0 comments on “Spotlight: Immersive Language Learning”

Spotlight: Immersive Language Learning

By Kayla Sosa

After being immersed into the Portuguese language studying abroad in Brazil, Grand Valley State University student Olivia Seaver was trying to think of ways she could keep up with learning and retaining languages once she came back to the United States.

“When I went there, I didn’t know any Portuguese at all,” Seaver said. “After three months of hearing only Portuguese, I was already somewhat fluent. And also with Spanish. By spending time with my boyfriend, who’s Mexican, and his family, i started hearing Spanish all the time and I started picking it up in that way.”

From personal experience and research, Seaver said that the best and fastest way to learn a language is through total immersion – doing all things in that language so that you eventually are forced to learn and understand.

“Now that I’m not in another country, to keep up on my Spanish and Portuguese, I’ll watch a Disney movie in Spanish or listen to music in Portuguese, so I know that’s another good way to keep up with it.”

Additionally, Seaver found in her research that the best time for someone to learn a language is between the ages of two and 12.

Through those practices – immersion, storytelling, music and a focus on children – Seaver hopes to start an after school program for kids that will help them learn another language.

“It would be kind of like a daycare, but that daycare would be completely in Spanish,” she said. “All the teachers, all the caretakers, everybody’s only speaking Spanish, they play movies in Spanish, they play songs in Spanish, they organize games and activities – like Apples to Apples – in Spanish.”

One challenge looking forward, Seaver said, is that kids that are a little older and closer to 12 years old will have a harder time at first learning the language.

“It can be very difficult and frustrating at first,” she said. “In my experience with language learning, it’s kind of flat in the beginning, but then it’s exponential.”

After initial research, Seaver did a community survey to garner the interest or need for a program like this in Grand Rapids.

“I found that 90 percent of people that I surveyed said that they would put their kids in a program like this if it existed,” Seaver said. “More surprisingly, 94 percent said they wished they would’ve had this experience as a kid.”

IMG_5892
Seaver giving her idea pitch at the CEO competition on October 10. 

Recently, Seaver placed second place in the GVSU Idea Pitch Competition hosted by the GVSU CEO club, an student-run entrepreneur club on campus. With a fresh business idea – she came up with it a week before the pitch competition – and a $750 check, Seaver is ready to test the waters.

“I said in my pitch that I would work on a pilot program with some elementary school Spanish teachers that I know,” she said. “I’d like to look for Spanish teachers here at Grand Valley and work with them. We don’t necessarily need lesson plans, but you need to plan activities.”

Seaver would then use the money to buy the appropriate materials for games and activities to do with the kids, and of course to pay the teachers involved in the pilot program.

Seaver is a senior at GVSU, double majoring in Management and Spanish. You can also find her working as a conversation partner at the GV ELS Center in Allendale.

0 comments on “Latesha Lipscomb: August 5×5 Night Winner”

Latesha Lipscomb: August 5×5 Night Winner

For Latesha Lipscomb, winning 5×5 Night last month was a long time coming.

“I wasn’t going to do it,” Lipscomb said. “I had done 5×5 twice in the past, and I had come really close to being able to present, but each time I was devastated because I wasn’t selected. I was really discouraged.”

Lipscomb launched her beauty business, I Got Face, in 2010 out of her live work/space on Division Ave. She entered 5×5 Night at the last minute after receiving encouragement from the community.

“I got several emails from several people from all different walks of life in the community telling me that I should do 5×5,” Lipscomb said. “I am a firm believer that if you hear something three times, then it must be meant to be.”

0 comments on “How to run a successful Kickstarter”

How to run a successful Kickstarter

In the past five years, Kickstarter has emerged as a legitimate source of funding for startups and entrepreneurs. While banks or traditional investors are likely going to want to see proof that there will be a large, worthwhile return on their investment (sales or letters of intent) Kickstarter is a place for people with great ideas that may not fit conventional funding models.

1 comment on “More than a Store, It’s a Community: Tree Huggers”

More than a Store, It’s a Community: Tree Huggers

Tree Huggers is an environmentally responsible business, dedicated to educating customers in leading environmentally sustainable lives. Owners Angela and Dan Topp, opened their first store in Holland two years ago and a second store on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids in 2011. Tree Huggers seeks to break down what can be an intimidating process of living and consuming more sustainably into more manageable steps.

0 comments on “Exit: Mock Draft Central”

Exit: Mock Draft Central

For many software entrepreneurs, growing their company quickly and selling it to the highest bidder is the end goal of all their long days and sleepless nights. It may sound easy, but upon successfully exiting his company after growing it for nearly eight years, and going through two rounds of funding in the process, Jason Pliml needed one thing: a break. “You can only put in so many 80-hour weeks before it catches up to you,” Jason said.

0 comments on “High Growth: Mutually Human”

High Growth: Mutually Human

Technology is meaningless without people to use it. The partners of Mutually Human Software recognized this and designed a software development firm that tailors its services to the people who use technology. Since 2006, founding partner and CEO John Hwang, along with partners Mark Van Holstyn and Zach Dennis, have asserted their software strategy and design consultancy in the competitive software market. Thanks to a common philosophy, user experience and compatibility is the primary design imperative and the resulting technologies inspired by Mutually Human become ‘ergonomically comfortable’.

0 comments on “Early Stage: Flip Learning”

Early Stage: Flip Learning

Chris Spielvogel’s path to becoming the CEO of a tech startup started on sabbatical from a position as a tenured professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  Two seed accelerators, two business partners, and a few employees, Chris’ product, “Flip Learning” is on its way to mass commercialization.

In the classroom for over 12 years, Chris Spielvogel could not help but see a need for a more compelling way to teach students.  The traditional model of a lecturer talking to students about material from a textbook, despite all efforts, was simply not connecting with students.

0 comments on “Putting the “Ability” in Disability”

Putting the “Ability” in Disability

The Successes of Entrepreneur James R. Albright

Rain poured down his face as he waited outside an entrance on Grand Valley’s campus. He was cold and wet. The broken handicap button separated him and his wheelchair from the dry inside. At this point, he knew something had to change.

This describes the event which prompted James R. Albright (Jim), to develop Albright Insights. The technology driven problem-solving organization focuses on creating cutting-edge mobile accessibility and navigation applications. Albright Insights’ first project is a mobile application called XcessAble; a wordplay referring to the handicap accessibility features it provides. Architectural specifications for a building are detailed in the application database: accessible building entrances, location of restrooms, heights of faucets and more. As a user accesses the application, the database of specifications is cross-referenced against the user’s physical capabilities to deliver a custom layout of the building. The mobile application, though a powerful tool, is only the first step to raise awareness for people with disabilities.

0 comments on “Uptown Kitchen”

Uptown Kitchen

Food-preneurs Get a Kitchen

Her idea stemming from a business class at Calvin College, Kelly LeCoy soon acquired the seed capital needed to create a kitchen facility that helps food inspired entrepreneurs create their own culinary venture.

The National Restaurant Association estimates that roughly two-thirds of each dollar earned is allocated to food, beverages and labor for a restaurant. This figure does not include cost of facilities, equipment or the learning-curve needed to meet regulatory standards.