Go to the U of M home page

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

CIC CourseShare: An Opportunity for Exchange

The University of Minnesota is once again collaborating with several other universities to provide culture and less commonly-taught language (LCTL) courses through teleconferencing and other digital means, a project funded by the Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC) CourseShare program.

In the past, UMN has only received courses from other institutions. However, this fall it is hosting a Beginning Ojibwe course and “Language and Society of Two Koreas.”

“It’s pretty exciting,” says the Language Center’s CourseShare Coordinator Pablo Viedma, “because we’ve kind of been ‘mean’ participants in CourseShare. We’ve received and haven’t offered [courses]. But now, we’re hoping to share more.”

Among the language and culture courses offered by other institutions are: Persian, Vietnamese, and Yoruba (at the beginning levels); Advanced Turkish; “Islam in Africa;” “Theories and Methods of Learning a Less Commonly-Taught Language;” and “Intro to Korean History.” Students enrolled in these courses meet in Jones Hall, where they interact with their class—taking place several hundred miles away—via videoconferencing.

With a total of nine classes being received through the program this semester, Viedma says the university is at its limit.

“We talk about offering more courses. Even if we wanted [to], we don’t have the room, and this is kind of stretching us to capacity.”

These courses, though small in their numbers, provide opportunity for students to study a less-commonly-taught language or culture that is interesting or of value to them.

“Most students don’t take [the classes] for filling the CLA requirements,” says Viedma. “They take it just for fun or because they want to travel.”

Jack Kreiser, a former CIC CourseShare student, studied the Indonesian language for several semesters before recently accepting a scholarship to study for a year at STIE Malangkucecwara, a university in Malang, Indonesia. Following a summer-long intensive language course in 2014, Jack connected with the CLA Language Center in order to make the language available for study at UMN through CIC CourseShare.

“I’d like to see more Americans studying critical languages to help build relationships with other parts of the world,” he says, “so I figure I should probably study one myself.”

According to the Modern Language Association, less than 300 students in the United States study Indonesian at the university-level each year. In an effort to promote education of its culture and foster relationships with other countries, the Indonesian government offers generous scholarships for international students who are interested in the culture to study in Indonesia. After learning he was a recipient of this grant, Jack is taking a short leave-of-absence from UMN to study at STIE.

Jack enjoys using Indonesian in his everyday life.

“All of my classes are taught in Indonesian. I talk to my classmates in Indonesian. I text with my Indonesian friends in Indonesian. I have to use Indonesian when I buy my meals or whenever I go to the store,” he says. “I still run into trouble once in a while when I don’t know what other people are saying, but I can usually understand after requesting for further explanation and asking a question or two.”

These interactions are of great benefit to Jack, who hopes to achieve fluency in Indonesian.

“Last year I really wanted to be able to communicate more freely in Indonesian, moving beyond simple dialogues from my textbook,” he says. “While practicing these dialogues helps build the fundamentals of understanding language and culture, it can only prepare you for so many situations. [...] Being able to properly communicate in a new setting by constructing new sentences and interacting with people in a non-scripted manner is essential in anybody’s language learning process.”

Without CourseShare, Jack says, he would have likely forgotten or not used the Indonesian language after his intensive summer program, so he is glad to have been able to access the course through the Language Center and CIC. Jack is especially grateful for this opportunity to experience life in Indonesia.

“The country is truly fascinating in so many ways and is like a cultural goldmine. [It] consists of thousands of islands with hundreds of different ethnic groups, each with their own unique arts, history, traditions, and local languages with Indonesian serving as the lingua franca for inter-ethnic communication.
“I find it sad that we live in a society that knows so little about Indonesia and many other countries that make up much of the world and its people—especially countries that get ignored simply because they are less developed. I’d like to use my experience to help raise awareness about other parts of the world that most Americans don’t hear much about.”

If you are interested in CourseShare and would like more information, please contact CourseShare Coordinator Pablo Viedma at viedma@umn.edu, or visit the Language Center’s CIC CourseShare webpage.

No comments:

Post a Comment