More than three thousand students take Spanish every year at Pellissippi State Community College, and program coordinator Marilyn Palatinus wants every one of them to be engaged—and to learn. Ensuring that instructors have the tools and support they need is also on the agenda, and Marilyn and her colleagues count on Cengage Learning. “My faculty really likes Plazas and iLrn™, and the customer service from Cengage Learning is excellent,” she says.

For Marilyn, teaching Spanish effectively means balancing development of communication skills with the fundamental mechanics of the language. Given that many of the students don’t understand grammar, they need practice with grammar, as well as the opportunity to apply it in conversation. Marilyn and the other instructors appreciate that iLrn’s varied activities give students the chance to practice what they’re learning in real-life scenarios.

What’s more, Marilyn appreciates that iLrn’s structure and online layout make it easy for students to receive guidance as they learn and practice. With a click, students can hear the pronunciation of a word, as spoken by a native speaker. They can also see examples related to a grammar exercise while they complete the exercise on the same screen. When students complete an activity in iLrn, they can link to resources such as grammar tutorials and instructional videos that will help them review. They can also submit their answers and immediately see their score as well as their correct and incorrect responses.

Integrating cultural information to provide context and engage students is common in language courses, and iLrn provides an ideal environment by integrating compelling visuals and multimedia resources that help students learn more about the culture and diversity of Spanish-speaking countries. She and her colleagues eagerly await the new edition of Plazas, which will incorporate materials from National Geographic.

Ease of use and assignment flexibility — with intuitive navigation, a student assignment calendar, an instructor dashboard, and filtering options that allow instructors to quickly select topics and skills they want to cover in assignments are other iLrn advantages. At one point, the department used another publisher’s products, but Marilyn was disappointed in their online materials. In contrast, she noted that everyone seems very satisfied with the flexibility that iLrn affords them.

About 20% of a student’s grade is tied to iLrn. “With iLrn and Plazas, students get a good background that prepares them for the intermediate course, which is required by most schools for a BA degree,” says Marilyn. She also reports that students are beginning to see the value of speaking another language.

Marilyn told us: “We are very pleased with Plazas, and I am very impressed with the iLrn eBook, the exercises, and everything in it. Plazas and iLrn help us do more to engage our students.”

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