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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Flipgrid is now FREE for all U of M faculty, instructors, and staff

Through an exciting collaboration between the LT Media Lab (LTML) and the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at the University of Minnesota, The Flipgrid video-based online discussion and reflection environment is now for free to all university faculty, instructors, and staff.

In the past 11 months since the launch of Flipgrid in CEHD, more than 100,000 video responses have been recorded, viewed, liked, and shared within Flipgrid! In addition, Flipgrid has journeyed far beyond the traditional classroom walls and has found a new home with community groups, research organizations, corporations, MOOCs, youth groups, religious settings, creative firms, hospitals, conferences...and many more new users each day.

Flipgrid is an online and mobile (free iPad App now available in the App store) environment in which teachers create grids of short discussion-style questions that students respond to through webcam-recorded videos. Flipgrid boosts community and social presence in face-to-face, hybrid, and online classrooms by bringing the back row to the front, ultimately giving your students a voice. In addition, Flipgrid is a wonderful tool for online research groups, student discussion groups, and creative new uses that are sparked each day. To learn more about Flipgrid, visit http://flipgrid.com.

To sign up, visit http://flipgrid.com/umn and review the free license terms. Then, enter your name, your email, and select your academic department to activate your free Flipgrid account for the 2013-2014 academic calendar year.

Lynda.com at the U of M: Technology Tutorials Aid Students, Faculty, & Staff

In April 2013, University of Minnesota IT negotiated a University-wide license for Lynda.com technology tutorial videos. The service has been embraced by students, faculty, and staff for just-in-time knowledge and professional development needs. Available 24x7 and accessible from mobile devices, Lynda.umn.edu is the University's gateway to a library of more than 2,000 courses from Photoshop to Excel to MATLAB.

Since its launch, more than 6,000 University constituents have logged in to use the service and in November alone, there were over 16,000 total video views by UMN users. The Lynda license clearly fulfills a previously unmet need for a variety of University audiences.

Students can get 24x7 just-in-time help on an application, or dig deeper into a course series to gain greater proficiency with applications they need to use in their academic career or in their future work lives.

In addition to developing their own skills with applications, faculty can confidently assign coursework that relies on applications such as Microsoft Excel or the Adobe Creative Suite knowing that they can point students to Lynda's technical tutorials.

For faculty who would like to offer a list of course-relevant tutorials to their students, Technology Training & Usability services offers help in curating Lynda courses. To request this service email it-training@umn.edu.

Staff can gain efficiencies by learning new tips and tricks with the applications they know, develop professionally by taking courses to build and grow the work they do, or test their interest in a new field such as programming, videography, or photography.

To begin using Lynda on your computer, log in with your University Internet ID and password at lynda.umn.edu. To access Lynda.umn.edu via your mobile device, log in at m.lynda.com or download a free app for your iPhone, iPad, or Android tablet.

Announcing Academic Technology Workshops

Academic Technology Support Services (ATSS) is thrilled to announce its new portfolio of hour-long workshops available to faculty, staff, and teaching assistants. There are two ways to engage: as an individual, you can register for our scheduled workshops; as a group of five or more, you can request a customized workshop experience.

Facilitated by academic technology experts, Academic Technology Workshops are intended to spark the imagination and spur further experimentation and growth in using technology in teaching and learning. All levels of technical skill and experience are welcome.

A sampling of the workshop titles include:
  • Make Wise Technology Choices through Integrated Course Design
  • Making Things Easier: Organize and Manage your Site in Moodle
  • Plan an Engaging Online Presentation: Identify, Gather, Sequence your Content
  • Making Things Easier: Digital Storytelling Assignments
  • Creating Instructor Presence in the Online Learning Environment

To see the full workshop portfolio (including descriptions, dates, times, and locations), to register, or to request a custom workshop selected from the portfolio of workshop offerings, visit https://z.umn.edu/atworkshops.

Friday, December 6, 2013

TandemPlus Turkey Bowl


On Friday, November 22, TandemPlus hosted the TandemPlus Turkey Bowl at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union. In the Thanksgiving-themed Turkey Bowl, participants tried to bowl three strikes in a row (referred to as a "turkey"). Anyone who bowled a turkey would win a plush turkey prize from Goldy's

Although none of the participants managed to bowl a turkey, everyone had fun bowling and talking with each other about language and culture, and getting a crash-course in bowling-related second-language vocabulary.

This was the final Fall semester TandemPlus event. Stay tuned for more information about Spring registration and Spring TandemPlus events!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Room Reservations: Declining an invitation means canceling it

When instructors decline a​ ​Google Cal ​invitation ​for their reservation of a Jones Hall small room or classroom, the Main Office has previously been following up to confirm that they really meant to cancel the reservation before we officially make the space available to someone else. However, in every case so far, the instructor did intend to cancel the room. So, to simplify communication going forward, the Main Office will, from now on, treat every Google invitation declined by an instructor as the cancellation of the corresponding reservation. Room reservations for a group will not automatically be canceled when one member declines, but rooms reserved by an instructor for a class will be considered canceled when the instructor declines the invitation. The instructor will receive an email confirming the cancellation.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spanish Students: Help pilot a new resource and receive a free gift certificate!

December 11, 2013, 3:00-4:30 p.m., Jones 35

The Spanish and Portuguese Studies department and the Language Testing Program are collaborating on a new resource to help students assess their own Spanish language abilities, called an Advanced-Level Self-Assessment Instrument. It is intended for Spanish majors and other students in higher-level courses to help them understand and describe their own abilities.

The Advanced-Level Self-Assessment Instrument will be piloted for the first time on December 11, 2013. We are looking for Spanish students to help us improve the instrument by coming to a workshop, completing the assessment, and providing feedback to the developers. We are particularly interested in receiving feedback from Senior Spanish major students.

All students who help pilot the assessment will receive a $20 gift certificate to their choice of the University Bookstore or Bordertown Coffee as a thank you for their participation.

Registration of interest is required. Space is limited, and priority will be given to Senior Spanish major students. If you are interested, please submit this interest form by Friday, December 7, 2013. You will be informed the following Monday if we are able to accommodate you at the event. If we are not able to accommodate you at this first pilot, don't worry, there will be additional opportunities to take the self-assessment during Spring 2014.

Please keep in mind that this is a pilot of the assessment instrument. Your participation will help us to refine the instrument and make it even more useful to advanced-level Spanish students.

Professional Development Survey

After meeting with various Directors of Language Instructions and level coordinators during October, the ComSLE professional development subcommittee developed a survey for all instructors in CLA language programs to help determine areas to include in a systematic program of professional development. The purpose of this survey is to determine instructors' preferences and to gather suggestions for professional development. A big thank you to all those who have responded already!

Due to a small glitch in the survey instrument software, several of you have been unable to complete the survey. Thank you for letting us know of the problem. If you receive a message which states "Your session has expired and your response, if any, has been recorded", please e-mail Caroline Vang who will send you another invitation. This error is an internal issue with the Qualtrics survey, and can be easily resolved by sending you another link.

The survey is anonymous, and shouldn't take more than 10 minutes of your time. Please contribute to this effort by completing the survey by Wednesday, November 27th.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Interested in Telecollaborating Next Semester?

Attention, language teachers: do you want your students to have virtual language partners who are native speakers of the languages they're learning? Would you like them to learn from their partners while negotiating language meaning in both their first and second languages? Would you like them to have an unforgettable and fun language experience in your class? If so, consider trying a Tandem exchange next semester. Whether you call it telecollaborating, a class-to-class exchange, teletandem, or something else, the concept is the same: domestic language students get paired with university students in a different country who are native speakers of the target language (for instance, students in a French class at the U of M would be paired with students in an English class in France), and the students converse in their first and second languages to learn more about their partner's language and culture. TandemPlus can find a complementary language class for your students at a partner university in another country, arrange the partnership, provide support for you, and even provide activities. If you'd like more information, e-mail us at tandem@umn.edu.

Presentation about the "Traits of Successful Online Learners" on Wednesday

What are the characteristics of students who succeed in online and hybrid courses? What can instructors do to help students succeed in online and hybrid courses? Learn why students do--and do not--succeed in online and hybrid courses. Learn strategies for engaging your students and helping them keep on track.

Presenters: Bill Rozaitis (CTL) and Cris Lopez (Academic Technology Support Services). This event will take place on Wednesday, November 20 from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in Appleby 226.

