Showing posts from March, 2009

Spanish Community Service Learning at Dickinson College

More and more Spanish departments are using community service learning in their curriculum. This video describes a course in medical Spanish at Dickinson College that incorporated service learning, and both the professor, Prof. Wendell Smith, and a student talk about its impact on learning, career goals and their community partner. You can read more about the course here.

One of the teams in my Spanish & Entrepreneurship course this semester is working on finding other community service learning programs and courses across the country. We can learn a lot from each other.

Congratulations to Prof. Wendell on the success with this course that has obviously had such good results.

Spanish Community Service Learning Anecdote 2

by Ann Abbott

This student has beautifully narrated an important moment. It shows the child's learning. And hers.

José and I had been working on a reading assignment for a solid twenty minutes. The objective was to find vocabulary words the student did not understand, write them down, and define what they meant. José struggled the most with the spelling—it was hard for him to get the letters in the right order. José however was determined to make a strong finish. Finally he selected his last vocabulary word: magical. Hurriedly he told me to cover up the word in the book to see if he could spell it on the first try. With a dramatic sweep of the hands, I concealed the word on the page. José looked thoughtful as he formed the letters, keeping the results hidden from me until he completed the task. Then, he tentatively put his pencil down and revealed the “magical” word. Success! With bright eyes and a happy heart, he gave me one of the biggest smiles I have ever seen. Nothi…

Spanish Community Service Learning and Campus Race Relations: A Talk To Shed LIght on Racial Representations

by Ann Abbott

The Tacos & Tequila controversy at the University of Illinois may no longer be fresh in students' minds, and the freshmen and sophomores now have no memory of that debacle. But it highlighted the deep divisions between campus and community that our Spanish community service learning courses attempt to bridge. When our students step into the community, they are representing our university, and SPAN 232 is designed to help students represent us well and continue the ties that we have formed. Even if none of our Spanish CSL students attended the party, their work is tarnished because the entire university has lost credibility in the community.

So, I'd like to draw your attention to tomorrow's talk sponsored by the Center for Advanced Studies:

From Looney Coons to Tacos & Tequila: The Aesthetics of Race in Middle Class America

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
7:30 pm
Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum
600 South Gregory Street
Urbana (View Map)

James D. Anderson
Gutgsell …

Another Opportunity to Volunteer in Latin America This Summer

by Ann Abbott After seeing the wonderful posts about our students who traveled to Latin America during Spring Break and volunteered or at least engaged with the culture more fully than a typical tourist, I hope that perhaps some of you are thinking about what you can do this summer. Here are some ideas:
See what is available through the University of Illinois' Study Abroad Office. Check out Alas blancas, a program that I posted about recently.Look into Ecountour's program in Guatemala. Again, I don't have any personal connection to this program, but I did receive the following e-mail announcement from them today:"Here is an opportunity to support the intellectual curiosity of your students at University of Illinois. The Guatemala Summer 2009 program offers a healthy balance between meaningful volunteer work, cultural immersion, the option to study Spanish one-on-one, and the chance to explore the heart of the ancient Mayan world—all this while living with a Guatemalan f…

Spring Break: For Some Students It's a Chance to Continue with Spanish in the Community

Ann Abbott

Sevgi Sipahi is a current student in "Spanish in the Community." During spring break she traveled to Latin America to do some good work. Here are her words:

Over spring break I did a medical mission with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) in El Salvador. We worked in a clinic in a small community, Las Delicias, just outside of San Salvador. Our time was split up between doing work in the clinic, making house calls with the nurse, and checking the conditions of the homes with a program director. The nurse did not speak english and I was the only one in my small group who could speak spanish, so I had to translate for the other volunteers, and I also had the opportunity to interact with the community members. There is a school in Las Delicias that has about 400 students. We gave presentations on the causes of parasites as well as ways to prevent parasites. At the end of our presentation we administered anti-parasitic medication. The …

Spanish Community Service Learning Anecdote 1

As part of their midterm exam, my Spanish & Entrepreneurship students had to revise a fundraising letter they wrote for a previous reflective essay. The letters included anecdotes and descriptions of the work that their community partners do, and I want to share some of them here. I'll post one a day for several days.

