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Showing posts from July, 2014

Sign Up Today for SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community"

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by Ann Abbott
Would you like to take a Spanish course that is different from all the others?Do you want some real-world experience in professional settings? Want to create a resume section titled "Bilingual Professional Experiences"and stand out on the job market?Sign up now for SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community"! We especially need students in the 4:00 section. If you haven't taken SPAN 208 but you want to give this class a try, go ahead and sign upIf you're still not sure, watch this video in which I explain the course. (It's short; less than five minutes.)
Why should you take SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community"?
You will speak Spanish. Lots of it.
Students often complain that they take Spanish classes but rarely have the chance to actually practice Spanish in them. In class you listen to the professor and to a few students who raise their hands. There's lots of reading, and while the texts are important, they don't necessarily reflec…

Student Spotlight: Jesse Hoyt

by Ann Abbott

First things first: Jesse Hoyt was never a student in my class. But he was a student at the University of Illinois, and I ran into him a lot because of his work with La Colectiva at the University YMCA when I was more involved with CU-Immigration Forum at its beginnings.

Most importantly, I think he is a former UI student that current Spanish students should get to know. He's a role model because of the career path he followed, and he's a expert in community organizing, grassroots organizations and immigrant rights.

Here are several videos that I hope inform and inspire you. Listen carefully to find out where he worked after graduation (he has moved on now), look up the website and see if they have any job openings that could be a good fit for you.



Now listen to his talk at the University YMCA's Friday Forum from the fall of 2013. You'll learn a lot about for-private jails and immigration reform, but you'll also see how professional and experienced a …

Teaching Incarcerated Students about Spanish Community Service Learning

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by Ann Abbott

I'm going to go to a prison this semester.

I've never been to a prison before. I know many people from my hometown, Clay City, Illinois, who have been to jail, mostly because of drugs. On the other hand, I also know a lot of people from Clay City who work as prison guards--one of the most coveted jobs in an area with mostly low-paying, low-security jobs.

I'll be going to the prison in Danville, Illinois to teach one class (just one day) through the Education Justice Program (EJP), run by Prof. Rebecca Ginsburg at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I have admired their work for many years, even donated small amounts to the project. (I always imagine that money going toward buying a tank of gas to drive from Champaign to Danville and back.) I have also long admired the work that Prof. Pamela Cappas-Toro (Stetson University, Florida) and Lee Ragsdale did with the program when they were a UI graduate students. Finally, I was in the front row last year …

Teaching English Abroad when You Didn't Actually Learn How to Teach

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by Ann Abbott

As I have written before, many Spanish community service learning (CSL) students want to find opportunities that allow them to continue learning languages, to immerse themselves in other cultures and to live abroad. Teaching English in another country is a popular option.

In a previous post, I shared information and resources about how to find a job teaching English abroad.

Once you get the job, though, then what? Jst because you speak English doesn't mean you know how to teach. So when I talked to Kelly Klus, about her upcoming move to Barranquilla, Colombia to teach English, she asked me for ideas and resources. Here is the gist of what I told her.

Speaking English to English Learners. Kelly will be teaching in an immersion classroom. That means that she will be teaching social studies, science and other subjects in English. So even when she's not teaching English per se, she will still need to communicate with students in English in ways that facilitate their …

Student Spotlight: Kelly Klus

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by Ann Abbott

It was a delight to have Kelly Klus in both my "Spanish in the Community" course and in "Spanish & Entrepreneurship." She was interested, engaged, smart, responsible and I sincerely enjoyed reading her reflexiones and listening to what she had to say in class. She worked at SOAR in my class, and she did her study abroad in Ecuador

She emailed me a few days ago and told me her big news:

"I accepted a year-long job assistant teaching in Barranquilla, Colombia. I've been meaning to email you since I accepted it; I'm super excited to go. I've been doing some reading and trying to give myself some crash courses on teaching English as a second language in a classroom. If you have any time this week I'd love to pick your brain about what you've learned about teaching languages and any resources that would be good in exchange for a coffee or lunch :) I'm going to be with third graders, a long shot from crazy college kids (ok, s…

Student Spotlight: Maggie O'Connor

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by Ann Abbott


Maggie studied abroad in Quito, Ecuador and was a volunteer English teacher at a local elementary school. She did her CSL work as a classroom aid in the bilingual kindergarten classroom at Garden Hills Elementary as well as the SOAR tutoring program there. In addition, she worked at the Wesley food pantry.

Here are some of her reflections about her CSL work and her application for a Fulbright:
"The main thing that I learned from CSL that I will apply to law school and/or the Fulbright Scholarship should I receive it is that I know a heck of a lot less than I think I do. In other words, you are never really done learning something. 
"For example, I thought going into SPAN 232 that I knew all there was to know about community service learning after being a volunteer tutor already in Champaign and working at a local food pantry during high school. However, when we had group discussions about different forms of ESL, I was completely blown away that I had never underst…

Redesigning Spanish Programs for the 21st Century: Bibliography

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by Ann Abbott

Dwindling majors in language programs.

Upper-level courses that don't make.

Parents who discourage students from majoring in Spanish. "I'm not paying $100,000 for four years just so that you can have fun."

Students who want to study abroad but take business classes.
Or engineering classes.
Or environmental studies.
Photography. Animal sciences. Econ. Internships.

Students who do the Spanish major and love it, but wonder, as graduation draws near, what in the world are they supposed to do now?

Faculty committed to their students' learning but questioning of new directions and expectations.

This is a partial description of the challenges college-level Spanish programs are facing today. And while our departments are filled with smart and creative faculty, grad students and undergrad students, our solutions sometimes are too small-scale or too close to what we're already doing to be effective.

As a first step, let's put together a bibliography t…