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Monday, December 30, 2013

Creative Entrepreneur: Brittany Koteles

by Ann Abbott

Just a few years ago, Brittany Koteles was a University of Illinois student in my course titled "Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities."


Now she embodies that title.


Among her many accomplishments, Brittany pushed a referendum for her school in her hometown when she was in high school; in college she designed her own major; she worked for Ashoka; she did a Fulbright in Barcelona; she authored case studies of several Catalonian social entrepreneurs; she worked on a social enterprise start-up (Hub, Barcelona); and more.


Now she and a partner have crowd-sourced the financing for a short film and shot it! Click on the image below to see a trailer for the film.


Bow is the e-mail I received from her yesterday--in three languages plus a greeting in Turkish. She is a model for all my students.

Dear friends,

Two months ago, we had a dream to make a short film. With your help, we did much
more than that. Because of the critical mass of 128 co-funders and many more
supporters, Diren Merdiven was transformed into 2 peoples’ dream into a project of
25 team members, plus dozens more friends and collaborators.

The incredible amount of support allowed us to jump into this week’s shoot with the energy, talent and resources we needed to make a beautiful, professional production. Even the weather cooperated, giving us clouds on the “sad” days, and sun during the days that filmed the happy parts.

A few interesting numbers:
  • 5 days of shooting (about 64 hours of on-site work)
  • 170 m2 of paper glued to 94 steps
  • 50 L of paint
  • ...and 3 hours of power washing to remove it
  • 25 talented, positive, passionate team members, with the help and support of dozens of friends

See the shoot and some images from the film: We are constantly adding photos to our Facebook page, and we invite you to take a look!

What’s next:
We couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and we can’t wait to start the post-
production process. This will start right away with editing in January, plus a few extra shots with real communities painting their stairs – we’ll tell you more about that soon.

There is still a long road ahead of us, but we are taking each step with confidence and gratitude. Thank you for joining us in this project, for giving us the permission and resources to chase a dream, and for helping us bring color to the world with this story of hope.

In color,
Denis and Tany

---


Estimats amics,

Fa dos mesos somiàvem amb realitzar un curtmetratge. Amb la vostra ajuda hem fet molt més que això. Gràcies als 128 donadors i a molts altres benefactors, Diren Merdiven va deixar de ser un somni de dues persones per esdevenir el projecte d’un  equip de 25 integrants i dotzenes d’amics i col·laboradors.

El vostre inestimable suport ens va permetre afrontar la setmana del rodatge carregats amb l’energia, el talent i recursos necessaris per a tirar endavant una professional i bella producció. Fins i tot la meteorologia va cooperar amb nosaltres donant-nos núvols en els dies “tristos” i sol durant els dies en que vam filmar les escenes felices del curt.

Unes quantes dades interessants:
  • 5 dies de rodatge (unes 64 hores de filmació)
  • 170m2 de paper encolat a 94 esglaons.
  • 50L de pintura
  • ... i 3 hores de laboriós esforç per a treure’l.
  • 25 talentosos, positius i apassionats membres de l’equip, més l’ajuda i suport de desenes d’amics.

Fes una ullada a les fotografies del rodatge i la pel·lícula.

Estarem constantment afegint fotografies a la nostra pàgina de Facebook i us invitem a fer-hi una ullada

I ara què?
No podríem estar més feliços pels resultats obtinguts i estem impacients per començar la postproducció. Aquesta començarà immediatament al gener amb l’edició. I paral·lelament durem a terme el rodatge d’algunes escenes extres amb comunitats reals pintant les seves escales (aviat us donarem més informació al respecte).

Per ara, però, ens passarem els pròxims dies descansant i celebrant l’èxit del rodatge. Encara ens queda un llarg camí per endavant, però estem fent cada pas amb seguretat i gratitud. Gràcies per haver-vos unit a aquest projecte, per donar-nos eines i recursos per a perseguir aquest somni i sobretot per haver-nos ajudat a donar una mica de color al món amb aquesta esperançadora història.
Una abraçada,
Denis y Tany.


---

Estimados amigos,

Hace dos meses soñábamos con realizar un cortometraje. Con vuestra ayuda hemos hecho mucho más que esto. Gracias a los 128 donadores y a muchos otros benefactores, Diren Merdiven dejó de ser un sueño de dos persones para convertirse en el proyecto de un equipo de 25 integrantes más varias docenas de amigos y colaboradores.

Vuestro incalculable apoyo nos permitió afrontar la semana del rodaje cargados con la energía, talento y recursos necesarios para tirar hacia adelante una profesional y bella producción. Incluso la meteorología cooperó con nosotros dándonos nubes en los días “tristes” y sol durante los días que filmamos las escenas felices del corto.

Unos cuantos datos interesantes:
  • 5 días de rodaje (unes 64 horas de filmación)
  • 170m2 de papel encolado a 94 escalones
  • 50L de pintura
  • ... y 3 horas de arduo esfuerzo para quitarlo
  • 25 talentosos, positivos y apasionados miembros del equipo, con la ayuda y apoyo de decenas de amigos.

Échale un vistazo a las fotografías del rodaje y la película:
Estaremos constantemente añadiendo fotografías a nuestra página de Facebook y os invitamos a echarle un vistazo

¿Y ahora qué?
No podríamos estar más felices por los resultados obtenidos y estamos impacientes por comenzar con la postproducción. Ésta empezará inmediatamente en enero con la edición y paralelamente con el rodaje de algunas escenas extras con comunidades reales pintando sus escaleras (Pronto os daremos más información al respecto)

Por ahora, pero, nos pasaremos los próximos días descansando y celebrando el éxito del rodaje. Aún nos queda un largo camino por recorrer, pero estamos dando cada paso con seguridad y gratitud. Gracias por haberos unidos a este proyecto, por darnos las herramientas y recursos necesarios para poder perseguir este sueño y sobretodo por habernos ayudado a dar un poco de color al mundo con esta esperanzadora historia.
Una pincelada de color, 
Denis y Tany

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Student Spotlight: Cassie Grimm


by Ann Abbott

I just received the e-mail that every entrepreneurship educator wants to receive: a former student telling me that she's working on a start-up!