Anecdote 1

I work at LealSchool, an elementary school in Urbana.Leal has classrooms for kids who are native English speakers and for those who come from Spanish-speaking families with little ability to speak English.When the students are better able to speak English, they are then integrated into classrooms where English and Spanish are spoken together.I work in a 2nd grade classroom, with students who speak little English, and the instruction is mainly in Spanish.
LealSchool really needs help in its Spanish-speaking classes.There are many kids in each class, and the individual attention they receive from the tutors helps them immensely.Working with these kids …

Student Reflection: The Glory of Hostels

by Sarah Moauro

As you can see from my previous post, I did a bit of traveling in Mexico over this past Spring Break. Being a college student, especially a senior, means that I am on an extremely limited budget, making my most logical choice of sleeping accommodations the ever so brilliant hostel. Beyond meeting the needs of a penny pincher, hostels are much more than a cheap bed and shower (and much safer than certain gore flicks make them out to be). More than anything, they are a great place to meet a variety of people traversing from all parts of the world on all sorts of adventures.
The Hostel Amigo of Mexico City lived up to both sides of the deal, giving me a fantastically affordable place to call it a night while introducing me to some interesting and inspiring travelers. Over the course of a few nights, I was able to meet three people in particular who fit right into the core values of Spanish and Illinois.
I came across the first two of these three upon my first night at the h…

Latin American Businesswoman to Guest Speak in "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" Course

On Thursday, April 9th, Ms. Ruth Malcom will visit my Spanish & Entrepreneurship course. (Click here for time and place.) Ms. Malcom is originally from Guatemala. There are at least 20 extra seats in our room, so I invite others to join us if they would like.

Ms. Malcom currently works at ISS, Inc. in Champaign, and she describes her previous work experience as follows:

"I worked in different countries as a strategic planning and management consultant, research and development and quality control manager for the food industry, sales representative and Spanish interpreter. Some of the organizations that I have worked for are: PCA, S.A. (consulting firm), Nestle, Pollo Campero, Univeler, Molinos Modernos, Unipharm, PUMA Energy, Georgetown University, and Alimentos Ideal among others."

Our topic for that week is "Entender y atraer a los clientes"/"Understand and Attract Clients," but I have asked Ms. Macom to touch on the following:
Share some projects that …

Student Reflection: Spring Break South of the Border

by Sarah Moauro

Although for the past week classes have been out and I have been far away from the C-U, Spring Break has not caused a hiatus in my Spanish studies. Going against the wishes of both my parents and the U.S. government, I ventured across the border into Mexico for this year’s Spring Break. Having set our minds on our southern neighbor long before the travel warnings were issued, two close friends and I did indeed take note of the travel warnings as they arose but deemed our destinations fit for travel. Rather than have the typical college-break experience in Cancún or Cabo San Lucas (although I’m not knocking those who did), we decided upon our sites in hopes for a cultural experience as well as warm getaway, visiting first the town of Zihuatanejo on the Pacific and then the metropolis, Mexico City.
Spending time in these two locations allowed for my friends (one a fellow Spanish 332 student) and me to experience the culture of the homeland of many of the people whom we wo…

How to Teach Culture in Spanish Community Service Learning (1)

by Ann Abbott

Have you ever experienced a moment of culture shock in your own country, in your own language and in a context you've experienced many times?

That happened to me recently, and it really made me think more deeply about what we mean by culture in foreign language teaching in general and in Spanish community service learning specifically.

I took my six-month-old baby, Francesco, for his well-baby appointment with our family practitioner. Since Francesco is our third child and we have had the same doctor from the very beginning, I know exactly what to expect: questions about typical milestones, admonitions about safety, a physical exam by the doctor and shots by the nurse. I'm also very aware that culture plays a heavy hand in both the content and style of these visits, but when you're going through it for the third time you do it on auto-pilot.

But there was one small change in procedure this time: they asked me to fill out a questionnaire about the baby's progr…

Student Reflection: Risky Business

by Megan Knight
Last week for Span 332 we had to write our “Reflexión” about how risks are related to learning a foreign language. It took me a minute to think how risks are involved because I had never really considered learning Spanish as something that was risky. However, when I sat there and thought about it, I realized you really do have to take a lot of risks when trying to learn a foreign language.

