Spanish Immersion Camp hosted at Eastern for first time

Destiny Bell, Staff Reporter

30 students sharpened their Spanish skills this week at an Immersion Camp Eastern is hosting for the first time.

Spanish professor Kristin Routt said the camp has gone beyond what organizers were expecting.

“The students are amazing.  They have adapted very well to an immersion environment, and we have had a lot of fun,” Routt said.

Routt said the camp involves a great amount of planning time. While the camp itself involves 14 hour days for a week, the bulk of the work for the camp comes in the months of planning beforehand.

The Department of Foreign Languages contacted past alumni who have their teacher licensure, and the Office of Admissions also helped the recruitment process by providing contact information for high schools, Routt said. Routt also said several of the campers are current  Spanish students  for teacher licensure alumni.

The Camp was $395 for local residents and included tuition, supervision, program materials, housing and meals. For commuter students, the rate was $330 which included tuition, program materials and daily lunches and dinners. Students could send a $40 non-refundable deposit before May 1 to reserve a space in the camp.

“We ultimately had to close registration, since we wanted to make sure we could provide quality programming for a number of campers appropriate for our first year running the camp,”  Routt said.

The faculty involved in the Foreign Language camp hope to share their passion for Spanish languages and cultures, she said.

Activities included a lesson on playing Cuban rhythms on the bongo drums, making detailed and meaningful ‘alfombras’ (rugs) made during processions in Central America, and making tortillas from Spain. Students could participate in social activities such as a soccer game with experienced native speakers, a game of Apples to Apples (in Spanish), listen to a poetry reading in Spanish at the local coffee shop and check out the rock wall at the gym on campus. Some of the counselors are multilingual and students could also learn a bit about other languages such as French or German as well.

“We want students to interact with faculty, including those of other departments involved with our camp, to see how much EIU professors’ value personal relationships and mentoring of our students,” Routt said.

The Department of Foreign Languages was encouraged to pilot a camp by the interest expressed by members of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

“We want to introduce them to task-based learning that they may not experience in their high-school classroom and inspire them to continue their study of Spanish through college,” Routt said.

On-campus departments such as the foods lab in the family and consumer sciences department, the Doudna Fine Arts Center and Booth Library offered their facilities for the campers to use.

“An immersion experience is probably the closest thing possible to studying abroad. It will increase a student’s skill level and all around proficiency in Spanish.  If the student continues their classroom study of Spanish until they are ready to study abroad, the experience will most certainly stick,” Routt said.

Routt said the camp, which serves students of diverse backgrounds, will prepare them for college.

“Of course, ultimately we want to see each and every one of them back on campus as college freshmen,” she said.


Destiny Bell can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]