Pairs of English and Spanish teachers from several Texas high schools arrived at Austin College Thursday for the three-day Summer Institute offered by the College’s Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies. The program was made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Teachers participating are from high schools in Anna, Collinsville, Dallas, Denison, Fort Worth, Plano, Schertz, Van Alstyne, Waxahachie, and Whitewright.
Spanish teachers have the opportunity to refresh their language skills in a language-immersion environment as they develop new cultural and technology resources for their students. English teachers are learning more about Latino culture literature, and film and resources for teaching. The institute is designed to develop skills for teachers working with Hispanic/Latino literature and cultural subjects.
The daily schedule includes target-language workshops in culture, literature, and film with additional cultural activities in the evening. Spanish teachers speak in the target language, while English teachers share ideas in English about Latino culture. The atmosphere at the institute is informal and highly collegial as teachers share ideas with one another.
Participants stay in the College’s Jordan Family Language House, also the location for the workshops. During the academic year, students of French, German, and Spanish live in separate wings in the language house, each with native speakers, and all speak the target language in public areas. The house also includes the East Asian Global Leadership Wing for students of Chinese and Japanese. Each language section also has a living room outfitted with multi-standard video equipment, and multi-media classrooms, a technology development room, and a residential computing facility support the house. The combination of ready access to state-of-the-art technology and a supportive environment of immersion in the target language make the Summer Institute a unique opportunity for professional growth, said Dr. Patrick Duffey, professor of Spanish at Austin College, who with Dr. Julie Hempel, professor of Spanish, serve as faculty for the institute.
Teachers receive 18 Continuing Professional Education hours for the institute.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.