In short one trip, Kara McBride, Ph.D., assistant professor of Spanish, was able to combine data collection, teaching and the establishment of new cross-border relationships.
McBride went to the University of Sonora in Hermosillo, Mexico, during the week of Nov. 22, in order to collect data for her research.
|Kara McBride, Ph.D., (standing) explains the workings of an mp3 player to one of the participants in the study. Submitted photo|
Not wanting her students to miss any classes while she was there, McBride arranged for a virtual class to take place, via Wimba, between her 15 students in her Spanish phonetics and phonology class and 15 students from the University of Sonora who are studying to be English teachers.
The class was big success, both as an exciting and very real-world experience for language learners, as well as being an occasion for new friendships to form.
Within days, students from across the border met up on Skype, on their own accounts, with their newly made friends.
When asked about their experiences, SLU student Micah Russell commented that it had been "una muy buena experiencia," (a very good experience) and classmate Stanley Donahoo commented simply, "Chévere" (cool).
McBride's study, entitled "Measuring the Effectiveness of Pronunciation Training and Perceptions of Foreign Accent," was funded by the Mellon Faculty Development Grant, as well as supported by the SLU Summer Research Award, through which she was able to buy the equipment necessary for the study.
A total of 147 subjects in Mexico listened to samples of speech from students of Spanish as a foreign language and wrote about their perceptions.
McBride also had the opportunity to discuss her research with three classes of students studying foreign language pedagogy, as well as interview one student interested in applying to SLU's MA in Spanish program.