Register here for the workshop.
Register here to participate online via UMConnect.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Join TandemPlus for Turkey Bowl!

The TandemPlus Culture and Conversation Program will host Bowling Night on Friday, November 22 at Goldy's Gameroom in Coffman Union from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The event is open to all TandemPlus participants, both paired and unpaired. TandemPlus will cover the cost of games and it is Free Shoe Friday. As an added bonus, it is Turkey Bowl at Goldy's, meaning if you bowl 8 pins with no tap, you win a plush turkey, or other prizes. Join us for fun, food, plush turkeys and foreign languages!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Parlez-Vous Pizza?

TandemPlus hosted a Pizza Social at Punch Pizza in Minneapolis on Tuesday, October 29. This event, which was attended by approximately 60 TandemPlus participants, provided language learners with an opportunity to use their first and second language skills while enjoying free pizza and beverages.

Native Spanish speaker Malca Garavito commented, "It's nice being here because you have the opportunity to listen to native English speakers, or people who speak the language you're practicing, so you get used to it.

Native English speaker Chris Senn said, "I'm really happy I found someone who can help me with my Chinese."

The next (and final) TandemPlus event of the semester, which is open to all participants (both partnered and unpartnered) will be bowling at Goldy's Game Room in Coffman Union on either November 21 or 22; stay tuned for more details.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Congratulations to Jenise and Margaret!

Congratulations to Jenise Rowekamp, former Director of the CLA Language Center and current ESL instructor on her recent marriage to Margaret Miller.

Here is a short message from Jenise:

After 22 years together, we were able to get married. We eloped at our friends' home where they served as our witnesses and we as theirs with a neighborhood judge presiding.

It was very, very low key as we all preferred. We went out to dinner after and were home by 9:00, which must have something to do with being in our 60's and having to go to work in the morning.

We are all very proud to live in a state where we can exercise our equal rights. None of us thought we would live to see this day, and we feel so privileged to be the first generation with the right to marry. It truly is a great thing to celebrate.

Thank you all for being so supportive and accepting, treating us as equals over all these years.


The Digital Contact Library (DCL) Media Drawer: It makes a great service even better

The DCL has asked for some help spreading the word about Media Drawers. Instructors who are using a particular film or clip for a class should add the film to their class Media Drawer. This is an easy way to share materials with students, and it will automatically give undergraduates access to the larger version of films. The larger version looks better than the standard small version and subtitles are easier to read.

If you have questions or would like additional information, please read the DCL Media Drawer FAQ.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Modernized Learning Spaces Formal Community of Practice: Message from the MLSfCoP Voice of the Community Affinity Group

Twin Cities academic support colleagues are working together as part of the Modernizing Learning Spaces Formal Community of Practice. The Voice of the Community Affinity Group has been charged with making recommendations regarding improving classrooms, study spaces, and other formal and informal learning spaces. As part of that process, we are gathering input from faculty and students regarding their experiences and requirements in learning spaces.

To complete our charge, we will be conducting a focus group session, and we invite you to participate in the conversation.

The focus group will meet Thursday, October 24, 11:30-12:30 p.m., Nicholson Hall 115.

We are sending this invitation to faculty and support staff asking for 60 minutes of your time to share your observations, as well as needs for supporting smartphones, tablets, laptop,s and other portable information devices within these spaces.

If you are able to attend the focus group session, please let us know by completing the RSVP form.

Additionally, consider sharing feedback regarding three questions through this online survey. Your voice is valued and will influence improvements made to university learning environments.

MLSfCoP Voice of the Community Affinity Group
(Noah Holm, Sarah Kussow, David Crane, Toni Pangborn, Joel Turbes, Stacy Krueger, Jeff Bullington, Brad Cohen, Scott Spicer, Jeremy Todd, Jim MacDonald, Jackie Campbell)

TandemPlus Upcoming Event

The next TandemPlus event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village. Attendees can get to know other TandemPlus participants and use their first and second languages while enjoying pizza and beverages, courtesy of Punch and TandemPlus. This event is open to anyone who is registered for TandemPlus this semester. If you'd like to attend, please email tandem@umn.edu to join the guest list.

Also, TandemPlus registration for the Fall semester ended on Friday, October 18. Thank you for your continuing participation and support! Stay tuned for updates about Fall events, and Spring registration.

VoiceThread Workshop: October 25, 2013

Have you heard that VoiceThread is a new tool that's been added to Moodle? Rick Treece (Interim Coordinator of Second-Year French) and Caroline Vang (Professional Development Specialist) from the Language Center are hosting a workshop to introduce it on October 25th (Friday) from 1:25~2:15 p.m. in Jones 10. The session is open to all instructors in our language departments. We'll be showcasing sample VoiceThread projects and assignments which can be done in and outside of the classroom as well as allowing time for you to brainstorm and create your own VoiceThread assignment. Please e-mail Caroline at cevang@umn.edu if you are interested in joining us.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Getting to Know the Classroom Support Staff

Who are the students working in Jones 5 this semester? Here are short self-introductions from the new and returning Language Center Classroom Support student staff.


Jonathan Prestrud

My name is Jonathan Prestrud, and I'm a senior at the University of Minnesota -- a transfer student -- and I am majoring in Linguistics. I come from New Prague, Minnesota. As for languages, I've studied five: German, Korean, Spanish, French, and Norwegian, and have interests in many others. Over the summer, my girlfriend and I traveled to twelve countries, starting in Morocco and ending in Athens, Greece.


Will Benton

Hi everyone, my name is Will Benton. I am originally from St. Paul, Minnesota. I am a senior this year and I am planning on graduating with a Bachelor's in Individualized Studies, concentrating in Chinese, Business and the History of Technology. This will be my third year at Jones hall. This summer, I spent the month of June traveling in London and Spain. I got to meet up with a few good friends there, including the Language Center's own Jessica Troyan.


Keerthana Shankar

Ello mates, my name is Keerthana. I've been in Hopkins, Minnesota since 6th grade. I'm a Junior this year and my major is in Asian Language and Literature with a focus in Korean. I have worked in the LC since Fall 2012. Although my major is in Korean, I know some Spanish, and my main passion lies in Japanese. Now, I'm trying to experiment with Brazilian Portuguese, so if you know some words, shoot em at me! This summer, I mainly worked at Jones Hall as well as Carlson and started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which has become one of my new passions.


Alli Shaw

Hello! My name is Alli Shaw and I am from Minneapolis, MN. I am a sophomore this year and am interested in occupational therapy but am still figuring out my major, as there is no pre-occupational therapy major at the U. This will be my second year working at the Language Center. I studied Spanish for six years and decided to take American Sign Language this semester. This summer I went to a couple of family reunions, went on camping trips, played soccer, and worked at an awesome bakery called Patisserie 46. Looking forward to working with all of you!


Brandon Adams

Shalom all! I'm Brandon and I'm from a small town up north called Fertile, MN. This is my second year at the LC and I really love the atmosphere around the place! I'm a Junior studying English and Jewish Studies with a minor in Hebrew. At the end of this summer I worked on the Event Staff for Orientation and First-Year Programs because I love the Welcome Week program the U has and I always like welcoming the new Freshmen into the university. Excited to meet all the new faces!


Jessica Troyan

Hello all it's great to be back! My name is Jessica, and I was born and raised in Eau Claire, WI which is about an hour and a half drive to the east. I'm a Junior this year majoring in English, Spanish and a minor in technical communications. I have worked at the LC for three years, ever since I was a freshman. I have been interested in Spanish ever since I was in elementary school and this summer I was able to study abroad in Toledo, Spain for six weeks along with traveling to France and Italy. This year I thought I would try a new language and so I am also in the process of now learning Portuguese.


Ruth Zwick

Hello! My name is Ruth. I was born in Michigan but since middle school have lived in the lovely mini-apple. This will be second year at the Language Center and my third year at the U studying Italian and English with an ESL minor. I love Italian and language learning in general and wish I had time to learn more. This summer I worked at the Language Center and American Apparel and enjoyed the mild Minneapolis summer the rest of my time.


Viktor Stelter

Hello, my name is Viktor Stelter. I am from Edgar, Wisconsin. I am a sophomore this year with an undeclared major, although I am leaning toward Scientific and Technical Communications. Although I am currently not enrolled in any language classes, I plan to start Spanish, Russian, or ASL next year. I spent the summer with my friends and worked on a ginseng farm back in Wisconsin.


