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Pop-up language lab offers students help on Cumming Campus

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UNG peer tutor Dulci Blanco works with student Quinlyn Lichty on concepts from Lichty's Spanish class.

Dulci Blanco knows how to put students at ease with the language lab work for their Spanish classes. The Argentina native's patience, encouragement and instruction help students succeed.

Blanco is the first peer tutor in the pop-up language lab launched this fall on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Cumming Campus. The lab is open from 1-5 p.m. on Thursdays, with the first hour in the library open space and the final three hours in the geology lab (room 203). Organizers hope to expand hours as more tutors are added.

The Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee campuses have permanent language labs. Previously, students from the Cumming Campus had to travel to the Dahlonega Campus or call by phone or Skype to receive assistance.

"The fact that this service is now physically available on the Cumming Campus, rather than through a virtual connection only, has bridged a gap for students who are more comfortable with in-person interactions and has helped them feel more at ease with the language acquisition process in general," said David Hair, interim director of UNG's language labs.

That fits right in with the language lab's purpose of helping students speak the language in natural settings that enhance their classroom experience.

Blanco, a junior pursuing a degree in healthcare services and informatics administration, has seen firsthand the response to the pop-up language lab. Some students come in groups and others individually.

"You can tell the students are excited about it," Blanco said. "The students are eager to come and learn and do their activities."

Quinlyn Lichty, a freshman from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in kinesiology, visited the pop-up language lab recently. Lichty smiled as Blanco helped her understand portions of Spanish that she hadn't fully mastered in class, such as time elements and singular and plural words.

"She can break some things down for me," Lichty said. "It's someone who can explain the process to you."

William Medcalf, a sophomore from Cumming, Georgia, on the business administration pathway, previously had received language lab help by phone but enjoyed the in-person aid.

"You can practice at home by yourself," Medcalf said. "But with the lab, you piece together things you've learned and put it into practice, which is hard to do alone."

Cindy Magana, a sophomore from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in general studies, worked with a classmate as Blanco gave them tips for a spoken assignment. For Magana, the convenience and assistance were a great combination.

As the program adds more tutors and more students use the service, Hair is eager to expand the language lab's presence in Cumming. He is grateful for the support of Jason Pruitt, executive director of the Cumming Campus; Dr. Christopher Jespersen, dean of the College of Arts and Letters; and the library and geology lab faculty in sharing their facilities.

"As more languages are offered and student interest grows in learning languages, we hope that this need can also be accompanied by an increased lab presence in Cumming," Hair said. "We will be happy to increase our level of services through more student lab assistants and more access to technology and hope this can be a part of the existing expansion plans already happening in Cumming."

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