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Showing posts from April, 2014

Student Reflection

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by Kelsey Marquez
“¡ZAP!”  “¡ZAP! ¡Que lástima!” say the children when they get a popsicle stick that says “¡ZAP!” Zap is a game I play with the children from Garden Hills. Their teacher has written sounds on different popsicles sticks, such as “rra, la, ma”. She then writes “zap” on a few of the other popsicle sticks. The object of the game is to obtain the most popsicle sticks with sounds but when you pick a stick with the word “zap” you must put all your sticks back in the bucket.
Mrs. X [all names have been eliminated] was trying to get through her daily lesson as usual but it seemed impossible to get the children to focus. Some of the kids looked exhausted while others kept fidgeting with their fingers. The teacher decided that it was best to let them play “Zap” for fifteen minutes so those that were tired could participate in a less energy-demanding activity and those that were restless could release some energy as well.
All the children got into groups of about four children except…

Student Reflection

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by Matt Campion
 Durante nuestras sesiones de la hora con los niños, también nos concentramos en leer. El programa SOAR usa una actividad específica para ayudar a niños a practicar su lectura. Ahora, el sistema es similar, pero también tiene diferencias. En primer lugar, [mi alumno] tiene un compañero de lectura y su nombre es [X]. X también tiene un tutor con quien trabaja. X ha sido designado como el 'primer' lector así empieza. Lee durante dos minutos y mi alumno hace marcas en una hoja para cada oración completa y página. Mi alumno empieza el mismo libro y lee durante dos minutos. Xhace marcas en la misma hoja. El objetivo es llegar a 500 puntos para que cada lector pueda obtener un premio de la caja del tesoro. A veces mi alumno llega más lejos que X en lectura, pero a veces no lo hace. Después de que han leído Xy mi alumno, les pregunto sobre lo que han leido. Esto es para determinar la comprensión y el entendimiento. Finalmente, para la última actividad, X y mi alumno ha…

Student Reflection

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by Nicole Mathes
“Spanglish” in the ClassroomLast semester I took a Spanish linguistics course. One of the final topics that we discussed was the use of “Spanglish,” particularly in America.  According to Oxford dictionary, “Spanglish” is defined as “a hybrid language combining words and idioms from both Spanish and English, especially Spanish speech that uses many English words and expressions.” Basically, it is when people speak both Spanish and English in the same sentence (you can see that I have written some examples in the picture). A lot of the articles, blogs, and opinion columns that we read had negative views of Spanglish. For example, some of the authors thought that it was used by ignorant Americans who only spoke Spanglish to either make fun of the Spanish language, the Hispanic people, or to appear like they knew something. A lot of times, the use of Spanglish can be derogatory. For instance if someone says “I want to kick back with a nice cerveza”, this sentence can impl…

Student Reflection

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by Kelsey Marquez Bilingualism and Parent Communication In my past post, I described the lack of bilingual support I witnessed at Garden Hills (in relation to bilingual substitute teachers). While volunteering at Champaign Central High School, I saw quite the opposite.
It was around 5:45 pm as I was entering this unfamiliar and lonely building. There weren’t any signs containing direction information and this lonely building quickly became the size of a mansion. I began walking around until I bumped into a custodian. Luckily, he was able to direct me to the main office. “Go down the hallway and once you hit the end, make a left then a right on the first entrance”, he said. For someone who had never been there, his directions didn’t seem all that clear. Nonetheless, I found my way through the hallways and into the main office.
I nervously walked in, not knowing what to expect. I was welcomed by a very friendly face. This unfamiliar face belongs to Lorena Rodriguez, the bilingual secretary.…

Students Curating Content: A Collaborative Pinterest Board as the Final Exam

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by Ann Abbott

Students in my "Spanish in the Community" course will do the following for their final exam:
Contribute five pins to my Pinterest board called SPAN 232 Spanish in the Community and write a brief reflective essay on this assignment.To choose their pins, students must use this criteria: What information should a student in this course have to help them work in the community, understand better what they observe in the community and contextualize their learning in the community within regional, national and global forces.If you don't know how to pin, go to YouTube or Google and search for tutorials on "How to use Pinterest" or "How to create pins on Pinterest."Each pin must include a relevantdescription that helps students understand what the pin is and why it is important. When writing the description of your pins, frame them using this question: If a student sees this pin, why should they take the time to click on it? What will he/she gain …

10 Questions Raised by the 2014 CIBER Business Languages Conference

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by Ann Abbott

Each year, I usually provide a roundup of the things I learned at that year's CIBER Business Languages Conference, like last year's post from Indiana University.

