As Assistant Director of lower-division Spanish at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Anna Gemrich is focused on meeting the needs of both instructors and students. When her department’s previous intermediate Spanish textbook introduced a digital component, Anna was concerned about its high learning curve and complex set-up. Instructors had been wanting a textbook change anyway, so a search led to Cengage Learning’s Exploraciones Curso Intermedio. The text, accompanied by the iLrn™ all-in-one online course management system and a multimedia eBook, offered a range of resources and teaching flexibility that satisfied everyone.
Most Spanish classes are taught by teaching assistants (TAs), many of whom embraced iLrn. With iLrn, students can access their textbook online as well as resources and contextualized activities that engage them in learning to speak, listen, read, and write in Spanish. The instructors also enjoy the “Connections and Comparisons” features: essays that introduce students to culturally relevant topics.
Multimedia materials are embedded throughout the iLrn eBook, capturing students’ interest as they practice and build language skills. Anna especially liked the movie shorts, which (in her words) “…keep the students engaged and interested, generate discussion, and make the students think.”
iLrn allows students to become proficient in speaking and listening through voice-enabled features and activities. Students can also click on a term in the eBook to hear its pronunciation, build their confidence and skills by recording and hearing their own speech, and gain additional valuable practice communicating in Spanish with their peers by using the Share It! class collaboration tool.
In closing, Anna notes: “I have many different instructors with different personalities and preferences, and the options in the textbook and iLrn allow them to use what they want in the way that they want — whether it be news clips, a movie short, or a short essay. The program offers the varied resources and flexibility that allow diverse personalities to find their groove without having to come up with their own material. In general, I’m very pleased.”