Learning another language forces you to step outside of your comfort zone and interact in situations where you normally might not. Studying abroad is a perfect example of the risks you have to take to learn a foreign language. When you study a language in college, everyone assumes that you will study abroad because that is how most people become fluent. Going to a completely new country where everyone speaks a different language forces you to speak that language and be completely immersed in it. And a lot of times you might not know how to say something in this language, but reverting …

Writing Theme at Language Symposium

by Ann Abbott

I received an e-mail today about the Language Symposium 2009 at Northwestern University. This year's them is "From The Quill to the Wiki: Writing Toward Fluency" and the keynote address is "Writing for Acquisition in Context-Based Foreign Language Classes" by Charlene Polio from Michigan State University.

I presented at this symposium several years ago and really got a lot out of it. It was a small forum, and people presented very innovative work.

Given the fact that reflection is such an integral part of community service learning, more work needs to be done to understand the ties between writing, language acquisition and experiential learning. How can we approach students' reflective writing in ways that integrate the best practices of second language acquisition combined with the best practices of community service learning? Here are some basic ideas, but I would love to hear other people's suggestions:
Make the reflective writing have…

Students: Volunteer Abroad Opportunity

I know that a lot of Spanish students double major with premed and want to have the opportunity to develop their Spanish skills for a clinical setting. There are some obvious risks involved with using students with developing language skills in a medical setting. But there are benefits, too.

A former University of Illinois student has created a nonprofit organization to organize volunteer trips to Ecuador. Volunteering in a medical context is just one of the opportunities. I don't have any personal, first-hand knowledge of these programs, but you can read more about them here.

Student Reflection: Unforeseen obstacles and new solutions

by Natalie Bodman

I really enjoy and look forward to going to tutor every week. Its fun for me and I can really see improvements with my student each week, which is encouraging! Once a schedule is set, it is easy for the student to get a rhythm down. For example, during the after school program we have set times for everything. After I have gotten to know my student better, I realize what works for him and what doesn’t. I have learned a lot through trying different methods that the advisors of the program suggested. I also realized how important it is to think outside of the box, especially when working with a student after they have been in school all day. This week the students in the fourth grade are taking ISATs, the standardized tests for the state of Illinois. After having tests all day long was struggling to do his homework and did not want to focus. I decided to use his strengths to come up with a strategy for getting his work done. I gave him the power of the decision making, …

How to Talk about Depression and Therapy in Spanish

by Ann Abbott

Lissette Piedra, my colleague in the School of Social Work, sent me a manual that describes a therapy model for depression--in Spanish.

Obviously, Spanish community service learning students are not capable of doing therapy. But depression shows up anywhere and everywhere, so it is good to have the vocabulary to be able to talk about it. School children can be depressed. Adults might come into the Refugee Center to talk about something else but exhibit signs of depression.

There are some typos in the manual, but the information and the vocabulary are a good resource.
by Natalie Bodmer

By now the student is less shy and more comfortable with me. I have also learned that it is helpful to read the notes from the teacher and the other tutors to get a good idea of the work the student did in the past week. I have also gotten used to predicting what the student needs to work on and what concepts he has trouble with sometimes. In the fourth grade they are putting emphasis on learning the multiplication tables. After learning about the English as a second language programs verses bilingual classrooms I went into teaching this week with all those concepts in mind.

Challenges:After a whole school day, spending even more time doing homework is difficult Multiplication tables are difficult to explain, or teach without the direct memorizationDivision is also difficult to understand the first time students learn itSolutions:Make compromises about doing one homework problem and then play a game so that it is not all work
Explain the relationship between additio…

Student Reflection: The challenge of teaching

by Natalie Bodmer

The second week, I went to the school, looking forward to working with my student again. This week he greeted me with a big smile and told me right away, in Spanish, that he needed help with his math homework. This corresponded closely with the work we were doing in class. We had just reviewed all the vocabulary for the different math operations. So I felt confident that I would be able to help him with his math.

His math worksheet had one side in English and the opposite side with the exact same problems in Spanish. At first he flipped to the English side, and I told him that we could do the homework in the language he wanted, so he flipped it over to the Spanish side. I ultimately worked through his homework with him in Spanish.

The challenge was different than I was expecting. I was worried that I would not be able to teach a concept in Spanish, however, the challenge was that I had to come up with a way to teach a concept that I no longer even thought about t…

Natalia Crespo: Former Spanish in the Community Instructor Finds Success at Michigan Tech

by Ann Abbott

Just as I like to feature the successes of our Spanish community service learning students on this blog, I also like to share good news about our talented instructors.

