Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Art Opening and Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott

The University YMCA in Champaign has always been a place to become informed about and participate in social activism. Now, it seems, it is more than ever a place for activism regarding immigration reform and immigrant rights. It is wonderful.

Even the upcoming art exhibit at the University Y showcases their focus on immigration: "Caritas: The Immigrant, the Word, and Life." I am looking forward to attending the exhibition opening to see the pieces, listen to the band and mingle with friends.

SPAN 232 and 332 students: please read Francisco's message below. If you volunteer, you can count those hours toward your 28-hour requirement. I hope other students will attend!

The YMCA is looking for students interested in volunteering at our Caritas! event on March 2nd.

We know it is 'unofficial', but if you are tired of the same-'ol drunk-student-zombie experience, then come to the YMCA and volunteer some time while we celebrate our Latina/o community.

Please let me know if you are interested so i can connect you with the Y's Volunteer Coordinator, Michele Colman.

By the way, for those wanting to practice some Spanish, you will get the chance to A). speak it... AND....B). listen to traditional Mexican folk tunes that you can sing along to.

Francisco Baires
University YMCA/AmeriCorps
Community Outreach Coordinator
La Línea 217.417.5897
(W) 217.337.1500 x12

Monday, February 27, 2012

Student Reflection: Theresa Calkins

Theresa Calkins

¡Hola!  My name is Theresa Calkins.  I am a senior at the University of Illinois, studying Communication and Spanish.  After I graduate, I want to work as an event and meeting planner, and hopefully will be able to use Spanish, either working with Spanish-speaking clients, or maybe even in Latin America or Spain.  Learning Spanish has been a huge part of my education for the past eleven years, and I know that I have really improved my ability to speak Spanish during my last few years here at U of I.  I am going to write the rest of this blog entry in Spanish so I can practice escribiendo en español!

Empecé a estudiar el español cuando tenía once años.  Durante la escuela primera, no me gustaba la clase de español.  Era muy difícil para mí a recordar todas las reglas de gramática y el vocabulario nuevo.  Aunque no me gustaba la clase de español, sabía que sería muy beneficial y importante si podía hablarlo en el futuro.  Por eso, y por la influencia de mis padres, continuaba a tomar la clase de español.

Para mejorar mi habilidad de hablar fui a México con un programa para aprender el español durante el colegio.  Estuve allí por un mes y viví con una señora mexicana y otros estudiantes americanos.  Fue una experiencia muy interesante y aprendí mucho del español y la cultura mexicana.  Durante mi tiempo en México es cuando decidí que quiero ser bilingüe para ayudar a personas hispanohablantes.  Una parte de este programa fue hacer trabajo voluntario en un orfanato.  Fue una experiencia muy emocional y influyente para mi.  Decidí que continuaría estudiar el español para ser capaz de comunicar con hispanohablantes y ayudarles, si puedo.

Cuando empecé la universidad, tomé unas clases del español y quería estudiar en un país extranjero.  Hace dos años estudié por un semestre en Granada, España.  Cuando estuve en España, viví con una señora española y asistí a clases totalmente enseñadas en el español.  Durante esta experiencia afuera de los EE.UU., aprendí muchísimo de la lengua y la cultura española.  Tenía la oportunidad de viajar mucho por España y otras partes de Europa.  Quiero viajar más en Europa y también quiero ir a Latino America para aprender de la cultura allí.

Yo sé que he tenido muchas experiencias significantes con el español, pero de esta experiencia de aprendizaje en la comunidad quiero continuar mejorando mi habilidad de hablar y aprendiendo de la cultura española y latinoamericana.  Trabajo en Garden Hills Elementary School con estudiantes del primer año y creo que trabajar con ellos vaya a ayudarme mucho.  Si puedo aprender de ellos mientras ayudarles a hablar el inglés mejor, esto será una experiencia muy buena para mí.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Student Reflection

by April Nwatah

¡Hola a todos!

Some of you may remember me from my blog posts from last school year but for those of you who don’t, my name is April and I’m a senior (yikes!) in Global Studies. Within the Global Studies major my concentration is “Social Work in Latino Communities”. I have been studying Spanish since the 7th grade but I did not get a solid grasp of it until I studied abroad in Ecuador during my sophomore year. In addition to a semester in Ecuador, I spend last summer in Honduras doing missions work (and am looking forward to doing it again this summer!)