Here's Cassie's message. Watch the video above and click on the website. This looks like it could take off!

*Also note this: her e-mail is perfectly crafted (although either "Profesora Abbott" or "Ann" would have been better). I read this e-mail, checked my calendar, and replied, "Sure. See you on Friday in 4006 FLB." She didn't make me work. She didn't make me try to remember her. (Maybe adding a picture would have been even more helpful.) She didn't put the burden of scheduling onto me. And most importantly, she told me exactly, specifically, unequivocally what she wanted from me: permission to upload my syllabus. I already know the answer is yes, so now I will be able to spend some time with Cassie on Friday just learning more about how things are going for her and for this start-up.

Hola Señora Abbott,

My name is Cassie Grimm and I took Spanish 232 with you last spring. I am writing you today because I would like to meet with you about a new start-up company that I am a part of, called StudyCloud. StudyCloud is a locally-created software tool designed to create a virtual classroom for students and instructors. Students can connect and register for their classes through Facebook, which then allows them to collaborate with each other, as well as pose questions to the instructor. I immediately thought of you when I was asked to join this company, since I know you already use social media in your Community Learning classes.

With the support of the University of Illinois' department of Online and Continuing Education, we are currently piloting this software here on campus, so this is a completely free, no-risk offer. At this time, we are seeking professors' approval to input their syllabi for next semester into our system so that we may better demonstrate the value our software has for students and professors.

I would love to get a chance to meet with you briefly to show you some of the other great features StudyCloud has to offer, including integrated calendars and homework reminders. Would Friday, November 15 at 11am work for you? If not, I am also available next week. In the meantime, you are welcome to check out our website, here <http://www.mystudycloud.com/> .

I look forward to hearing back from you, and I really appreciate your time!

Muchas gracias,

Cassie Grimm

--

Cassie Grimm
University of Illinois '14 | College of Business
Business Honors Program
AIESEC | Vice President Talent Management

StudyCloud, Inc.

Student Spotlight: Amanda White Is Going to Brazil on a Fulbright

Wishing you lots of luck in Brazil, Amanda!
by Ann Abbott

I love hearing from former students. Their stories inspire me, and I also think they are role models for current students.

Amanda White sent an e-mail this morning about her upcoming stint as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Brazil. It's important to see how she got to this point.

  • She studied abroad on our year-long program to Barcelona.
  • She took "Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish and Entrepreneurship" with me--doing her community service learning work with full dedication.
  • She went to Spain as a Fulbright ETA. I wrote a letter for her, and in her letter I was able to give very specific examples of how she would make an ideal ETA in Spain because I had seen her in action in the community service learning courses. In other words, my examples went beyond the normal comments about her classroom academic abilities.
  • She worked with a career coach (I'm not sure about the details) upon her return to the US. She was looking for ways in which she could pull together her talents, interests and experiences in the best way. (Of course, I have to give a plug here to DarcyLear.com, where you can find career coaching blog posts that are targeted specifically to language students and use Darcy's services one-on-one.)
  • She studied Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese--a wonderful and useful combination.
The message behind these bullet points is this:

While you are still in college, take advantage of all the unique opportunities that will set you apart after you graduate.

Here's Amanda's message:

Oi a todos!


(I love the Portuguese word oi for hi)

I hope this e-mail finds you well!  I've been slowly sharing the news about my placement in Brazil and thought I'd finally make it official. My next home away from home will be the city of Uberlândia.

Yes, it's a real place. The name means "fertile land." It's actually funny how I was placed there. Well, I think it's funny.

Unexpectedly the Fulbright program let us list preferences for our city/university placement. I had no clue where to even start on the list provided, so I spoke with my Portuguese teacher and other Brazilians I've been in contact with. 

The program advisors warned that the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and the Amazon states were among the most popular and were hard to get into. So I decided I wouldn't even try to request these areas. Those who I spoke with guided me towards the northeastern region to the cities of Natal and Fortaleza. 

But my plan didn't matter. I wound up in Minas Gerais anyways! I've heard lots of cool things about the state and surrounding area. There is also a small city located about an hour away called Catalão, or Catalan in Portuguese. Funny, again, because no matter what country, continent, or hemisphere I seem to be in, Catalonia always some how pops up. I miss Spain, yet I'm excited for new adventures. 

Uberlândia is a smaller city of about 600,000 people and located inland. I've been in contact with current Fulbrighters in the city and a few who will be there with me next year. There is still a lot I need to learn and I'm looking forward to it. 

Of course, I want and need to write about it in order to preserve memories and share with you all. I would appreciate any encouragement for writing about these experiences, especially given I lose motivation at some point. I am currently lacking motivation to even start.

In the meantime, I'm still learning Portuguese. It's been a lot of fun and interesting. My brain tends to switch to Spanish automatically. Then when I tutor Spanish, the Portuguese comes out! I'm also working as an unofficial personal assistant and a part-time babysitter. Some friends and I are also training for the Tinkerbell half marathon in Disney Land, CA. Another trip to Washington, D.C. is also coming up. I'm grateful to have a lot to look forward to and everything that goes with it. 

Have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving! I hope to hear from you soon :-)

Um abraço,
Amanda


-- 
Amanda R. White
Fulbright Brazil ETA Program Awardee

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Student Project Is an Example of What Virtual Volunteering Could Look Like

by Ann Abbott

A student who will be in my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course next semester shared with me a series of YouTube videos he made about the University of Illinois. After studying abroad in Costa Rica and spending time with his host family, he wanted to come back and show them a big part of his life in the United States: his college campus.

Watch his introductory video below and click here to see the entire video playlist.



This is a wonderful project for so many reasons, but I'd like to highlight the way it models how language programs can use "virtual volunteering" for community service learning.

