UAB Magazine Weekly - Features on Courses and Programs
—Thoughts from UAB foreign language instructors and alumni
1. Languages broaden perspective. Being able to speak directly with people from other countries is a powerful tool. Knowing subtle differences in words and phrasing promotes better communication and cultural understanding.
2. Language training should start early. Studies show that children exposed to foreign languages do better in school and get higher SAT scores. One reason may be that languages help children learn to decode and recombine unfamiliar information. UAB offers a yearly summer camp where children can learn Spanish.
3. Languages provide good brain exercise for all ages. Research shows that learning languages helps promote memory and healthier brains in older adults. Despite having more marked accents, seniors can learn languages fairly easily.
4. Languages should be used whenever possible. Take advantage of every opportunity to read, write, speak, or listen. Unused skills get rusty.
5. Language is a lifetime process. Be realistic, and don’t get discouraged if you don’t learn a language in 30 days. Even native speakers are constantly learning.
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.
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.
UAB Students Reimagine the Book
By Charles Buchanan
It seems that you can judge a book by its cover—if it’s one of the fanciful tomes created by students in UAB’s book arts course. You’re more likely to find these books in a gallery than on a bestseller list, however, because each volume is designed to be a unique work of art.
Students in UAB's book arts program create their own unique works from scratch, combining centuries-old techniques with cutting-edge designs. The work above was created by Brooke Lancaster.
“These pieces use the format of the book as an avenue for creative expression,” explains Doug Baulos, assistant professor of drawing and bookmaking in the UAB Department of Art and Art History. Each book’s structure, binding, paper, and printing are part of the art. “Content is not limited to words alone,” says Baulos, and in fact, some of the books contain no words at all.
Creating a book from scratch—and by hand—is a time-honored tradition. Centuries ago, it was the only way to make a book. Today, Baulos says, students from a variety of majors are eager to experiment with the techniques and materials that are part of the process. They also enjoy the challenge of seeing the book as an art form. “Sculpture students, for example, use the class to explore narrative, mass, and the book as object,” Baulos adds. “Graphic design majors use it as a professional practice course for layout, production, and so forth.”
(Story continues below slideshow)