Natalia Crespo was a graduate student in our department when she taught SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community." As always, Natalia was a thoughtful and engaged instructor, challenging her students at the same time that she supported their work in the classroom and in the community.

Natalia graduated and moved on to a job at Michigan Tech. You can click here to read about her work in their Humanities Department. Just the other day, Natalia wrote to me with some good news:

"I'm glad to let you know that I have been offered a tenure track position here at Michigan Tech University! Fernando and I like very much this place and I am very excited with the idea of settling down here and start planning long-term projects after so many moves we had in the past."

She also told me some things that s…

Can Rick Steves Teach Us Anything about Spanish Community Service Learning?

Today is the last day of classes before our Spring Break. Many of our Spanish community service learning students will be traveling within the US and abroad during their vacation. ¡Buen viaje! I wish everyone a safe trip and fun experience.

My question today, then, is this: What is the relationship between travel and Spanish community service learning?
Do CSL students who have traveled and/or studied abroad, make better Spanish CSL students?
Do Spanish CSL students then make better travelers?Of course I suspect the answer is yes to both questions. If you have ever been "the other" yourself, you probably have a keener insight into how to treat marginalized "others" in your community with respect and diginity. If you have ever been a non-native speaker of the dominant language, you probably go the extra mile to help non-native speakers in your own community. If you've ever worked through the tangle of cross-cultural misunderstandings, you probably transfer th…

Sin nombre: A Movie of Interest to Spanish Community Service Learning Students

While our goals for students who do community service learning is for them to learn language and culture, we also want them to be better informed about immigration issues so that they can better critical thinkers about the immigration debate in our country.When our students form relationships with Latina/o immigrants, they can think about immigration issues with a real person in mind, not some phantasm created from fear and racism. In our program at the University of Illinois, students who work at the Refugee Center in particular hear immigration stories (sometimes horrific ones). And because the Refugee Center works with immigrants, refugees and asylees from around the world, our students who work there also can see that immigration is a global phenomenon--not the "US versus Mexico" image that so many want to project.Sin nombre is a film about one type of immigration story. It was very successful at Sundance, and I saw this interview with the director on…

Spanish Community Service Learning and "Gestos": How to Speak the Language of Gestures

by Ann Abbott

I concentrate a lot on creating teaching materials that help my students improve their spoken Spanish and listening comprehension in order to work effectively in the community.

However, just the other day I was having a conversation with a friend, and at a certain point I didn't understand what she was saying. Actually, I didn't understand because she wasn't saying anything--she was waving her fingers in opposite directions. I missed the meaning of our conversation because I didn't understand her gesture! Turns out, the gesture "said" this: to be coming and going, going out a lot, going in different directions, having two things going on at the same time, etc.

If it happens to me, it must happen to our students in the community as well.

What gestos have stumped you? Or if you're a Spanish-speaker, have you ever been confused by any gestures that Americans use?

Some useful resources: here and here.

Claudia Quintero Ulloa: Telling Her Own Stories and the Community's

by Ann Abbott
Although my "Spanish in the Community" students have probably never met Claudia Quintero Ulloa (pictured, left), she has played an important role in the course. She worked at Nuevos Horizontes and created the on-line quizzes to accompany the radio programs students listen to for homework. This year Claudia has taught in our department. I visited her "Spanish Composition" course and was delighted by her energy, organization and rapport with the students. And just the other day Claudia stopped by my office to talk to me about a writing workshop program she will begin with Latinas in our community. She has bold plans! In her workshop, women can build their writing skills, tell their immigration stories (and others, of course), and learn computer skills at the same time. So I am not surprised to see now that Claudia herself is a writer. She has an essay in the new book A Narrative Compass. Congratulations, Claudia! Be sure to visit the companion website and…

What Happens to Immigrants Who Are Detained?

by Ann Abbott Not only is Spanish community service learning a wonderful tool for teaching Spanish and culture to our students, it also forces them to analyze many of the socio-political beliefs that they and others they know hold about immigration and criminality.

Even though our local community has not experienced a large-scale redada (raid), our students have seen some of the people they meet in the community "disappear."

