Fast-learning Spanish class to be offered summer 2013
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Updated: Saturday, April 28, 2012 12:04
A UCF program in summer 2013 will offer students a chance to learn to speak Spanish fluently in a matter of six weeks.
In partnership with Berlitz Orlando, a global leadership training and education company, the UCF Burnett Honors College is tentatively planning an in-depth Spanish language program for an upcoming summer semester.
Seeking to help students develop their skills in writing, speaking and understanding Spanish, the program will offer guest speakers, field trips and activities to create an immersive language experience.
Jill Norburn, the director of Student Affairs at the Burnett Honors College, said that the addition of this program was a natural step to take.
“For the past 10 years, we’ve run a computer science summer camp for high school students, and I know our dean’s always wanted a push for languages,” Norburn said. “It just made sense; it was the next move, so we decided to try it. We finally found a partner with Berlitz Orlando and decided to go ahead and give it a shot.”
In order to encourage fast learning and fluency of the language, students will be required to speak Spanish for the entirety of each day during the program, with each day going from roughly 8 or 9 a.m. to around dinnertime.
Along with around-the-clock instruction on Spanish language and culture, students will also be provided with meals throughout the day, and they will be encouraged to interact with one another and hone their new skills at the dinner table.
Maria-Cristina Nieves, the program assistant for Student Affairs at the Burnett Honors College, said it is important to have an in-depth, constant program when learning a language.
“I think it’s really important to have an immersive experience, because it’s really an excellent way to learn,” Nieves said. “A lot of the time students really love to study abroad in Spain or Central and South America because you get that immersive experience where you’re forced to speak Spanish, forced to read it and forced to listen to it; you really catch on quickly. So with that kind of style here, that’s in such a short time span, I think it’s really helpful in the long run.”
Though this is the first language program at the Burnett Honors College that is this involved, the college has held other summer language programs in the past, including Arabic and Mandarin Chinese programs.
Toumader Ghazali, a former instructor at the Burnett Honors College who taught Arabic during summer 2009, gave her thoughts on the new Spanish program at the college.
“I think that’s an excellent idea, because Spanish is a very useful language; there’s a lot of people who are interested in learning Spanish,” Ghazali said. “If a Spanish program is offered at the Burnett Honors College, it would be a good opportunity for a lot of students who are willing to work hard in such a short period of time to learn a new language.”
Norburn said that learning a language like Spanish, which is so commonly spoken in the United States, will only aid a student’s effort to obtain a job.
“In the honors college we have students that really excel. They have the highest GPAs, they’re the most involved students, but when you’re competing for jobs with students that are also the same GPA, this is just one more thing that will give them the edge and help them get the job,” Norburn said. “There’s not a single negative by speaking another language that would hurt them at all.”
With the program scheduled to take place in summer 2013, the Burnett Honors College is currently accepting applications for the program from any UCF student who will be at least 18 years old next summer.
“We just want to see what kind of interest we get, if it’s mainly faculty and staff that are interested in this or students or if we get a good mix of the two. We’re really working on publicizing this program so a lot of people learn about it and see if they can fit it in their schedule for either this summer or next summer,” Nieves said. “We just want to see what kind of interest this garners so we can make this a really solid program in the future.”
With steps still being taken to plan out the program and secure a definite semester, Norburn expressed her hopes on what the students take from it.
“I want them to be fluent, I want them to be able to apply for jobs and put it on their résumé and it actually be factual that ‘Yes, I can speak a second language or a third or a fourth,’” Norburn said. “We want our students to succeed, we want to make them competitive and we want them to have fun.”
For more information about the Spanish language program at the Burnett Honors College and when it will be taking place, visit http://bhcsi.honors.ucf.edu/Home/Spanish/Overview.