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Where in the World? Spanish Instructor Izaskun Kortazar Teaching Basque in Brazil

Izaskun Kortazar currently is teaching Basque language and culture as a volunteer in Brazil. She is a Spanish language lecturer in the Department of World Languages and also teaches Basque culture workshops for Boise State’s Basque Studies program.

IzaskunKortazarKortazar is teaching at the Basque Centers of Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre and Pelotas. Classes focus on basic conversation so that Basque Brazilians, mostly fourth- and fifth-generation who have lost the language through the centuries, can learn the basics of their ancestry and create a connection with their relatives in the Basque Country and with Basques of the Diaspora. The classes started on May 9 and will finish at the end of the month.

Her classes include a presentation on the recovery of the Basque language. She also gave a presentation on Basque culture to an English-language cultural group in Porto Alegre, formed by English teacher Claudia Etchepare.

The Basque Brazilians created a Basque cultural association a few years ago. They have formed a network among several areas where Basque live with a common goal of recovering their Basque culture and ancestry and working on the history of their emigration to Brazil.

A grant from the University Studies Abroad Consortium last summer prepared Kortazar for the experience by allowing her to study Portuguese in Florianopolis, Brazil.

Sao Paulo


Porto Alegre




Boise State Students Visit the Idaho State Correctional Center as Part of Their Service Learning Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition Class

From left to right:  Priscilla Stone (teacher at the ISCC), Izaskun Kortazar (BSU Spanish lecturer), Guadalupe Fonseca,  Rosalba Loera, Maddie Cullen and Isaac Helton (BSU students).

From left to right: Priscilla Stone (teacher at the ISCC), Izaskun Kortazar (BSU Spanish lecturer), Guadalupe Fonseca,
Rosalba Loera, Maddie Cullen and Isaac Helton (BSU students).

by Izaskun Kortazar
Lecturer of Spanish Advanced Conversation and Composition at BSU

The Boise State Advanced Spanish and Conversation students visited the Idaho State Correctional Center last Thursday April 9th, 2015 in order to learn about the education programs that take place there and also to meet the prisoners who worked on their Service Learning project.

BSU students translated letters written by Hispanic inmates so they can be published in English on the American Prison Writing Archive webpage, a project initiated by Professor Doran Larsen who has already published a book with the writings of incarcerated people. The book is called Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America. The American Prison Writing Archive webpage allows researchers and citizens the opportunity to take an inside look into the reality of the incarceration system in the Unites States. The goal of the project is to challenge common stereotypes and allow researchers, lawmakers, and legal advocates the ability to make more informed decisions about the prison system.

Students learned about an accredited industry-based education program that provides inmates a variety of job skills so when they leave the prison, they will have less difficulty finding employment in trade industries. Inmates also receive help creating a resume and learning about job interview skills.

Nicole Dewey, Alejandro Hortet, Connor Skibeness. Behind on the right corner: John Stull

Nicole Dewey, Alejandro Hortet, Connor Skibeness. Behind on the right corner: John Stull

Students also visited the library where they have 16,000 books (mostly donated from libraries and schools). However, the librarian let us know they were lacking language books. That is why the department of World Languages donated books in several languages to the correctional institution.

In addition to the trade program, inmates can attend English language classes in order to attend general education classes in English. These classes go from primary school to the GED diploma. (The Pell Grant program that allowed inmates to study at the University level was banned in 1994 with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act). In these classes, the teachers train more proficient inmates to help less proficient inmates and that way they get one-to-one instruction and practice. From what I observed, they were very dedicated tutors committed to the success of the program.

Two of the students, Ashley Potzernitz and John Stull also received the ¨Best of Show¨ award for their reflections about this experience at the BSU Service Learning Faculty/Community Partner Mixer.

Izaskun Kortazar received the Outstanding Faculty Award for this project.

I would like to end with a reflection of a BSU student and a ISCC student:

I would admit that I fell into the stereotypical mindset that people in prison are somehow different from other people who populate society, that the majority of them are probably reckless and dangerous criminals. My experience with Service Learning has shown me how wrong I was. Something about translating the exact words of fellow human beings breaking a cultural and societal barrier by relying their thoughts and struggles in another language, has proven to be quite enlightening. I am grateful to have the opportunity to help speak for others who are in need of a voice. Not only has it helped me improve my Spanish skills but it has shaped my mindset and challenged stereotypes. It has given me a new lens to view the situation through.

At the beginning of this course I had a very limited knowledge of the prison system in the USA and therefore I did not really have any grounds to form an opinion on; nor did I have any ideas for how to improve their circumstances.

Now that I have translated letters and learned more about what Service Learning really is, I feel that education is really the key to better the lives of those in prison who really do want another chance in life and who simply made mistakes.   By Nicole Dewey, Spanish 303, BSU


Left to right: Izaskun Kortazar and Guadalupe Fonseca.

Left to right: Izaskun Kortazar and Guadalupe Fonseca.

