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Showing posts from October, 2011

Spanish Lesson Plan with News Items

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by Ann Abbott


It's the time of the semester when we all need to interject a little variety in our classes to keep students alert and engaged.

Today I'll be doing parts of Lección 15 ¨¿Son noticias para nosotros?¨ from Comunidades. I gathered a few articles from today's La Raza (a Spanish-language newspaper based in Chicago). I copied them, divided them in half and printed them out. In class, I'll mix them out and hand each student a piece of paper. Students will read their half of the news item and then search among their classmates to find the person who has the other half. They'll sit down together to fill in the complete picture. You can print out the articles I chose and do this activity with your students, too. (I have enough for 14 students. If you have more, just choose a few more articles or pair students up.)

Afterwards, I'll have students do the following:

Circulate among their classmates again, telling about their article and asking if the other stude…

Student Reflection

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by Jacqui Kukulski

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?  Well, Carmen Sandiego contracted Chagas disease in her exploits over in Central Americas, lost her health benefits and her amazing salary so she’s at Frances Nelson Health Center.  That’s quite unfortunate for Carmen Sandiego.  
Luckily, that’s not the case for the people who get treated at Frances Nelson.  I haven’t heard of a single case of Chagas disease.  There’s honestly nothing amusing about working at Frances Nelson, but to work there you need to be lighthearted but with eons of compassion. 
Frances Nelson Health Center is a governmentally subsidized clinic that provides healthcare for the uninsured (or self-pay) and for the bad insured (their insurance doesn’t help out much).  Every patient this clinic sees is on a pay scale based on their monthly salary and how many dependents are in the household.  Through this center patients are able to get appointments at Carle Hospital for specific procedures that the clinic can’t h…

Student Spotlight: Carolyn (Carolina) Kloecker

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by Ann Abbott


Carolina Kloecker is passionate about Spanish and service. She is a self-starter who came to my office just to introduce herself long before she actually took a class with me. And that "jump-in-there" attitude of hers (which many students can develop more in themselves) has taken her far.

As a UIUC student, Carolina studied abroad in Ecuador, did a Spanish & Illinois Summer Internship with ACCION Chicago, took "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship," worked in the Study Abroad Office and amped up their social media presence, and in general simply took advantage of many, many opportunities on campus to develop her language, leadership and service skills.

She was an ideal student. But she graduated in May 2011 and had to find her way in a tough job market. I think her current job and activities will be of interest to all Spanish students but especially those interested in teaching. You can visit her classroom blog, …

Student Reflection: Jacqui Kukulski

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by Jacqui Kukulski



Well, hello there.  It’s a bit into the first semester and I’ve been to my community partner several times.  I recently spent the summer in Spain working on my Spanish and all things Europe related.  A regular Spanish class for my Spanish (second) major didn’t fit into my schedule and I didn’t want to take a semester off of Spanish so I thought this class would work nicely.  And I’m ecstatic with my decision.  I’ve been learning Spanish since I was 13 years old and up until last June my Spanish was only mediocre.  I was terrified to speak, zoned out whenever someone talked to me for more than 30 seconds in Spanish and fell asleep reading it.  But I could write.  Boy, could I write.  But, that’s probably because I was able to look up all the words I couldn’t think of off the top of my head.  When I got back from Spain, I was pretty confident with my Spanish skills and took on quite an undertaking.  I started talking with Frances Nelson Health Center about volunteering…

What is "Real" Community Service Learning Work?

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by Ann Abbott


I think that the following e-mail thread will be of interest to students, instructors and community partners. It illustrates how we may have unaligned expectations about what constitutes "real" Spanish community service learning (CSL) work.


Human services workers know that paperwork and basic office tasks are routine but necessary parts of the job. Students, however, may not know or value that work. What do they expect to do in a human services office? What do they want to do? What does learning "look like" to them? These are all important yet difficult questions for CSL instructors who must design mutually beneficial partnerships.


E-mail exchange #1: Student to TA

[TA], He visto tus comentarios sobre [community partner] y mi frustracion sobre no mucho trabajo y que estoy haciendo tarea muchas veces.Estoy de acuerdo que no es el punto de la clase, y quiero hablar contigo sobre otras opciones de hacer trabajo, quizas con ESL o algo similar. No se que exac…

Spanish Community Service Learning and the Job Hunt

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by Ann Abbott


I received an e-mail this morning from LinkedIn with links to two articles about career success that are, in my mind, indirectly linked to what we do with our students in Spanish community service learning (CSL).

1. "The Must-Have Leadership Skill" talks about the importance of emotional intelligence. I really feel like the the experience of doing community service learning plus creating activities that explicitly address seeing things from other people's perspectives contributes to students' emotional intelligence. In an interview and in job search materials, being able to demonstrate with examples that you were able to work successfully in a multilingual and multicultural environment and understand multiple perspectives should be positive indicators of future success. While students may examine multiple perspectives in other courses, our CSL courses ask them to put that into action.

