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Showing posts from March, 2011

Lesson Plan with Music Videos about Immigration

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by Ann Abbott


Again, I'm trying to vary the dynamic in my classroom as we head into the final weeks of the semester. So today in "Spanish in the Community" will be dedicated to music videos related to immigration--as long as enough students bring in smart phones or laptops.

Step 1. I will set up five "stations"--one for each music video. The stations will include a copy of the lyrics, except for the mix. For the mix, I will ask students to jot down lyrics that they hear.

"Clandestino" Manu Chao"Frijolero" Molotov (OJO: some strong language)"Mojado" Ricardo Arjona"Venezuelan en New York" King ChangoNarco corridos mix, DJ Rojo Mix Step 2. The students will go to one of the five stations, and fill out the following information on a note card: Nombre de la canción y artista-grupoUn comentario sobre la letra.Un comentario sobre la música.Un comentario sobre las imágenes.Una pregunta.Estrellas--de una a cinco. Step 3. After viewi…

Student Reflection

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by Hannah Perhai
Hello again! Hannah Perhai here with an update on my experiences in the community!
This semester, I'm volunteering for the S.O.A.R. Program at Booker T. Washington Elementary. It stands for Student Opportunities for After-School Resources, and it provides after-school tutors for the children at the school via University students. Lots of different students get involved: people looking for Education hours, Spanish students like me, and those who just love working with children and making a difference. These students travel out to the temporary location of Booker T. Washington (pictured) every Tuesday, Wednesday, and/or Thursday to work with the kids who participate in S.O.A.R.
So where does Spanish come into play? Well, Booker T. Washington is a bilingual school with many Spanish-speaking students. The earlier grades are taught in a mix of Spanish and English, so I've been paired with a Spanish-speaking second grader. He is more comfortable with Spanish, so we get…

Student Reflection

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by Val Kaskovich
Hello once again! This week at the S.O.A.R. tutoring program, I was presented with a rather unusual task. I had the opportunity to interact with someone I usually do not -- my student's parents. Although I have never met them nor will I likely meet them in the future, I was assigned the challenge of writing a letter to the parents of my first grade student about my experience as their child's tutor. While the task at first seemed daunting, to my surprise the letter was easy to write and actually turned out better than I expected.
As I have stated many times before, the kids at Booker T. Washington are wonderful. That being said, I believe that my student is truly exceptional. He reads and completes assignments with enthusiasm and diligence. He communicates well in both Spanish and English, and is not afraid to ask for help when he needs it. I have seen huge improvements in his math skills and reading comprehension in just a few short months. All this …
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by Ann Abbott


Teaching the first class after spring break can be challenging. The students are refreshed, but are starting to feel the itch to finish the semester.

In today's "Spanish in the Community" class, we did Lección 15 in Comunidades: ¿Son noticias para nosotros? The activities in the lesson analyze how informed students´ are about the news in general, the news in Spanish and the news in their local Spanish-language newspapers/radio stations/blogs/etc.

My students reported that they are not very well informed about the news in general. A few students are, but just a few. They have discovered over the course of the semester that there is a lot of information about immigration that they don't know, and they realize that being uninformed means that misinformation can take hold. Still, most say that they're just not very interested in the news.

So the next activity was both fun and informative. I printed out seven articles from today's La Raza, Chicago…

Mary K. Long, Teaching Business Languages with a Humanist's Sensibility

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by Ann Abbott


I have always said that I am a better writer and teacher of Spanish community service learning, business Spanish and social entrepreneurship because of my background in literary analysis, not in spite of it. 


My dissertation was titled, "Transitional Discourses: The Psychosomatic Fiction of Juan José Millás." In the chapter I wrote about Millás' novel, Tonto, muerto, bastardo e invisible, I included one section on "A Corporate Topography," which explored the spatial representations of power within the corporate discourse presented in the novel and in the protagonist's actual disruptions of the spatial relations at his job. In the final chapter, I analyzed Volver a casa. And in that chapter, I analyzed the "work" of literature in a section called "Metafiction and Materiality."


Then when I graduated and began teaching, I twice taught an undergraduate course called "El trabajo y los sistemas de poder" about Medieval and…

2011 CIBER Business Languages Conference, Teaching with Technology Workshop

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by Ann Abbott


Orlando Kelm's workshops are legendary. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but I'm serious. And it's rightfully deserved.  I'm pretty savvy about technology, yet I learned about platforms I didn't know about, and Orlando gave very creative and inspiring examples about how to use these tools in the teaching of business languages.

