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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Conversing virtually across the border

Photo+by%3A+Raylene+Noriegal+%7C+Staff+Photographer
By Raylene Noriega
Photo by: Raylene Noriegal | Staff Photographer

Texas State has found a way to meet students in Mexico without leaving San Marcos.
Texas State’s Intensive English program hosts virtual conversations for students to gather in Alkek Library and video chat with Mexican high school classes projected onto a screen.
The Mexican high school system, Colegio Nacional de Educación Profesional Técnica, reached out to Texas State in fall 2017 because of the university’s TSIE program and the teacher training programs that are offered.
CONALEP schools specialize in science and technology, but the goal with Texas State was to refresh and reflect professional development for their English language teachers. CONALEP wanted to motivate their students to learn English, so they found a way to get both their teachers their students involved.
The TSIE program is dedicated to providing intensive English programs for Texas State’s international students, scholars, and professionals for either academic, tests, culture or self-improving reasons.
Rosario Davis, associate director for international affairs and TSIE, said he is confident CONALEP made the right choice to partner with Texas State.
“Texas state is fantastic for this because we have our English program because we’re more than 20 years old, we’re an accredited organization (and) we teach English as a second language to international students,” Davis said.”Texas State is also heavily focused on teacher training. This university is number one in the state of Texas for training and issuing certified teachers to the state.”
CONALEP has schools across Mexico, but the branch of schools from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which borders Texas, reached out to Texas State regarding this partnership. After scheduling times and dates, approximately five schools participate together at one time for the meetings with Texas State students.
The latest meeting was held on March 22 and six of the Mexican state’s schools participated in one meeting from the cities of Laredo, Mante, Victoria, Reynosa, Rio Bravo and Matamoros.
CONALEP sought a partnership with Texas State because it wanted to increase their students’ English proficiency to help them be more prepared for the exams they must pass to get into a university. Texas State offered a proposal to have 30 of CONALEP’s teachers come to Texas State during the summer of 2018 to receive professional development training over the course of five weeks.
After discussing and planning the teacher’s retreat, CONALEP found out about TSIE’s Conversation Partners program. This program pairs a Texas State student with an international student who is trying to improve their English. The program gives them a chance to meet up in a casual setting without the high expectations of a class and to get to know more students.
CONALEP and Texas State decided to implement a variation of the Conversations Partners program into their own so students from each school could converse without actually having to travel.FC’d The virtual conversations became a bonus program in the relationship between both schools.
Davis said this was not the first time Texas State engaged in virtual Conversation Partners. In 2015, virtual conversations also took place with the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo. can’t confirmDavis has enjoyed building relationships with school in Mexico and is very happy with the relationship building between CONALEP and Texas State.
“This particular institution and all the institutions I’ve met in Mexico are extremely kind people, fantastic people to work with,” Davis. “They are dedicated to their mission to bring top quality education to their students ”
Through Davis’s Skype account, six Conalep high schools from across the state of Tamaulipas were patched in and were able to video chat with Texas State Students. The CONALEP students that participated were mostly from the schools’ upper-level English classes such as Martin Amaya, a sophomore from the CONALEP school in Matamoros.
“I liked learning about the different opinions about science and technology,” said Amaya, “I liked hearing different people talk and learning new information. ”
Each virtual conversation meeting is dedicated to a specific topic and had set discussion questions to mitigate the conversation. The first meeting Feb. 28 discussed the environment and pollution and the second meeting March 22 focused on science and technology. The virtual meetings are conducted fully in English.
Each school took turns asking questions or offering their own input. While discussing the topic of technology on March 22, the Mexican students wanted to know how American life is affected by technology. They asked about how technology could play a role in current issues like the school shootings, American opinions on GMO’s and what Texas state students thought technology would be like in 10 years.
For this specific TSIE program, students from various majors volunteered to take part in this activity. Humberto Bardales, philosophy freshman, said he heard about the program through Chi Alpha and decided to participate.
“My favorite part was hearing other people’s opinions from different countries,” said Bardales. “Seeing how they think technology affects our life and their life either positively or negatively.”
CONALEP and Texas State will continue the partnership. Texas State will host 30 of CONALEP’s teachers this summer. There has not yet been a date established for the next virtual conversation meeting.

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