I really enjoyed taking SPAN 232 so I worked this class into my Major Plan of Study and made sure to work my schedule around taking SPAN 332 this semester (it was that serious to me!) From being in this class, I look forward to expanding my Spanish vocabulary to be able to discuss terms that I can use in a professional field (since I would eventually like to do social work in a Latino community). Additionally, I look forward to serving the Latino community of Champaign-Urbana however possible.

Until next time! 

Student Spotlight: Brittany Koteles

by Ann Abbott

When I opened my mail this morning, I saw the newest newsletter from UIUC's National and International Scholarship program.

Here is the information about Brittany Koteles, my former student, and her Fulbright work in Spain:

"Brittany Koteles, a May 2011 graduate in Spanish and a self-designed major in public and community service, is studying best practices in the field of social entrepreneurship in Spain. She is working with ESADE Business School
to write ten case studies for the first 10 participants in the Momentum Project, an incubator for social entrepreneurs/
social enterprises. Brittany has enjoyed traversing (often with fellow runners) the 'narrow streets, cool cafes, cute
boutiques, and lots of plazas' in her neighborhood of Gracia in Barcelona. She has become obsessed with the fruit spread, membrillo, and Mató, a cottagecheese-like spread."

I'm working with Brittany to find a way for her to Skype in to one of my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" classes this semester. I think that current students would be very happy to hear about the wonderful things that Brittany has done in social entrepreneurship--including interning in Ashoka's office in Washington D.C. last summer--and realizing that she was in their seat just 12 months ago!

I am very proud of Brittany and look forward to learning more about the case studies she is writing. And maybe I can get her to send me some membrillo and Mató.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

CU Volunteer Opportunity

by Ann Abbott

If you are in SPAN 232 or 332, please take advantage of this opportunity to help Spanish-speaking parents at Central High School and help yourself reach those 28 hours.

Oportunidad de voluntariadi
Parent-teacher conferences a Central High School
Jueves, 15 marzo, 5 pm-8 pm
Viernes 16 marzo 8am-12pm
Contacto: Janet High 

These two students will be there!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spanish Community Service Learning in a Master's Program

by Ann Abbott

I am very happy to see that the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Maryland, College Park has created a Master's Degree in Applied Hispanic Linguistics that includes community service learning (CSL). 

I think that the combination of courses will appeal to students. I also think that this is by no accident--the description of the program shows that they have conceived of this program from their own academic perspectives but also from the students' perspectives and goals.

This is a sign of the growing place of Spanish community service learning not just as a pedagogical tool for our undergraduates, but an effective one for graduate studies, too. I would also love to see programs that include CSL in the methods course--or even as the topic of a separate course. (I know exactly how I would teach that course!)

Congratulations and good luck to Professors Manel Lacorte, Roberta Levine (whom I know well from CIBER business languages conferences) and Ana Patricia Rodriguez.

Student Reflection: Tessa McGirk

by Tessa McGirk

Hello! This is my first time ever writing a blog, but I have to say I am excited about it: especially because it is all about Spanish! También, me considero una bilingüe; entonces, a veces voy a escribir en español y a veces en inglés porque ambos son partes importantes de mi vida.

My Spanish experience started a long time ago. In fact, it basically started when I was born. My mother used to teach Spanish, so, growing up, I learned colors and numbers and some food and clothes. However, my dad does not know Spanish, so, besides a few phrases like “Déjame verla” y “Dame la mano,” that was the extent of my Spanish exposure until school started. The school system I was in did not start teaching Spanish until sixth grade, and even then, we did not get further than nouns. For that first year I felt on top of the world because I already knew most of what we learned. After that, though, I was on the same level as everyone else.

High school was especially fun. I learned a lot, had amazing teachers and my confidence in my abilities grew. I had class with people I knew and was comfortable around, so I was not afraid to make mistakes. I loved learning Spanish and therefore put a lot of effort into improving my skills.