You can see the information from his presentation in this particular post. Be sure to view the entire blog as well to learn more. It's a wonderful example of how to effectively use a blog as your course website, how to teach business cultures, and it contains very useful links and posts.

Specifically, I learned about polleverywhere.com and posterous.com. We did some very fun activities with polleverywhere during the session. Students can text or tweet their responses as well as via the website. It was fun to see the graphs change in real time as people sent in their responses. This could be used in class to give a quiz, to …

2011 CIBER Business Languages Conference, Day 2

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by Ann Abbott


At some conferences, the quality of the sessions is really hit or miss. At this year's CIBER Business Languages conference, I didn't attend one single session in which I didn't learn something or get an idea for something I can incorporate into my teaching and/or programming.

Here are the sessions I attended and just a few of the highlights.
Christine Uber Grosse. The link I provided here shows many of the articles that Chris has published, but certainly not all of them, especially not the latest. She has been and continues to be a leader in business languages, especially because of her publication record in top journals. Her morning keynote talk was titled, "The Continuing Evolution of Languages for Specific Purposes" and was based on her article that will appear in the Modern Language Journal special issue on LSP. She gave a very interesting retrospective on the field, highlighting key professors, and her article will be a qualitative study based o…

2011 CIBER Business Languages Conference

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by Ann Abbott


I always enjoy coming to the CIBER Business Languages Conferences to see friends and pick up new ideas. This conference has been especially energizing. Being in Charleston, South Carolina is a nice break from the long Illinois winter we had this year, and having all the sessions and events in the same hotel makes for a nice, intimate atmosphere.

Here is the conference agenda, and I will highlight a few things from today's schedule.

Plenary panel on "Directions for Research on Languages for Business and the Professions." It was a good idea to start the conference with a focus on research.  If we want to raise the profile of this area, we need to raise our expectations for the scholarly output, too.  Mike Doyle is advocating for a change of wording and suggests that we call what we do Business Language Studies. That's important, as long as we also do the research, and he mapped that out on a slide. I think his piece in the upcoming special issues of Modern …

Student Reflection

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by April Nwatah



This past weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Guatemalan Mobile Consulate. From what I was told before I volunteered, this was the first time that they’ve come to the Champaign-Urbana area. In addition, Champaign-Urbana has a large Guatemalan population – so their services were quite needed.
While they were in town they issued passports and identification cards to the Guatemalan community. This event was held at the Wesley Foundation on Green and Goodwin. While there I mostly did child-care (coloring and playing games with the kids of the people who came).
I had an amazing time working with the kids! Initially I found it to be quite easy to communicate in Spanish. I was able to think of all of the words and phrases that I wanted to use and was able to converse quite rapidly with the people in the community. However, in many cases my Spanish was not needed and was occasionally useless. I specifically remembered talking to one young girl in Spanish when sh…

Hispania, March 2010

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by Ann Abbott


Yes, I'm reviewing a year-old issue of Hispania. I'm sorry for the delay, especially since the Special Section on "Curricular Changes for Spanish and Portuguese in a New Era" is so pertinent and timely to the curricular innovations I would like to see happen in our Spanish program.

But first, let me mention Bill VanPatten's article, "Some Verbs Are More Perfect than Others: Why Learners Have Difficulty with ser and estar and What It Means for Instruction." I remember reading that article when the issue first arrived in my mailbox and being impressed by the elegance of BVP's writing. I think all academic writers should aspire to write so clearly and engagingly--and I say that as someone who does not do second language acquisition research! (By the way, my post on Bill VanPatten is consistently one of the ten most accessed posts on my blog.)

The special section is a collection of 15 short articles that respond to two MLA reports:

"Fo…

Foreign Language Annals, Spring 2011

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by Ann Abbott


Although there are no articles dealing with community service learning in the latest issue of Foreign Language Annals, three articles did strike me as important for what we do.

Carreira, Maria and Olga Kagan. "The Results of the National Heritage Language Survey: Implications for Teaching, Curriculum Design, and Professional Development." In addition to the very important facts and general profile that emerges within the article, the abstract states: "We argue that a community-based curriculum represents an effective way to harness the wealth of knowledge and experiences that [heritage language learners] bring to the classroom and to responde to their goals for their [heritage language]," 40. While a community-based curriculum could be interpreted in many different ways, community service learning (CSL) is obviously an important part of that curricular response. In the "Implications for Teaching" section, the authors make the following sugges…

How do Spanish Community Service Learning Students Define Success?

