World Languages

Beginning Language Learners and Authentic Materials

Guest Contributor: Karin Fajardo, co-author of Conectados.

When should beginning language learners use authentic materials? In my opinion, the answer is from day one. I know some may disagree, equating that practice with diving into water without knowing how to swim. However, one must approach the use of authentic materials with the same care as one who is entering the water for the first time. If provided with the proper tools and support, beginning language learners will not only be able to wade in the context of the authentic material but will soon want to dive deeper.

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We’re Speaking Your Language at ACTFL This Year!

From November 20 to 22, Cengage Learning’s World Languages team attended the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) annual conference. ACTFL took place in San Diego this year with over 700 educational sessions and a variety of formats covering a wide spectrum of the language profession. Cengage Learning had a great time with language professors discussing topics and trends while exhibiting iLrn demos, attending sessions, participating in Focus Groups, and receptions. In-booth demos were attended by over 50 instructors who learned the different ways they could integrate teaching into a learning solution that fits their students’ Read More…


iLrn and Conectados Showcase the Power of Online Language-Learning

Patti Marinelli, a senior Spanish instructor at the University of South Carolina, has helped create a contemporary textbook and online curriculum for teaching Spanish that can be used for traditional, flipped, hybrid, and online courses. The product is Conectados, co-authored by Patti and Karin Fajardo, and the online component is the iLrn™ Language Learning Center all-in-one course management system.

Conectados reinforces a general rule of thumb in language teaching: that you don’t do in the classroom what could be done at home. Students study outside of class and spend classroom time on what isn’t as easily done at home: speaking Spanish with other people. The key benefit of iLrn is that it enhances the effectiveness of the flipped classroom model by engaging students in speaking and practicing Spanish outside of class, thereby further promoting skill development and proficiency.

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Five Advantages of Digital Learning Materials in Intro Spanish

Contributor: Patti Marinelli, University of South Carolina; co-author (with Karin Fajardo) of Conectados. Is the textbook dead? Numerous articles in the popular media cite declining sales of traditional printed textbooks and increasing sales of e-books and e-learning resources. Indeed, on most college campuses these days, you are more likely to find students’ book bags filled with personal electronic devices, water bottles, and energy bars than with traditional textbooks. Of course the textbook itself is only one of the more recent manifestation of humankind’s desire to conserve and transmit information. From clay tablets to papyrus to parchment to paper, the Read More…


iLrn Gives Spanish Students the Grounding They Need in Grammar, Culture, and Communication

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.
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iLrn Facilitates Online Language Learning at Mississippi State University

Amie Russell loves her job — teaching Spanish at Mississippi State University. For three years she has used iLrn™, an all-in-one course management system created specifically for languages, to complement her Cengage Learning Spanish textbook and ensure that her students get valuable practice in communicative skills.

Amie and her colleagues were introduced to iLrn when they selected Nexos, Enhanced Third Edition, for its focus on high-interest cultural themes and meaningful communication. “We wanted to move away from traditional texts based on grammatical structure, and were looking for a resource that focused on communicative skills. We also wanted to get into online learning,” she recalls. “Nexos teaches from a conceptual level and with a cultural perspective—for instance, how to communicate at the grocery store rather than how to conjugate verbs. It was accompanied by iLrn, so it was ideal for our needs.”

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iLrn Accommodates Diverse Teaching Styles at the University of Wisconsin – Madison

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.
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Exploraciones with iLrn Makes Grammar Relatable to Students

Jennifer Rogers, Foreign Language Coordinator at the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, MO, has found the Discovery Learning Approach that Exploraciones takes to be highly beneficial to her students.

Instead of explaining a specific grammar concept, the Exploraciones videos show the grammar being used in a realistic way. She also believes that Exploraciones presents culture in a way that is more engaging to students; presenting the culture thematically (as Exploraciones does) gives students a greater appreciation for the culture and how it relates to language.

What’s more, Jennifer has found iLrn to be a very powerful tool to use with Exploraciones. She believes that the secret to her success in using iLrn is to introduce it to the students gradually through the first few weeks of class. Once students are up to speed with iLrn, Jennifer encourages them to use it not only for their required homework, but to study and prepare for exams as well as practice vocabulary and grammar with the many features available to the students.

In this Success Story, you can read more about why Jennifer believes Exploraciones has the best approach to teaching students concepts, and why iLrn has the tools to drive those concepts home.

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Tips for Students: How to Plan for a Study Abroad Program

College students can improve their GPAs and academic profiles by participating in study abroad programs all across the globe. And getting off campus for part of their education is an opportunity for growth, responsibility and maturity. It’s a good idea to start researching opportunities a semester or two ahead of time. But with hundreds of programs, on all continents (yes, even Antarctica), to choose from, the choice is all theirs! Share these tips with your students for beginning their journey.

What’s it all about?

Study abroad programs generally provide college credits and count toward your major. The University System of Georgia conducted a 10-year study on academic performance Read More…


iLrn Makes Course Materials “Come Alive” in Melissa Erskine’s Intro to German Course

Melissa Erskine, a Professor of English and German at Blinn College (Brenham, Texas) uses iLrn in conjunction with the Vorsprung textbook for her Intro to German course.

In this success story, you’ll see why Erskine has found iLrn to be extremely valuable in helping her teach Intro to German.

Students are engaged and motivated to use a solution that allows them anytime/anywhere access. They enjoy iLrn’s interactivity, and actually find themselves using their textbooks more frequently.

Through features such as iLrn’s video assignments, students gain valuable practice. Their apprehension is reduced because they can hear themselves speaking the language before sharing with the class. What’s more, with iLrn, students receive instant feedback that tells them right away if they’re making errors. The feedback also helps students keep track of their strengths and weaknesses are in the course.

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