This year was an exciting, fulfilling learning experience, too. However, I think I came away with more questions to reflect upon than answers to immediately act upon. You can see the program, author bios and paper abstracts from the 2014 CIBER Business Languages Conference here.

1. What is the status of the field?Judging by the quantity and quality of the sessions at this year's conference, things are going very, very well. This is important because we know that many departments are looking toward business Spanish and other languages for specific purposes as an antidote (one among several) to declining enrollments in language programs. You can read the paper abstracts, and you will notice that the topics cover a lot of ground and the presenters come from many different types of institutions. I will c…

CIBER Business Languages Conference 2014: Spanish Workshop

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by Ann Abbott

I'm looking forward to the 2014 CIBER Business Languages Conference hosted by Brigham Young University at Park City, Utah. I will be giving the Spanish workshop, and a talk with Deb Reisinger (Duke) about social entrepreneurship.
Spanish WorkshopPutting together Your Business Spanish CourseGetting to know each other.Why teach Business Spanish? Choosing your book: Éxito comercialEntre socios; books from Spain and Latin America; trade books Selecting elements of your book:Choose chapters.Choose chapter elements.Incorporate your own passions and experiences into your course.Accessibility.Cases:Language Case Studies from University of Colorado CIBEReHandbook on Teaching with Business Cases from George Washington University CIBERStudents as facilitators of los minicasos prácticosAssessment:Student presentations.Student business plans.Business letters.Collaborative content curation.Evaluating your course/program:Does your course give students what employers want? Gathering…

Civic Engagement and Spanish Community Service Learning: An Example

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Editor's note: I won't claim that Emily stepped up her level of civic engagement and attended a protest because of the two Spanish community service learning courses she took with me. What I will claim is that by giving our students examples of how they can take action in the face of injustice, we provide them with important models. And now I hope Emily's story will be a model for other students who want to move from talking to do-ing. --Ann Abbott

by Emily Otnes


On Thursday, April 17th, I skipped class to do something I’d never done before: go to a protest.
Recently at Butler University, a student Eliza Quincey was a victim of injustice involving the administration’s lack of involvement and delayed action in her rape case. In response to the administration’s incompetent and unhelpful response, Eliza wrote an essay demanding Butler to take action, thereby inspiring her fellow students to stand along with her and give her the voice she deserves.
My friend Lucy and I drove a…

How to Market Your Language Program to Students at Key Decision Points

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by Ann Abbott

As language departments face decreasing enrollments, one thing that we can do is improve our marketing.
When we think of marketing, we often first think about creating slick brochures and websites. The trick, though, is to first define your target audience with precision. Then you have to tailor your message to the benefits that they care about. (What pain do they feel, and how to can you alleviate it?) Finally, you have to know how to get the message to them: where will they see it, how will they find it, and when will it reach them? 
I'll write more about that another day, but for now, I just want to say that many language departments are not effectively marketing to the one set of students they can most easily access: students who are already enrolled in their program. More specifically: you already have the emails of all the students who are enrolled in the last semester of your basic language program so at the very least reach out to them with a message that is …

Student Reflection

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by Matt Campion


Para mi proyecto comunitario, estoy trabajando como tutor en la escuela primaria Garden Hills. Esta población de estudiantes de esta escuela es muy diversa, con un muchos estudiantes de habla hispana. Enb los grados más pequeños se les enseña en una combinación de español e inglés. El español es el idioma principal en estas clases. A través del programa SOAR, estoy trabajando en un salón de segundo grado con estudiantes de habla hispana. Nuestras sesiones tienen lugar después de la escuela para una hora y media. Dividimos el tiempo entre lectura y matemáticas. Para la lectura, dos estudiantes se turnan leyendo el mismo libro. Luego los tutores hacen preguntas sobre lo que pasó en el libro y lo que piensan que va a pasar. Los estudiantes obtienen un libro a la semanay hay un sistema de puntos para lograr páginas y discusión sobre el libro. Los niños reciben un premio cada vez que llegan a quinientos puntos. Para la parte de matemáticas, los estudiantes tienen siempre una…

Terms You Should Know when Applying for a Top Position in Higher Education

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by Ann Abbott

This year I have done a lot of work on search committees--and by "a lot," I mean a lot. Each time I serve on a search committee I learn more and more about what it takes to be a successful job candidate.

