Newly renovated Arts and Sciences room 273 is now the Language Resource Center: a collaborative learning space specifically designed for students learning languages and engaging other cultures.
The new space is meant for any of the languages taught at GC. It features rolling whiteboards and circular seating and tables that double as dry-erase boards. The space is fully-equipped for students to converse in other languages, complete cultural research or practice grammar skills.
“In the past week of the LRC being open, we have already had more students visit than we did the whole of last semester,” said Dr. Peggy Elliott, department chair for world languages and culture.
With a collection of over 300 foreign films, the LRC can also help prepare students for cultural encounters while studying abroad.
“Students can go into the LRC and ask the coordinator if there is a movie [she] recommends to learn about a specific language or culture in order to prepare for a study abroad experience, and they can sit in the LRC and watch the movie,” Elliott said
The department of world languages and cultures reimagined the current language lab with a grant from the Center for Teaching and Learning Fellows Program, a group of faculty members interested in adopting new teaching methods aimed at students engaging with material beyond the classroom setting.
New goals for the redesigned language lab included areas for students to complete “talk abroad” assignments, where students video chat with native language speakers from around the world, informal gathering spaces and a hub for peer tutoring.
Dividing the space into four quadrants was project manager Maggie Discher’s solution for meeting the variety of needs of the world languages and cultures department.
“Before, there were only a few tables and chairs and lots of computers,” Discher said.
“Our setup was focused on creating a space that students would want to come to and allow for a wider variety of activities.”
The active learning space has four “centers”: a conference/group study table with plenty of outlets, a place to watch a TV with Bluetooth headphones, computer stations with video cameras and audio hookups and round tables for peer tutoring.
Tutoring is available throughout the week for French and Spanish, the two most popular languages.
“I would love to see tutored languages expand, but right now [French and Spanish] are the focus since most students end up taking those,” said LRC coordinator Audrey Redmond.
Open to language majors as well as non-majors fulfilling degree requirements, tutoring sessions are geared towards certain class levels are different times.
Student tutors are all language majors or minors that volunteer to help other students find their “breakthrough” moments with a language or language concept.
“I’m good at teaching people things, and I’m very adamant about languages—its one of my passions,” said French major and student tutor Matthew Sampson. “Helping someone else achieve that [passion] is really cool.”
The LRC is the newest resource on campus designed to be a student-centric space: students tutoring each other, learning together and preparing to interact with peers from other languages and cultures in their future.