Technology Provides More Foreign Language OpportunitiesSep. 9, 2013
New classes are coming to the Lubbock Christian University curriculum. Last school year, German and French language classes were taught to LCU students through a video-web based foreign language consortium called the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). The foreign language consortium is a partnership with several schools across the state allowing participating schools to offer foreign languages to their students.
“Basically we get in contact with other schools and we share our strengths,” explains LCU foreign language professor and supervisor of this project, Abraham Mata. “The idea is to make that consortium grow and pool all our students and resources through distance learning technology.”
The 2013-2014 school year will offer even more foreign language classes since the first year of this experiment was such a success. Mr. Mata taught Spanish to LCU students and the consortium using distance learning technology last school year. With this year’s expansion, he will now also teach Portuguese.
“LCU students are going to get a really great opportunity because Portuguese is a really beautiful language with a lot of history and importance today,” Mata says, commenting on this foreign language opportunity. “Portugal and Brazil are the largest economies in Latin America, so even though it is far away from the United States, it offers a lot of resources. It is a very big population and has fertile ground for spreading the Good News.”
Although students and professors are in different cities, the video-web based technology allows for students in the consortium to see and interact with participating professors, and it allows for all the foreign language instructors to meet and work out logistics each week. The LCU flag hangs on the wall of the classroom behind Mr. Mata and the LCU students so that language professors and students at the other schools will know they are talking to LCU.
LCU Director of Distance Learning Bill Kopf, among others, has worked on this project to solve technology problems with all the schools involved. According to Dr. Karl Mahan, Vice President of Technological Advancement, “One of the unintended outcomes of this project from the first year is that it confirmed my thinking that we have as talented a team in the technology support area as any school in the nation.”
“The whole process has been fascinating, and it shows what some entrepreneurship and some great technology can do,” says Dr. Susan Blassingame, Dean of the LCU Hancock College of Liberal Arts and Education.
At the end of last school year, German teacher, Silke Feltz, traveled from Schreiner University to teach to the consortium from the LCU classroom. Feltz wanted to meet her LCU students in person. She and Mr. Mata have developed a great working relationship, evidence that such projects can foster good learning on all levels.
Though he could not say exactly what languages will be offered in the future, Mr. Mata says more languages are in the works, something current and future students can get excited about.
“We are constantly looking to develop quality opportunities for the students who attend LCU and attain the best possible return on their investment of time and money,” says Dr. Mahan. “This partnership with over 140 schools across the nation has allowed us to expand our potential academic offerings and technological resources in a fiscally responsible way, helping to control overall costs to students.”