Left to right: Miguel Juárez and Ashley Potzernitz

Left to right: Miguel Juárez and Ashley Potzernitz


Left to right: David Mehlhaff (ISCC Education Program Manager), Izaskun Kortazar (Spanish Lecturer at BSU), Priscilla Stone (English teacher at the ISCC). At the back: Mike Stefancic (Service Learning Coordinator at BSU)


From left to right: Izaskun Kortazar and Ashley Potzernitz (Best of Show Poster)


From left to right: Izaskun Kortazar and John Stull



Spanish Internship Opportunity!

The Idaho Youth Ranch is looking for a Spanish student intern to translate their intake forms (Eng >Span) that they use for their programs and services. The student must have upper-division standing, and have successfully taken Spanish 412 Advanced Grammar and Syntax. All the work will be done via email, and Prof. Fatima Cornwall will be supervising the translations. One credit of Spanish 494.

If interested, please contact Fatima Cornwall  at

Fatima Cornwall’s SPAN 381 Court Interpreting Students Participate in Q & A Panel

A panel of local federal and state certified interpreters, defense attorney and Court of Appeals judge attended the Department of World Languages Spanish 381 Introduction to Court Interpretation class for a Q&A session with the students. The members of the panel were, in alphabetical order, Diana Arbiser, Sandra Barrios, Vanesa Bell, Mark Conta, Susan Evans, Hon. Sergio Gutierrez, and Michael Lojek. Throughout the semester all the students were required to observe these interpreters during courtroom proceedings, both in Canyon County as well as Ada County, and even at the US Courts –District of Idaho.

The panel shared information regarding court certification in Idaho, the shortage of certified interpreters in the state, best practices on working with interpreters, and the importance of court interpreters in the administration of justice.

COAS Dean Dr. Tony Roark, COAS Associate-Dean Dr. Leslie Durham, and Department of World Languages Chair Dr. Adrian Kane were present at the event to join the instructor Fatima Cornwall and the class in celebrating the selection of Hon. Sergio Gutierrez, Idaho Court of Appeals judge, as one of Job Corps’ 10 Graduate Heroes in honor of the program’s 50th anniversary.

Fatima Cornwall, Department of World languages, teaches the class every spring. She is also a state certified court interpreter in Portuguese and Spanish, as well as a federal certified court interpreter.

To learn more about court interpretation in Idaho, please visit the Idaho Supreme Court page at

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Sharon Wei’s Chinese 202 to Perform Mini Play on April 20th

Our Chinese 202 class will be performing a Mini Play in Mandarin Chinese at the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Conference on Monday, April 20that 1:00 p.m. in Hatch A Room, SUB. The play focuses on the cultural differences between American and Chinese students. The play represents an interactive project that offers students in the Chinese 202 class an opportunity to develop their speaking and listening skills as well as help in mastering common phrases used in the Chinese language.

Advanced Spanish Conversation Practice! Every Other Friday in WLRC

SONY DSCEvery other Friday, in the World Languages Resource Center, come practice your Spanish skills with other advanced students, instructors and member of the community! The next meeting is this Friday, April 10th from 10-11am in the WLRC.

Conversación de español es este viernes de 10 a 11 en el laboratorio de World Languages de BSU. Para estudiantes de nivel avanzado, profesores y personas de Boise.

Fátima Cornwall Leads Two-Day “Court Interpreter Orientation”

Fátima Cornwall

Spanish Language Coordinator
Department of World Languages

photo 2 (2)Fátima Cornwall and Sandra Barrios, language access coordinator for the Fourth Judicial District, taught a two-day workshop titled “Court Interpreter Orientation” on April 3-4 in Boise. Thirty-eight prospective court interpreters from all over the state, representing four different languages (Arabic, French, German and Spanish), were in attendance. Cornwall is a federal and state-certified court and medical interpreter in Spanish and Portuguese. To learn more about the court interpreting program in Idaho, please visit

Japanese Speech Contest- April 21st

SONY DSCThe Japan Club of Boise State will be hosting a High School Japanese Speech Contest on the night of April 21st in the SUB. The contest will be held from 5:30-9:00 in the Forum Room and Hatch C. Students from High Schools around the valley will be participating.

Know More than One Language? Don’t Give it Up!


Image via Flickr User Markus Koljonen


“Speaking more than one language may confer significant benefits on the developing brain. Research has now shown that bilingual young adults not only fare better in the job market, but are also more likely to demonstrate empathy and problem-solving skills.”

Check out this great article on the benefits of bilingualism!

Photos from Annual China Night- 2015

China Night, 2015, Spring, February 23, Jordan Ballroom, Brian Angers Photos16461085790_9abd7b02db_b 16462309199_965eeda4e7_b 16462308469_1a7800e05b_bBoise State University’s Chinese Club led a colorful celebration of the Year of the Sheep at the annual China Night event. It featured Chinese traditional and ethnic dances, modern Chinese songs, a Kung-Fu demonstration, a choir and Boise State student musical performances. Boise State offers more than 200 student clubs and organizations.