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Language Resource Center
Newsletter Fall- 2011
SLANG (Summer Language Acquisition Network at Gettysburg) program

This summer, for the first time ever, the LRC remained open in support of a program known as SLANG (Summer Language Acquisition Network at Gettysburg). The program was run in collaboration with Off Campus Studies, sponsored by Rebecca Bergren and run by one of the office's summer interns, Brenda Clark. It aimed to provide a productive evening and weekend activity for students who were working or researching in Gettysburg over the summer. The program was especially appealing to students who do not have time to fit in five-day-a-week beginning language classes during a normal semester and it was a way to show them what resources are available at the LRC.

 

The option to keep the brain working academically over the summer was welcomed by those with some time to spare. Groups for intermediate French and beginning Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish were established due to the reported interest on campus. 2011 graduate Charles Zange (French) and current seniors Adam Newhard (Spanish), Evan Singer (French), and Brenda Clark (Arabic and Spanish) served as tutors. Groups met once a week for an hour-long session at the LRC, and anyone was free to use the LRC's materials during the 10 weekly evening and weekend open hours.

Students were motivated by pure curiosity, returning from or preparing for study abroad and their summer work. Overall, the groups that had the help of tutors were the most successful, but individual motivations of the students were also important. By the end of the summer, each group had approximately one loyal member, but the Spanish group was the exception, with a loyal membership of three to five each week. These students were particularly interested in learning Spanish because they had jobs that involved working with the Spanish-speaking community in the Gettysburg area. Many of them reported various instances in which they were able to use their new skills at work each week, which was a great testament to the effectiveness and practical value of the program.

SLANG was also an opportunity to explore the language resources that are available to Gettysburg students on a daily basis, both at the LRC and online or at the library. Not only are there materials for the languages that Gettysburg teaches, but students can also find ways to learn Russian, Swahili, Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, Danish, etc. for potential study abroad or just for fun. This includes not only the software, textbooks and dictionaries that are well-known by those who frequent the LRC, but also movies, TV channels, and books on various topics, including a few children's books, not to mention the numerous websites dedicated to helping students find language materials and partners.

The students involved gave generally positive feedback. Both students and tutors said that they would recommend the program to others if it were to continue and some even reported interest in using the LRC during the academic year. By the end of the summer, the LRC became a multilingual environment, as the conversations flowed among students and tutors, changing language as necessary to fit the audience. In one particularly inspiring success story, a student of the SLANG beginning Spanish class has been placed in Spanish 201 through her Mexican study abroad program.
The most consistent recommendation from all involved was to get more tutors to make the groups more interactive and motivating. There were mixed responses on the loose self-directed nature of the program, as some students would have benefited from a more formal, serious setting, and others appreciated the informal style intended to create a relaxed environment and enjoyable experience.

It is our hope that SLANG can live on for many summers to come, and that next summer's version will improve upon what turned out to be a successful, if imperfect, pilot program.

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www.gettysburg.edu