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March 2011 Archives

Shorten YouTube videos with TubeChop

Have you ever wanted to show just a short portion of a YouTube video? Perhaps you'd like to do an information gap activity in your class where groups of students would watch different portions of a YouTube video and then explain the beginning and ending of the video to each other. Or maybe you just want to be able to quickly bring up the relevant portion of a video, rather than waiting for the entire video to load.

In either case, it can be pretty handy to have only the portion of the video you need.  Enter TubeChop!  Just go to the TubeChop site, enter the URL of the YouTube video you want to shorten, select the start and end points and then chop! Voila! You have a shortened YouTube video!

After chopping your video, you can embed or link to it from your course website or blog. Here's an excerpt of a video Language as a Window Into Human Nature by RSAnimate that I chopped in TubeChop:


For more information about TubeChop, see TubeChop: The Educative Use of YouTube at the Educational Technology blog.

The Language Center and CARLA are sponsoring two spring 2011 ACTFL webinar series. These six webinars will be presented in Jones 35. All U of M language instructors and instructors in training are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. A discussion may follow some webinars, and this will be scheduled later. The schedule may need to be adjusted based on the availability of content.

Series One: Learner Progress on the ACTFL Proficiency Continuum
Presenter: Chantal P. Thompson, Professor of French at Brigham Young University (Utah)

Determining Where Our Students are on the ACTFL Proficiency Scale
Friday, April 1: 12:20 - 1:20, Jones 35
How can we gauge more accurately where our students are on the ACTFL scale? What matters is not what they know about the language, but what they can actually DO with it! How do we pinpoint their level within the Novice, Intermediate and Advanced ranges? This webinar will familiarize teachers with the assessment criteria of the ACTFL scale, and enable them to analyze and rate excerpts from actual Oral Proficiency Interviews. Instructional implications and insights will also be addressed.

Moving Students from Novice to Intermediate
Friday, April 8: 12:20 - 1:20, Jones 35
This webinar will address various strategies to help students move along the proficiency spectrum in more efficient ways. Among those strategies: integration of functions, content, accuracy and text type in course design and lesson planning; immersion in the target language; a higher-order learning approach to all elements of the language; a proper balance between structured and creative practice, and empowering students through pre-speaking activities.

Moving Students from Intermediate to Advanced
Friday, April 29: 12:20 - 1:20, Jones 35
How do we get students to go beyond the minimal answers they typically give? Using observable performance as our gauge, we will explore strategies and activities that enable students to cross more effectively the critical border from Intermediate to Advanced. The strategies introduced in Webinar 2 will take on a new dimension when applied to the difficult transition toward Advanced-level proficiency, where elaborations are paramount.

Series Two: Assessments to Measure and Build Language Performance
Presenter: Paul Sandrock, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Creating Interpretive Tasks Targeting Language Levels
Friday, April 15: 12:20 - 1:20, Jones 35
Interpretive communication is not an exercise in translation, but rather a focus on understanding the main idea and subsequent layers of details. Examine how to set up tasks in which students demonstrate how well they understand what they read, hear, or view. Expand your repertoire of how students can demonstrate their understanding without relying on production of the target language.

Designing Presentational Performance Tasks and Their Rubrics
Friday, May 6: 12:20 - 1:20, Jones 35
Presentational communication occurs in many ways, formal and informal. Get practical tips for designing assessments of presentational skills targeted at different levels of proficiency. Then experience a process for designing rubrics that provide students with feedback outlining how they can improve their performance.

Developing Communication Skills Through Interpersonal Performance Tasks
Wednesday, May 11: 12:20 - 1:20, Jones 35
Interpersonal communication involves an exchange of information or ideas with both partners actively negotiating meaning. Discover effective ways to set up tasks so that students focus on getting their message across and are motivated to give their strongest performance. Learn to design feedback mechanisms that reward what really counts in developing interpersonal communication skills.

Anna Kaminski plans benefit concert: Friday, March 25

Student Office Assistant Anna Kaminski has planned a benefit concert for the American Refugee Committee on Friday, March 25 from 6-11PM at the Fallout in Uptown

This event, called the Heart Show, is sponsored by a U of M student group called STAND UMN and will take place at the Fallout Art Co-op (2601 2nd Ave S) in Uptown. This event is the first of its kind and is kicking off a new way to raise awareness and build a movement for Global Human Rights and Refugee Awareness. Local Bands Patch, Scotty Horey, Chrystal Odin and Le Cirque Rouge Band, and HighTV have designed their sets specifically around the stories of refugees and survivors that are sharing their stories from the Holocaust, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Interpretive Dance is also a part of the event and is choreographed by local Choreographer, John Mark. Local, Refugee, and National Artists are also exhibiting their work at this all encompassing show. Admittance is 8 dollars and all proceeds are being donated to the American Refugee Committee that is currently working on the ground in Libya, Sudan, Haiti, and most likely will soon be sending aid to Japan. Please make it out and support a great event and worthwhile cause!

