Empowering Learners of Spanish

Empowering Learners of Spanish

From the Editor: This is a guest post about a new set of openly licensed activities “Empowering Learners of Spanish”, by Claudia Holguín Mendoza, Robert L. Davis, Julie Weise (University of Oregon) and Munia Cabal Jiménez (Western Illinois University).

We want to share with students and educators the Empowering Learners of Spanish project from Romance Languages at the University of Oregon. This collection of activities based on Critical Pedagogies developed in the Spanish as a Heritage Language program at the University of Oregon, serves to introduce students to a range of concepts in sociolinguistics and critical inquiry into language ideologies.

The activities are written in both English and Spanish, and resources are also in both languages. Working in two languages will allow students to reproduce the linguistic practices of bilinguals. Heritage learners of Spanish should find these practices familiar, and students learning Spanish as a second language will benefit from the scaffolding of using some English. Language development for both profiles of students can be enhanced with the techniques of “intercomprehension”, outlined in the “Guide to intercomprehension” in the resource section in the INDEX.

Instructors can decide what language(s) students should use to participate and respond (Spanish, English, Spanglish), depending on their local context, student level, and course objectives. We have developed these units and resources for teaching this content in regular Spanish language programs, including Spanish as a Heritage Language courses, and any other content course where Spanish is relevant! In fact, the first unit that we developed El corrido “El deportado”, has the purpose of supporting the teaching of Spanish to the understanding of primary texts in a course on History of Latinx in the Americas. This class is taught in our History department; it is not a language class per se, but students have made gains in proficiency by working in two languages. Moreover, content-based materials within a language program or elsewhere on campus become an opportunity for students to engage in debating the relationships between language, ideology, power, and the association of discourse and sociocultural change. Ultimately, this type of curriculum fosters the development of Critical Language Awareness regarding language practices in communities of Spanish speakers, particularly in the US.

One of our main objectives in the Empowering Learners of Spanish project is to provide students with opportunities to participate in current sociopolitical debates. We include several elements already presented in interdisciplinary critical pedagogies of language and discourse. In this manner, this initiative fits within curricular models that integrate language learning with critical studies in culture and discourse. Heritage and L2 students are able to engage with material that emphasizes language variation, social dynamics of language use, and the historical contexts that generate them. This content makes the ELS initiative particularly relevant and motivating to Spanish Heritage learners.

This project has been supported by a generous grant from the College of Arts and Sciences, at the University of Oregon.

Explore:

Writing Resources That Give Students the Freedom to Explore

Writing Resources That Give Students the Freedom to Explore

“El aquelarre” by Francisco de Goya is in the Public Domain

When he began compiling his textbook anthology Leyendas y arquetipos del Romanticismo español, Robert Sanders knew that his students weren’t taking upper-level Spanish to become professors of Spanish literature. They were mostly minoring in Spanish with other career goals in mind. This sort of insight into students’ needs is what makes open resources authored by language instructors so valuable for modern education.

Leyendas y arquetipos is an openly-licensed introduction to nineteenth-century Spanish literature for intermediate university students of Spanish. Dr. Sanders chose the works of poetry, drama in verse, and short stories for their literary interest and the social importance of their themes. After piloting the book with students, he compiled vocabulary, historical, and cultural annotations to facilitate comprehension.

Dr. Sanders made many choices in compiling and writing the anthology to allow students the flexibility to pursue their own interests. He did not prioritize any one interpretation of the texts in the anthology. The discussion questions mention scholarly works as a jumping off point for analysis rather than a definitive interpretation. The author biographies in the anthology are short in order to encourage further investigation and richer discussion by students, and the book lists sources for further research, such as Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes, the Centro Virtual Cervantes of the Cervantes Institute, or the Biblioteca Digital Hispánica of the Spanish National Library. In his course, students have  even created their own multimedia take on a chosen work by creating fan fiction, graphic novels, film storyboards, and musical compositions.

The multimedia potential of the book is also reflected in the paintings, photographs from films, and other art that are as valuable as the texts in their potential to teach about literary and social movements of the time. The art provides a whole other avenue of exploration and analysis to students.

Dr. Sanders compiled the book himself with support from the Portland State University Library, which has supported the prolific creation of open textbooks (several of them for languages) in order to save students money and provide a customized learning experience. The book has a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, which means that anyone can copy it, share it, and make modifications, as long as they give attribution to the author, maintain the same license, and do not make a profit off of it. With this in mind, what could you do with this book? Has it given you ideas about reading with your students? Tell us in the comments.

Learn more:

Engage and Explore

Engage and Explore

Photo credit: flickr user UrbanPromise Creative Commons License

From the editor: We asked master Spanish teacher and teacher trainer Rose Potter to create some activities that use COERLL’s resources to engage students and satisfy state and national standards for language learning. She created these five simple but effective activities, and describes her approach below.