Molly Scholesser

My name is Molly and I am from a small town called Le Center, MN. I am currently a Junior majoring in both Family Social Science and Early Childhood Education. I have been working at the Language Center since January of 2013. I am not currently studying any languages, but I have three years of experience in Spanish. Over the summer, I took classes and worked at the Language Center in Classroom Support.


Andrew Swenson

My name is Andrew. I grew up in Eden Valley, Minnesota. I am a sophomore studying English and Theater. This is my second year working at the LC. I speak English and also a little German. This summer I worked at a summer camp, hung out with friends, and went on a couple vacations.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Internationalizing the Curriculum with Technology: Providing All Students with Global Learning Experiences

Friday, November 1, 2013
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
530A, Science Teaching & Student Services (STSS)
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Register: http://global.umn.edu/icc/events/rubin_workshop.html

In this interactive workshop participants will learn about online collaborative international courses and explore strategies to apply what they learn in their own courses and curricula. Professor Rubin is the director of the SUNY COIL Center, a national leader for the development of globally networked classrooms across the curriculum.

This workshop is free of charge for faculty and staff in both the MnSCU system and at the University of Minnesota; the workshop will be webcast for those who plan to participate at a distance. Registration is required.

CLA-OIT System Maintenance Window on Saturday: Websites Unavailable

Saturday, October 19, 2013 8:00 AM - 2:00 p.m

Due to the CLA-OIT maintenance window, some web sites and services will be unavailable Saturday morning and afternoon, including the following:

If you have questions about CLA-OIT's maintenance work and website availability, please contact the department directly 612-624-4357 or 4help@umn.edu.

Academic Technology Tools: Announcing Moodle Training Opportunities!

  • New class for instructors: MDL031 - Orientation to Teaching Online with Moodle, Oct 24

  • VoiceThread Seminar for Faculty scheduled for Oct 23

  • Online training videos for Moodle 2.4 now available through Lynda.umn.edu

New class for instructors: MDL031 - Orientation to Teaching Online with Moodle
This 3.5-hour class is targeted for instructors who are not designing or creating their Moodle course sites, and covers skills necessary to manage a course through Moodle. Enroll now.

VoiceThread Seminar scheduled for Faculty
VoiceThread is an interactive media tool integrated into Moodle. This online seminar, delivered by VoiceThread staff, will cover the basics of how to use it with your course site. Enroll now.

Online training videos for Moodle 2.4 now available
Lynda.umn.edu now has an entire online course on using Moodle 2.4. Access it now.

OIT also has its regular line-up of Moodle courses and tutoring listed here: http://www.oit.umn.edu/training/courses/index.htm#moodle

TandemPlus Past and Upcoming Events

The TandemPlus Conversation Program hosts several events throughout the semester which allow language learners to meet each other, use their second- and first-language skills, and enjoy refreshments in a fun, casual environment. We hosted our initial kickoff event on Friday, September 27, when about 60 people met and played multilingual games such as "2 Truths and a Lie" in two (or more) languages.

Our next event is scheduled for Tuesday, October 29 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Punch Pizza in Stadium Village. Attendees can get to know other TandemPlus participants and use their first and second languages while enjoying a snack of pizza and beverages, courtesy of Punch and TandemPlus. This event is open to anyone who's registered for TandemPlus this semester; if you'd like to attend, please send email tandem@umn.edu to get on the guest list.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting to Know the Main Office Student Staff

Who are the students working at the front desk in Jones Hall 110 this semester? Here are short self-introductions from the new and returning Language Center Main Office student staff.


Agnes Hong

I am a Junior studying Anthropology. My focus is in Archaeology. I am also minoring in Asian Languages and Literature and Environmental Science. My hometown is Anchorage, Alaska. In my freetime I like to read, craft, knit, work with computers, and cook. Both English and Korean are my first languages. In high school, I took Japanese and during my last two years at the U I took Chinese to fulfill my language requirement.


Chris Michaels

I'm new to the Language Center main office. I'm really looking forward to meeting and working with everyone here. Though I'm a junior with a major in Japanese Language & Literature, I didn't take my first Japanese language class until this semester. Up to this point, I had been using online resources, books, and Skype as a means of learning the language. I transferred from North Hennepin Community College, which doesn't offer Japanese courses. I plan to study abroad in Kyoto, Japan next year, where I'll attend Ritsumeikan University's intensive Japanese language program. Ever since I can remember, my favorite hobbies have been sports; my favorites are football and basketball. I'm a die-hard Vikings and Timberwolves fan. One of the great things about sports, I think, is that it makes cross-cultural relations much more natural for a lot of people. I've always thought that making connections between different cultures, and learning about one another, is a very important thing. I definitely love the multicultural and multilingual environment of the Language Center. It should be a fun year!


Fatima Babu

This will be my third year at the Language Center. I am currently a senior majoring in Political Science and Global Studies. I was born in a small town in Massachusetts, but I was raised in the Twin Cities. I really love traveling and spending time with my friends and family. I took Spanish in high school and I am currently studying Arabic! I am looking forward to another fun year here at Language Center!


Henry Wahl

I'm a senior majoring in Linguistics. I will hopefully graduate this spring. I'm from Mahtomedi, Minnesota, which is a town to the northeast, about a half hour drive, so it's still part of the Metro. It's right next to White Bear Lake (and Mahtomedi actually means White Bear in Lakota). I'm studying Spanish and Chinese, and hopefully will be able to learn more languages someday.


Hunter Slack

I'm a sophomore this year and will be declaring my major in Marketing soon, with minors in Design and New Media Studies. While I took Spanish from high school up to last year, I realized it wasn't really for me and will not be pursuing any more language study. I'm from White Bear Lake, MN, where I've lived my whole life. When I'm not in school or at the Language Center I'm usually doing something music related. I play in two bands. When I get out of school I plan on moving out west to California, something I've wanted to do my whole life. Hopefully when I do that I will have landed a career in advertising. In addition to working at the main desk in the Language Center, I also serve as the Moodle Assistant for hybrid language courses.


Maya Christensen

I am an undecided major in CLA. I'm from the Twin Cities, south Minneapolis to be specific, and I love being here at the U. I love to run, bike, and do anything active, as well as musical things and being spontaneous with friends. I have studied Spanish, and am hoping to add another language next year.


Miranda Moen

I am from Caledonia, Minnesota, which is way down in the southeast part of the state. I am majoring in Architecture in the Bachelor of Design in Architecture program and it is my 3rd year. I am minoring in Neuroscience with an emphasis in Psychology. I am passionate about just about everything in architecture, but my focus is on how it impacts humanity and communities, especially across cultures. My hobbies include: going on nature walks and bike rides in the early fall breeze, working out, drawing and sketching, photography, watching documentaries and TED talks, and reading just about anything interesting. I studied Spanish in high school, and in the future I will hopefully apply more of my time to studying a language, since I would like to travel across the world. I want to learn about communities as well as help serve them by designing/building low-income housing. (Although I don't think the title fits well). I believe everyone deserves a better quality of life and that housing should reflect cultural as well as personal values, and it doesn't have to be displayed in its financial value.


Roberto Barrios

I'm new to the Language Center this semester. I'm a standing junior, majoring in Economics with a minor in French. Before starting my position in the Language Center, I worked as a Spanish TA for a little over two years and really liked it. I like being exposed to new languages and cultures; I'm currently in my first semester of Hindi, which is really an awesome language. I am from Veracruz, on the east coast of Mexico. I'm usually there during summers and any other breaks I get during the year (especially during the winter months). When not at work or school I'm most likely watching films on Netflix or reading a good piece of detective fiction.


Saoirse McMahon

I'm a senior Psychology major with journalistic tendencies, meaning I used to be a Journalism major but switched last semester. In the future, I'd like to go to graduate school for either counseling psychology or clinical, with a focus in serving multicultural communities. I love vinyasa yoga, cerebral documentaries, and attempting to grow plants. I was born in Dublin, Ireland and have lived in various parts of Minneapolis for most of my life. In the past I have had experience learning Gaelic, Latin, Spanish, and French, but I am most proficient in French. I've worked here at the Language Center for more than two years, first as an Office Assistant and now also as a Communications Editor for the Elsie Speaks newsletter and the LC News blog.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Saving iMovie projects for editing on a different computer

iMovie is a video editing program that comes pre-installed on most Macintosh computers. Many users enjoy it because it is powerful and easy to use. However, it can also be frustrating for computer lab patrons who don't always use the same computer because unless the movie project is saved properly, it will not be editable on another machine. This tutorial will show users how to save an iMovie project so it can be opened and edited on different machines.

