UAB Magazine Online Features
The Secrets of Teaching Foreign Tongues
By Shelley Stewart
Carli Lindley-Hamlin, who teaches at Thompson High School in Alabaster, won the 2011 Promising New Foreign Language Teacher Award from the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers (AAFLT). She stresses the practical advantages to being fluent in more than one language.
Three of Alabama’s top foreign-language teachers share something in common—besides a proficiency in Spanish. All three began their careers as undergraduate students in UAB’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
Malinda O’Leary, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at UAB, and teachers Breanne Holland and Charli Lindley-Hamlin have each won a statewide award for excellence from the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers (AAFLT) in 2011. In fact, UAB-connected teachers have swept the category for the past three years. So what is UAB’s secret to teaching foreign languages so effectively?
Immersing students in a different culture is essential, says Sheri Spaine Long, Ph.D., UAB professor of foreign languages. “Language is only the starting point for discovering the music, the books, the people.” Indeed, the department requires its students to participate in UAB’s Study Away program to help instill the love and use of language. “We help each student arrange a trip that meets his or her time and financial requirements because there’s no substitute for speaking the language day to day,” Spaine Long says.
The high level of fluency that students acquire enables them to converse with ease—and gain confidence. The three award-winning teachers demonstrate their confidence by advocating for foreign-language education with parents and local communities, Spaine Long says. “Good teachers tend to be leaders,” she notes.
Medical Student Enrichment Program Opens Doors and Minds
By Jo Lynn Orr
Frank B. "Will" Williams examines a patient in a two-room clinic in Peru. Williams says participating in MSEP helped shape his views on poverty.
Becoming a physician involves accepting challenges. For some UAB School of Medicine students, however, the Medical Student Enrichment Program (MSEP) enables them to go thousands of miles beyond their comfort zone—to Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Supported by the Medical Alumni Association and the Caduceus Club, the MSEP fosters humanitarian attitudes and cross-cultural understanding among future physicians through international research or patient interactions. Kathleen Nelson, M.D., senior associate dean of faculty development, founded the summer program in 1995 to encourage students to take an interest in underserved populations, learn about global medicine, be resourceful, and hone their problem-solving, observation, and communication skills.
UAB Student Reveals Hockey’s History
By Charles Buchanan
Chicago native and hockey fan Rebecca Dobrinski is staying close to the sport she loves by researching hockey's expansion into the South as part of her graduate studies in the UAB Department of History and Anthropology.
Life can be tough for an ice-hockey fan in sunny, football-focused Alabama. Rebecca Dobrinski, a Chicago native and follower of several teams, relies on cable television to keep up with most games, and she has season tickets to the Nashville Predators, a three-hour drive away. Now she has found another way to follow her favorite sport—by tracking it through time.
A master’s student in the UAB Department of History, Dobrinski has researched the expansion of the sport into the South over the past 70 years. She will present her recent paper on the arrival of hockey in Nashville at the annual conference of the North American Society for Sport History at the end of May.
Minor league teams expanding from cities in the northern United States and Canada brought hockey to the South as early as the 1940s, Dobrinski explains. “The National Hockey League consisted of only six teams from the 1920s to the 1960s, so many players had to rely on the minor leagues if they wanted to continue playing after college/juniors.” The new teams faced the challenge of introducing their sport to potential audiences, however. Nashville’s Dixie Flyers, debuting in 1962, got help from newspaper reporters, who wrote articles profiling the mostly Canadian players, detailing team practices, and explaining the unique vocabulary of the game. One story even featured a diagram of a rink to indicate the importance of lines and circles on the ice. Hockey practices and coaches often were compared to their football counterparts, and the sports writers made a point of mentioning the possibility of player fights on the ice—an added incentive for some curious ticket-buyers.
Even today, teams in nontraditional markets such as the South must educate the public about hockey, Dobrinski says. “It’s difficult for minor league teams to keep a fan base going and revenue coming in. It’s also interesting to see how many of the Southern NHL teams adopt some of the strategies that have proven successful in the minor leagues.”
New UAB Program Trains Artist-Engineers for the 3-D Future
By Caperton Gillett
Bharat Soni, left, and Christopher Lowther are trying to build a bridge between their respective scientific and artistic disciplines in order to develop students "equally at home in the left and right brain."
Artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci never had access to three-dimensional modeling software or advanced computer simulation suites. That’s a shame, because with the help of a new UAB graduate program that bears his name, he might have managed to get his human-powered ornithopter and other futuristic visions off the ground.
The Leonardo Art & Engineering Certificate Program—affectionately known as “Leonardo” to developers Bharat Soni, Ph.D., and Christopher Lowther, marries the concrete aspects of engineering (Soni) with the creative aspects of art (Lowther). The program, which begins this fall, aims to mold students into well-rounded “Renaissance kind of people” capable of taking advantages of the many opportunities in a hot new field, Lowther says.
UAB faculty already have extensive expertise in designing and building immersive virtual-reality environments, says Soni, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the UAB School of Engineering. The school’s summer institute for high-school students has given faculty experience in teaching computer simulation techniques to the mathematically disinclined. And Lowther’s time-based media class in the Department of Art and Art History, which makes heavy use of 3-D modeling and animation software, presented a near-perfect bridge between the two disciplines.