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SCC Foreign Languages: Students first with accessibility in mind

The Spokane Community College Foreign Languages department is a launching pad for students focused on developing their understanding of international cultures and languages. Many transfer institutions require one full year of foreign language as a graduation requirement, making language class offerings essential to the curriculum. The department provides an inclusive suite of foreign language options, including Spanish, French and American Sign Language (ASL).

Language students at SCC find exciting opportunities to connect with native speakers, join language clubs, and participate in cultural events on campus as well as in the local Deaf community while developing their intercultural understanding and global awareness skills. The classes also have a novel money-saving aspect – all course materials are provided for free. This creative advantage breaks down financial barriers for our students.

Ready to sign up? The Spring 2022 schedule includes a variety of modalities—on-ground, hybrid, and online. Students can register for ASL, French, or Spanish as well as Spanish 241, a specific course focused on conversation.

Students who complete their ASL studies with KellieMarie Plumlee at SCC are poised to continue their studies at the Interpreter Training Program at Spokane Falls Community College. Not only will students taking ASL learn about the unique cultural events of Deaf people, such as Deaf Olympics and Deaf Timber Fest Campout, but they will also be integrated into the social aspect of the local community through exposure to fluent signing in original and historical stories, jokes, and humor. Students will study ASL’s connection to other cultures, such as those to France and the indigenous people of America, as well as signs from around the world that have been incorporated into ASL.

Students who are heritage and native speakers of Spanish have the unique option to further their education with a separate classroom pathway. Through a collaborative effort of Erin Huebener, Erika Gallegos, and Diamond Wilson the department recently redesigned the 200-level classes to accommodate a two-path system, one that focuses on second-language learners and the other for native/heritage speakers. This approach meets students where they are and focuses on developing individual skills and understanding. The 200-level students learn from one another while also addressing and acknowledging the differences between second-language Spanish learners and those who have grown up immersed in the language and culture. For heritage or native speakers, Spanish 221 and 222 are available as an independent study with Erika Gallegos this spring.

“I believe this class has been very beneficial to me as a native speaker because it's a course with peers that understand my struggles,” says student Yadira Martinez. “It has made me feel comfortable speaking, reading, and writing Spanish because I am in a safe environment where I won't get judged for not knowing the Spanish language perfectly. Not only do you learn Spanish grammar, but you also learn about history, literature, music, and many other things.”

The student experience is unique for everyone, and SCC’s language students tailor their schedules to individual needs.

“As a heritage speaker, I felt that a traditional Spanish class wasn’t the right fit. I connect what I hear at home with what I’m learning in class,” student Kelly Van Duine says. “Not only that, but I had the opportunity to meet other heritage speakers that had a shared experience with me. The professor does a wonderful job incorporating culture and history into the class. She teaches us not only how to speak the language but how to also understand the lives & histories of both native and heritage speakers.”

Upper-level Spanish students create advanced written and spoken projects to practice their language skills and produce learning tools for other students. One pair of students recently produced a short podcast entitled Conoce un poco de Perú y las ventajas de hablar español as their final project to share the advantages of speaking Spanish in the United States. Check out the full podcast episode

Beyond classroom exercises, increasing accessibility for students requires action, as exemplified by one work-study student’s contribution to increasing access to the French Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook.

Chey Rivière is a native French speaker who is lending their expertise to recording the OER textbook. Disability Access Services has paired up with the French instructor, the Work Study Office, eLearning, and Chey to make instructional resources more accessible and develop creative and valuable tools for future classes. During recording sessions, Chey works collaboratively to offer suggestions for wording and placement for the various activities included in the text from an audio-focused perspective.

This project will be the first step in making foreign language textbooks more accessible, and Disability Access Services aims to continue this process with other materials soon.

“Learning a language is a multi-sensory experience,” says French and Spanish instructor Diamond Wilson. “Not only does the audio version of this textbook support learners who need audio as accommodation for accessibility purposes, but it also supports all learners by adding this facet to both the explanations in English and the content in the target language.”

Posted On

3/25/2022 9:15:33 AM

Posted By

Anna Yeend



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