Friday, April 11, 2008

CIBER Business Languages Conference in St. Petersburg, FL

The 2008 CIBER Business Languages Conference just ended. It was a great opportunity to learn what other universities are doing in their Business Spanish classes and to highlight what we are doing at the University of Illinois.

Maida Watson (Florida International University) and I collaborated on a presentation titled, "Site Visits, Standards and Scaffolding: Creating and Teaching Cases for Business Language Learners of All Levels." We talked about three kinds of site visits: international faculty development programs, visits to local companies, and web"site" visits. We then shared cases, other teaching materials and assessment items built around those site visits. Maida directs a CIBER faculty development program that takes Business Spanish instructors to Spain every summer, and several of the cases we presented were based on site visits from that program.

But my second session was the most exciting because my students presented with me. The title was "Undergraduate REsearch in Business Languages: Strategic Plans for Campus and Student Success." I presented how senior honors theses in Business Spanish coincide with UIUC's strategic goal of "Leadership for the 21st Century" and it's strategic initiatives. Then I described the senior honors theses that my students have written. Melissa Dilber and Jennifer Mull, my current thesis students, then presented their project. In their thesis, Melissa and Jennifer describe the tasks they had to perform in their international internships; categorize the skills they needed to succeed in their interships according to language proficiency, cultural knowledge and professional skills; compare their internship needs to what Spanish textbooks teach.

I and other professors in the audience were very impressed with their work and how articulate they were. I think they were the hit of the conference! They certainly showcased the innovative work taking place at the University of Illinois. Thanks and congratulations to Jennifer and Melissa. Thanks as well to Lynnea Johnson (pictured) from the UIUC CIBER who supported our attendance at the conference hosted by the University of Florida in St. Petersburg.

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