Projects created in iMovie are comprised of events which are smaller pieces of media like video clips or pictures. Unfortunately iMovie events do not get saved automatically by iMovie; only the project is saved. So if you try to open your iMovie file on a different machine than the one you started on, you will see the project but no events and your work will essentially be gone. However, this crisis can be averted by finalizing the project before quitting iMovie.

Here's how:

Step 1.   Work on your project in iMovie. The movie project will often automatically be stored somewhere on the hard drive. When you are ready to call it quits for the day on your movie in progress, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2.   Go to File > Finalize Project. Finalizing the project prepares (renders) the movie in all playable movie formats but it does not prevent further editing of the project. Be aware that finalizing does take some time, though. Let the project Finalize.

fig1.pngStep 3.   Connect a portable hard drive or other storage device to your computer. This will appear on the Project Library screen under the list of all current storage devices. It's advisable to use an external hard drive with large capacity and not a USB "thumb" drive, since iMovie does not always recognize thumb drives.

(Note to patrons of the Jones 135 computer lab: you can check out an external hard drive from the Lab Attendants for this purpose.)
Step 4.   Click and drag the finalized project from its current location onto the portable hard drive. iMovie will ask if you want to copy just the Project or the Project and Events to this portable drive; select both Project and Events in the dialogue box.

Step 5.   Disconnect the portable hard drive to which you have saved the project and events. You are now free to go! When you need to work on the project again, simply insert the portable hard drive and start working on the iMovie project saved on that drive. When the project is opened, iMovie will inform you that you are editing your finalized project.

As long as you continue working on the project and saving to the portable hard drive, you don't need to finalize it again. However, if you transfer it back and forth between a computer's hard drive and a portable drive, you will need to repeat the above steps and finalize it before saving it to your portable drive for further work.

fig2b.pngView of files being saved to your external drive in Step 4.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Updated: On and Near Campus Conversation Groups Fall 2013

Thank you to everyone who informed us of new conversation groups (or ones that were new to us). Please see an updated list below. It now includes Chinese and Dutch, and a new time for the Finnish group.

  • Chinese: Chinese Tea Hour - Fridays 3:30 -4:30 p.m. in Folwell 4
  • Dutch: Koffieuurtje - Fridays 1:15-2:15 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Finnish: keskustelutunti - Fridays 11:15-12:15 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • French: French Café - Thursdays 6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • German: Kaffeestunde - Fridays, 1:15-2:15 p.m. in Folwell 317
  • Italian: Ciao! - Tuesdays 4-5 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Japanese: J Café - Fridays 2-4 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room
  • Korean: Korean Café - Wednesdays 12:15-1:00 p.m. in Folwell 113
  • Norwegian: Norwegian Coffee Hour - Fridays 12-1 p.m. at Nolte Center Dining Room
  • Spanish: SPACO - Thursdays 4-6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: "fika" with Den Svenska Klubben - Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: Swedish Coffee Hour - Fridays 11-12 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room
In addition to conversation groups, TandemPlus can be a great resource for students to practice their speaking and listening skills. In the case of the following languages, we currently have more native speakers seeking partners than we do learners: Arabic, Chinese, Korean. If you are learning one of these languages, you are very likely to find a native speaker partner on campus.

If you would like to use a variety of languages in a fun, informal setting try the Small World Coffee Hour every other Friday.

To become more deeply involved with a language at the University, join a language-related student group.

Any groups we missed? Email tandem@umn.edu so we can help spread the word!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review of Online Magazine on Language Teaching and Technology

The Foreign Language Teacher Magazine is a quarterly online magazine hosted by the University of Colorado's Anderson Language & Technology Center (ALTEC). In the words of one of the editors, Edwige Simon, FLT Mag is "a more practice-oriented publication that would offer information about what language technologists and language centers at the K-20 level are up to these days." It launched at the end of June, but already the site has a substantial amount of information which includes CALL and SLA related articles and book reviews, international and domestic conference reviews, and technology updates related to the FL classroom (have you heard of Vocaroo?). With more resources turning to the online format and community, FLT Magazine can become the place to go to network, find updates on educational technology, and be informed about activities in the global FL teaching field.

Testing Staff Changes

The Testing Program is pleased to welcome Mary Norman back full time as the Coordinator for French & Italian, German, Scandinavian & Dutch, and Russian. She has been on partial leave for the past two years.

Sherry Scarborough, who has most recently been filling 75% of Mary's position, is leaving the Testing Program to move to Chile with her husband, Dennis. Sherry will teach English online and work as an English-language consultant while continuing her research in Chilean phonology. As Dennis is from Chile, the couple looks forward to being reunited with family and friends, as well as enjoying summer twice this year!

Sherry started at the Language Center as an undergraduate in the TandemPlus Program. She eventually moved to the Testing Program, and continued as a Testing Coordinator after her graduation. We wish her and her family the best as they embark on this new phase of their lives!

On and Near Campus Conversation Groups Fall 2013

Practice your speaking skills on campus or at a nearby business this semester. Below is a list of language-specific opportunities for students.

  • Finnish: keskustelutunti - Fridays 12-1 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • French: French Café - Thursdays 6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • German: Kaffeestunde - Fridays, 1:15-2:15 p.m. in Folwell 317
  • Italian: Ciao! - Tuesdays 4-5 p.m. at at Bordertown Coffee
  • Japanese: J Café - Fridays 2-4 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room
  • Korean: Korean Café - Wednesdays 12:15-1:00 p.m. in Folwell 113
  • Norwegian: Norwegian Coffee Hour - Fridays 12-1 p.m. at Nolte Center Dining Room
  • Spanish: SPACO - Thursdays 4-6 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: "fika" with Den Svenska Klubben - Wednesdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Bordertown Coffee
  • Swedish: Swedish Coffee Hour - Fridays 11-12 p.m. at Nolte Dining Room
If you would like to use a variety of languages in a fun, informal setting try the Small World Coffee Hour every other Friday.

To become more deeply involved with a language at the University, join a language-related student group.

Any groups we missed? Email tandem@umn.edu so we can help spread the word!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting to Know the Multimedia Lab Attendants

Who are the students working in the Multimedia Lab in 135 Jones Hall this semester? Here's a short introduction and greeting from all the new and returning Multimedia Lab attendants.


Kayla Collier

Hi, my name is Kayla Collier. I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri and am pursuing an Asian Languages and Literature major (and possibly a minor in Psychology!). I am proficient in French, and have about a year or so of Japanese and Mandarin Chinese under my belt. One interesting fact about me is that I initially taught myself the basics of Japanese language, including two of the three alphabets, simple sentences/phrases/idioms and tons of random words.


Dathan Cook

Hi, my name is Dathan Cook. I am from Eagan, Minnesota. I'm taking a beginning course in French this semester. An interesting fact about myself is that I love to snowboard and go every chance I can get during the winter.


Mackenzie Haws

My name is Mackenzie Haws and I am from Libertyville, Illinois (a northern suburb of Chicago). I completed my Spanish Studies minor in Sevilla, Spain last semester and still love to talk with my Spanish host family regularly! My majors are Supply Chain and Operations Management and International Business. I am the middle child of five, and two of my sisters are Gophers as well (a freshman and a recent graduate)!


Jennifer Xiong

Hello! My name is Jennifer Xiong. I was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I am currently taking a Japanese language class and I plan to get my BA. I am Hmong (an Asian race) and I am the oldest among my siblings. I have a dog named Baby and I love eating sushi. I am also interested in video production and hope to work in the media later.


Salma Bile

My name is Salma Bile and I am from San Diego, California. I currently live in Apple Valley, Minnesota and I am a sophomore here at the University of Minnesota. I am in the College of Biological Sciences, majoring in Biology and minoring in Arabic as well as Public Health. I am fluent in both English and Somali. I have studied Arabic for a little over two years now after I studied abroad in Jordan in 2011.