You can learn more about this event at STAND UMN's Facebook event page. If you have questions, please contact Anna at

ACTFL proficiency assessment workshop held over Spring Break

The Language Center sponsored a three-day workshop on language proficiency assessment over Spring Break led by Dr. Robert Vicars, an ACTFL certified trainer. The first two days focused on oral proficiency, and third day on writing. This professional development opportunity was offered primarily to support instructors of languages for which a new LPE is in development. A total of 33 instructors attended the workshop, representing the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish. The workshop was very well received, and some attendees expressed interest in discussing implications for the instruction and assessment of language classes. Anyone interested in participating in a follow-up event should contact Stephanie at

Spanish program to develop second-year hybrid classes

Pablo Viedma and Frances Matos-Schultz were awarded a CLA-OIT Tech Fees Tools for Discovery Grant for the project titled From a Face-to-Face to a Hybrid Model in Second-Year Spanish: a Dynamic Template. They will be developing a hybrid second-year Spanish course to follow the very successful first-year accelerated one developed by Frances years ago. They will have a graduate student research assistant working on the project.

World Languages Day (WLD) 2011 class list now online

WLD is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17, and we are expecting approximately 1000 Minnesota high school students, including approximately 70 virtual attendees. Registration will open in two weeks, and the class list is available at We are offering several new classes this year including Arabic Culture and Language: A Trip to Tunisia, An Easy Way to Learn Chinese Tones, Green Germany, Introduction to Icelandic, Latin Music, Dance and Food, and FĂștbol is Played with the Feet!. A big thank you to all instructors who have agreed to teach this year!

Print from your laptop in the Jones Hall Multimedia Lab

It's late. Your language class starts in 10 minutes. Your essay is saved on your laptop, and you need to bring a printed copy to class. You forgot to bring a USB drive, and you don't have time to upload it to Google docs. Fortunately, you use the Jones 135 Multimedia Lab, and you know you can print wirelessly directly from your laptop. You cruise in, print your essay, and make it to class with moments to spare.

That's right -- the Multimedia Lab offers wireless laptop printing. Users first need to download the correct driver for their laptop from the Lab web page and carefully read the installation instructions. Laptop printing is available for most PCs and Macs with Intel processors and OS10.5 and above. Once the driver is installed, users print directly from their laptops to one of the Lab's two black-and-white laser printers, and pay for printing using value stored on their student ID.

Printing in Jones 135 is always a bargain -- 10 cents per page, single or double sided, from your laptop or from one of our PCs or Macs.

Software on Language Center Classroom and Lab Computers

Do you sometimes wonder why students and teachers use the computers in Jones rather than their home computers? What software and tools do these computers have that yours might not? Beyond obvious answers such as "big headphones and an external microphone for recording my voice," the classrooms (Rooms 10, 15, 30 and 35) and Multimedia Lab (Room 135) in the Language Center offer software programs for both novice and expert users that can be used for practicing particular language skills or developing multi-media class projects. These programs are updated and maintained by Language Center staff, so you always know you are working with current, (nearly) bug-free versions of the latest or tried-and-true software! If your students start a project in a Jones classroom, but don't have time to finish it during the class period, they can go upstairs to the Multimedia Lab and find the same software and tools needed to complete their projects.

Here's a sampling of what you'll find on our computers:

  • Sound editors such as Audacity or Garageband -- record your voice, and/or analyze and edit a voice or music clip. (Great for creating soundtracks, too!)

  • Video editors and converters such as Mpeg Streamclip, Handbrake, Windows MovieMaker and iMovie -- create, edit, and convert a movie to different formats.

  • Vocabulary and pronunciation trainers like ProVoc and Praat -- for more in-depth second-language vocabulary and pronunciation analysis.

  • Screen capture through Camtasia Relay -- record what you're doing on-screen, as you're doing it -- great for creating an instructional video.

For a complete list of installed software, see our new page on the LC website.

If you want to request additional software to be installed on Language Center classroom or lab computers, please fill out a Software Installation Request and bring the form, software and licensing information to our main office, 110 Jones Hall.

Two MacBook Air Laptops Now Available

The Language Center now has two very portable, lightweight laptops available for instructor checkout. They have excellent battery life, and project easily. You can reserve MacBook Air laptops and other equipment at

TandemPlus: New Matching Option, Mid-Winter Mixer

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Attention Spanish/Portuguese/French/German/Hebrew/Russian language students -- do you want to practice your second-language skills with native speakers, without leaving campus? The Tandem Plus program at the Language Center can help you with our new Virtual Face-to-Face program, which joins U of M participants with conversation partners in different countries. Participants meet on-line via Skype or a similar platform to practice their second-language skills with students at universities in Mexico, Honduras, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Russia, Germany, France, and Israel. To sign up for Virtual Face-to-Face, you need to register online for a Face-to-Face exchange through the Language Center:

From there, we'll find a partner for you.

Tandem Plus held a Mid-Winter Mixer on Friday afternoon, February 18. More than 65 Tandem Plus Face-to-Face participants and international students came to play English-language games, enjoy refreshments, and just converse. As always, it was great to see all the participants who make Tandem Plus so successful!

Go to the CLA home page.

Twin Cities Campus: