Showing posts from August, 2009

Writing about Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott
Each week I look forward to getting my "Monday Motivator." It's the e-newsletter from Kerry Ann Rockquemore, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her website,, is a great resource for anyone (even non-academics) who want to put their writing on the front burner, where it should be.
This week the challenge she sets forth in her newsletter is straightforward: write every day for 30-60 minutes.
I write that much or more most days, but I don't always write on the "right" project. For example, this blog is important to me and I do consider it a "publication" in a way. However, if we want to advance Spanish community service learning (CSL), we need more research-based articles on it. (Click here to see the bibliography I have collected so far, and leave a comment if you know of other books/articles that should be on the list.) Since I am in a …

UIUC: Service Learning Resources

by Ann Abbott
I feel a twinge of jealousy when my friend and colleague, Darcy Lear, talks to me about the service learning center at her institution (even though it is currently undergoing consolidation and transformation). At the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, service learning is done individually, sporadically, and with the resources that you yourself can put together.
But there is one bright light at the campus-wide level: Valeri Werpetinski at the Center for Teaching Excellence. Our campus now has an active webpage featuring programs and resources for anyone on campus who is interested in starting a service-learning course, maintaining on or building on what they already have. Click here to see the service learning page.
Here are some features from the page and events planned for this semester. Service learning workshop plus reading group for this fall (click here to see details). My teaching schedule this semester overlaps a bit with these events, but I will still attend. …

How Long Should Spanish Community Service Learning Last?

by Ann Abbott

I always look forward to the National Youth Leadership Council's quarterly newsletter, The Generator. The latest issue focuses on "Duration & Intensity," one of the K-12 Service-Learning
Standards for Quality Practice

All in all, the information in "The Generator" and my own experiences lead me to this answer to the question in the title of this post with another question: "For whom?"

Students need to dedicate enough time to a service learning project (not just a service project) so that they can work through the entire experiential learning process. There are many process models that you may follow or adapt (Kolb's model of experiential learning, the Inquiry Process, or the activities listed in Indicator 1 of "Duration & Intensity"). But whatever model you adhere to, students should have the opportunity to work through the cycle at least once. However, not every step has to take place in the community. Reflection and …

UIUC Grad Students: Research Opportunity to Work with Local Latinas/os

My friend and colleague from the School of Social Work sent me this announcement and asked that I pass it around. Although it says that you should be from a health allied field, you can let Dr. Piedra know that you are in the Spanish program but capable of doing the work listed (if that is true, of course).I'm so happy to see Lissette's work with local Latinos. She is a big proponent for linguistic and cultural competency in the field of social work. (Click here to see more about her and her work.)BILINGUAL RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

Seeking two masters-level or doctoral-level bilingual students from Social Work, Psychology, Community health or other health allied field (must be able to read Spanish and have conversational skills) to provide 10-12 hours of clinical research assistance for Project Vida Alegre.

Vida Alegre is study that modifies and tests a manualized Spanish version Cognitive Behavioral Treatment (CBT) model for depression. The model will be used to assist Latino immig…

Graduate Students: Conference on Business Language Pedagogy

by Ann Abbott
So you are working on your PhD in Spanish literature and linguistics. You and how many other people? Your dissertation is groundbreaking and your advisor is well known in the field. Whose isn't? What can really set you apart? Maybe this: building your expertise in a secondary area that many Spanish departments have on the books but that few professors know how or want to teach. Business Spanish.
Here are two great opportunities to develop this part of your teaching and research portfolio:
1. Consider attending the CIBER Doctoral Symposium at Purdue University on Business Language Pedagogy to be held October 9-10, 2009.
Are you from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign? "The Illinois CIBER may be able to help with the travel costs," says Lynnea Johnson, Associate Director. She can be reached at
2. Sign up for Prof. Andrea Golato's course entitled "Educational Entrepreneurship: Teaching Language across the Curriculum.&quo…

Community Service Learning in Latin America

by Ann Abbott

El Centro Latinoamericano de Aprendizaje y Servicio Solidario is a wonderful example of a service learning program in Latin America. Looking through their site, I am struck by how much our students can learn by analyzing the site and comparing their conceptualization and practice of community service learning (CSL) with ours.

I am struck by several things on the site.

Cultural meanings of words. "Solidario" and "solidaridad" are used frequently throughout the site. As a cognate, students will easily recognize the word. But culturally, solidarity and "solidaridad" feel very different to me.

Aprendizaje-Servicio. In Comunidades (my textbook), I use the term "aprendizaje en la comunidad." CLAYSS and a similar Chilean program I am aware of, both use the term "aprendizaje-comunidad." Obviously, we're talking about the same thing, but I wonder what we gain or lose by using the term "comunidad," or not.


U of I Translation Studies: Program Updates

Translation plays a very big role in Spanish community service learning, so I always like to share information about the University of Illinois' Center for Translation Studies. Here is a program update from Elizabeth Lowe, Director.

"Dear colleagues and students,

"I am pleased to announce new course offerings for the Center for Translation Studies in the 2009-2010 academic year.

"We welcome Dr. Anastasia Lakhtikova to our instructional staff. Dr. Lakhtikova has a doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. A native speaker of Russian, she has specialized in the work of writer and translator Vladimir Nabokov. She will be teaching and developing new courses for our program. Open to undergraduate and graduate students for registration for Fall 2009 is her new course titled "The World of Translation" (CWL 496). This course introduces students to a number of masterpieces of world literature and the challenges they…

Tell Me: What Do You Want to Read on This Blog?

by Ann Abbott

That's me at the computer, blogging right now. When I started blogging here two and a half years ago, I can't say that I had a clear vision for what the blog would be. I simply knew that I had a lot to say about Spanish community service learning (CSL), social entrepreneurship and my talented students. I wanted to share those thoughts and hopefully build a community with others doing Spanish CSL.

After more than two and a half years blogging here, I thought it was time for some reflection. I hired a recent graduate to read through the posts and streamline the labels to be more user friendly and relevant. I also asked her to give me her opinion about what students would like to read here. Here is what she said:

"So, I was thinking about the site and what I would find personally interesting as a student. I really enjoyed the 'Student Spotlight' sections of the blog, because they are usually chock-full of links to different Spanish-related sites, organizat…

How to Say Gracias in Spanish, Part 2

by Ann Abbott

As you know, I think that when we teach Spanish community service learning (CSL), we need to also teach our students professional skills. One very important skill is know when and how to say thank you to the people you work with in the community.

However, as always, separating professional skills from language and culture is almost always impossible. They go together. And when they go together well, you really stand out. And sometimes all it takes it just one little correction to make everything perfect.

Recently, I received a note from a student who did so many things right:
When she dropped off the forms I needed to submit her letter of recommendation, she added a personal note. Nice.She addressed me as Profesora. I wouldn't have minded if this former student had called me Ann, but she didn't know that. I like that she used "Profesora" to be safe and professional.She wrote in Spanish! A note in English wouldn't have seemed unprofessional to me…

Honduran Coup: Information for Spanish Community Service-Learning Students

by Ann Abbott is a great resource for instructors and students. It provides an even-handed and thorough discussion of the basics of globalization and issue briefs on discrete points that illuminate the workings of globalization in one specific region or on a specific issue. Since our Spanish community service-learning (CSL) students deal with many recent immigrations, knowledge about globalization can help them put these population movements into perspective. I received Globalization 101's newsletter today, and they announced several new and fascinating "news analyses," including one about the Honduran Coup: A Coup in Honduras, A Polarized Society, which analyzes the recent coup and the subsequent international response. Although smaller in number than immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala, Illinois does have many Honduran immigrants. (You can use US Census data to find information about the number of Hondurans in your community.) If your students work …