If you have already received your Winter-Spring Insights magazine, you know that GC may really be onto something with a twist on Spanish immersion. Inside Higher Education gave great coverage to Inmersion en Espanol today in an article with the headline “Socrates in Spanish.”
Below is an updated and expanded version of this story that appeared in the current issue of Insights magazine.
Beginning this fall semester, Georgetown College will introduce to the curriculum a unique program that will allow students with a passion for the Spanish language to take general education courses IN Spanish.
“Everybody says ‘Oh my gosh…of course! Why hasn’t someone done this before?!” said Provost Rosemary Allen of Inmersión En Español Georgetown College (IEGC). That ‘Inmersion’ was modeled after the Honors Program helped win almost immediate faculty approval.
“The faculty could see the value as (IEGC) satisfies our quest for academic excellence and diversity,” Dr. Allen said. “This gives us a high level program that increases our geographic, ethnic and international diversity.”
Ann McCamy ’85, who was hired last fall as Executive Director of New Business, is gratified that “her baby” is creating a buzz wherever she goes. “Others are seeing that not only will our
students be far more marketable, but also this program will help make Georgetown College a truly global campus,” she said.
McCamy is especially excited by a letter of recognition of this “ground-breaking program” from Emily Spinelli, Executive Director of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). Spinelli, who hopes other institutions will develop similar programs, wrote: “These required general education courses will also help students improve critical thinking skills, cross-cultural sensitivity and problem-solving ability. As a result, students will be in a better position to participate in the increasingly multicultural society and globalized economy at home and abroad.”
How big is the IEGC program and the forthcoming recognition? For starters, Dr. Allen and Dr. Adela Borrallo-Solis, were invited to present at the Conference on Teaching World Languages, March 31 – April 2, in Little Rock – an event that brings great credibility and will certainly open many other doors.
Earlier last fall, McCamy, President Bill Crouch and professors Borrallo-Solis, the native speaker of Spanish who wrote the IEGC proposal, and Yolanda Carter, a heritage speaker of Spanish and our newly-appointed Dean of Education, attended the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) convention in Boston. Their presence gave the fledgling program great exposure at this World Languages Expo attended by more than 7,000 foreign language teachers and administrators from all over the world.
Among the people they met there was Tom Sauer, a World Language Specialist with Jefferson County Public Schools. McCamy has visited him in Louisville since and really values him as a contact. Turns out Sauer knows the College – both as a former adjunct German teacher at Georgetown (2002-5) and for some graduate work he did here leading to teacher certification.
Another wonderful ACTFL connection was Claudia Botoulas, a
teacher of Heritage Spanish at Cleveland’s Saint Martin de Porres High School, who then escorted eight students on a Georgetown College visit in late March.
The Spanish-born Dr. Borrallo-Solis had our Cleveland guests in her classroom and began to truly envision what’s ahead. “The very exciting interactions I saw between our current students and our guests made me realize how enriching it would be for the Georgetown College community to welcome and embrace the cultural and linguistic heritage that they would bring to our campus,” the associate professor of Spanish said.
One of Saint Martin’s top candidates, senior Teresa Arteaga, applied to Georgetown a few days later.
McCamy is planning on a dozen students in IEGC for the first year and growing the program each year thereafter. Nearby, she said that Alicia Vinson, World Languages Immersion Program Coordinator for Fayette County Public Schools, and Lexington Christian Academy (where McCamy was CFO for 13 years) are key. She’s also hoping to attract students for 2011-12 from some of these schools that have immersion programs she’s visited or has talked to – Saint Xavier and Louisville Male Traditional high schools in Louisville, Pulaski County Schools in Somerset, The Soulsville Charter High School in Memphis, Central High School of Macon, GA, Mercy High School in Omaha, Delaware Valley Regional High School of Frenchtown, NJ, and Latin Academy of Boston.
What McCamy is telling interested prospective students and their teachers: IEGC features a variety of core general education content courses taught in Spanish, opportunities for study abroad, extensive co-curricular activities focusing on global issues, and a supportive small-college environment that builds positive intercultural relationships. IEGC is designed to serve equally well those native speakers of English who are strengthening their skills in Spanish and native speakers of Spanish who are strengthening their skills in English. For example, students could choose to take a course in Psychology or Mathematics with a Spanish speaking professor and texts.
A student may receive IEGC recognition by fulfilling the following requirements:
- The student must complete a minimum of 15 credit hours in IEGC Foundations and Core courses (Foundations 111, Math, Philosophy, summer abroad, etc).
- In addition the student will also need to complete a Capstone Project previously approved by the committee.
- A 3.3 GPA is required for eligibility to begin the project and at graduation for receiving the IEGC distinction on the transcript.
Dr. Rosemary Allen, the College’s Provost, knows that Inmersion en Espanol is critical for the futures of Georgetown College students. “We are doing our children a disservice if we don’t give them a second language at an academic level,” she said.