UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
When is it open? During regular Fall and Spring semesters, the Language Lab is open from Monday through Thursday, 7:30 am until 4:00 pm, and on Friday from 7:30 am until 3:00 pm. If for any reason the Lab won't be open at these times, a sign will be posted well in advance. During the summer, and during winter break, Lab hours are a lot more uncertain, so you might want to call first. Although the Lab is open to all UWRF students, priority may be given to Modern Language Majors and Minors if the Lab is full.
Who works there? Clio McLagan (second from left in photo) runs the shop, and students fill out the staff. Not surprisingly, the student staff are typically skilled in one or more languages themselves. They're there to help you out with the Lab resources.
What can you do at the Lab? Tons! Not only are most of the things super fun to play with, they're great learning tools. Fluency in a second (or third, or fourth) language is becoming the number one selling point in the job market. The resources in the Lab can help you boost your skill at both speaking and understanding another language. And when you're over in Qinghai Province or the Sudetenland you'll need some global awareness -- not to mention local awareness -- to communicate effectively. The newspapers, videos, and multimedia programs available in the Lab can help you develop the skills you'll need, and build the knowledge base necessary in this ever-smaller world. Set aside some time in the Lab to catch up on international news, to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, or to get Philippe and his girlfriend back together again (hey, apartment-hunting in Paris isn't all it's cracked up to be).
Listen and repeat... The old workhorse of language study -- audio files! Get higher exam results or simply boggle at the rapid-fire speech of other countries. If your prof says listen, then listen. It's worth the time. Listening to and comprehending another language is a skill that you can develop, and the only way to do it is through practice, practice, practice. Audio files are good for that, because people don't like it when you hit their rewind button. Your classes will suddenly become far more interesting, and eventually you'll find yourself thinking in other languages. What's more, you'll get to hear how people really say things, which is something textbooks alone can't give you. And if you feel silly saying "je suis américain" out loud in the Lab, you may be able to access the audio files online to listen to (and repeat) at home.
Start the microwave popcorn More movies than the Cannes Film Festival! Well, maybe not, but the Lab houses a good available selection of videos in several languages. Kick back with films in French, German, Spanish, Chinese or Japanese. Try to follow the subtitles while still catching some of the action on the screen. Actually, you may be surprised at how much subtitles can help your comprehension -- just watch the film and if you ever lose track of the plot (this happens rather frequently in French cinema) you can always read the translation at the bottom. It's especially amusing when the translation is poor. So go on, check out a movie overnight and have a slumber party with Gerard Depardieu. But don't stop there! The Lab houses many other kinds of learning videos too. French in Action is a running classic. It's a 52-part series (each installment is only a half-hour long) in beginning and intermediate French. Find one you don't understand and watch it until you do. It's all in French, so it's almost like being there -- try to guess whether they're saying Robert or Hubert. The popular Spanish Destinos and Nuevos Destinos video series are also available in the lab for viewing or check-out.
Magazines, books, and other language materials Browse a Chinese newspaper or some German magazines. Peruse an impossibly vast collection of French novels. There is a coffee pot and a lounge for snacking and conversation. That's not enough for you? For the more serious student, there are lots of dictionaries and grammar books. There are many materials on Study Abroad, language club information, work abroad, and graduate programs, and plenty of information regarding opportunities like the Peace Corps and International Business. On top of everything, the Lab is also a very good study environment. Grab a cup of java, get comfortable, and hit some books.
Need more info? Stop on by or call up the lab at (715) 425-3121 and Clio McLagan--or one of her lab assistants--will answer all your questions for you.