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Showing posts from October, 2014

Spanish Community Service Learning, Civic Engagement, Transcultural Competence and Technology

by Ann Abbott
In two weeks I will visit the University of South Florida in Tampa for their campus' Service Learning Day. I had a wonderful conversation with Lance Arney and Dr. Soria Colomer about what they and their colleagues would like to hear about and discuss. It became clear very quickly that people want to know more about how to help students engage with people of different cultural backgrounds in effective ways. And we are not just talking about national cultures; students need to be supported as the encounter many kinds of difference in their community service learning work so that they can understand, learn and grow.
Lance put together the following to send to faculty, and I wanted to share it because I think it is very well articulated and shows us what faculty really want to learn, what barriers they feel they need to overcome in order to do service learning and do it well.
Keynote speech: “Don’t Just Teach! Engage Students in Communities”: Engaging Students in Civic Acti…

Student Spotlight: Marlee Stein

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by Ann Abbott

Like many students, Marlee Stein took advantage of many opportunities available to Spanish students, perhaps not sure how they would all add up or where they would lead. Marlee did the following:

Studied abroad in Granada, Spain.Took the community service learning courses ("Spanish in the Community" and "Spanish and Entrepreneurship").She did James Scholar Honors projects in her Spanish courses. In my classes, one semester she blogged (on this blog) and another semester she worked on a virtual intercambio site-- got it up and running.She applied to teach English in Spain through the Cultural Ambassadors: North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain program. She was accepted, and she extended her stay into a second year. Along the way, she figured out for herself how all of those experiences added up, where she wanted them to lead her. Here's a message Marlee recently sent me.
I wanted to tell you that I was accepted into the graduate prog…

Engaged Teaching Leads to Career Opportunities for Students

by Ann Abbott

I believe that...

...universities are places of learning. That comes first. They are not vocational schools. And they are not businesses in and of themselves....learning should be broad. Yes, there should be a foreign language learning requirement for everyone. Yes, all students should have to take a course on non-Western cultures. Yes, math and science are for everyone--even though I thought I was going to flunk Chem 101 my freshman year....learning should take place inside and outside the classroom. Going to a foreign film festival is part of your university learning experience. Visiting a campus art museum, attending a student-produced play going to a concert are all learning experiences. When you're a student in a place where learning is the central mission, you don't stop learning when you leave your class....encountering "difference" is one of the most important things students should do. It's so important, that students should seek it out. Inv…

Florencia Henshaw: Building Accountability into the Task-Based Classroom

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by Ann Abbott

Ever had a colleague whose work you admire, whose skills complement yours, and yet your work overlaps and--let's be honest--she so pushes you, too?

I think that's a rare combination. 

That colleague, for me, is Florencia Henshaw.

So when I began to think about my social entrepreneurship for next semester and how I wanted to do a few things differently, it finally dawned on me to ask her for help.

Here is our email conversation:


My questionDear Florencia,
Una pregunta: since you are teaching [the methods course] in an active way, not just sitting around discussing the readings, how do you know if students are doing the readings or not? I'm trying to think of better ways to build in accountability to my entrepreneurship course for next semester and thought you might have some insights.
Ann
Florencia's answerHi Ann,

I usually do so in the form of:
a) creating questions/activities based on sections of the readings for their classmates to answer (e.g., "each person …

My Syllabi: Business Spanish, Spanish & Entrepreneurship and Spanish in the Community

by Ann Abbott

Sometimes I am very slow to respond to simple requests. When Carolina Egúsquiza (@cegusquiza) let me know that the links on my blog to my course syllabi didn't work, that seemed like an easy thing to fix. But I just fixed it today.

So here are my course syllabi and calendars. While I'm always tweaking the courses, these documents at the main elements of the course. 

You'll also find the links on the left-hand side bar.

Would you like to share your syllabi, too? I'd love to see them and learn from them. Just add a link in the comments below.

"Spanish in the Community" a community service learning course with relevant languages for specific purposes content
"Spanish & Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities," a community service learning course that focuses on social entrepreneurship within specific languistic and cultural communities
"Business Spanish," a combination of traditional business language studies and en…

Quick Cover Letter Advice for Recent College Graduates Who Lived Abroad

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by Ann Abbott

Some quick, quick advice before I start my work for the day:

Make sure the cover letters you write for jobs are more about the specific job you are applying for than the jobs you previously had. 

Yes, that means you need to customize each cover letter. Sorry. I know how much work that is. I really do.

Yes, that means that you need to use the same words they use in the job ad. They want to know you can do those things. Other things are good, but first you have show them that you are able to do those specific things that they listed in the ad.

Yes, that still means that you should elaborate by using specific examples, very specific examples, from previous experiences. Just remember that you are really using those specific examples to talk about this new job even though they are about your old job.

Here's what I wrote to a student:
I love the rich experiences you describe in your cover letter about your time in [another country]. However, I think the cover letter can do m…

Student Spotlight: Julie Lucas

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Ÿby Ann Abbott


I'm just so proud of my students and the wonderful things they go on to do after graduation.

Julie Lucas--she will always be Julia to me--is one of those students. Take a look at what she did while she was a student, the program she went on after graduation, and her plans for the future. Would you would like to follow in Julia's footsteps?
Spanish  Julia was in my SPAN 332 "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course. She worked at both the SOAR after-school program and with Vida Alegre. For her community-based team project, she worked on a marketing project for the University Language Academy for Children.
Spain After graduation, Julia spent two years in Spain, teaching English through the Embassy of Spain. 
Here are her own words about her experiences:
Hola Ann,
Vivo en Salamanca, y este curso será mi segundo enseñando en el mismo colegio que el año pasado. He vuelto porque me encantó la experiencia que tenía el año pasado y siento que todavía hay mucho que…

Student Spotlight: Amanda Peña

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by Ann Abbott


With some of my former students, I know what is going on in their lives because we are connected on Facebook. I see their pictures, hear about their jobs and watch their lives unfold.

