of fun learning, participating in school activities and getting together with my friends.

But school isn't all fun for everyone.

That's why an e-mail this week from one of our Spanish CBL students struck me as particularly problematic. Their assignment in class was to write a thank-you note to one of the people they worked with in the community. Obviously this student wrote to one of a student she worked with. Here is what she wrote later to her TA (with no identifying information included):

"I wanted to thank you for a great semester. I really enjoyed your class and enjoyed having you as a teacher. I just wanted to let you know that you don't need to deliver my message I wrote to a certain student at [X school]. It is interesting how you told us at the beginning of the semester that sometimes things will happen to your students that you form a friendship with. The past two times I have gone to [X school], a student named X was not there. I noticed because he is the one who I was able to get to know the best. Yesterday I asked his friends where he has been, assuming he has just been sick. They said he was in trouble with the police and was not going to return to school. I was not sure exactly what kind of trouble he had been in, but they said he might be deported back to Mexico. This situation made the objective of this class really come alive for me. We were to learn about the Hispanic community in all different aspects. It is really hard to accept that one second they can be living a happy life here, and the next they could be sent back to Mexico. I just wanted to let you know about this story, and also thank you for everything."

The TA responded with an e-mail that both acknowledged her personal feelings and put them in the context of working in the community.

Spanish CBL teaches students about the real world, and the real world isn't always warm and fuzzy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Spanish CBL Article in "Hispania"

Tacelosky, Kathleen. "Service-Learning as a Way to Authentic Dialogue." Hispania 91.4 (2008): 877-886.

I just received the new issue of Hispania and was happy to see an article about Spanish community-based learning. The article details a Spanish service-learning course at the intermediate level and uses the theories of Martin Buber and Paulo Freire to describe ways in which the students reached an "authentic dialogue" with native speakers of Spanish.

It's great to see Spanish community-based learning's expanding practice and publications.

However, we need to report the negatives (and there are negatives!) along with the positives. (Darcy Lear and I have an article accepted at Hispania which does focus on the potential problems of Spanish CBL.)

I found two quotes especially thought-provoking:

1. "The benefit to processing [students'] reactions to the project before it begins is that when students enter the experience with an appropriate view of where they may be deficient, there is an increased potential for them to see the others that they work alongside as people who can teach them something. If students are given only information about the contributions they will make to a person or project, they may be inclined to focus only on how much their help is needed and how they will be of assistance. However, it is important to direct students' attention to how they might need to be helped as well." (881-82)

2. "Less obvious than the gap between persons who are clearly different from one another is the expanse that lies between a person and her or his assumptions. Sometimes these assumptions are so subtle or entrenched that one does not evene realize that there is an alternative way to perceive things. Exposure to other worldviews or cultures is an oft-stated objective in language classes. However, quite often students are either introduced to the otherness of the speakers of the language they study so superficially as to be virtually unaffected, or they have no opportunity to process what they are learning in relation to their own beliefs or practices. However, in the service learning setting, students are confronted, not with a simple text about some value or cultural aspect for the speakers of the language under study, but with living texts that have the potential to have a profound impact on them." (882, emphasis mine)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Claire: My Spanish in the Spring

By Claire Pescheret

In the continuation of completing my Spanish minor, I will be taking Spanish 318: Spanish Cultural Studies I in the spring. The class description is as follows: A critical analysis of historical events, institutions, artistic production, symbols and values representative of Spanish (Iberian) cultures. Particular emphasis on the relationship between specific cultural practices and/or values and the construction of national identities prior to 1700. This is a class that will be unlike any other Spanish class that I have taken on this campus. I am very excited to be enrolled.

I feel that my work this semester in the community has really given me a great insight into the culture of a group of people I live and work with everyday. I have been exposed to the hardships they face, but also the emphasis that they constantly place on family and loved ones. Therefore, I feel proud to enter the class with a better appreciation for Spanish culture.

Claire: Looking Back: The Top 10 Things to Consider Before/While Taking Span 232:

By Claire Pescheret

1.The class and your volunteer work is a fairly large time commitment. Make sure you can fit it into your schedule.

2. Attend class. This WILL help you on exams.

3. Participate in discussions in class. Exam questions tend to stem from these.

4. Attend a few Mi Pueblo sessions just for extra practice.

5. Select a community partner that TRULY interests you.

6. Apply your volunteer work to your future. Make it be something you can put on your resume!

7. Allow your leadership skills to shine at your community work. It will really help the teachers and show great initiative.