A report out today shows that most of the detained undocumented immigrants in our nation's jails are not criminals. It's important that our students learn the facts about immigration and the challenges immigrants face, not the hype. Reports like this one can be the basis of how we help our students to think about immigration policies in this country.

Domestic Violence and Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott The unsettling news about Rihanna and Chris Brown have brought domestic abuse to the attention of all, especially young people. It's upsetting to see the news items that show that some young people blame Rihanna. And it's upsetting to see that even today, there are many misunderstandings about domestic abuse and its victims. , On the other hand, this celebrity case has pushed this issue to the forefront, and it is, as they say, a teachable moment. I've seen several very informative article about abouse among teen couples, and about the long-term effects on women who survive domestic abuse. A Woman's Place (the woman's shelter program within the umbrella organization of A Woman's Fund) is one of our community partners. When we first met, the counselors there told me that when Latinas came to the shelter, many of them would just turn around and leave because no one spoke Spanish. Language, culture, access, legal status, these are all issues that Latina…

Student Reflection: How I decided where to volunteer in the community

by Natalie Bodmer

I wish I would have learned about this course earlier during my college experience because I would have loved to volunteer at all the places offered. The webpage gives a wide variety of different options for choices of where to do the community work part of the class. The webpage also gave a description of what the work would be like for each choice. I found things I liked about each one.

Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to work in a school because of my interest in the education system and learning about the different types of programs that are offered to bilingual students. I decided to participate in the S.O.A.R. program at Booker T. Washington School.

What really grabbed my attention was that this tutoring program offered students one on one help with school work and allowed the tutors to act as mentors. I really liked the idea of forming a bond with a student and hopefully making a difference in their life.

Volunteers Needed at Latino Youth Conference at the University of Illinois

photo: Jessica Ayala and Mike Hedge

Jessica Ayala has been a wonderful student in my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course this semester. She's engaged, prepared and always has something to add to the conversation. So when she told me that she was involved in organizing the Latino Youth Conference on campus, I wasn't surprised to see that she's also engaged in the community and creating value for Latino youth.

SPAN 232 and 332 students: You can volunteer at this event and use the hours towards your total of 28 for the semester.

Here are more details from Jessica:

I am pleased to announce that the LYC committee has been working hard to plan the conference. We now need your help to truly make the difference.

The Latino Youth Conference (LYC) will take place April 17, 2009 from 8:00AM-2:30PM at the Union. I want to invite your RSO to volunteer! The conference this year will be bigger than last years. We expect about 125 high school students from across East Central Il…

Student Reflection: Why I decided to take SPAN 232

by Natalie Bodmer
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Natalie and I am a senior, graduating in May with a double major in Spanish and Chemistry. Spanish has always been a passion of mine, so I decided to double major in Spanish when I was a freshman. My Spanish classes always came as a welcome change to the huge lecture halls my Chemistry classes were in. In my Spanish classes I was able to practice my speaking and work with other students in a smaller classroom. I studied abroad in Granada, Spain the fall semester of my junior year, which was one of the best experiences of my life! Living with a local family who did not know any English really immersed me in the culture and I could see how rapidly my Spanish was improving by using it all day, every day. When I came back, I missed speaking Spanish outside of class. I also missed using my Spanish in the community, and felt like I was losing all the progress that I had made while I lived in Spain. I had heard about the Spanish in …

How to Bring up Your Spanish Community Service Learning in a Job Interview

by Ann Abbott
I have always sustained that Spanish community service learning provides students with really important pre-professional experiences. But what good are those experiences if students' potential employers don't know about them? I have activites and test items that ask students to "translate" their Spanish CSL experiences into resume items, cover letter content and interview answer material.So this item on "How to Answer 10 Tough Interview Questions" caught my eye. Spanish community service learning won't give you the magic answer for all ten of those questions, but for students who are going out into a very tight job market with perhaps very little experience under their belts, they should certainly draw from their Spanish CSL experiences as much as possible. The key is translate those experiences in key ways:Detail what you accomplished, not just your duties.Tell what you learned from the experience.Explain how what you learned is applicable…

UI: Brittany Koteles, SPAN 332 Student, on the Front of the Daily Illini

I walked up to the elevators in the Foreign Languages Building after teaching today, glanced at my left, and saw Brittany Koteles looking up at me. Her picture was on the front page of the Daily Illini, stacked in a case by the elevators.