Un año pasó en la Universidad antes de que me di cuenta de ello, pero eventualmente me di cuenta de que quería estudiar el español. Desde entonces he estudiado español con toda la fuerza mental que tengo. Cuando pienso en mis razones de estudiar español, siempre pienso en una situación cuando tenía diez u once años. Mi familia estaba en Disney World, caminando, jugando, divirtiéndonos, cuando, de repente, un niño llorando cruzó nuestro camino. Mi madre nos paró para ayudarle. Habló primero en inglés pero el niño simplemente continuó a llorar; entonces ella le preguntó “Dónde está su mamá?” y el niño la miró como la salvación. Con su saber del español, mi madre le ayudó a encontrar a su mamá. Yo decidí en eso momento que iba a aprender español para ayudar a las personas que no hablan inglés. Casi me olvidó de esto hasta que entré en la Universidad.

Aquí y ahora estoy en la clase de Español en la Comunidad para hablar muchísimo y también para revivir la experiencia que tuve en Costa Rica. El verano pasado, yo estudié en Costa Rica y hablé mucho y aprendí más porque hablé con las personas que viven allá. Yo quiero esa experiencia, pero más cerca de mi hogar. Yo quiero usar mi español por toda la vida; entonces, asisto a Español en la Comunidad para mejorar mi español y ganar las habilidades de hacerlo. Yo hago este proyecto de James Scholar para reflexionar sobre mis experiencias en la comunidad, para compartirlas con todos que quieran saber, y, lo más importante, para practicar mi español mientras exploro el mundo y la cultura españoles.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Facebook in my Spanish Community Service Learning Classes

by Ann Abbott

This semester I have really felt reinvigorated in my teaching. I have always loved doing community service learning in both "Spanish in the Community" and in my Spanish and social entrepreneurship courses. I feel a strong personal connection with the Business Spanish course, too.

But I feel like my energy for designing classes and creating activities took a real leap when I began to integrate smart phones (plus iPads and laptops, of course) and social media into almost every class I teach.

For now, I just wanted to share a screen shot of the Facebook page that my students and I use often during class. Soon I will write about how I use it. And, as always, I'd love to hear about ways that you use Facebook and other social media with your students!

Facebook Groups as a Culturally-appropriate Way of Communicating with the Community

by Ann Abbott

I feel sure that my ¨Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship¨ students have really understood the two basic components of a social enterprise (1. create social value; 2. generate income for economic sustainability). Now I have begun to move on to the second "big concept" of the course: how to create linguistically and culturally appropriate programming.

This is hard! We all see things through our own cultural filter. But when you work in human services and in the nonprofit world, you need to know your stakeholders very, very well.

Here are some of the highlights from today's class:

1. Localization. The old way of approaching international development and nonprofit programming was for the "elites" (in whatever way) to both define a community's problems and decide the solutions to those problems. The trend now is to partner with communities as they define their own challenges and solutions. As a very simple example of why the first approach doesn't work, I told the students about Italians who went to a village in Africa to drill a well. The people in the community had the habit of dropping stones into wells to listen and check on the water depth. After a while, the accumulation of stones stopped the mechanics of the well and it was abandoned by the townspeople. The "solution" did not consider the cultural practices of the service recipients.

2. Videos on Facebook. We looked at the video that one of the students posted to a Facebook Group for our local Latino community. The video was an interview in Spanish with a elementary school teacher. It was about 1 minute long. The student asked two questions: 1) what is the importance of parent-teacher conferences, and 2) what are some questions parents might ask the teacher. Students then analyzed ways in which that video was culturally appropriate.

  • It was in Spanish.
  • As a video, the information was accessible even to people with low literacy.
  • It was short and easily viewed on a smart phone. (Research shows that many US Latinos access the web from their cell phones in lieu of a home computer with internet access.)
  • The information it expressed could be helpful to parents who might come from a place where parent-teacher conferences are not a cultural practice.
  • The video was posted in a private Facebook group, and because we work with vulnerable community members, this protects their identities.
  • The Facebook group was created by a community member, so it is an example of #1 from above--a community-defined problem and solution (it fulfills the need for a centralized place to disperse information in Spanish).
3. Latin American social entrepreneurs. We then looked at examples of social entrepreneurs from Latin America who take a locally-defined problem and solve it in culturally-appropriate ways. (You can find the fun Ashoka activity on a previous post.)  Once students paired up--the "problema" found its "estrategia"--, they then analyzed their case for evidence of how it is localized solution to a locally-defined program. In other words, how does the solution show a deep knowledge of the culture of the service recipients? Students posted their answers to our class's Facebook page. (Students learned a new word during this phase of the lesson: autóctono; autochthonous.)

