Ruth Wienk, Black Hills State University academic English preparation teacher  Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, BHSU associate professor of mass communication
Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, Black Hills State University associate professor of mass communication, and Ruth Wienk, BHSU academic English preparation teacher, discussed the benefits of integrating social media in the classroom, especially in foreign language courses, during the recent South Dakota World Languages Association (SDWLA) conference.

The SDWLA promotes the study of world languages and sustains the professional development of language teachers at all levels of public and private education within the state.

“The group grew out of the increased need to address the influence of people coming to South Dakota to work from other countries,” Caton-Rosser said noting that France’s BabyBel cheese company has plans to build a new Mini Babybel manufacturing facility in Brookings.

 Ruth Wienk, BHSU academic English preparation teacher, speaks with a group of language teachers during the recent South Dakota World Languages Association conference.
Caton-Rosser spoke on her ongoing research with Dr. Bobbi Looney, assistant professor of management, and Gina Gibson, assistant professor of mass communication, involving the benefits of integrating social media into classroom instruction to enhance learning. The trio, who have dubbed themselves the Digital Divas, have been studying social media use for more than a year and have held several faculty workshops to create awareness of social media as a classroom tool.

Wienk has attended the faculty workshops and uses social media with her international students as a way to increase their comprehension and understanding of English. During the conference, Wienk, who has taught English in Costa Rica, Sudan and South Korea, spoke on the difficulties of teaching a language without having textual support such as speaking the language at home.

The students learn and speak the language in their high school classes, but rarely continue the language outside of class which provides a barrier in fully understanding the language, she said.

Wienk also presented a separate session on the flipped grammar concept, something she has implemented with her international students. Instead of lecturing on grammar in class, Wienk has students research the grammar outside of class and then devotes class time to active usage of the concepts. The flipped grammar method has proved beneficial for her international students who have one semester of English preparation before being integrated into mainstream college classes.