The Cooper International Learning Center at Oberlin College is not your standard language resource center. It is not a quiet place although quiet spaces are available. It is a space where teachers and students who are studying languages and cultures come together to work, write, create, and speak any one (or more) of the 10 languages we teach.
We play music in the background, we have four cockatiels (Flaubert, Beatrice, Iago and Dumpling) who sing and chirp, and thanks to these sounds people feel less inhibited while practicing their language.
We are the only technology lab on campus with a hammock. It’s very popular during reading period.
Here’s a list of some of our recent projects:
CILC Blogs: A Publishing Platform for the Oberlin Language Community. Examples include:
- Dirty Wars and Democracy Blog: In this blog, students write under an assumed name but as an avatar, or in the voice of a person who is alive during the timeperiod being discussed in their history class. We configured the settings so that even though the students are all blogging in the same space, only the teacher knows the true identity of the writers.
- HISP 205 and the class blogging tool This was a plugin created by Justin Locsei for WordPress to allow students to have individual blogs that would be pushed forward to the front page of the class blog in a less vertical fashion and more like a dynamic newspaper. To download the code, please go here
Obies Using Languages: Not all students who study languages major or minor in languages. As a way to capture this we created Obies Using Languages…a series of blog posts that highlight the extraordinary ways in which students use language for service, activism, and other forms of life-long learning.
Informal Language Exchanges: Oberlin is a linguistically diverse place. I recently began a project to help prepare Fulbright applicants from Oberlin for the rigors of the language of the countries where they hoped to work. I have been able to pair applicants with heritage speakers on campus (undergraduates, faculty and staff!) as a way to come together and share their linguistic knowledge, but also to create a shared space where learners could ask questions, share information about the culture and gain wisdom on an informal basis. As of this writing we have exchanges happening in Dutch, Vietnamese, Polish, Modern Greek, Czech, Korean, Hungarian, Bahasa Indonesian, Swedish, and Xhosa. Click here to read an article that was published in December 2015 about this project.