Here's the article. (Sorry, Brittany's picture isn't in the on-line article.)

Brittany has posted here about creating her own major. Service learning is a big component of the major she designed, and "Spanish in the Community" and (hopefully, next spring) "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" are a great fit for her.

At the Public Engagement Symposium on Monday, Brittany presented a poster about her major and was part of a panel about service learning.

Brittany, you're doing a great job of designing a meaningful experience for yourself here at the University of Illinois--and marketing it to others!

Guest Blogger: Benefits of Being Bilingual

While this blog's focus is on Spanish community service learning and social entrpreneurship, the following post from guest blogger, Courtney Phillips, reminds us of our starting place--the importance of learning a second language in the first place.

Bilingualism is a norm for many people outside of the United States. In most non-English speaking European nations, English is a mandatory class along with other core requirements. While many who have relocated to the United States learn a second language by default, they are actually going to reap more long-term benefits as a result. What follows is a brief list of the benefits of knowing more than one language.

Less Distraction = Mental Longevity
In a recent article in the Washington Post, a study showed that people who spoke two languages were less likely to be distracted. This lack of distraction helps to keep mental faculties sharp as individuals age and reduces risks for age-related mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

More Opp…

Organizers of Student Conference Want to Focus on Service Learning

photo: Prof. Ann Bishop and Debbie Sim At Monday's Public Engagement Symposium I was very lucky to sit at a table with such smart and passionate faculty and students to talk about service learning. Debbie Sim was one of those students. She talked to me about her passion for national service, what she has learned at national conferences, the excitement of hearing Obama and McCain speak about the importance of service, and her desire for more service learning courses on our campus. So I was very pleased to get a follow-up e-mail from her about an event she is organizing. Here are Debbie's words: "I am organizing a service conference for the office of volunteer programs on Sunday, April 5. I would like to invite you to be a workshop presenter. The theme for this year's conference is 'A New Administration, A Renewed Call to Service: College Students Serving Champaign-Urbana & Beyond.' It would be great if you could speak about service-learning, and maybe even d…

Student Reflection: What Do Looks Have to Do with It? A lot.

Over the past couple of years I’ve begun to realize that being a blonde, very “European-American” looking girl makes it very difficult for Spanish speakers to take me seriously. The first day of tutoring I remember the looks on the students’ faces when I walked in. They all seemed almost shocked that someone like me could know Spanish. I got the same reactions from the Chileans when I studied abroad last spring in Santiago, Chile. People always assume that I do not understand any Spanish.

My boyfriend’s dad is from Chile and he runs a restaurant in Boston with an Argentine friend. It is an Argentine restaurant with a Chilean flare, so many Chileans eat there. One night when I was visiting, a group of Chileans and my boyfriend and I were sitting at a table together. My boyfriend’s dad’s friend would speak in Spanish to everyone at the table except when he spoke to me he would speak in English. Even after repeatedly telling him IN SPANISH that I understand Spanish, he still could not see…

Spanish & Entrepreneurship Students Present Poster

Melissa Schaaf, Alyssa Forsyth and Lisa Medearis are one of the student teams in SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship." Their project: create a poster, handouts and present at the Public Engagement Symposium.

They showcased the Spanish community service learning courses (SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" and SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship") and engaged all the attendees that stopped by the poster. Their project was a real success, and that in turn helped get the word out about Spanish & Illinois.

Alternative Spring Break and the University of Illinois on

What a surprise to read this article, quoting U of I students, about Alternative Spring Break, just hours after posting about it here. Neat.

Central High School Needs Translators for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Here is a great opportunity to help in the community, practice your Spanish even more and make up any CBL hours that you need. You don't have to be working at Central High School or even in a school to be able to translate for these parents--anyone can do it!

"We are once again in need of volunteers to help with Spanish translating during parent teacher conferences. Last semester your efforts were extremely valuable.

"I’m hoping you can help me again? Our conferences are Thursday, March 19 from 5 pm till 8 pm and Friday, March 20 between 8 and noon. If you know of any one that might be interested, can you have them email me at

"I sure appreciate any help you can give me.