  • If students produced a similar series of videos about bicycle laws in Champaign-Urbana, they could contribute greatly to a real community need. (Many local Latinos ride bicycles, and when the cities recently changed bicycle lanes and began monitoring bicycle traffic more closely, this created a number of problems for our local Latino community.)
  • What if students produced a series of videos about our local bus system? Seeing what it is like to take a bus--from showing the bus stop signs, to showing how you pay the bus driver, to showing where you press to signal you want to get off--can give a person confidence to take the bus and gain new freedoms. 
  • What if students did a broader community video guide, reaching beyond the campus into other areas of our community? They could film some of the places where our local Latino immigrant community live, work and play. I can imagine that this would be a nice way for their family and friends in their home countries to see what their lives here are like. It doesn't show the whole picture of their lives, of course, but it's a visual picture of the United States that goes beyond the Hollywood portrayal of American life.
  • What if students taught community members how to create their own videos?
I recently spoke in the Community Informatics program's Digital Divide lecture series. I see this student's video guide to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign as a very good example of how we can help bridge the digital divide I described.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thanks from the Community

by Ann Abbott

Students work in the community and don't always know just how much others appreciated their work. 

Here is a note from Ronnie Kahn at La Casa about students who participated in the event for Latino families.

Hi Beth and Anne, I want to thank you for putting out the call for background checks for students to work with the younger siblings for Latina/o Family Visit Day.  A separate sibling track allows us to create programming that they enjoy, while relieving child care duties from parents or older siblings.  Your call for volunteers allowed us to have enough people to hold the younger sibling program throughout the day.
 Thanks for your support of this important retention program; I am sure the committee will outreach to you in future years, Ronnie 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tutorials in Spanish about Pinterest and Social Media Marketing

by Ann Abbott

In yesterday´s blog post I shared what students want to do in my Business Spanish class which is also a social media marketing consulting workshop. One student indicated that he-she would like to learn more about Pinterest. Since I have a limited amount of time in class, I want to share these tutorials with students and let them access them if they want and when they want.

Tutoriales en SlideShare

"Guía rápida de Pinterest
¨
"Uso colaborativo de Pinterest"  


¨Pinterest para empresas¨


¨Pinterest para marcas¨

Tutoriales en YouTube



¨Caso de éxito¨

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Giving Students a Voice in a Service Learning Course

One student team at work during class.
by Ann Abbott

In a previous post I explained how I allowed students to choose the chapters of the textbook that we would study this semester. That is one way to give students voice in the course.

Yesterday I walked into class and said (in Spanish), "Pull out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down what you want to do during today's class. In other words, what do you need at this point in the semester and at this point with your consulting projects?"

These were the results, in descending order of frequency:
  1. Spend time working with their team.
  2. Discuss their posts. Specifically, some people wanted to inject more variety in their posts and get new ideas.
  3. Manage client relationships. Specifically, one person wanted to change the frequency with which the team sent posts to the client (from every week to every two weeks), and another simply wanted to work out a better process for communicating with the client.
  4. See the work that other teams have done for their clients.
  5. Do work from our textbook.
  6. Learn more about how to work within Twitter and Pinterest--not just Facebook.
  7. Talk about strategies for gaining new followers.
  8. Discuss grammar.
  9. Discuss culture. 
Numbers 1, 2, parts of 3 and 4 are easy for me to accommodate.

Managing client relationships is extremely complex, and I'm not fully aware of all the issues. I do know that this is extremely important, and something that I definitely need to work out better--for the benefit of all involved. This needs some real thought on my part--to define the issues, locate resources that address those issues, and think about the best way to teach them.

The fact that two students wanted to do work from our textbook suggests to me that some students might feel uncomfortable with the split we have in this course. On the one hand, we are still dedicating time to covering five chapters from the traditional Business Spanish textbook. On the other hand, we are running a consulting business. I'm not surprised that students might find that unsettling.

I will develop lessons and activities for numbers 6 and 7.

I'm not sure what to do about numbers 8 and 9. We do discuss culture. For each chapter of the textbook, we dedicate one full day to the "Lectura cultural." And "culture" is such a slippery word that I'm not even sure that I know what that student meant by culture. And grammar. Well, it's absolutely necessary, but how to work it in? How can students be resourceful about using grammar tutorials that are on-line, such as Prof. Jason Jolley's YouTube channel?

Frankly, I'm kind of reeling from the variety of needs and wishes that students have. There is a limit to what you can accomplish in one single course. I can satisfy most, but not all of the students' requests. I need to be very thoughtful about how and where I do this.
  • During class, I can give them time to work together.
  • Outside of class, I can create some video tutorials about the specific subjects students want to know more about.
  • In general, I can provide students with on-line resources that can help them help themselves (i.e., grammar).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Volunteer Opportunities Abound for Current and Past Students of "Spanish in the Community"

Latina/o Family Visit Day: Sunday, October 13

Contact: Ronnie Kann, v-kann@illinois.edu, 217-244-5941

I am reaching out to you personally and to your organization to volunteer for Latina/o Family Visit Day on Sunday, October 13th.   We are in need of people to work two hour or more timeslots.  We are in dire need of people who have been background checked to work with the younger children.  If you are able to work, can you indicate hours that you are free (between 8:00 and 4:00). Every little bit helps. I have attached an excel chart for your name, contact information, hours you would like to work and whether you have been background checked or not.  Those students who have been background checked (Education majors; America Reads, America Counts; volunteer activity in school) will be assigned to work with the little kid. Please share this excel with members of your org and  other students who might be willing to help us out (they don’t have to speak Spanish).

As always, if you have questions, concerns or want more information, please email me (v-kann@illinois.edu) or call me at 217-244-5941. 

Thanks and I look forward t hearing from you, Ronnie


Latino Night, Urbana High School, Wednesday, October 16 at 6:30 pm

Contact: Rejane Goncalves Dias rgdias@illinois.edu. 