As a young teacher in the 80’s, I often called upon images of Sra. Hartley, my high school Spanish teacher, to guide me through lesson planning. Upbeat, funny and highly energetic, we laughed and sang our way through the ALM drill and kill methodology of the 1960’s. Today, when training pre-service teachers, I understand that their default approach to teaching is the model they experienced. Because their teachers were also learners in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s their methodology may reflect that era – or, that of their teachers, products of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s teacher training. Over time, Madeline Hunter’s “anticipatory set” became “priming activity”, “warm-ups”, “bell-ringer review” and more. However, the methodology did not always keep pace. Instead, students often receive a mini-worksheet at the start of class. They are expected to sit quietly and respond to discrete point items while the teacher takes roll and prepares to teach. This century’s students have trouble doing exactly that. The expected quiet time may become a class management challenge.

Today’s LOTE (languages other than English) educators recognize that “warm-up” means preparing the eyes, ears and, most importantly, the mouth. Get them talking! Today’s term “engagement” goes beyond a writing or viewing task, it requires active participation on the part of the students. The steps are not complex: grab their attention, pose a simple task that requires interpersonal communication, use the task to build skills for more complex tasks. That’s it. You will see these steps incorporated into the five engagement activities I designed using COERLL’s materials. As you review then consider the simplicity of each step.

  • Engagement: this can be through an image or video projected on the screen that students see as they enter.
  • Interpersonal task: Pose a question to get them thinking before class begins. Ask your partner/another student: “Have you ever…? Do you like… Do you think… Compare what you see to…”
  • Build skills: The questions may contain unfamiliar cognates or verb constructs that make sense in context but are new to students. Keep it simple, but allow them the opportunity to discover the new learning through practice. Learning vocabulary and grammar as a function of communication makes it real for students.

The engagement is the first step of an inquiry-based, constructivist approach to learning, the 5E’s lesson plan model. Engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. For my students, I’ve added a 6th E, Exit Plan, to assure that they close the lesson. Since using this plan with my LOTE students, I’ve seen an enormous increase in the potential for engagement.

To see more examples of the 5Es in action, take a look at the following resources:

Rose Potter is an Assistant Clinical Professor of LOTE Education for the UTeach-Liberal Arts Program at the University of Texas, as well as a teacher, writer, consultant, and mentor.

Re-Mixxer: Using French and German OER in The Mixxer

Re-Mixxer: Using French and German OER in The Mixxer

Last year, the Mixxer (a free educational website for language exchanges via Skype) offered a MOOC to English speakers learning Spanish and paired the participants with a partner course of Spanish speakers learning English. Using open educational resources from COERLL, Colby College, Voice for America and the BBC among others, the language learners were introduced to new vocabulary and grammar points through texts and audio and then given activities to complete with their language partner from the other course. If you have ever taught a language class, you can think of the language exchange with the partner as a substitute for the partner activities we do most every day in class.

Thanks to a generous grant for digital humanities from the Mellon foundation, we were able to hire three education and language students at Dickinson College to create lessons in German, French, and Chinese. Created by Betsy Vuchinich, the Chinese materials use content primarily from the Confucius Institute and the University of North Carolina. The lessons have been designed for beginners of Chinese and are available on the Mixxer site.

The German and French lessons, created by Ezra Sassaman and Caitlin DeFazio respectively, are based on the COERLL open textbooks Deutsch im Blick and Français interactif. Both lessons assume some knowledge of the language – roughly one semester – though beginners could start by working through the text on their own. These lessons are currently available and free to use.

We had the opportunity to showcase these resources at the CALICO / IALLT conference in Athens, Ohio (May 6 – 10) and received a lot of praise from educators. Of particular interest is the news that we will use these lessons as part of three MOOCs to be offered this summer (starting July 1st). As before, each MOOC will have a partner course for speakers of Spanish, French and German learning English. Learners from each course will then be able to find partners to complete the language exchange activity provided within each lesson. The courses and lessons are open and free to anyone interested. We will be suggesting that our own students join as a way of maintaining their language skills over the summer.  A more detailed description of each course is provided below along with the sign-up form. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or you can contact me at bryantt@dickinson.edu.

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113108 (Spanish MOOC)

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113052 (French MOOC)

http://www.language-exchanges.org/node/113051 (German MOOC)

Shareworthy: COERLL’s Webinar Series

Shareworthy: COERLL’s Webinar Series

Your foreign language department will thank you for sharing COERLL’s Webinar Series, all about open educational resources (OER) for language learning. Here’s what we covered:

Finding Open Media for Foreign Language Instruction Learn how to search for and find high-quality authentic OER (multimedia, realia, interviews, etc.) for use in language teaching and learning.

 

The Practice of Using and Teaching with OER Explore the practice of implementing OER into teaching and learn specifically about integration of COERLL’s popular French curriculum, Francais interactif, into foreign language classrooms.