8. Be observant while volunteering. You will learn a lot about the culture of the Champaign community.

9. Experiment with different forms of transportation (public, walking, biking) to get to your community partners.

10. REALLY take advantage of your knowledge of Spanish in the classroom and while volunteering. Working with other people who speak Spanish is the best way to improve your own Spanish.

Las posadas and Spanish Community-based Learning

Do our Spanish CBL students have a larger perspective on the Latino students/clients that they interact with during their time in the community? Or do they only see them during one slice of their life?

I imagine that our students really lack a broader perspective about the members of our local Latino community. I also doubt that they understand how many not-for-profits in town work together.

Exhibit 1: Prevention Initiative, C-U Early, Padre a Padre Program, and the Latino Partnership Outreach Committee are having the Annual Posada for all the Latino families in Champaign Urbana. Click here to see the flyer.

Click here to learn more about las posadas.

Various agencies are sponsoring the event and it will take place at Booker T. Washington School. This is another example of how this neighborhood school really creates a sense of community.

In sum, I hope that our students can use this one little example to get a fuller understanding of the lives of the people they work with during their Spanish community-based learning work and of the cooperation involved in making these events happen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Carolyn: 5 things to consider when choosing a community partner

By Carolyn Kloecker

1. Do you prefer more active service or work on your own time?
Active (interpersonal) - Schools & after-school programs, Boy/Girl Scouts, ECIRMAC, Clases de Catequis
Work on own schedule - CCRS (translation), A Woman's Place (translation), La Prensa (meetings with businesses, writing)

2. Do you want to work with kids?
Yes - Schools, Boy/Girl Scouts, ECIRMAC saturday program, Clases de Catequis
No - ECIRMAC, CCRS, A Woman's Place, La Prensa

3. Do you want an easier or more challenging job? (these are my opinions, feel free to correct me)
Easier - Boy/Girl Scouts
Medium - Schools
Challenging - ECIRMAC, La Prensa

4. Do you like doing activities or more academic work?
Activities (with kids) - Boy/Girl Scouts (crafts, games, learning about themselves/the community/the world), ECIRMAC saturdays (games, some tutoring, reading for fun), Clases de Catequis
Academic (with or without kids) - CCRS (translation, phone calls), A Woman's Place (translation), Schools (math, reading, science, spanish/english, etc.)

5. How do you intend to use your Spanish skills in the future?
Teacher - Choose Schools, after school programs, clases de catequis
Other work with children - Choose Boy/Girl Scouts
NGO - Choose ECIRMAC, A Woman's Place
Business - Choose CCRS, ECIRMAC
Conversational, writing, & cultural knowledge - All of them!

Enrollments: Spanish CBL Courses for Spring 2009

Spanish majors have been able to enroll for spring 2009 Spanish courses for several weeks now. I observed this about enrollments in SPAN 232 & 332:

SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" had low enrollments across the four sections.
SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" was already at about 25 students.

Today was the first day that minors and other students could go on-line and register for Spanish courses. I just checked, and enrollments look like this:

SPAN 232 only has 19 out of 80 seats left.
SPAN 332 has only gained a couple of students.

Because our enrollment system doesn't keep out the students who haven't met the prerequisites, I think several SPAN 332 students will end up dropping the course. (SPAN 232 is its prerequisite.) I will be surprised if SPAN 232 is not full by the end of this week.

This information shows that student demand is high for Spanish community-based learning courses. Our administrative headaches begin, however, once the semester starts and students begin dropping and adding late.

It also shows that SPAN 232, which is not a requirement for the major or minor, is fulfilling some sort of student demand. What precisely they are looking for in the class isn't always clear.

Update: less than 24 hours later...

SPAN 232 only has 8 out of 80 seats left.
SPAN 332 now has 31 students enrolled.

End-of-the-semester Reflections for All Spanish Community-based Learning Students

It is a joy to work with our department's TAs. Yet Marcos Campillo stands out even among all our great TAs: he's intelligent, talented, connects with his students, has high standards, is creative and takes teaching seriously. Plus (most important to me), he is truly engaged with Spanish community-based learning.

When one of our honor student bloggers asked for suggestions for topics to post on from now until the end of the semester, Marcos offered her some really great topics. I think that all students, not just our bloggers, could benefit from reflecting on these topics:

  • What will you miss most about your CBL experience?

  • An instance-example of your experience you will always remember.

  • What Spanish classes are you planning to take in Spring, and how do you plan to connect the class to your experience?

  • Have you learned anything about the way Latino people celebrate Xmas?