"Michelle Shmikler
Assistant Principal's Secretary
Central High School

Click here and read through all the information from last semester's post, including the comments. You will see specific instructions, and you will see what a great expe…

Alternative Spring Break: Drivers Needed

In the past, some of my students have been involved with Alternative Spring Break. One trip in particular seems to be popular among Spanish students: going to a particular spot in Texas and informing Spanish-speaking immigrants of their rights.
I just got this e-mail, so I thought I would share it with all my University of Illinois readers:
Alternative Spring is in desperate need of drivers for this spring break. There are currently 6 (yes 6) trips that do not have enough drivers. Southern Applachian Labor School (SALS) Kincaid, WV Lake Metroparks Willoughby, OH Horses and the Handicapped & Victory Living Coconut Creek & Fort Lauderdale, FL United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee Nashville, TN People TV Atlanta, GA That means there are 82 students hoping to go volunteer in needy communities around the U.S. but might not be able to because there aren't enough drivers. ASB is looking for 8 students/faculty/staff who are 21 or over (or will be by March 21st) and would be will…

Student Reflection: Getting to know ECIRMAC over dinner

by Sarah Moauro
“Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” Using this proverb to reflect upon ECIRMAC, I can come to an easy conclusion: it must be one remarkable organization. Last Saturday, I attended and volunteered the refugee center’s Second Annual Fundraiser Dinner, and it was a fantastic experience. The dinner brought together supporters, staff members, past and current clients, and other friends of the organization. I spent most of the evening doing work wherever I and the other volunteers were needed. I sliced bread, filled water glasses, practiced rolling my r’s as I served Peruvian arroz con pollo, and helped to clean up as the night wound down. For these few hours of enjoyable work, I was able to meet great people from all over the world, eat delicious, homemade food, and watch live performances from various cultures. .At the end of the night, I felt that ECIRMAC had in fact done me a favor, letting me attend this wonderful event for free that cost everyone els…

Workshop: International Careers in Business

I'm sure my students will be interested in this workshop presented by Illinois CIBER.

International Careers in Business
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
6:30-8:30 pm
Levis Faculty Center

Want to work internationally? Professionals and distinguished alumni will talk about preparations for international careers in business. This workshop will give you practical advice on opportunities, expectations and preparations for international careers in a variety of business settings. Students from all majors are welcome!AGENDA6:30-6:45 pmLynnea Johnson, Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER)6:45 - 7:00 pmMonica Francois Marcel, President, Language & Culture Worldwide, LLC7:00-7:15 pmMickey Steffeny, Communication and Training Coordinator ADM7:15-7:30 pmParry Dixon, Director of Economic Research, ADM 7:30-7:45 pmRoshani Sheth President, AIESEC Illinois7:45-8:00 pmGarrett Whitsitt, UI Student Leader, Global Business Brigades8:00-8:15 pmQuestion and Answer Session wit…

Student Reflection: Ah, The Power of Cheese

by Megan Knight

This past week at Leal, my fifth graders were learning how to compare and contrast in Spanish. Every day of the week, the teacher brought in different foods for the kids to touch/eat/smell/etc., which I thought was a really neat thing to do. On Wednesday when I was there, the food was cheese and the teacher ended up making all the kids (including me J) quesadillas. There were shredded cheeses, string cheese, and slices of cheese, and the kids had to look at the cheeses, smell them, touch them, and then they could eat them.

It was really neat because I didn’t know how to say half of the descriptive words they were using, like “shredded,” “bitter,” and “string,” and some of the kids didn’t know how to say them either, so it was a learning experience for all of us. That is one of the many perks that come from volunteering for this class: that we get to learn while we help the students learn also. I think the idea of community based learning is so great because everyone gain…

Spanish Community Service Learning and Portfolio Assessment

picture: SPAN 332 students, Liz and Alex. My "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" students had to write their first reflective essay before many of them had actually begun to work in the community. So I asked them to reflect on the information in this post and the report it linked to. Specifically, I asked them to answer these two questions:

¿Qué opinas del informe? ¿Crees que tu preparación coincide con lo que buscan los empresarios y gerentes?
¿Cómo (no) coincide esta clase con los temas presentados en el informe? Student responses were very interesting. They were happy to see that employers value experiential learning (including community service learning) more than other types of rote learning. Some students, however, were surprised by finding #3: "Most employers indicate that college transcripts are not particularly useful in helping evaluate job applicants’ potential to succeed at their company." Those students felt that within their university environment, GPA was…