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Community center offers Spanish classes, experience

June 06, 2008

Brushing up on Spanish skills and helping to make the world a better place are a few of the experiences that are possible for students who sign up for internships at the Community Learning Center on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

Students who took advantage of the first internships offered last semester learned advanced Spanish skills from people taking classes at the center and went beyond the call of duty when they developed new ideas for an advanced English class. Three of the students - Miaka Golden, Jonathan Randel and Alexander Ritchman - were recently hired as facilitators for the center and were honored for their work at the recent Downtown Devil Recognition awards ceremony.

The Community Learning Center offers members of the community the opportunity to take online classes offered through the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (el Tec) in Mexico. Courses offered through el Tec cover topics such as statistics, math, business, science and health. Classes are taught in Spanish and indigenous languages with an English curriculum under development.

“El Tec offers more than 80 courses that are offered free to the community,” says Rosa Molinar, Executive Coordinator for the Community Learning Center. A few classes such as a basic computer skills course carry a $30 fee.

More than 600 people utilize the courses offered through El Tec by taking classes at University Center, Washington Elementary School, Veda Frank Elementary School in Tempe or at home on their personal computer.

“Many of them are parents who want to help their children in school,” Molinar says.

Now ASU students can earn credit hours through internships at the center by taking a SPA 484 class through the School of International Letters and Cultures (SILC) in Tempe and facilitated by University College on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Interns help clients with subjects such as basic computer skills, learning English and HTML Web design.

Interns commit to working eight hours per week throughout the semester. Molinar counts the students as special individuals who are not only expanding their Spanish skills, but helping to educate an underserved population.

“The students learn how to work with low-income families,” Molinar says. “Our participants often are afraid of the computer. These students helped them not be afraid and navigate the Internet.”

“The workload is less complicated because of the students. They have so much energy. They are motivated to work,” Molinar says. For information about internships, e-mail Prof. Barbara Lafford at