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Language workshops offer smaller classes, less time commitment

For students who want an introduction to a language without taking a semester-long class, the language workshops offered by the Language Services Group can serve that purpose.

French, Spanish and Korean are being offered this semester.

“We try to change a little every semester,” said Han Li, office manager for the LSG. “We try to offer more uncommonly taught languages. Last semester we offered Turkish.”

The workshops focus on more than the language.

“It is a language class, but we ask the instructors to include a lot of culture,” Li said. “We try to create a kind of immersion, learning language through culture.”

The workshops are targeted at newcomers to the languages, covering the vocabulary necessary for common situations such as greeting people, asking for directions and ordering food.

Senior Maria Nar said she is taking the Spanish workshops because she visited Brazil last semester and was intrigued by how many people were bilingual. She had taken some Spanish in high school and wanted to refresh her knowledge, but didn’t have room for another class in her schedule.

“When this came, I jumped on it,” Nar said.

“They can kind of learn whatever they want, so I do a survey at the first workshop asking what they want to learn,” said Rachel Kohler, a graduate student who teaches the French workshops.

The flexibility is due to the small class size. She has three students, two of whom are traveling to France next summer. She wants them to learn vocabulary that will be useful to them, she said.

“They’ve been craving a lot of additional, external practice, so I’ve given them a lot of outside resources,” Kohler said.

French pronunciation can be difficult to master, she said, so her students like resources that let them listen to French being spoken.

“What I like is I’ve been able to inject a lot of culture too,” Kohler said.

Three students is the minimum required for a workshop to be taught. The cap is 15, Li said.

Three students are taking the Spanish workshops.

“I really love that the class is small,” Nar said.

The small class means there are lots of opportunities to practice conversation, Nar said, and she isn’t afraid to make mistakes.

Originally, the LSG tried to offer nine languages, including Ukrainian, Italian and Czech. There was only enough interest in French, Spanish and Korean.

Next semester, the LSG hopes to offer German, Italian and Russian in addition to French, Spanish and Korean again. That set of workshops will start in the last week of January.

Workshops cost $50 for students. The cost covers five hour-and-a-half sessions. For community members, the cost is higher.

The LSG offers other services.

“We offer translation, interpretation . . . also some cross-cultural consulting,” Li said.

Cross-cultural consulting can mean educating businesspeople planning an international trip on the business language and culture of their destination, Li said.

The LSG is under the Department of German, Russian and East Asian Languages.

The LSG has received positive feedback from students.

“They are very pleased and feel like they learned more than expected,” Li said.

Senior Clarissa Brown has been taking the Spanish workshops and enjoys her time there.

“I like all the workshops that I’ve been to. I feel like we have fun all the time,” she said. “We learn a lot too. We learn like three weeks’ worth of stuff in one day.”

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