4. Our own Facebook videos. After class was over, two students volunteered to be in very short videos telling parents that they plan to interpret at the parent-teacher conferences at a local high school. I posted them to the private Facebook group for our local Latinos (I am a member of the group with posting privileges), and I am posting them here for you to see, too!

We will continue to explore the concept of linguistically and culturally appropriate programming throughout the semester. Students' community service learning helps them understand the Champaign-Urbana Spanish-speaking immigrant community, but it is just a start.

Do you have examples of social entrepreneurship gone astray? Good intentions that were not linguistically or culturally appropriate? Do you have examples of nonprofits or development programs that do a good job of integrating the cultural perspectives and practices of the service recipients? Please share in a comment!

Pinterest for Spanish Community Service Learning

by Ann Abbott 

I have been aware of Pinterest for a while, but it didn´t seem like a tool that I could use for my professional interests. 

Recently, however, I decided to really dig in and start exploring. I looked at the "education" category, but everything I saw there was about elementary education. Teachers were sharing classroom activities, bulletin boards and classroom organizational solutions. 

At first glance, that has nothing to do with me: I teach at the university; I specialize in Spanish community service learning and social entrepreneurship; and I don't have a classroom of my own. However:

  1. I write activities and lesson plans that I like to share with others. They are on my blog, but you have to know about my blog to find them.
  2. I do in fact have a bulletin board outside my office. It is there to promote the Spanish community service learning opportunities for students, but I rarely update it. I should!
  3. More and more, I see my classroom as existing "in the cloud." We meet in a classroom in the basement of the Foreign Languages Building this semester, but much of our time together is spent exploring content on-line and responding to it there. And although I don't need cute bins and containers to organize my students' crayons, I do need to organize the web sources I find and want to use later on.
I decided that Pinterest could work for me. Please visit me at I have created boards for my two courses for this semester: 
  • "Spanish & Social Entrepreneurship"
  • "Spanish Service Learning"
If you'd like to follow me, I will follow you, too. Let's see where Pinterest leads.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lesson Plan about Twitter in Spanish

by Ann Abbott

The last post was about my lesson plan to accompany "El grito más fuerte". Since that post was a little...well...¨fuerte¨, I thought this lesson plan about Twitter in Spanish might be something nice as a balance. As always, if you use the lesson plan, I´d love to hear about your experience. And if you have corrections or suggestions, please leave a comment about that, too!

I used this lesson today, and students had a good time. They giggled at some of the items, learned vocabulary and were introduced to famous figures that some of them didn't know before.

I had 56 students in my classes today, and here is a breakdown of their answers for the last activity.

40  a. Puedo usar Twitter para mejorar mi español.
40  b. Puedo usar Twitter para aprender sobre las culturas hispanas.
7    c. Con Twitter no se aprende nada; son tonterías.
17  d. Tengo una cuenta en Twitter y ahora voy a empezar a seguir a otros que escriben en español.
3    e. He decidido crear una cuenta en Twitter.
22  f. Seguiré sin Twitter en mi vida.
4    g. Otra cosa: Acabo de abrir un twitter con mis compañeras de apartamento. / Estoy pensando en abrir una cuenta de Twitter. / Posiblemente. / Puedo usar la cuenta de mi novio si tengo ganas de ver algo.

Lesson Plan about Violence in Mexico

by Ann Abbott

This video has haunted me ever since I saw it about 24 hours ago. I had many other things on my to-do list for today, but I dropped everything and wrote a lesson plan about the video. I plan to use it with my Spanish community service learning students when we do Lección 14 ¿Por qué emigrar? in Comunidades.

Because I wrote this lesson plan quickly, I'm sure there are typos and other kinds of mistakes in it. Please leave your corrections and suggestions in a comment! I will improve the lesson plan based on your suggestions and share the updates here.