By David Lopez
The language lab, located in room 4 of the Tutoring and Academic Skills Center (TASC), consists of various language-learning resources and services. Aside from the 25 computers with internet access, there are shelves equipped with dictionaries and verb books, cabinets with multiple software choices (such as Rosetta Stone, games, and videos), and what students seem to ask for the most: tutors who have been evaluated to successfully aid language learners. A service which the language lab offers on a daily basis is group speaking practice which is also referred to as “live lab conversations.” These conversations are for small to medium-sized groups of students who want to practice speaking and listening to the languages they are learning.
The live lab conversation groups are led by the language lab liaisons, or by the foreign language tutors. A sign-up sheet is available at the front desk of the language lab for those who wish to sign up for the live lab conversations. Moisés Hernández, a former college Spanish and ESL (English as a Second Language) professor, and currently a faculty liaison at the language lab, suggests that whether a student is enrolled in a foreign language in order to learn to communicate, or just to fulfill a language requirement on their transcript, the help offered at the language lab is just as important in both cases. This is because the language lab may be the only opportunity outside of the classroom that the student may have to practice the foreign language.
Moisés shared how he has noticed that students are able to focus more on their foreign language studies while in the language lab than when they attempt to study at home or in environments where the learner is exposed to many distractions. Moisés points out that everybody faces foreign language challenges at every level, ranging from issues with parts of speech and verb tenses, to listening and pronunciation. He says that the language lab can address these problems by offering them helpful handouts, showing them appropriate software, or offering immediate help by appointing them specific tutors in their language.
Micheline Morena, a native French speaker, is the instructional support technician at the language lab, which means she tutors students and also takes care of technical problems that may happen at the lab. Aside from French, she also speaks Spanish, English and a little bit of German. She encourages students to use the language lab, declaring that as a former ESL and French teacher, she has seen the positive results when students use the language lab. She also mentioned a report from the Institutional Research Department that students who attend the TASC generally do better in their classes. She credits the tutors for such success.
According to Morena, students do better when they go to the language lab because tutors can explain things over and over and take their time with the students until they understand, which is a contrast to the classroom’s environment where students have to keep up with the professor. Micheline states that even students who are not currently enrolled in a foreign language at College of the Desert may go in and use the resources. Students who wish to independently study or brush up on a language are welcome to the lab. She says that the only requirement is that the student be currently enrolled at College of the Desert. Currently, American Sign Language (ASL), ESL, Spanish, French, Japanese, and German are offered on campus.
Even though Italian is not offered this semester at the college, Italian tutors and other resources are still available for students who wish to continue learning independently and are enrolled in classes at College of the Desert. The language lab prides itselfon its resources, services, and tutors. The staff encourages students to stop by and ask any questions they may have about any of the services.
The language lab is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.