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by Ann Abbott
If you read through the "Student Reflections" on this blog, you'll find that students define a successful Spanish community service learning (CSL) experience in many ways.   They use and improve their Spanish.They feel they "connected" somehow with a member of the local Latino community.They feel that they were able to help someone in the community resolve a problem.They gain new insights into immigration policies and immigrants' lived realities.They feel that their work in the community connects to their career goals.But this week in class, we turned the tables: I asked students what they thought success looked like in general and for immigrants in particular.
First we did the actividades concluyentes at the end of Unidad 3 in Comunidades. Then we viewed the video interviews with Ruth Montenegro, a successful businesswoman originally from El Salvador.  (You can see those videos at the Comunidades Companion Website.)

Finally, we did the activity …

Dissemination Opportunities Related to Spanish Community Service Learning

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by Ann Abbott


It's great to see the attention that foreign language community service learning (CSL) is getting within our profession. My friend and colleague, Darcy Lear (UNC-CH), is working on a piece for a special issue of The Modern Language Journal on specialized language instruction. She is focusing specifically on the role of CSL in the teaching of Spanish (or other languages) for the professions.

Here are a few other opportunities that are still open:

Hispania has put out a call for papers for their special focus issue on the Scholarship of Community Engagement. Although CSL is not the only focus within the scholarship of community engagement, it is an important one, and I will be sure to submit something. The University of Arizona will host a conference entitled: Intercultural Competence and Foreign/Second Language Immersive Environments. Again, CSL is not the only type of immersive environment, of course, but it is an important one and one in which transcultural and trans…

Student Reflection

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by Marlee Stein
It has been awhile since I have posted, since once again I was shuffled around in the SOAR/Booker T. Washington.  I wrote last time about what a wonderful experience I was having working one on one with a first grade student in the SOAR program.  Unfortunately the girl who I had been working with, her tutor returned and I spent an hour just sitting.  I was extremely upset, but luckily the coordinator was able to find me another time and girl I could work with.  I now volunteer on Tuesdays (and in my original Booker T. Washington assignment to finish my hours) with a different first grade girl.  I really get to use a lot of my Spanish now, and I am so happy.  I guess it just takes awhile of pursuing what you want and taking initiative in order to get the most possible out of the class and the volunteer opportunities.  She is extremely rambunctious and never wants to do her homework, she would prefer to play games and read fun books.  Thus it was a challenge to get her to…

Student Reflection

by Kendra Dickinson
Hello everyone!
It has been a while since I have written, due to the all too familiar rush and chaos of the life of a college student during midterms. Still, I have been consistently working in the Extension Office of Hispanic Outreach during this time, on a variety of interesting and challenging projects. I have been working on an interview for the Radio Extension, a Spanish language radio show hosted by Julia Bello-Bravo, an Extension Outreach Specialist with whom I work very closely. The radio provides different information every week to the Spanish-speaking community of Champaign-Urbana. Although I have absolutely no experience in journalism, what motivated me to become a part of this project was the need to provide accessible information communities in their native language. As the Spanish-speaking and Latino population in the United States increases, the importance of having news and information accessible in Spanish is ever increasing. Although I have not yet …

Student Reflection

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by Val Kaskovich


Hola, hispanohablantes!  My volunteer work with S.O.A.R. has continued to be lots of fun and very eye-opening. Seeing the academic growth in my student has been truly inspiring. Apart from normal S.O.A.R. activities, some of the students have been involved in a program called "Little Bites for Healthy Kids" two days a week during S.O.A.R. This program is provided by Abriendo Caminos, a research group that aims to promote healthy diet and exercise habits in Latino immigrant children. Click here for more info on Abriendo Caminos (this organization is also a volunteer option for the SPAN 232 course). As part of "Little Bites," the students are engaged in small exercise activities such as stretching and aerobic activity, as well as taught about the value of healthy foods, family meals, and a strong body.
This week, the students in the K/1st classroom learned all about the Food Pyramid - one that, might I add, looks very different from the pyramid I lear…