I also wanted to let you know about another opportunity for volunteering at Urbana High School next week (Wednesday, October 16th) during the Latino Night. Below is the invitation to the families:

We would like to invite you to Latino Night on October 16th at 6:30pm in the high school commons. This night will be all in Spanish and will have a variety of information about UHS and it will be an opportunity to ask questions.  We will also have information about scheduling Parent-Teacher Conferences for Nov 7 or Nov 8.  Tours of the school will also be available if you would like one. Doors will open at 6:15 pm and we will provide food and free childcare.


Rejane wrote this: Our Span 232 students can meet me in front of the high school in the Iowa St. side at 6:15 pm on October, 16th (Wednesday). Please ask them to e-mail me if they are interested, so I know who is going for me to wait for them. The activities they may do during the Latino Night at Urbana High School are:
- Provide information to Spanish-speaking parents on the places where events are taking place around the building of the high school.
-Provide oral translation to them as the school staff speaks throughout the event
-Interact with Spanish-speaking children and family members

Rejane


Bilingual Classroom Help at Robeson Elementary School

Contact: Jaime M. Reed, information below

Robeson now has both a Kindergarten and 1st grade bilingual class.  We are in need of a few Spanish speaking volunteers to help out in those classes.  
Jaime M. Reed
Volunteer/Mentor Coordinator
Robeson Elementary and Westview Elementary
217-351-3884 (Robeson Office)
217-351-3905 (Westview Office)
www.cu1to1.org

Parent-Teacher Conferences at Central High School, October 24 & 25

Click here for vocabulary pertinent to parent-teacher conferences
Click here to read about a former student's experience with these parent-teacher conferences at Central.
Contact: Joan Strater, information below

We are once again in need of volunteers to help with Spanish translating during our parent teacher conferences next month.  Last semester your student’s help was a godsend.

I am hoping you can help us out again this semester?  Our conferences are Thursday, October 24th from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and Friday, October 25th from 8:00am to 12:00pm.  If you know of anyone that might be interested in helping, could you please have them email me atstratejo@champaignschools.org?

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can send my way.
Joan I. Strater
Main Office Secretary
Champaign Central High School
(217) 351-3911
(217) 351-3919 Fax

Intercambio Cultural Maya

This is an amazing chance to travel to Mexico during the winter break, do important service work in an indigenous community and learn a lot. Click here to read the details about this year's trip.

I had the opportunity to hear about this long-running trip from one of its organizers, Paul Hixson (who also happens to be the UIUC's CIO). I learned things I didn't know about the Guatemalan refugee camps inside Mexico in the 1990s.  

I highly encourage all students to look into this opportunity.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How to Write Effective Email Subject Lines to Consulting Clients

Image of chalkboard with a sample subject line "Facebook posts for your review and approval," followed by the title of this post How to write subject lines that simplify your clients' busy lives by Ann Abbott
Writing clear, actionable subject lines in your emails to clients can provide real value.
by Ann Abbott

As the semester progresses and my experiment with turning my traditional Business Spanish course into a hands-on social media marketing consulting business continues, this is my top lesson so far:
In this new territory, I need to learn precisely what my students need to learn. So far, I see that they need to learn things I never imagined I needed to teach. 
I'll share the list of things that students need to learn in a future blog post. For now, I want to zoom in on one area of professional communication about which students need explicit instruction: the subject lines of emails to clients.

When looking for some guidance on this issue, most of the information that popped up on Google was about internet marketing; in other words, how to send e-mails with subject lines that make people want to open them so that they will read your email newsletter, sales offer, etc. (Here's an example of "how to get them to click" advice.) Buried in there, I found some advice about subject lines in a general business context. And of course there's a whole book on how to use email better: Send.

I couldn't find anything specifically about how to write subject lines in your emails to clients you already have and that allow you to accomplish your work with them in a way that makes their lives easier. So here is my advice.

Client's reality: Overwhelmed by e-mail and must make make split-second decisions about whether or not to do the work that each e-mail implies. Part of that work is reading it and interpreting it just so they know what they actually need to do.
Subject Line to the Rescue: Use strong verbs to clarify the actions that are required of the client. If your subject line is absolutely clear about what the client needs to do with the information in the e-mail, you have just saved her time and effort--and after all, that is why she hired you in the first place. I see too many e-mails that are long, vague, and packed with too much tangential information. Your client wonders: What. do. I. actually. need. to. do?! What do you do when you receive an e-mail like that? Here's what I do: I delay. I can't figure out what the person is asking of me. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. Argh! But if you send me (and your consulting clients) an e-mail that tells me up front and explicitly exactly what you need from me, I'll take care of it right away.
Example: "Facebook posts for your review and approval." (See picture above. This was an example I told my students to use with their clients.)
It's not rude ("Review and approve these posts!"). Yet I know exactly what this is going to entail. I expect to have to open an attachment, scan the posts, and answer yes or no. That sounds like a  job I can get out of my inbox quickly. Whew! Of course, if your actual posts for me are not appropriate, then you have again created a lot of work for me (I have to comment on each one), and I will probably have to delay my response to you. Your client's job is easy if you do a good job in the first place.

Client's reality: I'm starting to really dislike this very likable person because I can't understand her.
Subject Line to the Rescue: We never want to be rude. But sometimes our desire to be polite creates confusion. In one class period, I told the student groups to write an e-mail to their client reminding them about the first face-to-face meeting. One student drafted an e-mail that was very well composed, polite, and really communicated the team's excitement to finally meet the client. It included the date, time and place of the meeting. She wrote something like "we will be meeting to discuss your social media marketing needs." And that was the problem. Who was "we?" In an effort to avoid saying something rude like, "Be here at 1:00 on Friday," the student actually communicated something like, "My teammates and I (we) are going to meet to discuss your needs." It sounded like the client didn't have to be there. Again, if your e-mail messages cause any confusion for your client, you are creating work for them instead of taking care of work for them. Do not force them to figure out your unclear message.
Example: "Mark you calendar: meeting; Deb and consulting team; Friday, October 11; 1:00-2:00; 312 Davenport Hall."
This subject includes an action verb telling the client exactly what to do. It's to the point, but it's not rude. After the action is clearly described, all the pertinent details are included in the subject line. In fact, imagine this scenario: the client sees the subject line, opens up the calendar app on her smart phone, opens a new appointment, fills in all the details and touches "Done." Whatever information is contained in the body of the e-mail is simply extra; the subject line accomplished everything your client needed.

