Local Students Benefit From Lincoln Trail College's International Program

Mar 03, 2023

Three international students at Lincoln Trail College are using their native language to help students at Robinson High School. The students, from Argentina, Bolivia, and Spain, are helping tutor high school students learning Spanish.
Guadalupe Amicone, Tomas Bascon, and Juan Solivellas visit RHS each Thursday to work with dual-credit students enrolled in Spanish II. The three provide help with listening and speaking skills, verb tenses, and generally understanding the Spanish language. 
LTC Dean of Instruction Cynthia Boyce says right now, there’s a shortage of foreign language instructors across the state at both the K-12 and collegiate levels, making it difficult to find qualified long-term substitutes. She says RHS had a need this semester for a Spanish instructor to continue offering dual credit to current students. Boyce says the students were able to enroll in an online section of Spanish II through LTC’s in-district partner, Frontier Community College. Since there would be a need for students to have listening and speaking practice, LTC offered to have native Spanish-speaking students go to the high school once a week to help.
“This partnership not only benefits the RHS students, but the LTC students as well,” says Boyce. “The LTC students are improving their English skills while working on Spanish with the RHS students. Our students are getting to experience American high schools and interact with American high school students. In addition, they get to share information about their countries and cultures with the RHS students.”
Amicone, who is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, says it has meant a lot to her to be able to help the students at RHS. “I would have loved to have a native English speaker in my class when I was learning English in Argentina. I am 19 and I was in their situation two years ago. Therefore, I know how they feel, and I understand the embarrassment that speaking another language in front of our classmates can cause. I always remind them I do not mind if they pronounce wrong a word or get confused about something. Learning a new language is a process and it takes time, a lot of time. You have to make many mistakes and that can be frustrating sometimes. I tell them that I still make mistakes in English every day and I appreciate it when people correct me. I highlight that is great because if I would not make mistakes and people did not correct me, I would not learn as much as I learned. I need to improve my English even more, and I enjoy this process.”
She says that her favorite part of the experience has been being a part of a class from a different perspective. She says she enjoys explaining things the way she likes to be taught by her professors at LTC. She strives to be dynamic with the students at RHS and likes to make them smile when she explains something. “The best way we learn is when emotions are involved in our learning, this is the reason why we remember many more things when we travel rather than just reading a book.”
Solivella, who is from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, says tutoring at RHS has been very beneficial to him. “Even though I'm there to tutor them and make them understand from someone whose first language is Spanish, I always learn something new. I see it as an opportunity to help local high school students learn a new skill and language.”
He says this experience has caused him to reflect not only on his time in high school but also on his future plans. “This experience reinforces my thinking that I should always try to have an idea of where my future goals and path are leading me, and from this experience I'm trying to organize my ideas towards my transfer to a four-year university for my next semester.”
Boyce says he’s had good feedback from the high school and says that the students there have enjoyed getting to know the LTC students. She says they’ve found the LTC students to be very helpful to them in learning Spanish and they’ve also enjoyed learning about the students’ home countries. 
She says the partnership has been good for a lot of reasons. “Partnerships like this one help provide unique, high-quality experiences that will draw interests from potential future students which helps enrich the Crawford County community. It is important for us to be creative in expanding learning opportunities for all students.  We want to maintain good working relationships with our area high schools.  To be successful we need to support each other.  In addition, foreign language requirements at the high school level will be changing within the next few years.  So, we are adapting to assist the high schools ahead of this new challenge.”