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Monday, November 13, 2017

Courseshare for Spring 2018: New Culture Course Offerings

All LANG Courseshare courses planned for Spring 2018 are now open for registration. There are two upper-division culture courses open to all students.

LANG 3601 Sámi Culture, Yesterday and Today

The northern tracts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula seem for many a singularly remote locale—Europe's area of sparsest population, an Arctic region where snow can remain on the ground for nine months out of the year and where the annual daylight regimen swings from a summer of perpetual light to a long, dark winter during which the sun never rises above the horizon. Yet to its indigenous inhabitants—the Sámi (Lapps)—this land is rich and bountiful, an age-old ally that deserves to be reverenced and safeguarded. Here Sámi people have lived from time immemorial, sustaining themselves on various combinations of hunting, fishing, reindeer husbandry, farming, and trade. In this course, we explore the culture of the Sámi people, both on Sámi terms—through examination of Sámi language, oral tradition, material culture, religion, literature, film, digital media, and other cultural products—and on terms imposed from the outside. We will examine how neighboring peoples defined and disenfranchised Sámi over time, depicting them as magicians, primitives, racial inferiors, and trouble-makers in a manner that allowed authorities to discredit and disregard Sámi views. We will look at the legacy of this process of colonization as it continues today and how Sámi have worked to preserve their culture and bring it into the future. We will compare the Sámi situation to that of indigenous peoples elsewhere in the world, particularly those of North America. We will look at the international "Fourth World" or indigenous peoples' movement that has resulted in legislation like the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ongoing battles throughout the world to secure self-determination, cultural preservation, and resource rights for some of the world's smallest and most endangered populations. Through it all we will see a culture of remarkable vitality and resilience, one that offers deep wisdom and pragmatic insights for a world contemplating the notion of sustainability.

This course is taught in English and there are no prerequisites. It is taught by Dr. Thomas DuBois at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

LANG 3651 Islamic Seminar on Rumi, Sufi Poet

Rumi is today the most well-known Sufi across the world. His legacy suggests that this is not undeserved, for he not only composed thousands of verses of poetry that have become revered internationally, but his disciples formed, on the basis of his teachings, a Sufi order that became highly influential for many centuries in three different continents. Moreover, he has come to be considered in much of the world as one of the greatest ever mystics to have lived.

This seminar will focus on Rumi and his writings, in order to acquire an in-depth understanding of Sufi spirituality and literature. The method will be to contextualize Rumi historically and then analyze his poetry and discourses, with an emphasis on his didactic poetry. At every stage, the analysis of texts in translation will be emphasized, both as a means to acquire a more in-depth and nuanced understanding, and also to develop skills in textual analysis that are indispensable for advanced undergraduate and graduate study. Original sources can be provided for anyone who reads Persian.

This course is taught in English and there are no prerequisites. It is taught by Dr Jawid Mojaddedi from Rutgers University through the Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum (DISC) program.

The other eight LANG Courseshare courses are language sequence continuation courses:

  • LANG 2012 Accelerated Catalan II
  • LANG 1162 Beginning Hungarian II
  • LANG 1062 Beginning Persian II
  • LANG 2062 Intermediate Persian II
  • LANG 1072 Beginning Polish II (partially online)
  • LANG 1102 Beginning Modern Tibetan II
  • LANG 1122 Beginning Vietnamese II (fully online)
  • LANG 2122 Intermediate Vietnamese II (fully online)

Students and advisors who do not see the language or level they are looking for should email Stephanie Treat at elsie@umn.edu as soon as possible to convey their interest.

Monday, November 6, 2017

TandemPlus for Chinese Immersion Gap students and Native Speakers

The Language Center TandemPlus program and the department of Asian Languages and Literatures recently started a new initiative: coordinating and conducting conversation sessions for Chinese immersion gap students and native speakers of Chinese.

A couple years ago, Chinese immersion schools in Minnesota began to have graduates after eight years of bilingual training. Those students were fluent in Chinese and went on to regular high schools. Once entering high school however, most of them found no Chinese course that would suit them, because their Chinese language proficiency was so much higher than other students. Consequently, they became so-called “gap” students, meaning they have a gap of four years between graduating from immersion school and entering college. During these years, they often lack opportunities to communicate in Chinese. Students and their parents expressed concern that their Chinese language proficiency would slide down instead of going up if they had no opportunity to use the language.

On the other hand, on the University of Minnesota campus, there are more native speakers of Chinese who need help with their English than there are American students learning Chinese who would like to have a Chinese language partner. Consequently, TandemPlus has long been troubled by their inability to find language partners for international students from China.

Naturally, an idea came up: how about matching the Chinese immersion gap students with native speakers of Chinese at the university? We can kill two birds with one stone! Why not?

The two departments assessed the feasibility, discussed details, and assigned people to work on this project. At the meeting, it was also decided that the conversation sessions should be conducted once a week with 90 minutes each time. In order to benefit both groups of students, half of the time students would be speaking Chinese, and the other half in English.

The first conversation session was held on Thursday, September 28, 2017 and it was a great success. A total of 26 students came, about half of which were immersion graduates, and the other half native speakers of Chinese, as well as 3-4 chaperones. Since then, the conversation sessions have been going well. The lead instructor, Zhen Zou, has come up with more than a dozen topics which should be sufficient for this semester. On each topic, he has also designed 8 - 10 questions, both in English and Chinese, for students to dig deep into the topics.

The parents told Zhen that they appreciate this opportunity for their children. Students also enjoy this precious opportunity to speak Chinese. Some report that they speak more Chinese in those 45 minutes than they do the whole rest of the week!

TandemPlus Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Fraser 102

The autumn holidays keep rolling along; Halloween has come and gone, and TandemPlus is gearing up for the Turkey season by throwing an early Thanksgiving event! Bring your partner, or come alone, to celebrate. The event is an opportunity to hang out, munch on food, meet other participants of the TandemPlus program, see old friends, and make new ones!

TandemPlus will be offering pumpkin pie, apple pie, cinnamon rolls, and apple cider to those who come. Participants who take a chance at our trivia game have a chance to win gift cards as prizes as well. Take the evening off to enjoy the end of midterms exams, and hang out with TandemPlus!

Language Center Staff News

The Language Center is pleased to welcome Anna Sisombat back the Language Testing Program as an Assessment Administrator. Anna will coordinate ACTFL assessments for the Certificate of Advanced Proficiency students and other students requiring those tests, as well as administer other proficiency tests. Her office is in Jones 105C.

Beth Kautz, the TandemPlus Educational Specialist, is moving to the main office suite in Jones 110G.

Monday, October 30, 2017

PACE and LATIS Presentation: The cool things you can do with Canvas

Part 1
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
12:20 - 1:10 p.m.
Nolte 140
Register Online

Part 2
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
12:20 - 1:10 p.m.
Nolte 140
Register Online

Make the most of your transition to Canvas!

LATIS and the Language Center are teaming up to offer a series of professional development opportunities for language instructors to become familiar with Canvas. In this two-part event, we will explore options to make your implementation of Canvas more effective, and to learn from colleagues who have already worked with this system. You will also become familiar with features specifically applicable for language learning and instruction that you can implement in your Canvas courses.
  • Part 1: November 15: a general introduction to new features available in Canvas, and resources for the transition into Canvas
  • Part 2: November 29: best practices for managing online content, instructional design, and language options for courses and assignments
Both sessions will be useful to all language instructors, including instructors who teach multi-section courses and those who design their own sites. Come to one or both sessions! Refreshments will be provided.

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