Client's reality: This person seemed so nice and chatty when we met. Now she's dry and all business!
Subject Line to the Rescue: Yes, this style of writing e-mail subject lines is direct, explicit and concise. It can take people by surprise. If you are a female consultant, it definitely toys with gendered notions of how women (should) communicate. But it's also really effective. So simply bring this up during your initial meetings, when you are already aligning expectations with your client. Just like you will establish work processes, timelines and prices at the beginning, also establish your e-mail style as a part of the process when you initially align expectations and sign agreements. Say something like, "I'd like to let you know about my e-mail communication style. I have found that clients appreciate e-mails that are clear, concise and explicit. They tell me it saves them time. I don't write that way because I am rushing or because I don't care about all the details of your business. I do it to help you. When needed, though, phone calls and face-to-face visits allow us to be more expansive."
Example: "Confirm in-office appointment: Monday, October 14; 1:00-2:00; your office; discuss Facebook ad campaign details."
You know that good consulting work also needs time for free-flowing, back-and-forth dialogue.

Client's reality: Didn't I just take care of this yesterday?
Subject Line to the Rescue: Establish the chronology of work that is cyclical. Every Friday this semester, my students need to send five Facebook posts or tweets to their client. They can't post anything that hasn't been approved. The action required of the client is always the same, but having an identical subject line each week can cause problems. Separate e-mail threads can get confused. The client might get a sense of deja-vu..."I thought I just got this out of my inbox the other day." Find a way to help your client keep track of the chronology of the work.
Example: "Week 2 of 10: Facebook posts for your review and approval."
My students' consultant-client relationship is finite; they will stop posting once the semester ends. You probably want to have a long and lasting relationship with your consulting clients, but try to find a way to put a "time-stamp" on repetitive tasks.

Client's reality: Who in the world is Giuliana and why is she e-mailing me?
Subject Line to the Rescue: If you work in a team, either have one person consistently e-mail or identify the project itself in the subject line. I have seventeen students in my course this semester and five clients. So I divided the students into five teams of 3-4 students. Ideally, one student in the team would be the client communications expert. Other students in the team might take the roles of photographer, picture editor, researcher, etc. (I'll do that next time I teach this course.) Since the "From" line of the e-mail might be inconsistent--some students use multiple e-mail accounts, too--the subject line will have to provide a consistent identity.
Example: "Facebook Team: Please send pictures of fundraiser dinner."
Identifying themselves consistently as "Facebook Team" with the first words in the subject line reduces confusion when the "From" line has a variety of different e-mail addresses and names.

Client's reality: I am swamped! I'm sure that Pradeep or Leslie will take care of this one.
Subject Line to the Rescue: If you send emails to a client team, identify who should do the job. Some of my students have found that working with a team of clients instead of one point person within the organization has been difficult. Remember, your clients are busy. They do the work that is in front of their face and easy to take care of. Don't make the team have an internal conversation about who should answer the e-mail. Make their lives easy and identify one person in your e-mail. I remember learning once that in an emergency, many people don't respond because they think everyone else will. If you see a car injure a pedestrian, for example, you should look at the others nearby, point to individual and say: "You, call 911. You, stand in the street and stop other cars from driving by this person. You, take down the drivers license number. You, put pressure on the bleeding. Etc." It's often the same in work scenarios.
Example: "Ben: Please provide answer to question posed in FB comments by a customer."
Everyone knows that Ben will take care of this.

Client's reality: Let me check my phone and get rid of my e-mails during my commute. I am determined to tackle my big project as soon as I walk into the office.
Subject Line to the Rescue: Consider how your message will look on a smartphone. On mine, I can see about four or five words of a subject line. Make those count. Use a verb. Make it look like something that will be easy to do over the phone, hopefully something that doesn't even require the client to thumb-type a long response.
Example: "Confirm accuracy of post."
Yes. No. But again, this only works if you actually do a very good job so that there are few if any corrections to be made.

Client's reality: Oh, my God. I never replied to the last two e-mails Cristina sent me. I'm behind, and now here comes another one. I can't even open it. I'm so embarrassed that I haven't replied to the others. I don't want to read it. I'll just skip it until I really have time. Tomorrow.
Subject Line to the Rescue: Present each e-mail like a brand new opportunity! No shaming. Even inadvertent shaming is counterproductive. I have been there. Many times. I have received e-mails that I just couldn't bring myself to open because I felt so bad about the previous ones that I hadn't opened. I needed a way to hit a "reset" button. A clean slate. Even when you are frustrated because the client hasn't responded in a while, you absolutely cannot let that come through in your e-mail. Make every subject line sound like a new chance to get caught up or even skip ahead. (Full disclosure: I've felt so ashamed about piled-up e-mails  before, that I'm not sure what subject line would have encouraged me to open up a new e-mail from the same person. In those cases, I don't even look at the subject line because my body goes cold just by seeing the name in the "From" line. So if things are really bad, try having someone else on your team e-mail that client or e-mail them yourself from a different e-mail account--socialmedia6879@google.com.)
Example: "New batch of posts for your approval." or "New topic: ...."
One more thing, if your client feels ashamed about the backed-up e-mails from you, then maybe you are sending too many e-mails! Try sending two weeks worth of posts instead of one. Try having the client reply only if they do not approve the posts. Try other processes that limit the e-mails the client must reply to.

Client's reality: I am going off-line for a while. I have to concentrate on the most urgent things that come at me. I don't have time for this consulting thing that was supposed to make my life easier anyway!
Subject Line to the Rescue: Pick up the phone. Print out the documents, hand address an envelope and drop it in a mailbox! Get in the car and visit. Don't always rely on the e-mail if it isn't working for your client at the moment.
Example: "In your neighborhood this afternoon: I'll drop by with a muffin and coffee for you."