  • Is there a Xmas play, performance, etc...with the kids you are working for? Why are those performances important within the context of bilingual schools?

  • Looking back: The top 10 things to consider before taking Span 232.

  • Looking back: The top 10 things to consider when selecting a community partner.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Carolyn: Course Approvals for Study Abroad

Carolyn Kloecker

So, in this very busy time at the end of the semester, those who are studying abroad next semester must go to various departments and recieve approval (signatures) for courses they plan to take abroad. While I am in Quito, Ecuador next semester, I plan to take Andean Anthropology, a Spanish Literature class, A Political Science class, and a Business/Marketing course, as well as possibly Capoeira or a fun dance class. That means a lot of running around campus for me!

Only recently did I realize that many of these courses are not officially approved until after a student returns from Study Abroad. Most of the departments will sign the course approval sheet (to be turned in to the Study Abroad Office) now, but also ask that I come back with a syllabus and coursework in order to make a final approval to transfer credit to U of I from the institution abroad. So I guess what I'm doing now isn't accomplishing much, because I will have to go back anyways and have advisors of various departments sign some sheets all over again. Luckily, the advisors in these departments (Anthro, Spanish, PoliSci, and Business Administration) have been very open to making impromptu meetings or having many walk-in hours to choose from.

I am really looking forward to the classes I will be taking next semester (all in Spanish), but the process to get them to transfer in as U of I credit is driving me a little crazy. I'm sure it will all be worth it in the end....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Claire: Spanish for my Future

By Claire Pescheret

I elected to take Spanish 232 because I am attempting to complete a Spanish minor. I have taken Spanish since I was in 5th grade, and have always really enjoyed it; therefore, when coming to college I felt that it would be wise to continue my studies. Thus far, I have really enjoyed my decision. I feel that being able to speak Spanish will be a great skill for my future career.

I want to go in the dental field when I get out of college. My knowledge of Spanish will be very helpful in my communication with future patients, as well as my work in the clinics through dental school. I will be able to treat a greater number of applicants as a result of my additional skill. Being able to speak Spanish will also make me a more competitive applicant for dental school, as well.

I believe that my work in the community at Booker T. Washington Elementary has prepared me in working with the Spanish speaking public. I have been challenged to adapt my classroom learned language to real world situations. I have also been exposed to working with a variety of age groups. Both of these experiences are great practice for my future Spanish speaking with the community.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How to Correctly File Hispanic Names

I know that community-based learning students don't like it when they are asked to file during their time in the community. However, their learning goals are to improve their Spanish and knowledge of Latino cultures. Filing information on clients with Hispanic names helps them with both. And imagine the impact of mis-filing for the organizations where our students work and and their clients.

That's why I was unhappy to learn that many SPAN 232 students did not do well on their exam section asking them to put some Hispanic names in alphabetical order.

I can imagine that some students feel that putting names into alphabetical order isn't important. It is! It is especially important in the organizations where they work because they are dealing with clients who may not have "accommodated" to the American system of using only one last name. And it is especially important for clients whose papers are so important for their legal status, medical information and other high-impact issues that require so much paperwork. Misfiling, or pulling the wrong file, can have very negative consequences.

So, let's see how much you know about putting Hispanic names in alphabetical order? Put these names in alphabetical order in a comment to this post. Answers will be posted next week!

Víctor Emilio Cázares Salazar
Laura Díaz-Brown
Carlos Lage Cordoniu
Carlos Enrique Cordoniu
Roberto Alvarez Quiñones
Irene del Río
María del Carmen Pucci

People with Hispanic last names

Praise for BTW's S.O.A.R. Student Volunteers

I wanted to share the e-mail below for two reasons.

First, it shows how much our Spanish community-based learning students' work is appreciated in the community. Students, read on to see your work complemented! :)

Second, the fact that we have a Center for Education in Small Urban Communities shows that the University of Illinois takes its collaborations with local schools seriously.

So here is the e-mail:

Hi Dr. Abbott,

I was recently hired as Volunteer Program Coordinator at the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities in the College of Education. One of my responsibilities is to manage the S.O.A.R. after-school program at Booker T. Washington. I’m so impressed with the S.O.A.R. tutoring program and the impact our university students are having on the children. I know that some students from your Spanish class are volunteering time at BTW and doing wonderful work as tutors. It is so appreciated!!! Sarah Okner is contacting the current tutors to see if they would be interested in tutoring again during the spring semester. I’m hoping they will continue with the experience! If you have students in a class during the second semester who would be interested in tutoring, we welcome them into the program! We will start the tutor training sessions during the last week of January, the week after the students return to campus.