Student Reflection

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by Haley Dwyer



Hello again! This semester, as I said in my earlier post, I will be volunteering my time at the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECIRMAC). ECIRMAC is a wonderful organization that I never knew existed in Champaign-Urbana. The Refugee Center is a non-profit organization that helps to aid in the resettlement of immigrants and refugees from all over the world. The work that they do here on a daily basis is vital for the survival of many of the immigrants who come into the Refugee Center. There are multitudes of people who work at the Center who speak almost every language known to man. The time and commitment that they put into their job is absolutely amazing and because of it I have a lot of respect for them.
The thing that surprised me the most about the Refugee Center is how they operate. Their office is literally located in a hole in the wall of a church, yet they serve hundreds of people a week. Since they are a non-profit organizatio…

Student Reflection

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by Val Kaskovich

Hello again!  The S.O.A.R program at Booker T. Washington Elementary in Champaign is off to another great start this semester. I have spent a few afternoons a week for the past few weeks as a tutor working in the bilingual Kindergarten and 1st grade classroom. Having already met most of these children when I tutored through SOAR last semester, it is truly amazing to see much they have progressed in just a few short months. I am paired up with a first grader who is an incredibly smart and hard-working kid - not to mention he keeps me laughing! Getting to know each student's personality and seeing them all each week is a blast.
Over the past few weeks we've been working a lot with math skills related to money and counting coins. Fortunately, the classroom is filled with tons of learning tools to help the students grasp the concepts easier. There are money posters on the wall in both Spanish and English, real coins for the students to see and count, and…

Three things I have learned about community service learning exams

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by Ann Abbott


This week I gave two exams.  One was a sit-down exam in my "Spanish in the Community" course.  And the other was the take-home midterm exam for my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" students.

Although no student enjoys preparing for and taking exams, and no faculty member I know delights in writing and grading exams, I have learned a lot during this midterm exam week in my courses.

Review sessions should be "study workshops." In the Spanish composition course that I coordinate, the week before a 4-5 page composition is due, the class is turned into a writing workshop. The class periods are semi-structured, and each day has a separate focus (e.g., content generation, organization, editing). Students do their own work, but the instructor and peers are more available than usual for support and advice.  Likewise, in my "Spanish in the Community" course, we used the day before the exam to break up into pairs, and each pair studied one or …

Student Reflection

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by Marlee Stein



Hi again everyone!  As I said before I am volunteering at Booker T. Washington in a third grade classroom.  I really enjoy the kids and the teacher and getting to know them.  I have gotten to use a little bit of Spanish in the class because of my own initiative.  I usually work on reading with them, and in order to learn Spanish I ask them comprehension questions.  A lot of times they are able to read the English, but have no idea what things mean.  I explain the words in Spanish so that they are able to understand the significance of what they are reading.  Although I love my assignment, I am not using as much Spanish as I would have liked.  This week and next week there was no school on Monday due to ISAT testing and President’s Day.  In order to make up my hours I volunteered at SOAR on Thursday in a 1st grade classroom.  Luckily all the children spoke in complete Spanish.  I got to work one on one with a little girl and help her read English and Spanish books, solve…

Student Reflection: Haley Dwyler

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by Haley Dwyer
Hello All!
My name is Haley Dwyer and I am a sophomore studying Global Studies with a minor in Spanish. I am excited to be sharing my experiences with the Spanish & Illinois blog this semester. I have been studying Spanish since the 7th grade, but I did not really gain the love for it until my senior year of high school. Coming into high school I was placed in a Spanish that was too advanced for me, so I struggled greatly with the language. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, when I took a trip to Mexico with my family, that I realized my love for the language. Studying Spanish in college has been a thrilling and eye opening experience for me so far and I can’t wait for the many experiences that this semester of my community volunteering will bring me.
Although many of the people who are taking SPAN 232 have already studied abroad, I am not one of those lucky people yet. Next semester though, I will be embarking on my own adventure overseas in Bilbao, Spain.…

Student Reflection: Hannah Perhai

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by Hannah Perhai
¡Hola!
I'm Hannah Perhai, a sophomore Spanish and Psychology major. Spanish has been a part of my life since I was twelve years old and first set foot in my seventh grade Spanish class. I always had a knack for understanding the language and memorizing vocabulary, so that's what drew me initially to continue with Spanish into high school. Now, I've completely fallen in love with the language, and I've made it a part of my future by majoring in Spanish here at the University of Illinois!
I have always wanted to help people in my career, and ideally, I would be able to use my Spanish skills in conjunction with this. When I was told about SPAN 232 and the premise of the class, I knew I would have to register. This class will encompass my desire to help people while using and improving my Spanish, as well as challenge me in ways I have never before experienced.
So, before the semester progresses any further, I would like to set some goals for myself and my com…