How do you use e-mail subject lines to make your busy clients' lives easier? What other ways have you found to facilitate the consultant-client communication? Let me know in the comments. And contact me at arabbott@illinois.edu if you are interested social media consulting or in teaching your students to be social media consultants.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How Students Can Choose the Textbook Chapters They Want to Cover in a Semester

by Ann Abbott

I´m teaching Business Spanish this semester, and it feels like I'm teaching two different courses in one. First, all my students are working in teams as social media marketing consultants for a real-life client. Secondly, I still want to cover some of the fundamentals of a traditional Business Spanish course.


Exito comercial is the go-to book for any Business Spanish course. But it's a monster! There is so much content, that even if you are not also teaching social media marketing (was I crazy?), you would still need to be selective about the content that you cover in one semester.

I asked students to select the chapters that they want to cover, following the set of activities in the pictures below. If you'd like a pdf of the lesson plan, just e-mail me (arabbott@illinois.edu), and I will send it to you.

Tally results below the pictures.


Top 4 chapters
12. LA ENTRADA EN EL MERCADO INTERNACIONAL: LOS PAISES HISANOPARLANTES
6. LA OFICINA.
9. MARKETING I: MERCADOS Y PUBLICIDAD. 
14. LAS PERSPECTIVAS PARA EL FUTURO.
Bottom 4 chapters ("La empresa" received the fewest votes of all.)
4. LA BANCA Y LA CONTABILDAD.
8. BIENES Y SERVICIOS.
10. MARKETING II: COMPRAVENTA, TRANSPORTE Y ALMACENAJE 
2. LA EMPRESA.

You might have different results with your students, but I found this very interesting. It gives us insight into what interests and does not interest students. I would not have predicted these results. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Example of the Long-Term Impacts of Spanish Community Service Learning


Seeing your students succeed is a true pleasure. Today I received an e-mail from a former student who just accepted a job offer. I was a reference for her. The company was eager to hire her before she accepted an offer from anyone else. When I spoke glowingly of her, I was simply confirming the impression the company had already formed of her. I can honestly say that everything they wanted her for were qualities that I had already seen when she was my student in my Spanish course on social entrepreneurship that involves community service learning.

And here's the kicker: she was my student seven and a half years ago.

7 1/2 years. 

Seven and half years later, she still remembers what we did in that course. She still remembers the 1-page business plan assignment. She still remembers her work in the community--in Champaign-Urbana and Chicago.

Of course, I'm not saying my course made her successful. I am saying, though, that this kind of course reveals talents that are never put to use in traditional classes. It shows students in a different light. It lets students develop different "muscles." It lets the professor (who will eventually become a recommendation letter writer) see more facets of the student.

Just read her note, and you will get a sense of how long out Spanish community service learning's effects can be.
Dear Ann,
 I received and accepted a job offer today for ContextMedia, a company providing healthcare education. Thank you for your recommendation! I'm beyond excited about this opportunity and because it's a small company growing rapidly I'm looking forward to putting my entrepreneurial spirit in action!
 So many aspects of this company caught my attention. A few I want to share with you! First, from my experience working with so many groups of people (esp. Spanish speakers/Latinos) they will consider me a valued resource in making content culturally relevant to patients. This interests me so much! They want my opinion! Also, they (like you) totally understand media/technology's role in education, up to making it personalized and all. It will be very cool to be a part of the innovation process and product development.
 Ann, the experiences that I had as a student in your class and assisting with the internship program were so valuable and something I think about a lot. The excitement I feel now reminds me of the way I felt as a student in Spanish for Business coming up with my One Page Business plan, a bilingual literacy initiative...now having gone through higher ed courses in Education plus teaching experience, I'm sure I would change it a lot... BUT I loved the idea and loved being an entrepreneur because I was passionate about education and I was passionate about understanding people and culture. I'm back at that happy place again.
 Katie, the HR manager, shared a few things with me about your conversation. It feels wonderful to have someone that I admire so much speak so highly of me. I'm grateful and I appreciate you Ann!
 She's especially talented, yes. And this is what her new bosses tweeted about her, right after her interview.

Rishi Shah @RishiShah10 Sep
I loved a candidate so much today I walked out and hugged our talent manager. For real :) #theyAREoutthere #dontsettle

Shradha Agarwal @shr4dha10 Sep
My biggest high in life = meeting amazing candidates I feel like hiring on the spot and bringing into our @contextmediainc family!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Writing a Mission Statement for the Spanish and Portuguese Language Programs

by Ann Abbott
Brenden Carollo started the ball rolling, and by writing it on the board we were able to brainstorm and edit efficiently.
In my role as Director of Undergraduate Studies, I have the privilege of working with a team of people who all have unique and very important perspectives about our students.

  • Melanie Waters directs the very first language courses that most students take. In many ways, she holds the key to the first impressions we make on students. She is also key in training our TAs so that they provide excellent teaching to students in whatever course they eventually teach.
  • Brenden Carollo directs the fourth-semester courses, when students have choices. They can take a grammar-based course or a Spanish in the Professions course. In many ways, he holds the key to helping students decide if they will continue with Spanish or not.
  • Florencia Henshaw stepped into the new role of coordinating all the "skills" courses for our majors and minors--Reading, Review of Grammar, Oral Spanish and Composition. She has a lot (!) of work, but by overseeing all these courses she can see how they work together (or not!) to build a foundation of language proficiency and cultural knowledge that is necessary for higher-level courses. 
  • Beth Chasco is the Spanish advisor, so she can zoom in to see what particular areas are troublesome for students and zoom out to see how the entire major or minor hangs together.
  • Nola Senna runs the Portuguese language program. She has insights into why students study languages other than Spanish and why some students decide to study both Spanish and Portuguese. Now that we are working together as a team, we hope that students will also see Spanish and Portuguese as a "team" of languages that will serve them well.
Together, I think that we can make the learning experience for our students more seamless, efficient and friendly.