Based on those experiences, I have shared tips about:

How to write a successful cover letter for a job in higher education.  In this post, I'd like to share some of the terminology I have picked up while working on a search committee to fill a very high-level position in my university. Yes, your experience and qualifications are the most important thing in a job hunt. Still, knowing the lingo helps position you as an expert. Here are the terms I learned; click on them to find more information. C-level Position When I thought of the top positions in an institution of higher education, my mind always went to jobs like President, Chancellor, Provost and Deans. However, colleges and universities also have C-level positions like the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) …

Student Reflection: Kelly Klus

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by Kelly Klus


East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center
My name is Kelly Klus- I’m a senior in my final semester (YIKES!) at the University of Illinois. My diploma will say that I’ve studied Psychology and Spanish in my four years here—but I spent so much time dabbling in classes, wandering and changing my major, career plans, and pursuing different interests that I think it would be more accurate if my diploma said something more like ‘Miscellaneous Studies.’ One thing that has stayed consistent is my desire to learn and speak Spanish well, to be able to interact with the wide varieties of cultures that speak Spanish.
This semester, I’ve been volunteering Tuesday mornings at ECIRMAC. The center is a small room in the church on Green Street in Urbana. The room fits four desks, a copy machine, and 3 filing cabinets—but leaves little to no room to maneuver around the room. There are schedules, calendars, and pamphlets taped to the walls in different languages. In a normal day,…

Student Reflection

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by Kelsey Marquez
One Day 
Sadness. Sadness is what I felt when I saw their innocent faces go from excited to disappointed. I will never forget the second time I went to volunteer at Garden Hills. When I walked into the nearly empty classroom, I came across an unfamiliar face. The stranger quickly introduced herself and said that she was the substitute teacher for the day and that the kids were still at Library. Within about five minutes, we went to pick up the children from Library and took them to get their vision tested. Up until that point, everything was pretty normal and going as usual. But soon that would change.
The substitute teacher was an elderly Caucasian woman who didn’t speak a word of Spanish. For most classes, this would not be a problem, but this class is a bilingual kindergarten class. What does that mean? It means that the children are being taught in Spanish and know very little or no English at all. As we waited for the children to get tested, they were asked to quie…

Student Reflection

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by Nicole Mathes
The Garden Hills Community Pyramid
In class, we have been focusing on businesses and components that are essential to the success of those businesses. For the longest time, I have (mistakenly) thought that schools are NOT businesses—they do not sell or advertise goods and services, their main goal is different than striving to increase profits, and they do not have clients. However, after one particular day volunteering at Garden Hills Elementary School, I realized that schools are businesses or, at the very least, have similar systems that make up the overall pyramid of the corporation.
On this particular day, we had a substitute teacher in our class. In fact, ALL of the third grade teachers were at a conference that day, so there were substitute teachers for every single third grade classroom in the school. Substitute teachers are great, but they have a difficult job to perform. They have to hold the respect and attention of the students, maintain a positive learning e…

5 Items in my Office that Inspire Me and my Spanish Community Service Learning Work

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by Ann Abbott

Doing community service learning work is rewarding, but it isn't always easy. To keep me going, I have a lot of things in my office that make me feel good. Here are just a few of them.



What inspirational items do you keep in your workspace? How do you maintain perspective even during the most intense parts of a semester?

Student Reflection

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by Nicole Mathes


Garden Hills Elementary School
This year I chose to volunteer in the Champaign-Urbana community at Garden Hills Elementary School in Champaign. I have previously volunteered at Garden Hills Elementary with the SOAR tutoring program and was a tutor in the second, third, and fourth grade classrooms. Based on the experiences that I had with each grade, I decided to work in the third grade bilingual classroom. Even though I volunteered with SOAR for two years, I now realize that I did not have a full understanding or appreciation for the staff at Garden Hills. I was never able to see the teachers or faculty members “in action” since SOAR operates after school. Sure, I respected them like any other teacher, but now, after seeing what a typical day is like at Garden Hills (or rather, how there is no such thing as a normal day), I have come to have a much deeper appreciation for them. Garden Hills Elementary school is one of three sites for gifted programs, has a large focus o…