As schools and colleges start the new academic year under the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, Newbury College tutors are finding innovative ways of using technology to thrive under the ‘new normal’.
Newbury College Spanish Tutor, Elizabeth Vega de Marquez, likes to invite guest speakers to her adult Spanish classes to help students develop their vocabulary and experience a range of different accents and dialects.
Since moving her popular courses online in March 2020, as a response to the government’s national lockdown, Elizabeth has been experimenting with different techniques to enrich her lessons. While many people may look closer to home for guest speakers, Elizabeth has crossed the Atlantic and taken advantage of the technology available to welcome one from New York City.
Inez McMahon is a New York-based Spanish Teacher who has travelled the Spanish speaking world extensively and joined Elizabeth’s Advanced Conversation group on Wednesday evening to share her experiences and deliver a presentation on traditional and sustainable fishing practices.
“I like to reflect current issues in my classes and encourage my students to look at international perspectives, as this gives them a greater insight into the language, how it was formed and how it is used” said Elizabeth. “We have previously looked at deforestation in the Amazon rainforest and more recently the impact of Coronavirus on the Spanish economy. Inez provided the students with a fascinating presentation on the ancient tuna fishing practice of La Almadraba, a Phoenician technique that is still used in some coastal regions of Spain, Portugal and Italy.”
Students have adapted well to online learning thanks to the support the College provides and are enjoying the range of new techniques that tutors are able to use in their sessions. Trudy Izzo, an Advanced Conversation student, said: “Elizabeth makes learning fun and is always introducing different learning materials to keep study fresh and interesting.”
Newbury College uses the Microsoft Teams platform for delivering online classes as part of its shift towards a blended learning approach. Curriculum Manager for Community Learning, Sarah Hemmings, said: “We are using all available technology to ensure that our Adult Community Learning courses can continue while keeping our students and staff safe. Elizabeth is one of our shining stars in the department who has embraced this technology to deliver innovative activities and engaging sessions to her students. She regularly works with other colleagues to share this good practice and we are incredibly proud of the provision our tutors are continuing to provide.”
It’s not too late to enrol on adult courses at Newbury College. Language courses in Spanish, French and Italian are available from beginner level through to advanced, alongside other popular subjects including art, computing, dance, dressmaking, flower arranging, photography, pottery and psychology.