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Showing posts from November, 2014

Cover Letter as Final Exam: Some Patterns I Have Seen in Students' Letter

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by Ann Abbott

The final exam for my SSPAN 332 "Spanish and Entrepreneurship: Languages, Cultures & Communities" course consists of finding a nonprofit job or volunteer opportunity that interests you in Latin America or in a US-based organization that serves Spanish-speakers. I don't mind putting this on my blog because it's a take-home exam, and students really can't cheat anyway. Their letter has to be specific to them, their community service learning work and their community-based team project.

Each year, there are patterns in the problems I find with the cover letters, and so here is a list of suggestions based on those patterns. They're important to do well on the test. But they're equally important for any job you apply for.

Map the job ad to your cover letter.  Use the same words that are in the job ad. Consider even organizing your cover letter by providing the information in the same order as it is listed in the job ad.

Use specific examples an…

I Am Thankful for a Pedagogy that Focuses on Social Justice: Spanish Community Service Learning

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by Ann Abbott

On this Thanksgiving Day I would like to say thank you to:

My students. They are dedicated, intelligent caring students who work 28 hours each semester with the community partner, learning and helping as much as they can.Our local Latino community. They add diversity and cultural richness to Champaign and Urbana, and despite the many challenges they face (racism, xenophobia, language barriers, and more) they have created a strong community with many riches.My CSL colleagues across the US. We are researching and publishing more than ever. There are more of us than ever. We are changing the nature of what "Spanish" means within a "foreign language" curriculum!

Message from a Community Partner to a Student

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by Ann Abbott

My student received this card from her community partner. She was excited and moved.

Our words have such a powerful effect.

New Book about Language Teaching and Social Justice

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by Ann Abbott

I just ordered this book and look forward to reading it.

Words and Actions: Teaching Languages Through the Lens of Social Justice

by Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell


According to the authors, a social justice curriculum positively influences all students. Social justice, critical pedagogy, and culturally relevant teaching are becoming essential as more and more language educators teach in increasingly diverse world language classrooms. This new publication supports in-service and pre-service teachers in recognizing their students' diverse backgrounds while also supporting students' ability to think critically about the world around them. Questioning mainstream approaches to language and culture learning is vital. An emphasis on social justice is, in part, a way to expand the definition and scope of language education, leading to further innovation in the profession.

Methods Proseminar: Introduction to Community Service Learning and Languages for Specific Purposes

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by Ann Abbott

1. Main take-aways




2. What is community service learning (CSL)?Service that meets a community-identified need.Service enhances the academic content of the course.Structured student reflections. (5 Cs)Identify and highlight those elements within the SPAN 232 "Spanish in the Community" Syllabus.
How would you alter the example in the first slide of "What is Service Learning?" to make it pertinent to a Spanish course?
3. What do you do in class?How would you respond to these statements?
¿QuiĆ©n es Dayani Cristal?  How can we make the trailer work in a beginning Spanish class?How can we empower students to enter the dialogue? What do you have to say? 4. What is languages for specific purposes (LSP)? Student career concerns and aspirations from Ann Abbott
5. What is your main take-away?

A Proposal to Teach a Short, Short Class on Spanish and Social Entrepreneurship in a High School

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by Ann Abbott 

My daughter is a sophomore at University High School in Urbana, and every year they have Agora Days:
"Another example of creative freedom is Agora Days, a four-day school week in late February when students, parents, faculty, alumni and friends of the school can teach hour-long classes about a wide range of topics. Students are required to take a number of academic-oriented classes, but classes based on playing sports and watching films or TV series also exist. Students have the same eight-hour schedule on each of the four days. Agora Days has been a Uni tradition since 1977." (From the Wikipedia page about Uni High.)

This year I decided to put together a proposal. Let's see what high school students think about social entrepreneurship and languages. Do you think the proposal will be accepted? Do you think students will be interested in the topic? Do you think I should have gone with something like "Socially-Conscious Latin American Musicians"?

Here…