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Talking the Talk- Service Learning Project Helps Students Learn English

Learning a new language can be a huge challenge. In Kristina Sievers’ pilot ESOL 0396 class, Listening and Speaking Skills for Speakers of Other Languages, students this past term were presented the additional challenge of putting their newly acquired language skills to the test by stepping in front of the camera. Students from two of her ESOL classes partnered with Instructional Media Resources (IMR) for a service learning project to create informative videos about finding and utilizing resources on campus.

Aug 31, 2016

January 2011

Learning a new language can be a huge challenge. In Kristina Sievers’ pilot ESOL 0396 class, Listening and Speaking Skills for Speakers of Other Languages, students this past term were presented the additional challenge of putting their newly acquired language skills to the test by stepping in front of the camera. Students from two of her ESOL classes partnered with Instructional Media Resources (IMR) for a service learning project to create informative videos about finding and utilizing resources on campus.

“This is the first time that I've had my students make videos,” said Sievers in an e-mail, “The course is designed to improve students' listening and speaking skills, and I wanted to give them an authentic way to communicate with each other and with people across campus. Students were asked to research and present an important resource at CNM, and this involved several steps – locating information online, contacting someone via phone or e-mail, conducting an interview, creating a PowerPoint presentation, learning about the creation of Mediasite videos, and finally producing them.”

The project was set up through the Service Learning program with the goal of helping other students. Nancy Valenzuela, outreach specialist and service learning coordinator in the Center for Community Programs and Partnerships, said it was a great opportunity for students to help each other and perform an act of service on campus.

The students covered topics such as library resources, how to contact and utilize Achievement Coaches, the Job Connection Center, the Center for Working Families and other useful resources for CNM students. The goal of the project was to help students become not only well-versed in English but also knowledgeable in the resources they may not be familiar with otherwise.

“I think that the students gained a lot of confidence in the process,” Sievers said. “They spoke to people on campus that they wouldn't have otherwise spoken to, which is a huge confidence builder for students who are working towards becoming proficient in another language.”

If the ESOL students thought getting in touch with people on campus took confidence, it took even more to step up in front of the camera.

“Most of the students were nervous about being filmed, but they really rose to the occasion,” said Sievers. “I'm very proud of the students for their courage in completing this assignment.  They really swallowed any fears that they had about public speaking and put forth a lot of effort.”

Valenzuela organized a reflection session to gather students’ views on their service learning experience. She said that many of them thought “it was the best experience the teacher could offer for the students. They really enjoyed it and learned a lot.”

“The videos themselves turned out very nicely,” said Sievers, “I'm very pleased with the quality.  I think that the videos will be useful for other ESL students.  Not only will the videos provide information about resources at CNM, but ESL students who watch them can see their peers on the screen and think, ‘I can do that!’  They may be encouraged by seeing other students successfully communicating in another language.”

She plans to continue to assign this project for her future ESOL classes and was grateful for a resource such as IMR to help with the production.

“None of this would have been possible without the help of Peter Hurley and the staff in IMR,” she said.  “They offered up their time to give the students a tour of the facilities and to work with them in creating their videos.  Peter made the students feel very comfortable and welcomed, which was really important since the students were nervous about being on camera.”