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Language Center News

Jones Classroom Hours to Change for Spring 2015

Although overall demand for the four Language Center computer classrooms remains high and growing, use by evening courses has dropped considerably. The number of language courses scheduled by departments after 6:00 p.m. is no longer sufficient to justify the computer classrooms remaining open until 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Beginning Spring 2015 we are therefore making a slight adjustment to our classroom hours. The new hours will be:

Monday: 8:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday 8:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Thursday: 8:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 - 4:30 p.m.

There are a few Tuesdays and Wednesdays that have classes scheduled later than 7:30 p.m., and on those days, the classrooms will be open longer.

Instructors of evening courses who require access on a Tuesday or Wednesday after 7:30 p.m. may email elsie@umn.edu to request special access or note this when they submit a reservation request.

PACE Swap Shop: Turnin' Up the Heat with In-Class Activities

On December 1, 2014, the PACE Professional Development (PD) Peer Team held a second Swap Shop event. Swap Shops are short, informal opportunities for language instructors from all departments to share activities and learn from one another. The most recent event included instructors from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The event began with Rasha El Helw, instructor of Beginning and Intermediate Arabic, presenting the curricular idea of a "Gallery Walk". In a gallery walk, instructors set up different stations around the room with discussion prompts which students explore and and respond to as they alternate between stations. This can serve as a good tool for for prompting discussion about readings, movies, or other class materials, while allowing students to remain active physically.

Next Minori Inada, instructor of Beginning Japanese, and Ayumi Mita, instructor of Beginning and Intermediate Japanese, presented their newly created Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA). IPAs are a type of assessment which gives students the opportunity to show their ability to use language skills in real-life situations. As a part of this IPA, students were asked to identify key pieces of information from Japanese event posters, discuss the event with a partner, and propose alternatives to attending that specific event. This allowed students to put their knowledge of Japanese vocabulary and grammar into practice and accurately showcase their understanding of the language.

Participants discussed these practices and how they could be further developed and applied. Thanks to those who were able to attend and collaborate! Stay tuned for more information about Swap Shops in Spring 2015!

The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.

ACTFL OPI Assessment Workshop: May 18-21, 2015

The PACE Project is sponsoring a four-day ACTFL OPI Tester Training workshop for up to ten language instructors May 18-21, 2015. The workshop will take place in Jones Hall and will be conducted by an expert ACTFL OPI Tester trainer.

This four-day workshop introduces the ACTFL rating scale, the structure of the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), and techniques of administering and rating the OPI. Participants observe and conduct live practice interviews across all proficiency levels (Novice through Superior). Participants will critique and discuss interview elicitation, structure, and rating. Participation in this workshop can be the first step towards certification as an ACTFL OPI Tester for those who choose to do so. We hope that participation in this workshop will lead to a greater focus on proficiency and to greater opportunities for student success in developing their proficiency.

The workshop is funded by the PACE Project, which covers the cost of the training plus breakfast and lunch.

If you would like to apply for this opportunity, please register your interest through this form by January 5, 2015. Priority will be given to the PACE languages funded by the grant.

The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.

Indonesian Through a Screen: Jack Kreiser's CourseShare Experience

This semester, the University of Minnesota has partnered with several Big 10 institutions to provide less-commonly-taught language courses through teleconferencing and other digital means, a project funded by the Consortium for Institutional Collaboration (CIC) CourseShare program. When Junior Jack Kreiser learned about CourseShare, he eagerly got in contact about the possibility of an Indonesian course.

"I've always been interested in languages and geography in general, and Indonesia has always been a sort of favorite of mine," he said.

Thanks to CourseShare, Kreiser was able to enroll in an Indonesian course offered through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the only U of M student enrolled in this particular CourseShare class. The rest of his class and his instructor only know him from what they've seen of him on their computer screen.

"Before the program started, I was worried about how my classmates would feel about having a stranger in their class studying over videoconference," he remembered. "The students in the class had already had a year of Indonesian class together, and I worried I might be seen as intruding on their class."

Kresier was relieved to find that "all my classmates are very nice and have accepted me into the class." They've made him feel included and welcomed, he said, and they all enjoy joking around with each other--although some of their favorite jokes aren't ones that can be found in a typical classroom.

"For one class activity, we had to line up based on height, age, etc. Because I wasn't physically in the room, the class TA had to stand in my place. My classmates and I also like to tease each other by asking the other if they want some of our food when someone brings snacks to class."

After several weeks of observing the CourseShare classes, Program Coordinator Pablo Viedma is excited to see everything going so well.

"The students seem to be having a lot of fun; they're always laughing and having a good time," he said.

As is the case with most big projects, obstacles presented themselves early on in the semester. Viedma says the staff had to work quickly to correct some technological issues, primarily improving the sound. Since then, there have been no major issues, but Viedma is prepared to confront them should they appear.

"We're learning as we go," he said, "and now it will be nice to be able to anticipate these problems with future courses."

Kreiser is looking forward to continuing his Indonesian course next semester and encourages others to take advantage of CourseShare as well.

"I would really like for the CourseShare program to make itself more well-known on campus. The actual program itself is run very well, it's just that very few people know about it," he said.

He especially encourages those who are interested in less-commonly-taught languages, such as Indonesian, to find out more information about this program and enroll in a course.

"Studying a less-commonly-taught language makes you stand out and differentiate yourself from others. [It] also provides great academic and career options. There are many scholarship programs for a large number of less-commonly-taught languages due to an insufficient number of speakers in these languages. Employers also are interested in speakers of less commonly taught languages because it is very difficult to find employees that can speak these language to meet their language needs.

"Studying a less-commonly-taught language is [also] really cool because people will want to talk to you about the language you are studying. Nobody would be asking me questions right now about the language I study if I had chosen a commonly-taught language.

"I've really enjoyed knowing that I am the only person in the entire university that is taking a class in Indonesian. [...] Indonesia is home to a quarter billion people, but most Americans don't know or hear very much about this giant country. When I tell people I am studying Indonesian, the two most common responses are: 'That's a language?' and 'Where's Indonesia?' This strange lack of interest in Indonesia in our society has draw me to learn more about the country and its people because I believe that our society should be more aware of other places and cultures around the world."

If you are interested in CIC CourseShare and would like more information, please contact CourseShare Coordinator Pablo Viedma by emailing viedma@umn.edu.

PACE Swap Shop: Turnin' Up the Heat with In-Class Activities

On December 1, 2014, the PACE Professional Development (PD) Peer Team held a second Swap Shop event. Swap Shops are short, informal opportunities for language instructors from all departments to share activities and learn from one another. The most recent event included instructors from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The event began with Rasha El Helw, instructor of Beginning and Intermediate Arabic, presenting the curricular idea of a "Gallery Walk." In a gallery walk, instructors set up different stations around the room with discussion prompts which students explore and and respond to as they alternate between stations. This can serve as a good tool for for prompting discussion about readings, movies, or other class materials, while allowing students to remain active physically.

Next Minori Inada, instructor of Beginning Japanese, and Ayumi Mita, instructor of Beginning and Intermediate Japanese, presented their newly created Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA). IPAs are a type of assessment which gives students the opportunity to show their ability to use language skills in real-life situations. As a part of this IPA, students were asked to identify key pieces of information from Japanese event posters, discuss the event with a partner, and propose alternatives to attending that specific event. This allowed students to put their knowledge of Japanese vocabulary and grammar into practice and accurately showcase their understanding of the language.

Participants discussed these practices and how they could be further developed and applied. Thanks to those who were able to attend and collaborate! Stay tuned for more information about Swap Shops in Spring 2015!

The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.


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