Thursday, October 29, 2009

Use Web 2.0 to Create "Intercambios" in Your Community

by Ann Abbott

Are you a university student who couldn't get into a Spanish class this semester, but you don't want to fall behind on your language skills? Are you planning to study abroad next semester, and you want to boost your confidence by speaking with native speakers before you're totally immersed in Spanish? Maybe you took a Spanish community service learning (CSL) course in a previous semester, and you know that there are a group of Spanish speakers who would love to connect one-on-one with university students to practice English and Spanish; they don't know how to bridge the university-community gap from their side, but you want to help. Maybe you're way past college, but you want to brush up on your Spanish because you see you need it at work, or just because you love the language and the cultures.

Go to the website for Frases y café and set something up. The website is new, and right now it looks like Illinois has zero entries. Start filling it (or any state you live in) in, and start connecting with the community in this way!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Champaign-Urbana: Work with Latina/o Middle Schoolers

by Ann Abbott

Students in our Spanish community service learning (CSL) courses work in grade schools and high schools, but we don't have any community partnerships with middle schools yet. But I just received this information from "Proyecto CHE" which focuses specifically on Latina/o middle schoolers, encouraging them to go to college.

I'm particularly fond of this program because one of my former students, Sonia Rodríguez, was involved in starting it up on this campus a few years ago.

SPAN 232 students, you can work with this program if you need to meet your 28 hours. Here is more information about how you can participate:

"Proyecto C.H.E. (Children for Higher Education) will be having its first session Saturday Oct. 31st, 2009. Proyecto C.H.E. is a middle school program sponsored by La Casa Cultural Latina geared towards middle school students in the Urbana-Champaign community. The purpose of the program is to promote higher education, cultural awareness, community engagement, and mentorship among middle school youth. We are looking for volunteers to serve as positive role models who are encouraging and are motivated to create change in the community. In order to volunteer, it is mandatory that you attend a volunteer training which will provide a better understanding of the purpose and function of the program and give you some insight on how to work with middle-school children. The mandatory orientation session will be held at La Casa Cultural Latina on Wednesday Oct. 28th, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. Please be sure to attend. You cannot volunteer if you do not attend the orientation. If you would like more information please contact Cynthia Ledesma at

"Thank you and hope to see you there,

"Cynthia Ledesma
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of LAS- Political Science & Latina/Latino Studies La Casa Cultural Latina-Community Outreach Coordinator"

Champaign-Urbana: Use Your Spanish with "Extreme Home Makeover" Recipients

by Ann Abbott

Did you watch the most recent episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on ABC? It featured the Montgomery family who live near Champaign-Urbana and run "Salt & Light," a local food pantry that offers a few other services. There were lots of viewing parties on Sunday evening, including one at the I-Hotel. I first met Nathan Montgomery (the founder of Salt & Light) when he participated in the University of Illinois' Social Entrepreneurship Summer Insititute.

Now here is your chance to use your Spanish to further their mission of providing necessities to all members in our community. See this message:

"The Salt and Light, 1512 W. Anthony Dr., Champaign is looking for volunteers to help translate and communicate with the Hispanic people coming in to pick up clothes and food. The hours needed for volunteers would be Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00-5:00 p.m. Please email Melissa Jackson if you are interested in helping to meet this community need."

SPAN 232 students can work here to make up any missing hours.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UIUC Students: New service-learning opportunities for Spring 2010

by Ann Abbott

By coincidence, I was reading a book on project management when I received the message below about a great service-learning course available to all University of Illinois students.

Although we tend to think of project management as something that engineers and software writers need to learn, it's actually important for all of us. Any project, even your own (e.g., getting into grad school, accomplishing all your tasks during the crazed last week of classes and finals), that involves several steps needs a plan. You need to manage effectively even more so when several people need to collaborate to make your project happen (e.g., your team project for SPAN 332, the event you need to put on for your fraternity, etc.).

And experience with project management can set you apart when you go on the job market: not only will you be able to talk about what you accomplished with your team, you'll also be able to talk about it in the terminology that employers themselves use and appreciate.

Here's the announcement:

To all students, all majors, all levels: Consider registering for a new course entitled LINC-Learning in Community. As a result of this course, you can expect to improve your project skills and to contribute to an important problem that benefits a nonprofit organization.

LINC is a service-learning course in which teams of students work on real projects proposed by community partners. There are 16 sections of the class for spring 2010 (ENG 298, TR, 12:30-1:50, 3 credit hours), with a wide range of community partners and project opportunities. For more about the course, including a listing of partners and their projects, see

To advanced students--students with project management experience: Do you have significant experience in managing large projects? Consider applying to be a Project Manager for LINC–Learning in Community. If selected, you will register for ENG 398 and earn 3 credit hours. For more information and the application form, see

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

by Ann Abbott
The Entrepreneurship Educator newsletter always sparks my thinking about classroom activities for my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course. The activities below seem simple to implement yet complex in the lessons-learned for the students. I'm still thinking about how to adapt them to the specific context of Spanish course on entrepreneurship--what extra linguistic or cultural layer could be added to make them pertinent to my course? But in the meantime, maybe some of you will be interested in these activities. I think they could be fun in any Spanish course, as a task-based activity.

"Creating a Common Entrepreneurial Experience"

"Brock Smith of the University of Victoria shared two very simple, yet very powerful exercises to provide students a common entrepreneurial experience at GCEC 2009.

"In the first exercise he puts students in teams of five. Each student “invests” one dollar in their team. Their assignment is to create as much value (economic or social) as they can over ten days. They must keep their activities within the bounds of what is ethical and legal, cannot take on additional liability, and must have their plans pre-approved by the instructor. Most groups can amass a few hundred dollars in value, but he has had some that build their $5 capital into thousands of dollars over the ten days.

"The second exercise is the paperclip exchange. Each student is given two paperclips and told to use them to create a series of transactions for things of higher value. Students continue the trades for one week. Discussion focuses on how the students managed the series of transactions to help develop an entrepreneurial mindset."

Monday, October 19, 2009

UIUC: Service All-Nighter

by Ann Abbott

I just received the message below from Debbie Sims--a UIUC student who embodies the true sense of service, learning and engagement. Sounds like such a fun way to get together to take care of projects that help our local organizations. Click here to see the flyer and read the information below.

SPAN 232 students: You won't speak Spanish at this event, but if you absolutely need more hours, you can count your time at this event. Be sure to log your time with the event organizers and on the wiki.


"iServe Student Service Council would like to invite you and members of your organization to the second annual Service-All Nighter in celebration of Make-a-Difference Day!

"Join us this Friday, October 23rd anytime between 10pm and 6 am at the University YMCA! (We will go until all the projects have been completed)

"Come hang out with other volunteers, listen to music, and enjoy free food and drinks while helping complete projects that will support community agencies, such as the Champaign-Urbana Humane Society and Smile Healthy! Volunteer an hour, and MAKE A DIFFERENCE!! Please share the attached flyer with members of your organization.

"With questions, contact Debbie, Please feel free to pass on this flyer to anyone who may be interested!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Win $500 for Your Video about "Community"

by Ann Abbott

I just received this message with a perfect opportunity for our Spanish community-service learning students. Why not convert one of your reflective essays into a video?

"Have your students entered Vista Higher Learning's Language Learning for Life video contest? With the goal of supporting students and promoting the study of world languages, we are offering six $500 prizes to language students.

"The contest theme is Communities, a strand of the Standards for Foreign Language Learning. Student participants of the 2009 Language Learning for Life Contest are asked to reflect on the importance and benefits of language study to their local and/or global community, and effectively and engagingly convey their message in a video.

"The deadline for video submissions is October 31, 2009, so visit our website today for contest details. You will also find a printable flyer that can be posted in your classroom or department.

"We want to hear from you students, so spread the word today!

"Saludos, Salutations distinguées, Cordiali saluti,
Josh McClary
Modern Language Specialist

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Can Latin Americans in the US Tell Us about Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott

In case you haven't taken a look at them yet, here is a preview of the topics covered in the videos from Comunidades: Más allá del aula.
  • Required community service in Mexican high school and university education.
  • Examples of culture shock experienced by a Central American upon arriving in North America.
  • The realities of requesting legal work status in the US.
  • A Central American business woman’s professional practices in Latin America and the US.
  • Oral histories and role of personal story-telling in the recovery process of Hurricane Mitch.
  • Specific examples of what an Argentine, Bolivian and Mexican would like US Spanish students to learn about Latin America and their own countries.
  • Current events: the 2009 Honduran coups.
  • An instructor's perspective on students' learning--and challenges--in Spanish community service learning.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On-line Flashcards to Teach School-related Commands

by Ann Abbott

Which command did the teacher most likely just give?
a. Levanten la mano.
b. Levanta la mano.

Which follow-up command will produce the loudest result?
a. Contesta.
b. Contesten.

When our Spanish community service learning (CSL) students work in schools, we might imagine that their work will come easily to them. After all, school is a very familiar place for them, and they learned how to form commands in their first semester of Spanish.

My experience, however, has shown me that even advanced students often do not have a good handle on how to form commands, especially the usted and ustedes forms. So Comunidades has an entire class period devoted to accurate commands that are appropriate in classroom and office settings--Lección 5: ¿Eres mandón/mandona si usas mandatos?