Bri Lopez

My name is Brianna Lopez, but I go by Bri. I am originally from Long Beach, California, but have been living in Minnesota since I was 12. My family resides in Pine Island and Zumbrota, two tiny towns in southeast Minnesota near Rochester. I have been living in the Twin Cities for about four years now, and really love it here! I have a dog named Gracie, and I love to bake pastries and cook. I am fluent in English and proficient in Spanish by U of M standards (in other words, I can speak Spanish but it's not always pretty). I am a Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies major (GWSS for short) and will be graduating this December. I hope to go on to complete a paralegal certificate program at Hamline and later pursue law school.


Agnes Hong

My name is Agnes Hong and I'm from Anchorage, Alaska. I immigrated from South Korea when I was 2-3 years old and I grew up speaking Korean at home and English at school. I also lived in Los Angeles, California for about 8 years. I'm a Junior studying Archaeology at the University along with a minor in Asian Languages and Literature, focusing on Chinese. I love to cook, read, and spend time doing various crafts.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lost and Found: Already Filled to the Brim!

The Jones Hall lost and found, located in room 110, was cleaned out shortly before Fall classes began. However, it is already overflowing with lost clothing, notebooks, and papers. If you or your students are missing any items, please check out our "found" items as soon as you can.

We are going to begin sending course-related papers back to the instructor or coordinator when possible. We will email the student and instructor or coordinator to let them know to expect these items.

Multilingual TV in the Multimedia Lab

The Multimedia Lab in Jones 135 streams multilingual international TV in many of the languages taught at the University, including: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Students can watch TV on the wall-mounted large-screen monitor and listen through wireless headphones while relaxing on the Lab's spacious and comfortable couch or lounge chairs. The viewing schedule is available online.

Please inform your students of this fun, authentic, and relaxing language learning opportunity.

TandemPlus: Orientation

TandemPlus will hold its Fall Orientation on Friday, September 27 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. in 28 Folwell. This event is open to everyone who has registered for Tandem or is thinking about registering. Refreshments and language games will be provided; come and meet other participants, use your second-language skills, and have fun! E-mail us at tandem@umn.edu for more information about orientation or registration.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

World Languages Day 2014

The World Languages Day planning committee is excited to announce that we have begun planning the Eleventh Annual World Languages Day. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20, 2014 and will take place on the East Bank. Like last year, students will register for three language and culture classes. We will not offer large informational classes among the options for the three classes, but rather there will be an extended version of the schedule for schools that are interested in having their students attend a class on topics such as college readiness or study abroad.

We have decided that in addition to providing a light breakfast we will also offer a snack before the third class. We believe that this will help to keep students energy up and improve the dynamic in the third class. After all, language learning is hard work! As we move forward with the planning of the event we appreciate suggestions for the event and of course new ideas for language and culture classes are always welcome. We are looking forward to working with you and to making this the best World Languages Day yet! For the most up to date information on new developments or questions, don't hesitate to visit our website http://worldlang.cla.umn.edu/ or email us at wld@umn.edu.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Language Testing Program Welcomes Anna Olivero-Agney

Please welcome Anna Olivero-Agney to the Testing development team. Anna has been an Italian instructor at the French and Italian Department for the past seven years teaching Italian at beginning, intermediate and upper levels. She holds a Laurea in Modern Foreign Languages from the University of Turin, Italy and a MA in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Minnesota. She is a native of Italy and prior to her move to the US, Anna lived in Germany for four years refining her skills in the German language.

In addition to teaching, Anna co-created the Italian LPE reading section and revised the listening section of the Italian Language Proficiency Exam (LPE) gaining familiarity with test item development. In her new position, she will be assisting Gabriela Sweet in the completion of the German LPE revisions, the piloting of Somali and Korean LPE, and the Self-Assessment project.

TandemPlus: Register Now, Have Fun at Orientation Later

TandemPlus registration is open for Fall semester. Everyone at the University is invited to join the program for a one-semester partnership of language and culture exchange. This semester, the software used for registration and pairing is brand-new, and participants will find many options for forming and maintaining their partnerships. Register today at http://tandem.umn.edu.

Also, TandemPlus will hold its Fall Orientation on Friday, September 27 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. (location TBA). This event is open to everyone who's registered for Tandem or is thinking about registering. Refreshments and language games will be provided; come and meet other participants, use your second-language skills, and have fun! E-mail us at tandem@umn.edu for more information about orientation or registration.

Monday, September 9, 2013

World Languages Day - Please Welcome Anna

Please welcome back Anna Kaminski to the Language Center. She will serve as the new World Languages Day Assistant. Anna says:

I am excited to start working on planning this important annual event at the U of M and work to make it the best WLD yet! After a year studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan, it is great to be back in Minneapolis and at the University of Minnesota. Prior to my year abroad studying at the Middlebury School in the Middle East, I worked both in the Main Office as well as in the TandemPlus program. I feel that these positions prepared for the large organizational task of planning WLD and hopefully this year will see lots of positive growth and changes. It's great to be back!

TandemPlus Registration Now Open!

TandemPlus registration is open for Fall semester. Those who have registered previously for a second-language partner with TandemPlus will notice that the registration form looks completely different this fall. However, the form is not the only thing that has changed -- the entire TandemPlus software system is new. The Language Center team has worked with CLA-OIT to create a powerful, dynamic TandemPlus software that allows users the ability to create and edit their own accounts, see other participants who are possible language partner matches (and extend partnership invitations to those participants), keep track of the hours they've spent on their partnership, leave feedback for TandemPlus staff, and much more. It's all part of our effort to make TandemPlus -- and second language studies overall -- fit into students' busy lives. To view the software, or to register for TandemPlus, go to http://tandem.umn.edu.

Monday, August 19, 2013

TandemPlus Summer Survey

The results are in from Tandem's Summer Survey!

  • 81% of respondents reported hearing about TandemPlus in class or from a friend. Clearly word of mouth is working out well for TandemPlus.

  • 69% of respondents reported meeting with their partner one or more times a week.

  • Of those participants who did not meet regularly, 70% said this was due to them, or their partner, being too busy to meet.

  • Meetings were fairly long on average, as 75% of respondents stated that their meetings lasted between one and three hours per meeting.

All respondents stated improvements in speaking and listening, as well as vocabulary, confidence using the language, and cultural understanding. There were no reports of negative interactions with Tandem Staff. All in all, this summer leaves TandemPlus with a sunny outlook!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Language Center Staff Updates

Please welcome Caroline Vang back to the Language Center. She has rejoined the department in the position of Classroom Support / Professional Development Specialist. Caroline assisted with classroom support coordination during Spring 2013. Since then, she has completed her MA in the ESL program, with a research topic related to Japanese heritage learners. She taught ESL full-time this summer, and plans to combine her work at the Language Center with teaching Fall 2013.

We also have a new Assistant Office Coordinator: Rachel Sherman Johnson. Rachel is new to the Language Center, but not to the university. Rachel just returned from South Korea, where she has been working as an EFL instructor. She is a PhD student in CIDE. She previously worked at this university's Learning Abroad Center, and also served as the Coordinator of Asian Studies for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.

We also wish congratulations and farewell to Jenny Boe and Meghan McFadden, who have completed their degree or program and are moving on to teaching Fall 2013. Jenny received her MA in ESL, and Meghan completed the SLC M.Ed initial licensure program for teaching K-12 French and ESL. Both Jenny and Meghan have been with the Language Center since they were undergraduates, and we are fortunate to have had them in our department for so long, and in so many roles. Jenny has served as an undergraduate Office Assistant, a clerical employee, and both an Assistant Office Coordinator and a Classroom Support Coordinator. Meghan started out as a Classroom Support Assistant, and has provided leadership in almost every area at the Language Center since, serving as a Classroom Support Coordinator, interim Lab Coordinator and part of the Testing development team.

Monday, August 5, 2013

TandemPlus Summer Update

The TandemPlus summer session is coming to an end. With the registration for summer now closed, and virtually all possible matches completed, Tandem matched 63% of interested students, and served a total of 149 participants. The most commonly matched languages were English & Spanish and English & Japanese.

