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Showing posts from June, 2013

Student Spotlight: Melissa Barbier

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by Ann Abbott


Some students of Spanish know that they want to become high school Spanish teachers and follow the BAT program
Other students, however, never imagined that they would be interested in teaching, and yet their experiences in school settings during their Spanish community service learning work makes them change their mind.
Read about Melissa Barbier's experience. She is now teaching and doing all the advocacy that she wanted to do.
"I had SPAN 232 Spanish in the Community, Fall 2011. (I miss it so much). My experience was at Leal, tutoring students and working a little in a Spanish Bilingual classroom. During this experience, I was able to see how important it is to make connections with students outside of the classroom. I was able to see some of the struggles that bilingual students have in and out of the classroom. I also learned a lot in the course about what difficulties Spanish-speaking people have in our society, from the troubles they might have getting i…

What is the Value of a Spanish Community Service Learning Course...after It Is Over?

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by Ann Abbott


We measure the success of university courses by students' grades, student course evaluations, and other measures that we take during the semester.
But Spanish community service learning courses are unique. While the students might eventually forget what is the difference between a refugee and an asylee (the content of the course), they often take away much more than just bits and pieces of knowledge. Students tell me that the courses give them more confidence in their ability to speak Spanish with native speakers. More awareness about other people's perspectives. Specifically, the immigrant experience. The students carry with them experiences that they use when an interviewer asks them to talk about how they handle challenges, working on teams, working with multicultural groups, taking a leadership role, making a mistake and recovering from it. 
I received this message from a former student who, years after her Spanish CSL course with me, still felt the impact of…

Student Spotlight: Liz (Girten) White

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by Ann Abbott

I say it over and over again: Spanish community service learning courses provide students with unique opportunities to develop valuable professional skills.

But when former students say it, I think current students really listen.

So, listen to what one of my fabulous former students, Liz Girten White, has to say about it.

"I reached out to you a few months ago letting you know that I was looking for a new job and I just wanted to let you know that as of November 28th I have been the new HR Generalist at creative werks! It is a candy manufacturing company in the Chicago suburbs. I love my new job and the best part is, I get to use my Spanish on a daily basis. I have been in charge of payroll audits and analysis, benefit updates and distribution, and recruiting. My bilingual skills have been a big help since we have such an international staff, with most of our employees coming from Spanish speaking countries. I wanted to message you first of all to say thank you so v…

Student Spotlight: Hanna Solecka

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by Ann Abbott


Students of Spanish, I always say, know that they love the language, but they don't know how to integrate it into their lives and into their careers.

Now, though, I have a YouTube channel that features video interviews with former students of Spanish. They tell what they're doing now, explain how they use Spanish and give advice to current students. My hope is that the alumni in the videos will serve as examples to current students about directions they could take with their Spanish, too. It's also a way to network: if you're a current student of Spanish at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, I am positive that the alums in these videos would be happy for you to contact them.

One of the first students I interviewed was Hanna Solecka. So many of my students want to go to (or return to) Spain after they graduate. Hanna did just that, and the video above describes how she did that. The email below describes her time there. (In other videos, Hannah tal…

Student Spotlight: Amy Lewensky

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by Ann Abbott

For several years, several years ago, I coordinated paid summer internships for students who had taken my Spanish community service learning courses and proven to have good language skills, excellent transcultural competence and an overall entrepreneurial mindset. Unfortunately those internships ended when the funding ended.

However, the community organizations are still there. Current students who are truly entrepreneurial might be able to create their own internship.

In fact, one of my former interns (and one of my favorite people in the world), Amy Lewensky, wrote about how her first summer internship, paid through my program, later turned into an internship and job offer that I had absolutely no part of.

So read Amy's description of her experiences, and see what you can make happen for yourself!

"As an intern working at Central States SER, I was involved in many of the organization’s operations.These included teaching ESL and GED classes, practicing intervie…

Student Spotlight: Katherine Shultz

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It is not infrequent that our Spanish students are also pre-med. It's a good combination. It brings together the sciences and the humanities. It hones students' transcultural compentence--something that all medical school programs are interested in. And it gives you another language in which to speak to your patients.
Learned about and how to communicate/interact with a diverse group of people in the community. Multicultural competency is important as all demographic need medical care.Enhanced problem solving skills. To effectively teach, I had to come up with fun and engaging activities. When an activity didn't work successfully, I had to modify or come up with an alternative in order help the students learn.Leadership/ responsibility. I learned how to lead a group of 5-6 students (with short attention spans) in sessions on topics such as the alphabet, writing their names, and basic words in English.I also was in charge of supervising individual and group reading for 20 m…

Simple Tips for Academic Cover Letters

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by Ann Abbott

I have read many cover letters for academic jobs, including those for non-tenure line teaching jobs and academic administrative jobs. I'd like to share a few tips. Some of them will seem very obvious. Others I think you can only know when you have been on the hiring side of things.

1. Don't use bullet points in your cover letter. In an academic setting you have to show that you can put your thoughts together into cohesive paragraphs. In my experience, bullet points in a cover letter usually indicate poor writing and lazy thinking. Use judiciously, if at all.

2. Name your documents wisely. Many, maybe most, academic job searches are conducted online nowadays. Some things that never would have mattered before, now matter. The search committee will see how you have named your documents. This file--"applicationfinalversion.doc"--gives a bad impression. "Cover letter," is better because it tells me exactly what to expect when I open that document. …

Spanish Community Service Learning and Issues of Accessibility

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by Ann Abbott

I chair a campus sub-committee on Information Technology and Engagement, and this past year has been a whirlwind of learning through stimulating dialogues and expert presentations. This past week, we were lucky to have Brad Hedrick, Director of DRES, give a presentation about accessibility to our committee. Here are a few of the points I took away from his presentation, simple things that you and I can do:
In documents, including Word, use headings so that screen readers can make sense of the information.In videos, go ahead and use the automatic captioning in YouTube but always double-check it and clean it up. It never gets it 100% correct.In PowerPoints (and any document with images), write the description of the image and most importantly, the meaning that you want it to convey.These are some simple habits we can all form ourselves. We can also instill them in our students in order to benefit an ever-growing group of people with accessibility issues. Why not simply requi…