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Ah, the closest to my heart!

November 15, 2011

My first love was teaching languages. I began by working with international students of English in the summer between my junior and senior year of college. I was a resident assistant, but  my basic job was getting them acculturated to the US higher education. That work continued the following year, when I was assigned to teach ESL to a multicultural group (to put it mildly…four continents were represented). The following semester I began teaching Spanish, which is what I had hoped to do anyway.

My first job after graduate school was teaching Spanish at Potomac State College, which was a junior college affiliated with West Virginia University at that time. (Now PSC is a division of WVU.) Potomac State is located in Keyser, West Virginia, on the Potomac River that forms the border with Maryland. It’s a lovely location, yet rather remote. If you think there are native Spanish speakers dying to talk with my students, you’d be wrong.

Potomac River between Cumberland MD and Ridgely WV

Potomac River between Cumberland MD and Ridgely WV

Indeed, I returned graduate school at about the time that the Internet was gaining mainstream penetration. Here was free access to millions of native Spanish speakers, just waiting to email with my students! Here was a way to bring the world into the Potomac River valley! I enthusiastically headed back to graduate school to learn all about computers, the Internet, and how I could bring this into my language classroom.

Of course, as often happens, things didn’t go the way I had planned. I adjuncted Spanish a bit in graduate school, but once I got out, my work was with the faculty as a whole, and not even my adjuncting was for Spanish.

Until now. I’ve been asked to teach a face-to-face class in Spanish, and I’m over the moon. This time, I intend on using all tools at my disposal.

This article should provide a beginning point, but I want to go further. The situation isn’t exact, as I will be dealing with face-to-face students, but I intend it to be heavily dependent on online resources.

Has anyone taught a language using computer assistance? What advice do you have? What questions should I be asking? What have you learned?

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