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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
LinkedIn & Facebook 

1 comment:

  1. Ann, since I came to Illinois 3 years ago you and I immediately bonded and I can easily say that one of the most important reasons is how we care about our students' learning and the applicability of our programs in the 'real world'. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I'm happy to share this and other efforts with colleagues who fight the never-ending battle of retaining students in a program we believe can help them in the future. I, too, learn so much from other LCTLs! Cheers!

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