North Texas Daily

Tutors help students talk the talk in foreign language

Tutors help students talk the talk in foreign language

Tutors help students talk the talk in foreign language
March 12
00:24 2015

Harrison Long / Staff Writer

Many students on campus may find they will be tasked with completing a class in a foreign language at some point during their studies. Some find this to be easier than others, but fortunately for the latter, UNT sees fit to provide opportunities for tutoring in every language currently offered.

Although students are likely to hear about sessions from their instructors, extra help is no further than room 101 of the Language building. 

“Students will find that the more that are enrolled in class, languages such as Spanish, French and German, the more often the classes will meet,” said Belinda Reyes, administrative specialist of the department of language, world literature and cultures.

Reyes said while plenty of students do take other languages like Chinese, Japanese or American Sign Language, they will find fewer available sessions, but earlier and more frequent notice of scheduled meetings.

Inside the video theatre where students can watch foreign films, some for extra credit and others out of their own inclination, is where Spanish junior Marco Friedman said he chooses to hold his sessions as a supplemental instructor.

“I tutor first-year Arabic students in basic grammatical skills, although I am fluent and available to help in both English in Spanish as well,” Friedman said. “I am here to reinforce interest in learning and any material that is taught by professors.” 

Friedman said he first found his love for the Arabic language more than two years ago when he was studying with an old professor.

“I felt this hunger for Arabic when I was first exposed to it,” Friedman said. “I feel that students of language open their mind when they take on the task of learning another form of communication.”

When asked if he wished to continue his education in Arabic, Friedman said “Insha’Allah,” which translates to “God willing.”

Friedman said regular attendance at tutoring sessions creates positive reinforcement in retaining what students learn in class.

“I had a particular student who attended every session one semester and [earned] a better grade than they said they initially expected at the beginning of the course,” Friedman said. “They made significant progress apart from the class. It really does make a difference.”

Ecology freshman Omni Ebow, who is currently studying German under the instruction of professor Simone Baker-Kaupp, said she also found these extra sessions to be helpful.

“I have been twice, and I can already notice that when I listen to fluent speakers I am able to pick up much more than I feel I would if I had not gone,” Ebow said.

She also said while she absorbs the introduction of topics during her regularly scheduled class time, it is this extra instruction that is the tipping point when it comes to retention.

“The topics change as the semester moves along,” Ebow said. “They tend to get progressively harder, but if you’ve been in the past, you don’t feel intimidated. Its all relevant to what you’re covering in class.”

These sessions, known as ‘Gesprächsrunde’, which translates literally to “talk around” are just that. Students sit around a table with one of the German professors and discuss various topics in German.

While the nature of the individual sessions might vary based on the number of students enrolled or the level of difficulty from course to course, Reyes said the main priority of the department of world languages is the success of students.

“Though it does boil down to the availability of the tutors and the number enrolled in a course, you would be hard pressed to find a student who wasn’t benefitted by attending a session,” Reyes said.

Featured Image: Four students gather on Tuesday in the language building onfor a tutoring session. Pictured from left to right: Psychology junior Pierceson Harris, political science sophomore Zehra Hussain, political science freshman Henry Lopez and Spanish junior Marco Freidman. Photo by Evan McAlister – Staff Photographer

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