Showing posts from September, 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 (, and I will send it to you.

Tally results below the pictures.

Top 4 chapters

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

by Ann Abbott
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…

Writing a Mission Statement for the Spanish and Portuguese Language Programs

by Ann Abbott
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 wo…

Small Touches Have Big Impact When Promoting Your Language Programs

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, …

Help at the Parent Teacher Conferences at Central High School

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

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

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…

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

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.