2. "The Ten Worst Mistakes of First-Time Job Hunters" focus…

Champaign-Urbana: Volunteers and Donations Needed for Mexican Mobile Consulate Visit

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by Ann Abbott
Please contact Jill Capes (jillcapes@gmail.com) if you can help. This is a very important event for our community. SPAN 232 & 228F students can use these hours if you think you will fall short of 28.
Volunteers Needed
The Mexican Consulate will visit Champaign-Urbana on November 4 -6 to process passports and consular identification cards. Spanish-speaking volunteers are needed to help individuals fill out forms. Other volunteers (Spanish not required) are needed to play with children while their parents complete the paperwork and ID process. Volunteer shifts are listed below.
Friday, November 4 1:45 – 5:00 pm 5:00 – 8:15 pm
Saturday, November 5 8:45 am – 12:00 pm 12:00 – 3:15 pm
Sunday, November 6 7:45 – 11:00 am 11:00 am – 1:15 pm
Location:              Centro Romero at St. Mary’s Church (link to map)                                 612 E Park Street                                 Champaign, IL 61820     Near the 6 Orange and 7 Grey buslines.
If you or your group is interested in …

Articles of Interest in Hispania 94.3 September 2011

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by Ann Abbott


Although there are no articles in the latest issue of Hispaniathat are specifically about community service learning, I would just like to briefly point out a few items of interest.

*I have met Eva Rodríguez-González at conferences, and I was happy to see an article that she co-wrote with Martha Castañeda: "L2 Speaking Self-ability Perceptions through Multiple Video Speech Drafts." When I first began teaching Spanish CSL, my students did their reflections through "diarios digitales" that they recorded on a webcam. Although I don't do those anymore, I was very interested in the article's information about students' use of video speeches.

*"Profe, can we have an extra credit assignment, please?" How many times have you heard that? I don't give extra credit because I think students should focus on doing a good job on the regular assignments. Still, the title and abstract of David Alley's article--"The Role of Extra-cred…

Community Service Learning and Spanish Composition

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by Ann Abbott


This semester I am teaching a special honors section of Spanish composition that involves community service learning. Students have the same CSL requirements as students in "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish & Entrepreneurship," but during class and for homework they have the same requirements as all the other Spanish composition students. The students are wonderful, and I read their writing with interest and delight.

Honestly though, it has been a real challenge to integrate the two components: Spanish composition and CSL.

Of course, written reflections are the obvious points of contact between the two. But what should they write about? How can the actual content of Spanish composition link to CSL?

I  know there are many very good answers, and I'm sure that my readers can share their wonderful ideas. However, this is another case, it seems when we foreign language teachers face a lack of teaching materials.

Just the other day I received …

Immigration: An Example of Interdisciplinarity as Best Approach to Complex Topics

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by Ann Abbott


Sometimes when I am teaching my "Spanish in the Community" course, I feel the weight of the entire Spanish curriculum--even the whole university curriculum--on my shoulders!

How can students be successful Spanish CSL students if it is the first time that they are not using "classroom Spanish"?What (erroneous) assumptions do students make about the bilingual classes where many of them serve when they don't have a background in the theory of bilingual education?Do students really understand why people leave their home countries if they don't know about pertinent US foreign policy, world events and history?Might students view community members' interactions with the law as isolated events without realizing how ICE and Secure Communities have created a constant "ghost presence" in immigrants' lives?Just how developed are students' critical thinking skills and media literacy? They need those to disentangle themselves from the b…

Community Service Learning at ACTFL 2011

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by Ann Abbott


In just about one month I'll be flying to Denver for the ACTFL 2011 Convention. It's exciting for me because I get to see old friends from grad school, friends who were once TAs that I supervised and friends from publishing, especially the Pearson/Prentice Hall world languages team. 


If you will be at ACTFL, let me know! I'd love to meet up.


I will be giving a session titled "How to Prepare Service-Learning Lesson Plans: Synthesizing Best Practices" on Friday, November 18 from 3:45 to 4:45 in Room 304 of the Colorado Convention Center. Here is some more information:



Description In service learning (SL), students work in the community; but what happens in class? This session presents a lesson-planning model that weaves SL pedagogy into the same task-based, communicative activities foreign language instructors already use. Examples include adding SL activities to standing lesson plans as well as building new plans.
Content  Instructors may feel that service …

Help at Central High School's Parent-Teacher Conferences

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by Ann Abbott


Helping Spanish-speaking parents communicate with their children's English-speaking teachers during parent-teacher conferences is both important and rewarding. My students always learn a lot, gain confidence and understand better the challenges that both students and parents face within the educational system.

Again this semester, Central needs our student volunteers. Use this opportunity to ensure that you get 28 hours of work this semester. Students from past semesters are welcome as well, and no one needs a criminal background check to do this work.

Be sure to read about the vocabulary used during parent-teacher conferences and about one student's experience.

Here is the note from Central High School's Ms. High:

"My name is Janet High. I am now scheduling parent teacher conferences for Central High School. We were hoping to again get your assistance with translators.Our conferences are scheduled for Thursday the 27th of October from 5pm through 8pm an…

Blogging about Spanish Community Service Learning, Social Entrepreneurship and Business Spanish

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by Ann Abbott


Somehow I took a longer vacation from blogging than I intended. I missed blogging!

We're already at the mid-point of the Fall 2011 semester, and I will begin my blogging routine again. As usual, I will cover the following topics. But if there is anything you would like to see me cover that is not listed, please let me know! Furthermore, if you or your students would like to be guest contributors to this blog, I would be delighted to highlight your experiences and perspectives. But here is what you can expect from me:

Highlights from conferences I attend.Reviews about articles and books that focus on Spanish or foreign language community service learning (CSL).Reflective posts from my honors students who are doing CSL.Lesson plans and classroom activities that I use with my own students. (Many are tied to Comunidades: Más allá del aula.)Profiles of former students who are doing interesting things in their professional lives and with languages and cultures.Updates to th…