The most common partner requests were English speakers seeking Spanish speakers, Chinese speakers seeking English speakers, and Arabic speakers seeking English speakers. Unfortunately, few Arabic language students registered this summer, although we did see an increase in Chinese language learners. We hope to see this number increase in the coming year. In other words, if you are learning Arabic or Chinese, please sign up for TandemPlus!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Easier Alternatives to Oral Interviews

mac_dill.jpg Formal and informal assessment of students' spoken language is used by most language departments, commonly as one-on-one interviews with the instructor. This can put a huge strain on instructors as they are responsible for not only proctoring and grading each interview, but also: coordinating interviews with each student (which usually takes up several class dates), finding equipment to record the interviews, and figuring out how to access the recordings. Fortunately, the Language Center computer classrooms offer a variety of alternatives to one-on-one oral skills assessment!

All four of the LC classrooms can be used as a Digital Language Lab (DiLL). The DiLL uses an intuitive software interface that allows you to carry out the activities of a traditional language lab. You may already be familiar with the DiLL for informal speaking activities in class, but a growing number of language departments (Spanish, Chinese, ESL) are using the DiLL for graded speaking tasks.

The DiLL allows you to pair students (one-on-one or even small groups) and then, with the press of a button, they can record their conversations! You will have easy access to student recordings which are saved automatically to the DiLL server. Recordings can be played online or downloaded for easy access anywhere. What normally took days of class time will require less than one class period.

In my own experience, I have found that pairing students, rather than interviewing each student myself, produced more natural language and students felt less nervous, because they were working with their classmates and not their instructor. However, if you prefer to assign assessments that are individual, especially if you are focusing on accuracy, the DiLL is capable of this as well.

The DiLL also allows you to simply record students individually by giving them a prompt in advance or you can speak with the whole class (via the DiLL) and record their responses. You can even use a pre-recorded prompt, which allows students to listen, pause and record. Students can have multiple attempts, if the goal is accuracy. And again, each student's individual recordings will be available for you online immediately after they are submitted.

The DiLL is a great way to easily collect speaking samples from all of your students in the amount of time that you might normally spend interviewing one student. Their recordings are available immediately and can easily be accessed for grading, or even downloaded to share with the student. If you would like to learn more about how the Language Center classrooms can be used for oral assessment or if you would like to schedule a one-on-one training on how to use the DiLL, please contact us.

Have you used the DiLL for oral assessment? What was your experience like?

Monday, July 8, 2013

TandemPlus Event: Summer Pizza Social

On Wednesday, July 3, 2013, TandemPlus hosted its summer event, a Pizza Social. The event was cozy and personable with approximately ten attendees. Guests broke into two groups and exchanged friendly conversation about cultural differences and the difficulty of learning a new alphabet. Everyone enjoyed lunch from Mesa Pizza and lemonade.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Congratulations Kate and Welcome Baby Boy Knisley!

baby knisely

Congratulations to Kate Clements and family, and welcome Baby Boy Knisley who arrived Monday, June 24 around 9 am, weighing 7 lb 14 oz.

Kate will be on leave for the next eight weeks. In her absence, please refer TandemPlus questions to Bri Lopez or email tandem@umn.edu, and Lab questions to Meghan McFadden or email elsie@umn.edu.

Fall 2013: Thinking about AV for Language Classes

If you know that you will incorporate a film into your Fall 2013 classes, check if it has already been digitized by the DCL. If not, summer is the best time to request digitization for the coming semester. Requesting this work over summer will insure that the materials you need are ready your Fall classes.

Friday, May 31, 2013

World Languages Day 2013: Changes and Successes

World Languages Day (WLD) 2013 saw many new developments and changes this time around. This year WLD attracted approximately 1,000 high school students, came home to the East Bank, and featured smaller, more personal Welcoming Remarks.
WLD began gradually and humbly as energetic volunteers directed students from school buses and instructors checked in to teach their classes. For breakfast, croissants were served with beverages in the indoor courtyard of Rapson Hall.

To acquaint high school students with the University of Minnesota's vast campus, Admissions Guides took the students on a short tour the Knoll area, so they could see their classroom buildings.

Several schools attended, comprising a variety of studied languages:

  • Avalon (Spanish)

  • Apple Valley (French)

  • Augsburg Fairview Academy (Spanish)

  • Cannon Falls (Spanish)

  • Coon Rapids (French and Spanish)

  • Melrose Area High School (Spanish

  • Milaca (Chinese)

  • Park High School (ASL, French, German, Spanish)

  • Robbinsdale Cooper (French, Spanish)

  • South High School (Spanish)

  • St. Louis Park (French, German, Hebrew, Spanish)

  • St. Anthony Village High School (Spanish)

  • Washburn (English)

  • Zumbrota-Mazeppa (Chinese)

Speakers led multiple Welcoming Remarks to smaller groups of people this year in Nicholson Hall, Folwell Hall, Rapson Hall, and Jones Hall. After the introduction to WLD, informative college readiness classes began and were received with largely positive reactions.

One high school teacher noted in a comment form:

"I really enjoyed the welcoming remarks by a undergrad student this year, instead of the dean. I think my students related better to a young person telling his experiences as a college student. Our 'Preparing for College' class was also excellent in that it really showed my sophomores the financial importance of going to college; a great motivator!"

   -High school teacher on 'Preparing for College' class

The first session of language and culture classes began and the diversity of courses elicited a variety of reactions from students and teachers. Most high school students noted in comment forms that the classes were interesting and informative. Many students highlighted that the college instructors were engaging and knowledgeable of the material.

A high point in World Languages Day is inspiring young high school students to pursue language-related studies, cultural experiences, and college. One student expressed their positive and influential World Languages Day experience by commenting,

"This was the best field trip I have ever done! It gave me a bit of the campus and I really liked it since I think I might want to attend U of M."
-High school student

Another student noted the enjoyment of learning more about a language of his or her cultural heritage:

"Very fun, went home to my Italian dad & grandma and was able to show them what I learned!! Very nice teacher. I wish my high school taught Italian, and I can't wait to take it when I hopefully attend U of M!"
-High school student who took 'Introduction to Italian: Benvenuti!' class

This student commented their enjoyment and surprise:

"At first I thought it was going to be hard but after 5 minutes I liked it! I felt like I was in China!"
-High school student in 'Experiencing Chinese Language' class

At lunchtime high school students and teachers dispersed into campus and chose their own lunch locations. Staff and volunteers headed to Jones Hall to eat Mesa pizza, salad, and beverages.

The afternoon ended with students departing and loading back onto school buses, as volunteers packed up and cleaned. According to comments, many students left with positive impressions and were inspired to further pursue studying foreign languages and cultures.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

World Languages Day 2013: Merci! Kiitos! Gracias! Arigato! Grazie! Miigwech! Takk! Spasibo! Mahad! Sanid! Shukran! Danke! ...

Thank You

A big thank you to everyone who made World Languages Day 2013 possible. The event was a huge undertaking this year with a new itinerary, a return to the East Bank, a different Welcoming Remarks format, and more locations than ever before.

The event was a success because of our instructors, staff and volunteers. It is a broad group effort, and we could not pull off this event without the support of multiple colleges and units, including CLA, GPS Alliance, CCE, CEHD, CDes, Admissions, Facilities Management, Parking and Transportation and more. Instructors and volunteers include current students, instructors and staff in all classifications, and former university employees and students who came back to support an event they remembered fondly from their time at the university.

Here are some of the people who made this event possible:

The Core World Languages Day Development Team --
They worked on this event all year long

Francisco Salinas Vega, Trang Nguyen, Sara MacKenzie, Jenny Boe, Diane Rackowski, Boon Xiong

Francisco recruited most of the instructors, communicated with schools and handled the many administrative details required throughout the year ... and he did it all while completing his degree. Trang created the Welcoming Remarks PowerPoint presentation and recruited the Welcoming Remarks leaders. Sara recruited and trained all of the Admission Guides. Jenny scheduled most of the volunteers. Diane and Boon developed the website and website registration.

