Ending the semester, lessons learned (Part 1) … (of what will be many)

I am laying far too wide awake here in timezone limbo in my hotel room at the nmc conference (with apologies to Leslie my hopefully soundly sleeping roommate ), and thinking perhaps tonight’s waiter slipped me some high test coffee vs the requested decafe. So, I thought this might be a good time to at least begin to recap some of the lessons learned during my HISP 205-09 adventure.

So here goes:

Lesson #1: Blogging is hard work. Period.

It’s hard to blog regularly in your own language much less doing it in a second or third one. And even thought I had given myself the “incentive” to try and blog as I went along this semester, the reality was it was almost impossible for me to do so in any fashion that did not, for me, seem contrived. And since I try to model for my students that blogging is about sharing your passions, or about writing when you feel motivated to do so (vs being required to do so) well, I realized that this was trickier than I had anticipated. Because I got myself into a bit of guessing game and yes that ole imposter syndrome kicked in at the worst of times (is this saying what I need for it to say ? Oh of course its not, leave it in the draft bin…forever…ugh)

Which mirrored my students anxieties about their own words seeing the light of day, being published, being seen. It was really hard for them to see this as low stakes anything… writing for “school” had always been high stakes. Write about what matters to me vs what you want me write about? huh?

Yet another free fall moment…

So lesson learned: if you want your students to produce blog posts that are a true representation of their thoughts and interests… you need to let them be. The writing will come, in time, but not always in an anticipated, measured, 2 blog posts per week manner.

And if you are the teacher blogging about your practice, that is extra hard. And yet, its crucial to walk the walk. Oh yes it is.

Teach The Teacher by Paper Lace
(yikes) has just come on Pandora, and my roommate is restless. It’s 1 a.m. here..who knows what time it is where I live. Time to tell my body to shut down. More to follow…

Series Navigation<< Ending the semester, lessons learned (Part 2)Midterm assessment: My turn >>

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!


  1. Trip Kirkpatrick · June 12, 2009 Reply

    What are your feelings on where this class stops being a class about writing-in-a-second-or-other-language and starts being a class about just writing? Don’t get me wrong — the boundaries between general educated-person skills and the use of those skills in subject areas are more porous than declaimed over the years. At the same time, one of the not-unforgivable areas of resistance that your teaching example will encounter is the desire of language teachers to not have to worry about teaching their students the skill and habit of writing; what they want to do is teach their students to write-in-a-second-or-other-language. (I see the specter of over-specialization in what I’m saying, true enough.)

    • barbara · June 22, 2009 Reply

      Thanks Trip, yet again for a thought-provoking-and-heavily-hyphenated comment 🙂

      And see, that’s just it…what I want to happen in this class and way I want them to write with blogs is that I want then to get to the point where indeed this is a class where expressing yourself well in the written form (as a way to preview or plan or defend what happens in the oral, verbal pat of the class)… it just happens that the writing is in Spanish.

      Dirty little secret…this is less about Spanish and more about learning, wrestling with knowledge, defending ideas. The very same things we ask our students to do in other subjects/disciplines on a regular basis. In fact, that is usually the ammo I use with the more reticent of the group: you do this kind of learning, listening, stepping up, stepping back in –other– classes why not HERE as well.

      And to be honest? Outside of some of the literature classes we teach here (it depends upon the fac member, to be sure) this appears to be one of the few times when students’ voices, opinions, words, arguments actually –matter– in a second language classroom.

      So as much as I try to make this a writing and speaking class, you are right…the Academy has taught the students that this should be treated as a “write in a second or other language”… and as such this will be different…and as such it will be harder.

      The students who get it? They take what they have learned elsewhere and apply it here but then take it a step further…in a second language.

      Did-I-answer-your-question? 🙂

  2. Marc · June 22, 2009 Reply

    Dear Blogger,

    you are nominated for the “Top 100 Language Blogs 2009” competition. Congratulations! After last year’s success the bab.la language portal and Lexiophiles language blog are hosting this year’s worldwide language blog competition once again. We are confident to surpass more than the 350 blogs which entered the competition in 2008.

    We have made two major changes to last year:

    1. Due to the amount of blogs we have created categories.
    (Language Learning/Language Teaching/Language Technology/
    Language Professionals)
    You are in category Language Technology
    2. User voting will count 50% towards final score

    Voting will start on July 8, leaving you enough time to prepare your readers for the upcoming voting. Voting will close on July 27 and the winners will be announced on July 30.

    For more information on the 2009 competition and what it is all about visit [http://www.lexiophiles.com/english/top-100-language-blogs-2009-nomination-started]
    So now you may ask yourself what you can do. Here are some suggestions

    -Nominations are open until July 6, so feel free to share any blog you like with us
    -Each blog will have a one-sentence-description for the voting. If you would like a special description to go along with your blog, just send me an email [marc@bab.la]

    Kind regards,
    On behalf of the bab.la and Lexiophiles team

    Marc LĂĽtten

    bab.la GmbH | Baumwall 7 | 20459 Hamburg | Germany
    Phone: +49(0)40-707080950 http://bab.la/
    Handelsregister AG Hamburg | HRB 101207
    GeschaftsfĂĽhrer: Dr. Andreas Schroeter, Dr. Thomas Schroeter, Patrick Uecker

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