I’m attaching a promotional flier about the S.O.A.R after-school program. If you have any additional questions please email or give me a call. I’m looking forward to working with students from your Spanish class during the second semester.

Thank you,
Lila Moore

Lila Moore
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Center for Education in Small Urban Communities
32 Education Building, MC-708
University of Illinois
Champaign, IL 61820
phone: (217) 333-4687
fax: (217) 244-7065

Graduate Course on Intellectual Entrepreneurship

In addition to being an internationally known researcher on aesthetic education and qualitative research methods, my friend, Prof. Liora Bresler, is working on intellectual entrepreneurship.

She's teaching a graduate course this spring on this new area.

Spring 2009
C & I 507/590

Academic Intellectual Entrepreneurship: Vision, Team Leading, and Creativity
Tuesdays, 10-1
Liora Bresler, Instructor

The overall goal of the course is to develop an entrepreneurial perspective of the role of faculty in academia. The three components of the academic endeavor--research, teaching, and service--will be conceptualized as highly entrepreneurial activities.

Building on their individual passions and strengths, the course will empower students (prospective faculty) to experience each of these three components of academia along the three entrepreneurial axes: recognize opportunities, acquire resources, and create a new entity of value. Specifically, the course will address the following: 1. Expansion of contents, forms, and audiences in teaching; 2. Choosing research questions for significance and impact, garnering means for effective execution, and creating avenues to bring the fruits of research to society; and 3. Refocusing of academic service as a vehicle for the building and nurturing of intellectual community.

The course will have three major components: 1. Theoretical foundations of the field of entrepreneurship with a slant toward inter-disciplinary environment, creativity, and intellectual entrepreneurship; 2. Case studies of successful entrepreneurs in academia; 3. Individual student capstone projects of developing an “academic entrepreneurial plan”. This course is seen as a part of the education of doctoral students, in preparing them to be resourceful, dynamic faculty, responsive to the needs and opportunities in the field, drawing on their visions, creativity, and skills, to create new endeavors.

* for more information about the course, contact Liora Bresler at

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carolyn: A Blog Post about Blogging

By Carolyn Kloecker
I am starting to get very anxious-excited for my semester abroad that I will be spending in Quito, Ecuador. I will be leaving on January 3rd, and I can't wait to be able to speak Spanish almost everywhere at any time. Of course I'll still be communicating with my family and friends back here in the U.S. in many ways: Skype phone, Skype (webcam), G-chat, E-mail, and my blog!
I have recently started a blog of my own entitled 'Carolina en Ecuador'. I welcome anyone to look at it, the address is This is not only a great way to communicate with people back home, but blogs are also a great reference for the future. I know that I personally benefitted from the blog of a previous 232 student, Pedro Dominguez, as he talked about his travels in Ecuador. Hopefully I will be able to keep up with some reflexión at least once a week while I am in Ecuador.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Claire: Spanish at CUPHD

By Claire Pescheret

In addition to working in the community at Booker T. Washington, I also volunteer at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department. My job is to educate children and their families about their dental health. Each day I volunteer I set up in a corner of the playroom in the Mother and Child Care area. If the children or parents are interested, I do a teeth brushing demonstration, teach them a bit about their oral health, and distribute toothbrushes and handouts.

Seeing as this clinic serves the greater Champaign-Urbana area, as does Booker T. Washington Elementary, I have been exposed to a similar sub-set of people. Many of the patrons I speak with are Spanish speaking. In these instances I have been able to use my Spanish! This exposure has been challenging, but wonderful, as well. The parents have been so happy that I am able to relay important health information to them in their native language.

I feel that my experience at BTW has truly help prepare me to speak Spanish on a day-to-day basis, which has always been my goal in the furthering of my Spanish education.

2009 Public Engagement Symposium and Tech Showcase

The University of Illinois' Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Engagement will host a symposium this spring, and they announced their call for proposals. I love the fact that students and community partners are invited to submit.

I will suggest that one of the student teams in SPAN 332 present a poster, and I will let Spanish & Illinois' community partners know about this opportunity to tout their programs.

Call for proposals: 2009 Public Engagement Symposium and Tech Showcase
The inaugural Public Engagement Symposium & Technology Showcase will
be March 9. Faculty and staff members, students and community
partners can submit proposals for poster sessions, performances,
concurrent sessions and panel discussions. Learn from and support the
quality and variety of our scholarly and creative public engagement
Kristine Juhl Campbell -
Ofc VC For Public Engagement

Take the Prereq for SPAN 232 in Barcelona This Summer

SPAN 208 "Oral Spanish" is a prerequisite for SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community." This spring we will offer only four sections of 208. This is one of our most popular courses, but it is not a requirement for the major or minor.

