These aren’t your typical college students. And this isn’t your typical college class. This is an intense Spanish immersion camp. Nearly three-dozen people from across the state took part in the program at UW-Green Bay.
“I believe that the University has to respond to community needs,” said Cristina Ortiz, an associate professor of Humanistic Studies at UW-Green Bay. Ortiz helped start the Spanish for Professionals camp four years ago, after people in the community contacted the University about the need for a non-traditional Spanish program.
“Green Bay as a community is changing,” Ortiz said. “There are a number of Spanish-speaking people moving into the area, already established here and they realize that to better serve those people they need to speak the language.”
The course is taught during the summer, fall and spring. Classes are divided by skill level.
Doug Newhouse is a beginner.
“I’m a business owner and a good portion of my workforce is Spanish-speaking,” Newhouse said.
Mary Jane Rintelman is an advanced student.
“I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for probably the last 15 years of my life on and off in different ways,” Rintelman said. “It’s about time that I did something a little bit more formal.”
Rintelman spends six months every year in Mexico doing volunteer work. She loves the flexibility of the program.
“I love the new teaching styles with the combination of the live teacher and being able to speak with the other students, but then being able to go home and access all of these wonderful things online,” Rintelman added.
Newhouse says the camp far exceeded his expectations.
“It’s absolutely concentrated,” he said. “I guess I expected after not being in a classroom for 33 years to maybe come back and brush up on some of what I learned but I think now it’s not so much brush up. In three days time, I’m getting into things that are much deeper than the semester of Spanish that I took in high school.”
Of course, no one will master a language in a one-week camp. But students are given the tools to continue their studies once the week wraps up.
“It’s like a whole semester just kind of packed into one week and it’s overwhelming,” Newhouse said. “But there’s enough literature, there’s enough information, enough books and enough resources that I’ll be learning a long time after class is over.”
Unlike the week-long summer immersion course, the fall and spring sessions are web-enhanced with four face-time meetings that encourage language practice. For more information on the program contact Mona Christensen in the UW-Green Bay Division of Outreach and Adult Access at (920)465-2267 or (800)621-2313, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.