Our Building Captains --
The people with the walkie-talkies who managed each location

Jenny Boe, Catherine Clements, Trang Nguyen, Diane Rackowski, Francisco Salinas Vega, Stephanie Treat, Caroline Vang

Our Undergraduate Welcoming Remarks Leaders --
Each led remarks to 125 to 350 high school students

Angel Cecere, Holly Harrington, Laura Hoogeveen, Natalie Pascutoi, Brian Zarate

Our AV Techs --
Provided essential support for the Welcoming Remarks

Madison Olson-Spartz, Alyssa Ruesch, Keerthana Shankar, Hunter Slack, Henry Wahl

Our World Languages Day Instructors --
Talk about Essential! These are the folks who taught the day's classes

  • Said Ahmed: Somali Culture and Language
  • Rebecca Aylesworth: Sweden: From Viking Raids to Rap Music
  • Lydia Belatèche: Les Délices de France: Learn to Eat (and Speak) like the French
  • Nels Berge: Introduction to Italian: Benvenuti!
  • Jim Bierma: So You Want to Be A Millionaire: How Preparing for College Can Help!
  • Juliette Cherbuliez: From Atheists to Libertines: French Philosophy and the Limits of the Imagination
  • Hangtae Cho: The Korean Alphabet in 40 Minutes
  • Cristina Cocchi: Introduction to Italian: Benvenuti!
  • Drew Coveyou: U of M Admissions: The Inside Scoop
  • Rachael Cullick: How Many Ways Could a Roman Stick Out His Tongue?
  • Paulien Detailleur: It Takes Tulips to Learn Dutch
  • Narayan Dhakal: Nepal: A Nexus between Culture and the Environment
  • Kait Dougherty: Where In The World Will U Go? Study Abroad as a College Student
  • Mohammed Elmeski: Introduction to Arabic!
  • Chantal Figueroa: Introduction to Candoble: An Animist Brazilian Religion
  • Satty Flaherty-Echeverria: Portuguese for Students of Spanish
  • Nanette Hanks: Following the Milky Way: On the Road to Santiago de Compostela
  • Hanna-Ilona Härmävaara: Survival Finnish
  • Stephanie Hernandez: Dominican Republic Culture Class (for Students of Spanish)
  • Sungok Hong: Holi: Indian Spring Festival of Colors
  • Cynthia Hornbeck: Introduction to Latin: Language of Gladiators, Lawyers, Poets and Witches
  • Miguel Hurtado: Afro Cuban Music
  • Minori Inada: Introduction to Japanese
  • Rania Johnson: Big D Deaf: Deaf Culture in America
  • Bryce Johnson: The Korean Alphabet in 40 Minutes
  • Daniel Karvonen: Survival Finnish
  • Beth Kautz: Survival German & Green Germany (taught in German for students of German)
  • Keiko Kawakami: Introduction to Japanese
  • Betsy Kerr: Parlez-vous franglais? Frenglish through the Ages
  • April Knutson: Haiti: History of Mixed Cultures and Languages
  • Kiley Kost: Sweden: From Viking Raids to Rap Music
  • Qijie Li: Experiencing Chinese Language
  • Jory Nagel: U of M Admissions: The Inside Scoop
  • Rose Nguyen: Afro Cuban Music
  • Anna Olivero: Introduction to Italian: Benvenuti!
  • Jenneke Oosterhoff: It Takes Tulips to Learn Dutch
  • Russell Packard: Afro Cuban Music
  • Eva Palma Zuniga: Chile Culture Class (for Students of Spanish)
  • James Parente: Sagas of the Vikings
  • Paul Peterson: Introduction to Icelandic
  • Barbara Pierre Louis: Excursion Brazil: Language, Food and Carnival
  • Luis Ramos-Garcia: United States Latino Theater: Human and Civil Rights
  • Kathy Rider: Italian Without Words: Introduction to Italian Gesture
  • Maria Schweikert: Meet Cheburashka: Russia's Cutest Cultural Educator
  • Ryan Seaberg: Eureka! The Greek Alphabet and the (R)Evolution of Writing
  • Dan Soneson: A Virtual Walk Through Vienna
  • Gabriela Sweet: Afro Cuban Music
  • Rick Treece: Vive la Résistance! The French Resistance in World War II
  • Meagan Tripp: Survival German
  • Bee Vang: Hmong Survival Language Kit
  • Pablo Viedma: ¡España es Diferente! (taught in Spanish for students of Spanish)
  • Ishaa Vintinner: Big D Deaf: Deaf Culture in America
  • Ling Wang: Instant Chinese
  • Brian Zarate: Les Délices de France: Learn to Eat (and Speak) like the French
  • Hanna Zmijewska-Emerson: The Face of Modern Norway
  • Zhen Zou: Instant Chinese 

Our Staff and Volunteers --
Taking on the other numerous tasks not listed above

Maryan Abdi, Ahmed Abdimalik, Brandon Adams, Nada Al-Dakheelallah, Hind Aldakheelallah, Jama Ayanle, Steve Baker, Jenny Boe, Alejandra Catarino, Angel Cecere, Catherine Clements, Rachel Faynik Marbell, Ahmed Gedi, Holly Harrington, Laura Hoogeveen, Iuliia Kornilenko, Louis Janus, Kowsar Khuriye, Maxine Kobinski, Maulika Kohli, Yi-Ju Lai, Brianna Lopez, Abdulkarim Maalin, Anise McDowell, Saoirse McMahon, Madison Olson-Spartz, Susan McMillen Villar, Jade Molinier, Rose Nguyen, Trang Nguyen, Kaoru Nunn, Natalie Pascutoi, Joanne Peltonen, Diane Rackowski, Alyssa Ruesch, Francisco Salinas Vega, Dan Soneson, Sherry Scarborough, Keerthana Shankar, Hunter Slack, Ginny Steinhagen, Allison Suhan, Ian Taylor, Stephanie Treat, Caroline Vang, Henry Wahl, Soa Yang, Donming Yang, Brian Zarate, Ruth Zwick

And Thank You Participants

Finally, thank you to all the high school teachers, students, counselors and parents who took time out of their busy spring semester to come to this event. This kind of field trip is complicated to organize and execute, and we appreciate everyone's effort and good cheer on the day. We hope you enjoyed your visit to the University of Minnesota!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cold Nose, Warm Onion Rings

TandemPlus's final event for the spring semester was an Ice Cream Social held at Annie's Parlour in Dinkytown on Friday, May 3. Due to the cold, snowy weather, Tandem provided the 25+ attendees with hot appetizers like french fries and onion rings, and many participants shared malts with their friends.

Participants at the event discussed academics, student life, plus their experiences with Tandem. Student Sean Nelson, who is in a Japanese-English Tandem partnership, said: "The events put on by TandemPlus ... have opened up new connections between people who are learning the same language as me along with other people who are learning different languages. They've also contributed to my understanding of how interconnected languages can be. Speaking with the Chinese students along with students who are learning Chinese, has taught me how certain things in Japan have come to be. It has also taught me certain differences between the Chinese characters used in Japanese compared to the Chinese characters used in China."

We're thrilled that Sean and other students have gotten so much out of the events, and look forward to hosting more TandemPlus events again starting in Fall.

Monday, May 13, 2013

TandemPlus: Connecting Cultures and Communities through Communication

Anyone who's studied second language knows the difficulties. One is the discrepancy between book-learning and real-life language use; for example, the dialogues in second-language textbooks are scripted and complete, but real-life dialogues are full of false starts, interruptions, and other complications which are notoriously hard to negotiate on the fly. Also daunting are the cultural differences involved; ways of saying "How are you?" can vary one from one country to the next, even in those speaking the same language. Also, to attain true linguistic fluency, extensive and frequent conversation with native speakers of the language is required. Fortunately, a program exists at the University of Minnesota that allows participants to gain experience in all these areas, without leaving campus or even spending any money.

The TandemPlus cultural and conversation exchange program offers University of Minnesota students and community members the opportunity to use their second language skills with native speakers of the languages that they are learning. TandemPlus has different facets, including the Face-to-Face (F2F) Exchanges and the Class-to-Class (C2C) Exchanges.

The most popular facet is the F2F program, in which individual students voluntarily enroll because they want to improve their second-language skills. After registering on-line and being matched by Tandem staff based on their personal and linguistic preferences, participants meet with one another in person on or around campus on a regular basis. These partnerships often grow into strong friendships. U of M student Sean Nelson, who participated in a Japanese-English F2F exchange during the Spring 2013 semester, stated,

Tandem has helped more than I would have ever imagined. I initially didn't know what I'd gain from a Tandem partner, but it has become such an amazing experience. I have become very comfortable with speaking Japanese, my listening comprehension has improved tremendously and my cultural understanding has improved greatly.