So, if you want to get into SPAN 208 (0r SPAN 141, 204, 320), click here and consider the following announcement for a study-abroad program in Barcelona, Spain this summer.

Students: Consider Enrolling in This Community-Based Learning Course for Spring

Many SPAN 232 students are studying to become teachers and wish there were more opportunities to get hands-on experience in the classroom.

There are!

And many of our SPAN 232 students come to appreciate service learning by this point in the semester and wish more courses used it.

They do!

Here is a an e-mail I received today from Val Werpetinski about a course that may interest our students.

Hi Ann,

Below, I've pasted an announcement for an innovative service-learning course, which may be of interest to some of your students. The course provides a unique opportunity for students to explore environmental education, build leadership and teamwork skills, and get involved in the community in a meaningful way. It would be great if you're able to forward the announcement to those who might still be course shopping for spring. I'm happy to answer any questions about the course.

Thanks much,

Valeri Werpetinski
Center for Teaching Excellence

Service-learning Course Available for Spring 2009!
NRES 285: Community Stewardship through Environmental Education

WANTED! University of Illinois students who

• are interested in the environment
• enjoy working with children
• want to make a difference in the community
• are eager to build their knowledge, skills, and resume
• need a 3-hour course that is educational and fun

In this service-learning course, students will learn about topics related to biodiversity, ecosystem health, and the effects of aquatic invasive species. They will work in small groups to teach children (grades 4-8) about these topics, using the "Nab the Aquatic Invader"
and interactive, science-based activities.
And, they will develop community stewardship projects with children to teach community members how to reduce the spread of invasive species.
Students will present their stewardship projects at an environmental conference at the end of the semester.

Field work includes classroom visits twice per week for one hour at one of the following schools: Stratton Elementary School, Thomas Paine Elementary School, Edison Middle School, and Franklin Middle School.
Eight sections (CS1-CS8) with various days/times for school visits are available. All sections meet together on Wednesdays from 4:00-5:50 p.m. for lecture/group work. This course is open to ALL majors and has NO prerequisites and is team-taught by NRES faculty with instructional support from Extension's Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program and the Center for Teaching Excellence.

For questions, contact Professors Cory Suski (,
244-2237) or Joanne Vining (, 333-6145).

Community-Campus Summit 2 in Images

I'd like to thank University of Illinois design student, Christopher Gregory, for his work as graphic recorder of this semester's Community-Campus Summits.

Click here to see his representations of Summit 2.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I received's newsletter this morning. As usual, they have very interesting information related to language, culture and globalization--all issues of importance to Spanish community-based learning.

I was particularly interested in the notes and posts related to President-elect Obama.
It's good for our students to see global reaction to Obama's election; that could lead to a discussion about how the Latinos that they work with in the community may be viewing his election, particularly their hopes for immigration reform. (Though his vote for the wall between the US and Mexico still rankles me.)

I'm interested in social media and its uses for Spanish community-based learning, and "The New Clickocracy" offers interesting insights.

Finally, it's great for students to see the power of living abroad, learning languages, and being immersed in many different cultures. Obama is certainly living proof of what we language educators believe in.

image from

Friday, November 28, 2008

Spanish Community-based Learning and Social Networks: A Tool for Your Job Search

I love Facebook (and so do my students), and I'm always interested in finding ways to make students' Spanish community-based learning experiences translate to their future careers. So I was very interested in an article I saw recently, "Social networking sites dos and don'ts" from

"Employers are checking job applicant's profiles on sites like Facebook, Brightfuse and LinkedIn, according to a recent survey," the article states.

It also quotes an expert who says: "Get rid of your digital dirt [when job hunting]."

Specific dos and don'ts in the article include:
  • Do update your profile regularly.
  • Don't badmouth your current or previous employer.
  • Do join groups...selectively.
  • Don't mention your job search if you're still employed.
  • Do go on the offensive.
  • Don't forget others can see your friends.

These all make perfect sense. But what does that have to do with Spanish community-based learning? Well, here are some dos and donts if you want your Spanish community-based learning work to help you in your job search and professional networking. (Remember, employers value experiential learning!)