 

Focus on SpinTX: An Open Video Archive for Language Learning We unpack one of our most recent projects, SpinTX–a resource for bilingual Spanish speakers in Texas. Learn how to search and tag videos for features that match your interests, and create and share your favorite playlists.

 

The Mixxer Launches Spanish and English Language MOOCs

The Mixxer Launches Spanish and English Language MOOCs

In January, Todd Bryant shared his plans to begin developing online courses using his language exchange website, The Mixxer. (See MOOCs + Learning Networks = The Mixxer.)  He is happy to announce the first offerings from this project:

Free Language Learning MOOCs from The Mixxer

Todd curated a variety of open resources to build these courses. The English learning content came from BBC’s Big City Small World,Voice of America’s Learning English and grammar material through Purdue University’s OWL reference site.

For the Spanish lessons, he drew from Practica Español, a joint venture of Instituto Cervantes, EFE and Fundación de la Lengue Española. Other lessons came from Professor Barbara Kuczun Nelson’s “Spanish Language and Culture” site at Colby College. COERLL’s “Spanish Proficiency Exercises” and Bowdoin College’s “Spanish Grammar” site provide additional references and exercises.

Todd will be presenting these MOOCs at the 2013 New Media Consortium‘s summer conference on June 7. Congratulations to Todd for having his project selected as one of six “Big Ideas” for the Emerging Leaders Competition. We thank him for creating this open educational resource for the language learning public and wish him the best of luck!

5 Ways to Open Up Corpora for Language Learning

5 Ways to Open Up Corpora for Language Learning

Corpora developed by linguists to study languages are a promising source of authentic materials to employ in the development of OER for language learning. Recently, COERLL’s SpinTX Corpus-to-Classroom project launched a new open resource that seeks to make it easy to search and adapt materials from a video corpus.

The SpinTX video archive  provides a pedagogically-friendly web interface to search hundreds of videos from the Spanish in Texas Corpus. Each of the videos is accompanied by synchronized closed captions and a transcript that has been annotated with thematic, grammatical, functional and metalinguistic information. Educators using the site can also tag videos for features that match their interests, and share favorite videos in playlists.

A collaboration among educators, professional linguists, and technologists, the SpinTX project leverages different aspects of the “openness” movement including open research, open data, open source software, and open education. It is our hope that by opening up this corpus, and by sharing the strategies and tools we used to develop it, others may be able to replicate and build on our work in other contexts.

So, how do we make a corpus open and beneficial across communities? Here are 5 ways:

1. Create an open and accessible search interface

Minimize barriers to your content. Searching the SpinTX video archive requires no registration, passwords or fees. To maximize accessibility, think about your audience’s context and needs. The SpinTX video archive offers a corpus interface specifically for educators, and plans to to create a different interface for researchers.

2. Use open content licences

Add a Creative Commons license to your corpus materials. The SpinTX video archive uses a CC BY-NC-SA license that requires attribution but allows others to reuse the materials different contexts.

3. Make your data open and share content

Allow others to easily embed or download your content and data. The SpinTX video archive provides social sharing buttons for each video, as well as providing access to the source data (tagged transcripts) through Google Fusion Tables.

4. Embrace open source development

When possible, use and build upon open source tools. The SpinTX project was developed using a combination of open source software (e.g. TreeTagger, Drupal) and open APIs (e.g. YouTube Captioning API). Custom code developed for the project is openly shared through a GitHub repository.

5. Make project documentation open

Make it easy for others to replicate and build on your work. The SpinTX team is publishing its research protocols, development processes and methodologies, and other project documentation on the SpinTX Corpus-to-Classroom blog.

Openly sharing language corpora may have wide-ranging benefits for diverse communities of researchers, educators, language learners, and the public interest. The SpinTX team is interested in starting a conversation across these communities. Have you ever used a corpus before? What did you use it for? If you have never used a corpus, how do you find and use authentic videos in the classroom?  How can we make video corpora more accessible and useful for teachers and learners?

gilgRachael Gilg is the Project Manager and Lead Developer for COERLL’s Spanish in Texas Corpus project and the SpinTX Corpus-to-Classroom project. She has acted as project manager, designer, and developer on a diverse set of projects, including educational websites and online courses, video and interactive media, digital archives, and social/community websites.

Improving the Recipe for Effective Language Learning

Improving the Recipe for Effective Language Learning

Fernando Rubio checks back in with us after finishing his first year teaching a Spanish MOOC.

I ended my previous post inviting you to think about the role of MOOCs and the intersection between teaching and certification.

The conversation that has been going on since my last post has been just as polarized as it was before. MOOCs have recently been called a new form of colonialism because they are an attempt to address the demand for higher education by some of the top universities in the U.S. They have also been touted as a disruptive game changer if MOOC providers can create the right recipe that combines free access and credit. Let’s take a look at some offerings from MOOC providers.