According to Nelson, his F2F partnership has also increased his vocabulary, helped him improve his performance in class, and more:

Along with all that, I've gained an amazing friend. I've gained experiences and information I don't feel I would have ever been taught in class. It has also helped prepare me for studying abroad this summer. And finally, it has connected me to the Japanese community at the University. Without my Tandem partner, I would have never thought about signing up to join the board of the Japanese Student Association, where I am now an officer and love every second of it.


While the F2F program is individual and voluntary, the C2C program is done in conjunction with a language class at the University. In it, students are paired with a partner in a complementary language class abroad -- for example, students in a Spanish class at the U of M could be paired with students in an English class in Spain. Students communicate with each other in their first and second languages, using Skype or another on-line medium, and learn about different cultures while utilizing their language skills. Rick Treece is a French instructor at the U of M whose students have participated in C2C exchanges for several semesters. According to Treece, the program offers some great incentives for U of M students:
I liked the idea of giving my students authentic contact with native speakers their own age. The experience would be motivational from two standpoints: showing them how much they can really achieve in French already, and showing them what they need to work on in order to be more successful. The chances for cross-cultural insights (which is a big element of our French 1004 curriculum) was also attractive.
Treece pointed out that the opportunity did not come without challenges:
The mismatch of the academic calendars is a hassle. When we're putting together our Fall syllabus, the French are on vacation; they're not at work answering their emails, and even when they do reply, they don't know their enrollments or perhaps even their course assignments yet. The delay between the start of our Spring semesters is even worse, so that we end up with only about 5 weeks of course-time in common in the Spring, once you take out Spring Breaks, etc. The solution is just that we've learned to be flexible, to plan based on expectations, and then adjust in midstream.

Despite the challenges that came with the program, the benefits far outweighed the cost, according to Treece. He noted that while a "handful of students found it frustrating, even negative," the majority of his students had "pleasant and cordial" exchanges, and that some even had "life-changing experiences," such as the opportunity to visit their partner overseas.

All in all, TandemPlus is a free program that offers the potential for increased linguistic fluency, greater cultural awareness, or even a life-changing experience. The F2F program operates during all semesters of the academic year, including Summer, while the C2C program operates mainly during the academic year. Students or instructors who want to learn how to participate in these exchanges should get in touch with TandemPlus at tandem@umn.edu.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Language Center Staff Milestones

After this busy spring semester, many of the staff here at the Language Center will be engaging in some important life transitions! We want to highlight some of these milestones and accomplishments by congratulating the following staff members:

Jennifer Boe, Classroom Support and Assistant Main Office Coordinator is graduating at the end of the summer with a Master's in Teaching ESL (English as a Second Language). Jenny's research topic is on sense of belonging in first generations students at the University of Minnesota.

Kowsar Khuriye, Multimedia Lab Attendant, will be graduating at the end of this summer with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Public Health.

Meghan McFadden, Classroom Support Coordinator, is currently in the Second Languages and Cultures Masters of Education department and will be obtaining a Minnesota Teaching License for K-12 French and K-12 ESL in June.

Saoirse McMahon, Main Office Assistant and Elsie Speaks Editor, recently became a U.S. citizen. Her naturalization ceremony took place on March 25.

Francisco Salinas Vega, World Languages Day Assistant, is graduating this semester with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics, along with a minor in Spanish. He also recently became a U.S. citizen. His naturalization ceremony was on April 19.

Jessica Troyan, Classroom Support staff, will be studying abroad this summer for two months in Toledo, Spain. She is currently a sophomore.

Caroline Vang, Classroom Support Coordinator, will be graduating with a Master's from the Second Language Studies Department in teaching ESL. Her current paper is about the function of Japanese bilingualism for Japanese-American heritage speakers and how it relates to Japanese-American identity.

Congratulations, everyone!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Congratulations to the 2013 SELP Winners

Did you know that the Language Center employs approximately twice as many undergraduate student staff as continuing non-student staff? Our undergraduate student staff provide primary assistance to students and instructors in public areas like the Main Office and Multimedia Lab, and also provide support to smaller teams like the Dev Studio and TandemPlus. The Language Center could not run without our dedicated and skilled undergraduate team members.

The Student Employee Leadership Program (SELP) provides an opportunity to recognize student employees who go above and beyond expectations in their work at the university through the annual SELPie awards for Outstanding Student Employees. The 2013 winners from the Language Center are:

  • Abdulkarim Maalin: Testing Assistant and Somali LPE Developer

  • Francisco Salinas Vega: World Language Day Assistant

  • Jessica Troyan: Classroom Support Lead Student

  • Henry Wahl: Main Office Lead Student

  • Alaina Witt: Dev Studio Assistant and AV Developer

Upcoming Participants' Choice Event ... and the Winner is: Ice Cream!

TandemPlus will hold its final get-together on the afternoon of Friday, May 3, 2013. The theme of this final event was decided on by Tandem participants, who overwhelmingly voted for an ice cream social. Participants will meet at Annie's Parlour at 313 14th Avenue SE in Dinkytown at 3:30 pm. We've reserved a private room for the event, which is open to all current TandemPlus registrants.

The event is limited to 40 people. If you are interested in attending, please email tandem@umn.edu to join the guest list.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

German Hybrid Development: The Digital Story So Far

This is the last of a series of articles on hybrid courses. The series began with an interview with Dan Soneson, who coordinates the Hybrid Working Group, followed by a Spotlight on Spanish Hybrid Courses and La Vie Branchée: French Hybrid Classes.

Hailley VT
Screenshot from a student's digital story.

German hybrid, first offered in Fall 2012 for German 1003, is the newest of the hybrid courses currently offered at the University of Minnesota. German hybrid is unique in that it integrates new technology such as Avenue, a video recording tool, VoiceThread for digital storytelling, special Moodle tools, and Wimba Voice Board.

In the summer of 2011, Beth Kautz, a German 1003 coordinator, participated in a hybrid course in Munich about teaching hybrid language courses. "This was a transformative experience for me, which led to a year of planning before actually developing the course in the summer of 2012," Kautz said.

A small team of graduates and coordinators received a "Tools for Discovery Grant" and funding from CLA, which allowed them to create new hybrid course materials.

Kautz said German hybrid developers created their own course materials based on reading texts, podcasts, and video clips from the internet. This development allowed the German department to offer two sections of hybrid 1003 in Fall 2012, and one section of hybrid 1003 and two sections of hybrid 1004 in Spring 2013. These hybrid courses met face-to-face three days a week and online two days.

New Technology

Developers experimented with different technology, including a video-recording tool developed at the University of Minnesota, called Avenue. Classrooms also integrated Moodle tools such as discussion forums, databases, glossaries, and polls, as well as the Wimba Voice Board.

Kautz said the highlight of the semester was using a tool called VoiceThread for digital storytelling. Students received instructions on using the technology. She described the project as an autobiographical essay about their youth experiences that have shaped their current educational and career goals. The student used personal photos and voice recordings to present their stories visually.

"Students focused on presentational speaking skills to make their stories engaging and easy to understand. All the digital stories were linked in a Moodle forum, where classmates could view and comment on each other's creative work... Students were able to complete the project on their own and we were all thrilled with the results! They took great pride in their stories and the sense of community was really strengthened by sharing them with each other."

    - Beth Kautz, German 1003 Coordinator

Instructor Feedback and Outcomes

Ginny Steinhagen, German 1004 coordinator, noted that hybrid instructors are learning the benefits of spreading out deadlines for student's feedback in forums, by allowing adequate time for students to respond to each other's posts.

Steinhagen emphasized the importance of instructor feedback for online activities in hybrid courses.

"In 1004, [Meagan Tripp, 1004 German instructor] has created some nice, quick Moodle quizzes that show us whether the students are understanding the reading or the grammar. As teachers, it is important for us to follow up on these quizzes (even if they are self-correcting) and comment on them in class. Integrating the hybrid day activities into face to face discussions continues to be a challenge."

   - Ginny Steinhagen, German 1004 Coordinator

Kautz added that there is great variation in how instructor feedback occurs and how students' assignments are submitted. "There are many possibilities and we are still figuring out what works best in which situation," she said.

At the moment, developers do not have specific data on student's performance comparing German hybrid and traditional face-to-face courses. Kautz noted that there are many variables to consider and considerations in terms of how to define performance. However, Kautz said, "I anticipate that students in hybrid sections will become more fluent writers through increased writing practice in online discussion boards, but that's a research project for the future."