Saturday, May 10, 2008

Liz: Interlangua Is Useful and Fun for Spanish Community Service Learning Students

I just finished my lesson with Interlangua! It was very fun! I actually ended up talking through the program for about 2 hours! It was very interesting, you can see your tutor on the screen, but there is also an area where you can type back and forth, if they want to teach you a new word or sometimes it helps to see the word if you are having trouble with the pronunciation. It was similar to an instant messenger, which is nice because then you can scroll back up to see a new vocabulary word if you need to remember it later on in the conversation. Plus they have a blank screen where you can put pictures. My tutor put up some pictures of festivals in Guatemala. The nice thing is the tutors can also use a highlighter to point out something interesting in the photo. I thought the program was very well put together and I really liked all of the interactive tools. I felt like it really used all of the different aspects of learning a language. I practiced my speaking and listening skills, but I also did some reading. The pictures were also helpful because I know I am a visual learner.

To answer some of your questions Ann, I do think Interlangua is a great tool to help students with phone skills. It defiantly feels like a phone conversation at time, although it is a little different since you can see the other person on your computer. It’s good because the students can practice asking questions if they didn’t hear or understand something the tutor said, and also since you are able to take the conversation where ever you like, I’m sure we could ask the tutors to do practice scenarios that are similar to the types of phone conversations the students would have with their community partners. The tutor could also give them tips along the way as to how they can improve their phone skills.

Interlangua would definitely help students become more comfortable using different dialects, especially from Guatemala since the tutors are all from Guatemala. Latin America definitely has a wide variety of dialects and it would be beneficial to the students if they new different varieties so that they can fine tune their listening skills.

As far as technology set up goes, I did have a few problems but they were easily fixed. I used the computer that is set up in FLB for the Spanish 232 students to record their Diarios Digitales. At first the microphone worked but the ear phones didn’t. So I switched the headphones with a different computer. That one was broken too, so I just kept switching the headset until I got one where everything worked. The Tec support at Interlangua was very patient and understanding with me and talked me through the setup. Once we got the headset to work, everything worked smoothly.

I really liked the program and I think it is a very helpful tool for people who want to learn more Spanish and to practice it with native speakers. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and I hope that we might be able to incorporate Interlangua into our Spanish program here at the University of Illinois!

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