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Holguín Mendoza and Barnett Integrate Social Networking into the Language Classroom

Assistant Professor of Spanish Claudia Holguín Mendoza, coordinator of the Spanish heritage language program and Dr. C. Brian Barnett, second-year French supervisor both integrated Facebook (FB) recently into their courses.

In the fall, Holguín Mendoza along with the others teaching SPAN 308: Bilingual Communities (Instructors of Spanish Amy Costales & Liliana Darwin-López and Senior Instructor & Head Undergraduate Advisor Kelley León-Howarth) created ¨Español in Eugene.¨ This FB group was created so that all sections of SPAN 308 could be connected and to share relevant information, such as articles, music, as well as extra activities for students to complete.  In addition, the group’s administrators advertised relevant events within the local community such as a public reading of the books banned in Arizona.   The 308 teaching team had many ideas and found FB to be a great platform to share amongst themselves as well as with the students.

¨Español in Eugene¨ was created as a FB group as Holguín Mendoza and the other instructors wanted an environment semi-private where outsiders could not see the postings, but open enough to share ideas and make comments. The 308 team is considering making FB a part of the syllabus and find that by using it during a class shows students a more practical aspect of FB.  Another benefit has been the addition of faculty and graduate students from the U of O and other institutions (e.g., Western Illinois University & the University of Arizona).  These new members have been contributing ideas through posts as well as receiving inspiration from this FB group.

Barnett wanted to create an environment that would help show the relevance of studying French within the United States and would allow students the opportunity to interact with Francophones living in the US, Canada, and Caribbean.  Therefore, he created the FB group “Franco-Amérique : Université d’Oregon” for FR 399 Héritages Francophones aux États-Unis.  He then invited both students and several Francophone contacts to join and encouraged both to participate actively with open-ended discussions questions and simple polls that he posted throughout the term. Students also had a chance to Skype live with a few of the FB group members who lived outside of Eugene (e.g., Grégoire Chabot, a Franco-Américain author from Maine), read additional articles, and listen to music relevant to the topics covered in class.

FB was not only used as a medium for students to interact with French speakers, but it also provided Barnett as a way to share students’ work with a larger francophone audience, such as Plus jamais invisibles (‘No longer invisible’), a news program highlighting various francophone communities  in the United States.

Both Holguín Mendoza and Barnett agree that FB has provided students an excellent way of using social-networking sites to make connections outside of the classroom and are hoping to integrate them in future courses.



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