Fremium Model

MOOC2Degree is a result of a number of universities teaming up with online course developers Academic Partnerships. Students receive the first course in an online degree program as a free MOOC in hopes that they will then pay tuition to complete the degree through regular online coursework. This is simply a version of the freemium model that we all know and love.

User-Centered Model

Outside the U.S., as part of the UK’s Open University, Futurelearn has thrown its hat in the ring by promising a for-credit MOOC-like experience without the drop-out rates and plagiarism problems of a MOOC. As they say, “it would be a shame to deliver that on a platform and infrastructure that was powered on another continent.” (Did anyone mention neocolonialism?)

Blended MOOCs

I am writing this blog post as I read the New York Times’ front page story on how San Jose State has “outsourced” to Udacity some of the mentoring for its basic math courses. The article includes this interesting quote from a higher education officer at the Gates Foundation: “2013 is about blending MOOCs into college courses where there is additional support, and students get credit.” This quote gives me the perfect segue into the point that I want to make today.

My main concern is still the same it was when I started teaching my MOOC — What can MOOCs teach us about learning and how can they create a more effective learning environment? And perhaps blending MOOCs into regular for credit (either online or face-to-face) courses is the way to take advantage of what the two formats can offer. My next challenge, for Fall ’13, is a blended course on Spanish Applied Linguistics that will combine 50% face-to-face instruction and 50% MOOC. For-credit students will participate in both formats and will hopefully benefit form the opportunity to interact with a large number of students who will be following the free and open MOOC component of the course. I will keep you posted!

In the meantime, please send your thoughts on developments in the world of MOOC language learning. 

Fernando RubioFernando Rubio is Co-director of the University of Utah’s Second Language Teaching and Research Center (L2TReC) and Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics.  His research focuses on the acquisition of Spanish as a second language and on the intersection of language learning and technology.

Best of MERLOT: Award-Winning World Language Resources

Best of MERLOT: Award-Winning World Language Resources

In my last post, I blogged about the de rigueur French sites I share with my community college students through the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT). In addition to these, I must mention that there are almost 2,500 World Languages materials in MERLOT, not just in French, but in Arabic, Chinese, ESL, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish and many other languages. There are simulations, animations, blogs, word clouds, virtual art galleries and recording studios, tutorials, videos, webquests and worksheets. The cost is just a bit of your time.

One of the most effective ways to find the best of MERLOT is by exploring the recipients of our World Languages Editor’s Choice and MERLOT Classics Awards. The Classic Award winners are chosen among outstanding online resources designed to enhance teaching and learning. The Editor’s Choice Award is an honor bestowed on one excellent learning material among all the Classics Award winners. An easy way to peruse all the award-winning resources is to visit the About MERLOT Awards/Exemplary Materials page,  

Top 3 Editor’s Choice Recipients
  1. LangMedia consists of a collection of target language videos done by international students from the Five Colleges of Massachusetts in their home countries. Videos in languages from Arabic to Wolof are included with transcripts, images and realia. See videos of French as it is spoken in a variety of Francophone nations, Spanish in the Spanish-speaking world, etc. There is also a substantial Bangla/Bengali collection, Czech, Croatian and on through the alphabet of languages. In addition to the language videos, there are also CultureTalk series  that are coded for elementary, middle school and high school classes. These resources can enhance language courses anywhere or be used by prospective travelers to the regions.
  2. Ojalá que llueva café  is a timeless favorite of Spanish teachers and learners everywhere for its embedding of culture, grammar and structure. Completely in the target language, it not only contains a glossed reading of the popular song by Juan Luis Guerra, it features a beautiful photo gallery of the Dominican Republic and many exercises to teach the subjunctive in an engaging way. Author Barbara K. Nelson, went on to create many modules using a similar format in her five-star Spanish.language&culture site.
  3. Lingu@net Worldwide  (formerly Lingu@netEuropa) catalogues some 3,500 learning materials all geared toward learning languages. Linguanet Worldwide allows users to discern their learning styles, to find conversation partners and to locate resources to enhance their knowledge of the target language and culture. The resources it points to reach a wide and diverse potential audience: casual learners of languages in a variety of age groups, students of languages for professional or academic reasons and others.

I hope this tour of the best of MERLOT inspires Open Up readers to submit their own work to MERLOT World Languages and to comment upon what they find in our collections. For instance, what features do you want to see that are not already in MERLOT now?

LauraLaura Franklin teaches French online at the Extended Learning Institute, Northern Virginia Community College. She is one of the original Co-Editors of MERLOT World Languages. For information on becoming a MERLOT World Languages Peer Reviewer, contact Laura at lfranklin@nvcc.edu.

To find more OER for languages, see Open Up on Open Education Week.