With other students, I am aware of their development as professionals because we are connected on LinkedIn. I get to see where they work, what industry-related information they post, and watch them grow into new positions and jobs.

Amanda Peña is in the second category. She was a student in my "Spanish & Entrepreneurship" course, and she now works for a marketing company. I recently corresponded with her, and she gave me the following information to share. My hope is that her experiences will inspire current Spanish students to see what opportunities they should take advantage of while they are still students and what career path they might take after they graduate.

Here is Amanda's story. Look for ways in which you can follow in her successful footsteps.
What did you learn…

Fun, Engaging Classroom Activity for Students to Debate about Bilingualism and Immigration in the United States

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by Ann Abbott

This week students in my "Spanish in the Community" course were assigned to watch my friend and colleague Kim Potowski's video, No Child Left Monolingual (watch it; you'll enjoy it!), and one of her articles, "Sociolinguistic Dimensions to Immigration" Lengua y migración 5:2 (2013), 29-50.

Before class, I wrote down note cards with things Americans often say--awful things about languages and cultures or things they are simply confused about:
I came to this university to study computer science, not Spanish. Why am I required to study a language? That makes me mad!I'm not Irish-American; I'm just American. I don't believe in all this "heritage" baloney.My great-grandpa came from Germany and learned English. Why can't these Mexicans just learn like he did?If we don't all speak the same language, everything will just be utter chaos.My pediatrician told me that my bilingual child is not hitting speech benchmarks. What s…

Community Service Learning and Study Abroad

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by Ann Abbott

My facebook friend Beatriz Urraca posted the other day about a community service learning course she is co-leading in Mexico this January 2015. The course is offered through Widener University. (I love the fact that "Civic Engagement" is a prominent tab on their univeristy's home page.)

I'll let you take a look at the slide show to see more details, but what I love about this trip is that it focuses on indigenous communities, the cooperatives they have built as solutions to the challenges they (not outsiders) perceive as important.

This looks like a great model of a short-term, study-abroad community service learning course.

Who Wants the Language Police Breathing down Their Neck?

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by Ann Abbott

I followed @ORTOGRAFIA on Twitter because I liked the first tweets I saw:

They explained some common spelling mistakes that I thought I might retweet because they could be helpful to students.They shared uncommon vocabulary that sometimes I didn't even know. I think it's always fun to learn new words. But once I followed them, I also got the messages like the one above that felt like I was being scolded. Judged. Better not make any mistakes, stupid!
Yuck.
See, I don't even disagree with the tweet above (Quien ignora la ortografia también ignora que perderá respeto, credibilidad y admiración.) It's true; people do judge you on your writing abilities.
But the people who matter also judge you on the worth of your ideas. Your character. Your honesty. Your willingness to communicate. To communicate in writing. Your warmth. Your smile.
Let's be careful about the messages we send to our students. If I found @ORTOGRAFIA to be demoralizing, what might it feel l…

Things That Have Made Me a Little Sad Lately

by Ann Abbott


The Tutoring Room When I walk past the Spanish tutoring room, it's great to see students in there, using the resource. It makes me sad, though, to hear what they are using it for. Every single time I walk past, I hear them going over grammar rules with the TA. Now of course I know that grammar is important. But it's not everything. And it's not what makes learning a language wonderful and perspective-changing. For most people, at least. 
I never hear anyone talking to the TA about culture. About ideas. About a reading that caught their attention and they want to understand a little better. About an idea for their composition that they want to talk through before sitting down to actually write it.
The Tutoring Room seems to be the Grammar Room. 
Students pay attention to what we grade, not what we say. We must be grading a lot of grammar. Or maybe I have it all wrong and it's just that students think that a foreign language is grammar. Maybe.
"I'm…

Workflow Tips for Team-based Social Media Marketing

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by Ann Abbott

After editing, posting and scheduling the posts that my Business Spanish teams had prepared this week for La Línea's Facebook page, I wanted to share the following information:

No formatting Facebook posts don't allow bullet points, tabs, or other kinds of formatting. So when you prepare your posts first in a Word document, Google doc or wiki, don't use formatting that will be lost when it is copied and pasted to Facebook.
Links or pics You cannot have in the same post a link (with a preview) and pictures. Once you put in the link with a preview, the option to upload a photo disappears. You need to decide. Or put the link in a comment below your post. You need to think that through.
Marketing Don't forget that you're not just doing social media, you're doing social media marketing. La Línea isatelephone. In fact, when Lisa Sink and Muong Saeteurn came to our class to introduce themselves and La Línea, Lisa held up their flip phone and said, "Thi…

How to Give Feedback so the Other Person Hears Both the Positive and the Negative

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by Ann Abbott

Fridays are "Consulting Workshop" days in my Business Spanish class.

(Reminder: my Business Spanish students are doing the social media marketing on Facebook for La Línea. There have been challenges, mostly because I was strapped for time to do the careful, intense editing that the posts need before being published. I´ll write about that another day.)

I had planned to teach them about preparing original images instead of always using things they find online. I was going to show them how to do images using PowerPoint (like the one above), PicMonkey and Canva.

Instead, I realized that I needed to use that time for editing: for them to edit each other!

First of all, I knew that if we didn´t use today´s class time for editing, I might not find the time after class. That would put us behind on posting again.

Secondly, I wanted them to go through the experience of looking at a post with ¨fresh¨ eyes. To see a post for the first time and analyze your reaction to it. W…