Oberlin Blogs

Barbara Sawhill

My family and I came to Oberlin in 1998 from New England. Like many people, we said we would give it a try for 2-3 years and then re-assess. Some 15 years later…here we still are.

I came here to work with the language faculty and to help run the Cooper International Learning Center. In addition to being a beautiful facility, the CILC set the standard on campus for what a collaborative computer-assisted learning center should look like. Our motto is “This is Not a Quiet Lab” because we encourage people to speak, sing, talk, watch movies in the languages they are learning. We also have a hammock, cockatiels, a fish tank and occasionally jazz on Friday afternoons. It’s a cool place to be.

For the past 10 years I have been the Director of the CILC and a member of the Hispanic Studies Department. As a teacher, I believe in project-based learning. As a technologist, my area of expertise is social media (in particular blogs) in the language classroom. I believe my job, as a teacher and as a technologist, is to create opportunities for students to engage with Spanish speakers outside of this bubble we call Oberlin. The CILC works with Sebastiaan Faber and the OCLC and has been a part of the amazing ObieMAPS project. Together we are finding new ways to support language learning and teaching at Oberlin.

Language study may be foundering at other schools…not here. Many students take languages at Oberlin not because they have to, but because they want to make connections between what they learn in the language classroom and the world around them. I love being a part of that process. I love helping students collaborate with one another in order to take charge of their learning. I love watching them go out and change the world, one Spanish-speaker at a time.

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