Language Lab opens at ELAC after 10 years

By Elizabeth Toy

The Modern Languages Department opened its new Modern Languages and English as a Second Language Lab in Room 170 on the first floor of the new E3 Building.

This is the first time East Los Angeles College has had a language lab in ten years. “We look forward to students coming in to tell us how we can help,” instructional assistant Michael Perronne said.  

The Modern Language Lab’s philosophy is “Daily practice and living the language will lead to fluency.”

Lab assistant Yangok Chu acknowledges that learning a second language can be difficult.  As a language student herself, she studied Spanish for four years, but admits she did not develop fluency because she never used Spanish outside of class.

“Many students don’t use the language outside of the classroom,” Perronne said, “This is a way to promote regular use of the language they’re learning.”  The language lab promotes speaking as much as possible to help students become fluent.

The lab also provides a variety of free services, such as tutoring in select languages, language workshops, conversation cafes, foreign film screenings and club meeting space.  Sixty-one computers are available for students to use for Internet access, word processing, printing and language practice.

Several foreign film screenings are offered each month to help students learn and apply language and promote cultural awareness.  

The next film screening is “El Estudiante,” a Mexican film, which will be shown on March 2 at 9:15 a.m. and again at 6:10 p.m.

While Chu believes the classroom curriculum is vital, she maintains that “Language students need daily practice, both independently and with others, because language is all about interaction.”

ELAC currently offers courses in Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, ESL and American Sign Language.  The Modern Language Lab offers space for students to practice the language they are studying.

Both Chu and Perronne teach workshops focusing on pronunciation and conversation.

“We like to think of ourselves as a language gym, where students can work out their ‘untoned’ skills in different ways to build their language muscle,” Chu said. “If you don’t use it, you lose it. The same goes for language.”

“Learning a language has so many benefits, not just socially or career-wise, but it also has cognitive benefits.  It boosts your brain power because you use parts of your brain not normally engaged, and you’re using both the right and left hemispheres!” Chu said.

Conversation cafes allow students to meet in a casual environment and practice speaking their language of study. “Food is welcome to create a more comfortable environment to learn,” Chu said. “That’s why we prefer to call it a cafe rather than a study group.”

The Modern Language Lab is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For the lab service and event schedule or additional information, visit the lab during business hours as they currently do not have a telephone contact number.

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