  • Do post updates about your CBL class and work. "Julia is helping a Spanish-speaking client fill out tax forms at the Refugee Center." "Ray is psyched that the kids in the 3rd grade BTW class are happy when he arrives each Tuesday at 2:00." "Kelly wrote down all the phone numbers correctly in class when the teacher read them in Spanish real fast. Ready to ace the test!" Updates like these show potential employers that you take your work seriously, it's a part of your life. They also give a glimpse into what you actually do and accomplish in Spanish community-based learning. A simple line on your resume or transcript can't do that.
  • Do post pictures of yourself in work/professional contexts. It helps form an image of you as someone who "fits" in a workplace, even if your workplace is a school or rather informal.
  • Don't post pictures of minors or others who haven't given permission. Alternatively, you can take pictures that don't show people's faces.
  • Do friend people from the community if they are also on your social network system. Being friends with people from various backgrounds, ages, etc. can show that you are a person with breadth, that you can relate to many types of people. Remember though, if you are friends with professional people then you should look professional as well.
  • Do upload videos of you speaking in Spanish. If you did diarios digitales or reflexiones orales you can upload them. They can prove that you do speak Spanish. If your potential employer also speaks Spanish, they can see your critical thinking skills in what you say.
  • Don't upload a video with bad Spanish or overly simplistic ideas. Your Spanish may not be perfect, but you should speak clearly, confidently and as error-free as possible. Ask someone to check your Spanish so you can correct it.
  • Do write a note explaining your community-based learning work. A note gives you a chance to go more into depth about your experiences. What tasks did you perform in Spanish? What do you consider to be your accomplishments (this is different than tasks) on the job? What did you learn about the community? Yourself? If you studied abroad, how does this experience add to the skills and knowledge you gained from that experience? Did you work on a team project for the course? What did you learn about teamwork? What did you learn about working in a multicultural environment? What did you learn about your ability to take (or not take) risks? To work independently? There's no end to what you can write about in a note that will make you look attractive to an employer who wants someone who has done experiential learning, can speak Spanish with native speakers, and has worked effectively in multicultural settings.
  • Don't write cliches or superficial thoughts. Show that you have reflected on your experiences. learned from them and are ready to apply that learning in your next job.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Summer Language Institute for Teachers

A lot of the students in our "Spanish in the Community" course are studying to become high school Spanish teachers. I also know of several of our students who got jobs teaching Spanish and used their summers to get a Masters while abroad.

So I thought this e-mail might be of interest to some of Spanish & Illinois' current and former students:

Estimados Señoras y Señores:

Greetings from Southern Oregon University. We in Foreign Languages and Literatures would like invite you to our Summer Language Institute. SOU has developed a challenging and practical Master of Arts in Spanish Language Teaching with a curriculum that is completed in three summers in beautiful and quaint Guanajuato, Mexico. The program is designed for middle school, high school, and community college teachers. Each session is hosted by a group of master teachers from around the nation, and our program provides practical courses to improve your teaching proficiency.

Please consider joining us this summer!

We are attaching a PDF file with our 2009 course offerings and information about the program. We will also be sending you a copy of
the brochure via mail. As well, you may peruse our web page.

Un Saludo Cordial,

Dr. Anne Connor - Director
Dr. Scott Rex - Summer 2009 Director
Southern Oregon University
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Summer Language Institute
1250 Siskiyou Boulevard
Ashland, OR 97520

Business 101: Sustainability and Subsistence Markets

Madhu Viswanathan is a Faculty Fellow at the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, so I have gotten to know him and his work through that connection. I admire his research and the not-for-profit that he founded. Furthermore, his work is the basis for the new Business 101 course.

This morning I received an e-mail about the Business 101 Poster Session. I will attend. I wish that my students next semester in "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" would have the opportunity to attend. Not only is it important to see the content of the Business 101 students' posters, but I'm more and more convinced that poster sessions can be a more valuable learning tool for our students than the typical research paper. Why?
  • Students need to utilize all four skills--listening, speaking, reading and writing--to produce the posters and participate in the poster session.
  • Effective communication of your ideas in a poster more closely mimics the kinds of communication our students already do and will certainly do on the job after they graduate.
  • A poster requires the same research skills as a paper.
  • They must be able to distill their message for the poster and expand upon it in a convincing way during the poster session itself.
  • Someone will actually read the poster! Usually, only the professor reads a paper.

My colleauge at UNC, Darcy Lear, has done a lot of work to effectively utilize poster sessions in conjunction with service learning, business Spanish & Spanish & Entrepreneurship courses.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Carolina: ¿Practicando español durante vacaciones?

