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February 2012 Archives

TandemPlus: Article in Minnesota Daily

The Tuesday, February 21, 2012 edition of the Minnesota Daily features an article on the TandemPlus program that includes interviews with the coordinators and student participants. You can read the article online or pick up a paper copy on campus.

TandemPlus Bowling Night this Friday, February 24

The TandemPlus Culture and Conversation Program is hosting its spring semester Bowling Night this Friday, February 24 at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The event is open to all TandemPlus participants, and matched language partners are especially encouraged to attend. TandemPlus will cover the cost of games and it is Free Shoe Friday. Join us for fun, food, and foreign languages!

Spring 2012 registration for TandemPlus will close soon. If you'd like to register for a culture and conversation partner, do so now on-line through the Tandem Registration Page.

Jones 35 Renovation: More Flexibility, More DiLL, No Laptop Fuss

The Language Center staff would like thank all instructors who participated in the recent survey of technology needs. An upgrade planning committee used the results of that survey, along with an examination of our classroom usage statistics, to develop a plan for the renovation of Jones 35. Both the survey and an analysis of our use indicate that the number one technology need is additional classroom space for student audio pairing and recording. Since the MacDiLL software used for most computer-based audio activities only runs on Mac computers, we are planing on replacing the Windows OS laptops with networked, desktop Macs. The layout of the renovated classroom will be more flexible than our existing MacDiLL classrooms, and the room will remain multifunctional.

We are planning to install 24 networked iMac computers around the perimeter of the classroom. The interior of the classroom will be outfitted with tables that can be easily moved to allow for a variety of classroom configurations. Chairs will serve both the perimeter computer workstations as well as the interior tables, leaving enough space for many configurations. This flexible layout will allow the room to be used as both a computer classroom, and as a space for presentations, lectures, and small group work that does not involve computers.

The room will retain videotaping capabilities, and we are investigating options for upgrading the recording equipment.

Our survey indicated that most instructors prefer Macs for classroom use, and a large percentage have no preference. While a smaller percentage of instructors stated a preference for Windows computers, the committee is aware that some instructors have a strong preference for the Windows platform, and we would like to provide the best accommodation possible. All of our Mac classroom computers can fully run the Windows operating system, and the survey results indicated that not all instructors were aware of this possibility. Please contact us if you would like more information on how Windows can run on our iMac computers, or if you have suggestions on what we might do to improve your students' experiences on a dual-booting computer.

We are very excited about this renovation, and look forward to unveiling a brand-new, multifunctional computer lab with lots of layout possibilities, and no laptop fuss, during summer 2012.

TandemPlus Spring Kick-Off Event - Success!

On Friday, January 27, TandemPlus hosted its annual Spring kick-off event in 140 Nolte Hall. The event, attended by around 60 people speaking more than eight native languages, provided everyone with a chance to use their second-language skills in a fun, relaxing environment while enjoying refreshments.

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After a short introduction by TandemPlus informing attendees how to sign up for the program, students broke into small groups of 6-8 participants, each led by a native English speaker. They engaged each other during an activity discussing a variety of topics provided on small "TableTopics" conversation cards.

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After this activity, conversation group leader James Katsev and TandemPlus assistant Anna Kaminski led a game of "University of Minnesota Taboo" created specially for the event. Students were divided into two teams and had to describe different aspects of the University of Minnesota without saying words deemed "taboo". This was extremely difficult at times but overall the game got a good laugh out of all in attendance.

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After this, a short and spirited round of karaoke was led by James Katsev, Anna Kaminski and French instructor Rick Treece.

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TandemPlus currently has 344 people registered for exchanges. We hope to keep growing over the next couple of weeks and possibly beat last semester's record of nearly 700 registrants!

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