I recently ran across some on-line English-Spanish flashcards with classroom-related commands. Students can, of course, use the flashcards just to memorize the vocabulary. (Be careful, though. I did find several mistakes throughout these flashcards and other vocabulary categories.) Under the "Flashcard" tab, click on "opción" and "invertir términos" to test Spanish. Then click on the following tabs--Reconocer, Escuchar, Recordar--to do all the related activities. And take a look at all the sets of flashcards they have. There is a lot of variety.

But the flash cards can also be a good vocabulary list around which instructors can build classroom activities.
  • TPR. Give the commands in a "Simon Says" activity. Once they know the vocabulary itself, vary this activity by giving ustedes or usted commands; they should only do the command if you gave the ustedes command and do nothing if you used the usted form.
  • Choose the appropriate command. Give students a situation and then have them choose the correct command. For example, "Estás por repartir los exámenes a los estudiantes. ¿Qué les dices: 'Vayan a la pizarra' o 'Cierren los libros'?" Once again, if they have mastered the vocabulary itself, have them concentrate on the grammar. For example, "Durante el examen hay una niña que busca las respuestas en su libro. ¿Qué le dices: 'Cierra el libro' o 'Cierren el libro'?"
  • Choose the appropriate formality. Students of Spanish in universities may have had very little practice addressing someone with the formal you (Usted) yet need to use that with the adults they encounter during their CSL work. Choose some of the vocabulary items from the flashcards and ask students if they are things you would say to teachers, students, or both. For example: "Repitan, por favor" and "No hablen." To focus on the grammatical form, ask them if the command is for a teacher (Usted) or a student (): "Mire" and "Repite."

I'm sure you can come up with even more related activities. Leave a comment to share your ideas about how to help students be effective communicaters in schools.

Answers: a, b

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Champaign-Urbana: Teach Spanish in an After-School Program

by Ann Abbott

I received the message below from a friend. Any Spanish student who likes kids and is interested in gaining teaching experience would benefit greatly from this opportunity! And if you worked in a school setting or with the Boy/Girl Scouts for your Spanish community service learning (CSL) work, be sure to mention that when you ask about the job. That's good experience to draw upon.

"Robeson School would like to start an after school Spanish club. I was wondering if you might know of anyone that might be willing to help teach/run the club. There would be parents there to help, but we need a Spanish teacher. If you know of anyone, they can email me
"Stephanie Alves"

Friday, October 9, 2009

Watch Videos about Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott

The on-line videos that accompany Comunidades are now available! Click here to for free access.

It took me a while to figure out the navigation of this page, so here are some tips:

1. After you select the chapter from the dropdown menu, don't forget to click on "Go."

2. Then be sure to look at the left-hand navigation bar to select "Videos." ("Enlaces" automatically show on the page; they're interesting, too.)

Be sure to order your exam copy while you're at the website, and use the videos in many different ways:
  • As homework for students to listen to before coming to class and discussing.
  • As an in-class listening comprehension exercise. You can ask students about vocabulary and concepts that the interviewees present.
  • As a reflection prompt. Students can watch the videos and then compare their own experiences in the community with the information that the interviewees share.
  • As an exam item. For example: after teaching about bilingual education and ESL, use short clips of the video of the bilingual teacher and ask students what type of bilingual education program a certain quote describes.
  • There are many uses for the video interviews, and I will post more specific activities in upcoming blog posts. (Have you subscribed to this blog yet? Look on the left and subscribe!)

Thank you to everyone at Pearson for their work on the videos. And a HUGE thank you to Marcos Campillo who filmed them, Roy Alvarez who helped with the editing and all the interviewees: Yolo Hernandez, Leticia Fonseca, Munia Cabla, Luz Rios, Guadalupe Abreu, Ruth Montenegro, Carmen Ugarte, Sebastian Burset, Arlette Soria, and Marcos Campillo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Champaign-Urbana: Translate at Parent-Teacher Conferences

by Ann Abbott

I just received a message from Ms. Michelle Schmikler from Central High School letting me know about their upcoming parent-teacher conferences and asking if students could help again. We have had great success in past semesters with our students helping at this very important event. Students have told me that it is eye-opening to see the parents' view-point and fulfilling to be able to help teachers and parents build strong ties in order to aid the students.

Read Ms. Schmikler's message and follow the links below to see what former students have said about translating at parent-teacher conferences.

"Our parent teacher conferences are coming up at the end of this month and I was wondering if you could get the word out that we are looking for Spanish translators?

"Conferences are on Thursday, Oct 29 from 5 pm till 8 pm and Friday, Oct 30 from 8 am till noon.

"If you have anyone interested, they can email me at

"Thanks again for all your help!

"Michelle Shmikler
"Associate Principal's Secretary
"Central High School

Click here to see very useful information from past semesters and students who have participated at these events in the past.