Showing posts from October, 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 a…

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, commun…

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

by Ann Abbott

Did you watch the most recent episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Editionon 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 nee…

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 …
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…

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 communit…

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 st…

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.

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 …

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"

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 bilingua…

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 …