Still, we haven't worked together as a team until this semester. So today's meeting was dedicated to developing a mission statement. In the picture above you can see what we ended up with after about 15-20 minutes. We'll take a break from it, get some distance and revisit it later. 

One thing that came out of our discussion is the question of who will read the mission statement? We will! We are articulating who we are, what we do, why we do it. We still have work to do on the mission statement, but we needed to find out who we are together. What unites us. Who we are working for--the students.

What is your language program's mission statement? Why do you do what you do? Do you work as a team, everybody rowing in the same direction?

Small Touches Have Big Impact When Promoting Your Language Programs

Creating eye-catching informational displays is very important.
by Ann Abbott

I am so happy about everything that I am learning from my friends and colleagues in the less commonly taught languages. Today they showed me the power of creating displays that capture students' attention.

As I walked through the lobby of our Foreign Languages Building earlier today, I saw tables set up with lots of flyers, suckers, chocolates and signs that said things like: "Take a flyer, take a piece of candy." There were at least 100 pieces of candy lying on the tables. The flyers were colorful, arranged in neat stacks, displayed at curious angles and skirted the entire table. There was no one manning the booth at the time, but the table was so intriguing that I wanted to go look at their information, even though I am not a student.

Later in the day when I passed by, Mithilesh Mishra who teaches Hindi was behind the booth, talking to many students who were surrounding the booth. The pictures here don't capture the number of students who were there, and only about half of the candy is still sitting on the table.

The display worked! Mithilesh and others were promoting their winter study-abroad courses, and they got a lot of student interest.
What could you do in the lobby of your building to capture students' attention? How can you promote your programs in very visible ways? What is eye-catching in person and what is eye-catching on-line?

Help at the Parent Teacher Conferences at Central High School

Our students have the language skills and cultural know-how to really help our community members.
by Ann Abbott

I just received another e-mail from the administrative staff at a local school, showing how much our students' Spanish skills are needed in the community.

Let's help them out again this semester!
We are once again in need of volunteers to help with Spanish translating during our parent teacher conferences next month.  Last semester your student’s help was a godsend.

I am hoping you can help us out again this semester?  Our conferences are Thursday, October 24th from 5:00pm to 8:00pm and Friday, October 25th from 8:00am to 12:00pm.  If you know of anyone that might be interested in helping, could you please have them email me at stratejo@champaignschools.org?

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can send my way.
Joan I. Strater
Main Office Secretary
Champaign Central High School
(217) 351-3911
(217) 351-3919 Fax

Community Partner Relationships: An Acknowledgement of Spanish Students' Impact

Have you communicated with your community partners lately?
by Ann Abbott

One of the volunteer coordinators at a local school with whom I have worked for many years is handing over her duties at that school to a new coordinator. I sent her a message wishing her well in her new role and thanking her for everything that she has done to help both me and my students over the years.

Her reply:
Annie,
 Thanks you for the kind words.  I will miss working with you and your students!  What a blessing you all have been to our bilingual students and teachers.   You were the first group of volunteers I was fortunate enough to work with, and you're still my favorite.
 Take care,  
When we do Spanish community service learning, we fill real community-identified needs. Our work is important, in big and small ways.

Communication is the key to successful community-campus partnerships. Communicate often with your partners. Communicate in order to celebrate good things. Communicate so that everyone is in the loop about challenges, too. Communicate because that is how we form and maintain relationships.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Career Coaching for Foreign Language Students: Our second "Mi Carrera" workshop for Fall 2013

Dr. Darcy Lear will help you highlight the extremely valuable skills that your Spanish major gave you but that often remain hidden in students' resumes, cover letters and interview answers.
by Ann Abbott

Dr. Darcy Lear will be a special guest speaker at our "Mi Carrera" series on Wednesday, September 18 at 4:00 in the Lucy Ellis Lounge of the Foreign Languages Building at the Unversity of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. You can read her blog to get lots of in-depth advice about how to highlight your language skills and cultural-know how. But if you come to the workshop, you will get personalized advice based on your own study-abroad experience, coursework, community service learning, business Spanish coursework and all other pertinent experiences. Freshman or senior, it's never too early or too late to position yourself to stand out in the crowded job market.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Careers in Translation and Interpreting for Spanish Majors: a Presentation by Patricia Phillips-Batoma

Dr. Patricia Phillips-Batoma from the University of Illinois' Center for Translation Studies talks to Spanish majors about careers in translation and interpreting.
by Ann Abbott

Yesterday we had our very first "Mi Carrera" workshop for Spanish majors at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Patricia Phillips-Batoma from the Center for Translation Studies set a wonderful tone for the rest of the semester by doing three things:

  1. Explaining very clearly what translation and interpreting are.
  2. Inspiring students to think of career paths they can follow (and money they can make!). 
  3. Demonstrating how translators do their work. 
There's nothing like being at a workshop in person, but Dr. Phillips-Batoma kindly shared her slides which you can see below. The main takeaways include:
  • There is a lot of demand for Spanish translation and interpreting jobs.
  • You need some training.
  • Freelancing is the dominant work model--and you can make good money.
Furthermore,  I pointed out to students that even if you do not become a professional translator/interpreter, as a bilingual in any profession you will probably be called upon to do those things. Why not learn how to do them now?



Attendees included mostly freshmen Spanish majors, but all of the "Mi Carrera" workshops are appropriate for all Spanish majors at all levels.
Darcy Lear, career coach to students of foreign languages, will be the speaker at our next "Mi Carrera" workshop: Wednesday, September 18 at 4:00 in Lucy Ellis Lounge, Foreign Languages Building.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Student Spotlight: James Peters

Click here to see James' LinkedIn profile.
by Ann Abbott

I've blogged about James Peters before, and I just wanted to add this quick update. I received a message from him just today, and I am so impressed by his work in a country that is rarely talked about: Paraguay.

