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Friday, December 21, 2012

Online Participation in an Online Learning Conference

On December 8, fourteen instructors and staff from the four larger language departments gathered in Jones 35 to participate in the one-day conference held at the University of Pennsylvania, entitled Advancing Language Education Beyond the Classroom. The group heard streaming presentations from Marie-Noelle Lamy in the United Kingdom, Daphne Koller in California, and Carl Blyth in Texas, along with a number of panel presentations at the conference site in Philadelphia.

Presenters shared their experiences with completely online language learning in the United Kingdom, and the inexpensive options of MOOCs and Open and freely accessible learning materials. Instructors from U Penn shared their experiences with the Coursera system and with teaching completely online language courses. Our group in Minnesota had the opportunity to view and participate in the presentations and we were able to discuss among ourselves options and possibilities for online language learning here at the University of Minnesota. In all, it was an excellent experience, opening up new possibilities for accessing current and evolving technologies in the service of teaching and learning languages.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Free Six-Week Course for Spring Semester: Teaching a Hybrid Language Course

As language courses here at the university and across the country shift towards a blend of face-to-face and online instruction, many teachers find themselves in unfamiliar territory. They've worked for years developing strategies and techniques for the traditional classroom, but have little experience as either a student or an instructor in the online environment.

The CLA Language Center is pleased to announce a 6-week seminar on teaching a hybrid language course during Spring Semester 2013. The seminar will be offered in a hybrid format, with both online components and three face-to-face sessions from February 1 to March 14, 2013.

The face-to-face sessions held on Fridays, 11:15-12:05pm in Jones 35 on the following dates:
  • February 8
  • February 22
  • March 8

Topics to be addressed include:
  • Getting into the course (course preparation, introductions, syllabus)
  • Building Community (starting and maintaining discussions, fostering student peer support)
  • Blending the Course (integration of online activities into face-to-face content and activities)
  • Student Time Management and Coaching
  • Assessment and Feedback

Look for more information and registration forms in January!

Monday, December 10, 2012

World Languages Day Application of Interest

World Language Day (WLD) planning continues to go forward and beginning January 14, 2013 high school teachers will have the opportunity to register their interest by submitting an Application of Interest to attend the tenth annual event.

WLD is an opportunity for Minnesota high school students to explore some of the languages and cultures of the world and to experience academics at the University of Minnesota. This year, the event is intended for sophomore-level language classes and all students in those classes may attend, even if they are not sophomores. Teachers, counselors and parents are also invited to attend.

There is no cost to attend and the feedback provided last year by attendees was enthusiastically positive.

The event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21, 2013. This year, the itinerary has changed to ensure that all students are able to register for three language and culture classes. We are offering a Standard Schedule, which includes three language and culture classes and an Extended Schedule, which includes three language and culture classes, along with the choice of an additional informational class.


9:20 - 9:50 AM Check in, Breakfast
10:00 - 10:25 AM Welcoming Remarks
10:35 - 11:15 AM First Class
11:25 AM - 12:05 PM Second Class
12:15 - 12:55 PM Third Class


8:30 - 9:00 AM Check in, Breakfast
9:10 - 9:40 AM Welcoming Remarks
9:45 - 10:25 AM Informational Class
10:35 - 11:15 AM First Class
11:25 AM - 12:05 PM Second Class
12:15 - 12:55 PM Third Class

The three informational classes to choose from are:

  • So You Want to Be A Millionaire: How Preparing for College Can Help!
  • U of M Admissions: The Inside Scoop
  • Where in the World will U Go? Study Abroad as a College Student

Between Jan. 14 and Jan. 31, 2013, teachers will have the opportunity to submit an Application of Interest, which is the first step toward bringing a group of students to the event. The application will be available at the WLD website.

Teachers who have not received an email with the username and password may request this information by signing up for the WLD email list.

Shortly after January 31, the planning committee will review all applications and invite teachers representing a total of 850 students. If more teachers submit applications than the event can accommodate, the planning committee will select which groups to invite. The goal will be to bring as much geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity to the event as possible. The committee will also consider the teacher's reason for wishing to bring their group to the event. Any groups that we are not initially able to accommodate will be placed on a wait list.

The Language Center and the WLD planning committee are excited about offering this event again and hope to see a mix of new and returning schools on May 21, 2013. Please see the WLD site for updates on the event.

Spanish 1004 LPE: Reading, Listening and Writing Now Completely Online

The Language Proficiency Exam (LPE) is integrated into the fourth-semester courses of many languages. Students in fourth-semester Spanish take the reading, listening and writing portions of the LPE during regular class periods, and beginning Fall 2012, they are the first language classes to take the three parts of the LPE online. Until now, the LPE reading and listening have been taken online as the final exam. However, the LPE writing test was still on paper in the students' classroom. The writing section is rated by instructors, whereas the the reading and listening sections are computer-graded.

Last week all students in Spanish 1004, 1014, and 1044 came to Jones Hall during a regular class period to take the LPE writing test online in one of the computer labs. This change is possible due to upgrades to the online LPE delivery system that allow students' exams to be linked to a specific course section. This means for example, that all exams taken by Spanish 1004-006 students can be linked for grading purposes. When the new system is fully implemented, instructors will be able pull up student exams by section through the grader interface and evaluate the individual tests.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TandemPlus & Small World Coffee Hour Event

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

This past Friday, November 30, Tandem Plus co-hosted the biweekly Small World Coffee Hour event from 4-6 p.m. in Yudof Hall to promote student engagement, language learning, and cultural diversity.

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

The theme was "Americana" and refreshments included traditional American goodies like sweet corn, stuffing, and cookies, plus coffee and tea.

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

TandemPlus presented a short movie about Tandem, and student TandemPlus participants put on humorous short skits showing what a Tandem partnership should (and should not) be.

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

All participants then played multi-cultural Taboo in small groups. Between 150 and 200 people attended, and many said that they really enjoyed the event, particularly the skits.

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

Tandem Small World Coffee Hour

This was Tandem's final group get-together of the fall semester and was a great way to wrap up the semester.