By Carolyn Kloecker

I'm a little bit afraid about the lack of Spanish speaking that will most likely occur over my Thanksgiving break. I am often jealous of students who have the opportunity to speak to their families in another language, but I realize that there are other opportunities to speak Spanish outside of school, and I also know that I will not "lose" my knowledge of the language over a short break. Here are some strategies I may use over break to keep speaking Spanish in a predominantly English-speaking environment:

  • Visit friends I know from my Spanish-immersion camp, or talk to them on the phone
  • Force my friends who took Spanish in high school to speak a few sentences with me each day
  • Walk around having a fake conversation on my cell phone in Spanish (suggestion from Brandon Lanners, one of our study abroad advisors)
  • Listen to plenty of music! (my favorites are Reik, Julieta Venegas, Fonseca, and Jesse & Joy)
  • Order food at a Mexican restaurant in Spanish (I've done it at Chipotle a few times)
  • Keep in touch with friends in Mexico and Argentina through facebook

I am also keeping these things in mind for winter break, as I will be going to Ecuador on January 3rd and will need to keep speaking up until my departure. I'm getting very anxious-excited about leaving to study abroad, and I can't wait to meet my host family and start classes in a new country. Winter break for me will only be slightly longer than Thanksgiving break, and I will want to spend as much time as possible with my family and close friends before leaving.

Claire: To Volunteer

By Claire Pescheret

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a volunteer as “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service: as- a: one who enters into military service voluntarily b (1): one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest (2): one who receives a conveyance or transfer of property without giving valuable consideration.” Basically, this is an individual who sets aside their own time in order to benefit the needs of others without receiving a monetary reward.

I find volunteering such a rewarding experience. To understand that you are helping another person so much just out of the goodness of your own heart is a phenomenal feeling. This emotion, in and of itself, suffices for me as a “reward.” The work I do is very basic, but I am such an important part of the student’s and teacher’s day. Not only am I benefiting the teachers by assisting with some of their daily tasks, but I am also helping the children with their Spanish and English. I am able to use my skills to help the classroom run smoothly.

As much as I have these strong feelings toward volunteering, I feel as if the majority of high school and college students do not understand the importance of giving of their time. This time of the year is one where it is important to reflect on the things that you have, but also understand that a lot of other people are not as lucky. Simply giving some time or money can mean so much to another person, and can brighten up the season.

Claire: Helping Pre-K Students with Spanish and English

By Claire Pescheret

Working with young children at Booker T. Washington has been a lovely experience. I have never spoken to children so little in Spanish before! As with any child, their maturity for such a small size always shocks me. Their brains can absorb and understand so much!

In my particular case, the students at Booker T. Washington are attempting to become bilingual. This process begins at the young age of 3 or 4 in pre-k, where I volunteer. These children practice their English during designated times throughout the school day. Since they are also fluent in Spanish, they are learning their colors and letters in this language. As much as English is something that is important for these students to be exposed to, more of an emphasis is placed on the children mastering Spanish. The children are young, and, as with any language, even though they are able to communicate in Spanish, their grammar and pronunciation are not always stellar. There are even certain students whose Spanish in general is very limited, for they have not developed basic speaking skills for one reason or another.

My job is to help these children in their mastery of Spanish first, and then some English as well. This is a stimulating challenge that allows me to use my skills for the benefit of these young students’ formation period.

Mutjaba: palabrotas

By Mujtaba Akhter

My work at Champaign Central High School consists of communicating with high school students for essentially the whole time period. Although I tutor them in various subjects, many times we digress into stories about our own lives and just general small talk. Since I speak in Spanish with many of the students, there were always a few words I would hear that I never understood. I always just figured it to be some technical word that I would learn later, but finally a couple days ago I figured out what was being said.

I was tutoring a student in geometry and was saying "you need to look at the line from this point to this point" which in Spanish was "necesitas ver la linea de este punto a este punto." However, I seem to have been saying the word "punto" fast and not pronouncing the "n" which leads to the word becoming a swear. The students around started laughing and then told me what I was saying. Although I knew that swear, I decided then to ask them about other swears. It probably wasn't the most proper thing to do, but I had a feeling they wouldn't mind so much and I knew they were well-mannered enough not to say those swears to anyone else. They started telling me all the ones they knew and their definition. I obviously won't list them here, sufficient to say that I've expanded my colloquial vocabulary. When I was being told these swears, I then understood some of the words I had thought were "technical." They definitely are not. They're "palabrotas."

One interesting point that came out of the conversation was how certain words aren't swears in some countries but are swears in other countries. While I was studying abroad in Ecuador, anytime I would need to "catch a bus," I would say "necesito coger un bus." However, the word "coger" does NOT have the same connotation in Mexico. It goes vice versa as well. In Mexico, "tirar" is used as "to throw"; however in Ecuador, the word has a MUCH different connotation. It was quite interesting to see how such innocent words could have a whole different meaning in other Spanish speaking countries.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Languages Important to the "Re-branding" of the US

CNN ran a story today entitled, "Obama poised to rebrand America, experts say."

The article focuses on international perceptions of the US, and one of the expert recommendations focuses on languages:

"In addition to exposing the rest of the world to U.S. culture, Obama should also make sure young Americans are citizens of the world. Martin recommends education reform, with an emphasis on world history and language classes [emphasis mine]."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

$30,000 Prize for U of I Student Innovators

Graduate and undergraduate students alike should take a look at the following message I just received. Please forward this information to all the U of I students you know; we have many creative students in Spanish and Liberal Arts & Sciences in general. It would be great to see someone from our corner of campus apply!

Dear Colleagues:
The College of Engineering has announced the third annual Lemelson Prize call for entries, and there is still time for students to submit. I wish to emphasize once again that the Lemelson Prize is not intended exclusively for students in STEM-related coursework (science, technology, math and engineering), nor is it a "business plan" competition. The prize is awarded to students who have demonstrated remarkable creativity, innovation and/or inventiveness. The Lemelson Foundation, which funds the prize each year, is seeking to recognize students from all disciplines. As all of you are engaged in some of the most creative and innovative work in your respective fields, I wanted to bring this competition to your attention, and ask that you announce it in your classes, or forward it on to any students whom you think might be good prospects.

Please note that the prize is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and the entry procedure is quite minimal. Students are required to complete an entry form, and provide two letters of support.

Click here for more information. Additionally, Technology Entrepreneur Center Assistant Director Rhiannon Clifton has been appearing on local access channel UI7 promoting the event.

Thank you all for your support.

Laura L. Hollis, JD
Laura L. Hollis, JD
Clinical Professor of Business Administration,
College of Business
Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering
and Technology Entrepreneur Center,
College of Engineering
(217) 244-9550 (Engineering)
(217) 265-6722 (Business)

La biblioteca y los latinos

In less than one year, two student bloggers have posted about the library in relation to their community-based learning. (Here and here.) I know that some of our students also go to the Urbana Free Library for the Spanish Story Time sponsored by the University of Illinois' Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
A study about Latinos and Public Library Perceptions sheds more light on how Latinos use--or do not use--public libraries. I find their recommendations about how to draw more Latinos to American public libraries very interesting:

1. Get to know your local Latino community. (Go beyond stereotypes.)

2. Advertise the library as a place to learn English.

3. Advertise public access to computers and availability of general information. (It's an important way for many Latinos to have access to the internet.)

4. Inform the community that the library does not share library user information. (Foreign-born Latinos may fear sharing their information in order to get a card.)
As I go about planning the team projects for my Spanish & Entrepreneurship course for next semester, I would love to see one team of students work with the library to enhance their engagement with local Latinos. Perhaps their project could be to implement the policy recommendations from this report.
(Thanks to Norma Scagnoli for sharing with me the "nos incumbe ayudar listserv"; that is where I found this report.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Claire: Is Speaking Spanish to Spanish Speakers Difficult?

By Clarie Pescheret

In class on Thursday, we discussed some issues that we, as volunteers, may have encountered throughout our work this semester. One particular given encounter interested me a lot. The statement was phrased, “We have learned that it is easy to speak Spanish to native speakers.” We discussed the validity of this as a class, which allowed us all to contribute our own personal experiences. The stories that were told by my fellow students were quite interesting.

Speaking in Spanish is one thing when you speak to other students who are learning Spanish who actually speak English as a first language. In these instances, I am able to understand other’s translations, broken “Spang-lish,” and accents. It is quite another feat to attempt to speak Spanish to native Speakers. In these instances, there are many barriers that we encounter.

Generally, discrepancy between taught Spanish and spoken Spanish, including slang, can make it difficult to converse. In a school setting, though, other factors have also come into play. Primarily, when working with 3, 4, and 5 year olds, their Spanish is hard to understand. Additionally, the children attempt to speak English to me at times, which I try to understand as Spanish. Hence, I do not understand what they are saying. Through continued exposure, though, I have been able to adapt better to the speech of these children, as I am sure they have had to do with my English.