"Hello from Paraguay! Sorry it has been so long- I have not had internet for the pat year. I have been pretty isolated down here but it has been an amazing experience. I'd say that I pretty much think and only speak in Spanish most days while I can retreat to the local indigenous language-Guarani. Thank you so much for all of your support through our time at U of I, I would love to come back and visit and talk to you about my experiences, if you are interested. Thanks again,

James Peters"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to Welcome Students to Your Language Courses

Ms. Nola Senna, center, hosts a welcome-back party at the beginning of the school year. 
by Ann Abbott

Classes at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign start tomorrow. I'll be teaching "Business Spanish" and "Spanish in the Community."

I enjoy the first day of classes, even though I get a case of the jitters each year. I like meeting the new students, and I enjoy thinking of ways to make the first class engaging so that they will want to come back.

But my colleague Nola Senna starts engaging with her students before she even sees them. Read the emails below--the first one is for students taking their very first Portuguese course and the second is for returning students. Notice the ways that she accomplishes the following:

  • Makes the students feel like they have made a smart choice to study Portuguese.
  • Puts their coursework on the Portuguese language into a global context.
  • Shows students that she cares about them--and about the Portuguese program being a success.
  • Creates a sense of community. 
  • Lists ways that they can take their learning beyond the classroom.
  • Asks them to be partners in the learning process.
  • Assures them that this is a high-quality program with well-designed curricula.
  • Proves that she, as the Director of the Portuguese language program, is accessible face-to-face and virtually.
  • Provides a personal touch; shows that this program has character.
  • Assuages any anxiety students might feel about their course.
I think this is an excellent way to start the semester with students. At a huge univeristy like Illinois, it shows students that they are in a program that thinks of them as more than mere numbers. And for a small (but growing) language program like Portuguese, it shows that smaller can sometimes be more personalized.

Brava, Nola, for this wonderful example of how to open up the communication with all our students. I think these messages are models that all of us, in any language, can follow. (Nola is very active on social media, so please look her up to see the many other ways that she engages her students and friends with the Portuguese language and Brazilian cultures.)

The more I am around colleagues from the less-commonly taught langages, the more I learn!

Brand-new Students

Olá pessoal!
It is our pleasure to welcome you to the Portuguese Language and Brazilian Studies Program. Monday is a very special day as you'll meet your Portuguese language classmates and your instructor. You'll also find out more about the course (Course Syllabus + Calendar), our extra curricular activities (Portuguese HAPPY HOUR), and the many opportunities to meet other speakers/learners of Portuguese, practice the language and learn the about Brazilian Culture.

We commend you on making the decision to take up a less commonly taught language and discover a new world! As you know, Brazil's growing presence in the global scenario has dramatically increased the demand for Portuguese classes. This semester we have a record of 60+ beginner students!  So you're not alone!  Together with learning the language, we encourage you to learn more about the country as well. Below is the course info for a brand NEW Intro class that we're very proud to offer this Fall. There are plenty of seats left so if you still have time in your schedule, don't miss this unique opportunity. It's a 3-credit class and meeting times should not conflict with your other classes


Intro. to Brazilian Studies - 45649 - PORT 199 - BC
TOPIC: Introduction to Brazilian Studies. Meets with LAST 199.
Associated Term: Fall 2013 - Urbana-Champaign

Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class6:30 pm - 7:45 pmTRForeign Languages Building 1038Aug 26, 2013 - Dec 11, 2013Lecture-DiscussionJose Cairus
We're all here to guide you through this journey to make it the most profitable and pleasant possible - with your full participation, of course! 


As director of the program, I'm always available to talk, answer questions and receive your feedback. You'll be meeting me in person sometime in the second week of school when I go around visiting all groups to greet you and talk about our teaching/learning and assessment philosophies!

Sejam bem-vindos!  
Cheers,



Nola Senna MA, MBA
Director - Undergraduate Portuguese Language and Brazilian Studies Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Returning Students

Olá pessoal!
It is our pleasure to welcome you back to the Portuguese Language and Brazilian Studies Program. Monday is a very special day as you'll meet/see again your Portuguese language classmates and your instructor. You'll also find out more about the course (Course Syllabus + Calendar), this semester's extra curricular activities (Portuguese HAPPY HOUR), and the many opportunities to meet other speakers/learners of Portuguese, practice the language and learn the about Brazilian Culture.

We are thrilled that you have decided to continue studying Portuguese with us. Staying on beyond PORT401 really shows your commitment to the language and that you trust us. We very much appreciate that! As you well know, Brazil's growing presence in the global scenario has dramatically increased the demand for Portuguese classes. This semester we have a record of 60+ beginner students!  So you're not alone!  

If you would like to consider (Double) Majoring or (Double) Minoring in Portuguese, let's talk! It may be easier than you think!
Together with learning the language, we encourage you to learn more about the country as well. If you're not yet enrolled, below is the course info for a brand NEW Intro class that we're very proud to offer this Fall. There are plenty of seats left so if you still have time in your schedule, don't miss this unique opportunity. It's a 3-credit class and meeting times should not conflict with your other classes.


Intro. to Brazilian Studies - 45649 - PORT 199 - BC
TOPIC: Introduction to Brazilian Studies. Meets with LAST 199.
Associated Term: Fall 2013 - Urbana-Champaign


Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class6:30 pm - 7:45 pmTRForeign Languages Building 1038Aug 26, 2013 - Dec 11, 2013Lecture-DiscussionJose Cairus


 Another great option for you is:


Luso-Brazilian Culture - 61155 - PORT 404 - I
TOPIC: "Doing Business in Brazil"
Scheduled Meeting Times
TypeTimeDaysWhereDate RangeSchedule TypeInstructors
Class5:00 pm - 6:15 pmTRLincoln Hall 1020Aug 26, 2013 - Dec 11, 2013Lecture-DiscussionNola M. Senna (P)


As you already know from past semesters, we're all here to guide you through this journey to make it the most profitable and pleasant possible - with your full participation, of course! 

As director of the program, I'm always available to talk, answer questions and receive your feedback. 

Sejam bem-vindos de volta!  
Cheers,



Nola Senna MA, MBA
Director - Undergraduate Portuguese Language and Brazilian Studies Program
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cel: (217) 418-1165
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