Associate Professor of Spanish Studies
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
East Carolina University
I have been asked to write this letter on behalf of ILISA and because of my positive experience with the school I am very happy to do so.
I contacted ILISA in the Fall of 2012 to work with an innovative honors section of Spanish 1004, the last in a four course sequence of beginning Spanish at East Carolina University, part of the University of North Carolina . The students in that class were to work with a face to face instructor 3 days per week and two days via videoconferencing with an instructor from ILISA, in Costa Rica. This honors section was completely new to my university, part of a pilot program in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
I have looked upon our relationship with ILISA as a partnership on behalf of the students. My decision to recommend to my Department Chair that we contract with ILISA was based upon the comments of former students of the school published at its web page, as well as a general web search with “ILISA” as a key term, and an internet review of the background of the students whose comments were posted at the ILISA web page. While there was nothing in my due diligence to discourage me I had no personal experience with ILISA and I felt that I was taking a calculated risk. The results, however, could not have been more satisfactory. From the outset ILISA paid close attention to our project and took it very seriously. The school’s Director of Enrollment began to work on the course well before the beginning of our semester; she assigned an instructor for the pilot class and we exchanged numerous e-mails in preparation for the semester. The school’s personnel wanted to be sure that they were familiar with my University’s videoconferencing system and we arranged a meeting online to review it. Even prior to that, however, they had clearly done some leg work and practiced with it. The Enrollment Director with whom I had most of my contact informed me that the school’s instructor would be able to use the instructional materials that ILISA had developed and that the instructor was willing to keep records of our students’ progress. At the same time ILISA did not attempt to force upon us their own methods but were very willing to consult our textbooks and work cooperatively with the instructor of our pilot class. I had not seen their materials and did not have any objections to them, but I wanted to be sure that the face to face and online parts of the course would merge easily. Indeed, our work together has been a true partnership.
Because I have been heavily involved in research a colleague of mine who was very interested in working with the honors students in the pilot program took over instruction of the face to face part of the class. However, I have remained in close touch with it. My colleague has praised ILISA for its professionalism; he says that the teacher who has been assigned to our students is very good. At the time that I am writing this letter we are half way through the pilot course and it has proceeded in a highly satisfactory manner. When asked to write about their experience in the course the students have praised it. One student has commented on how the ILISA instructor understands that students sometimes find Spanish difficult and he appreciates her patience. The same student goes on to explain that he is very enthusiastic now about Spanish because for the first time he is beginning to “get it.” Another student writes of how much he has enjoyed his videoconferencing sessions with the ILISA instructor; he says that his Spanish is noticeably improving.
If we are able to continue our pilot program in the future I will turn to ILISA once again for its collaboration. I am not authorized to give my university’s endorsement to ILISA on behalf of our institution as a whole but as an individual faculty member who has been involved with the school I have no hesitation in recommending ILISA for your consideration. Nor do I have any hesitation in suggesting to my students that they consider ILISA when the time comes for them to study abroad so that in person they can meet the very able instructor with whom they have worked.