Once again, Cogswell has had the wonderful opportunity of hosting students from Spain for an accelerated set of classes. We caught up with their instructors Albert Chen (AC), Mike Roberts (MR) and Peter Mo (PM) to ask them a few questions about the experience.
Rachael: What courses are you teaching the group this summer?
AC: I am teaching an Introduction to Level Design using Unreal Editor 3.0 and Digital Production Studio.
MR: Basic edgeloop character modeling in Modo since they know Maya already, basics of pelt mapping the character in Modo and Maya, basics of texturing and sculpting in Modo and Zbrush.
PM: I am teaching Introduction to 3D Animation and Texture Painting and Look Development.
Rachael: Have you had to adjust your teaching style to accommodate any language barriers?
AC: I’ve translated important terms to Spanish with the help of various online resources but in general, the Spanish have a pretty good grasp of English. I also used more visuals in my powerpoint presentations which sometimes help convey ideas better than words.
MR: Language barrier has not been much of an issue.
PM: Yes, some of the students seem noticeably uncomfortable in using spoken English. Fortunately, a few students who are more comfortable with English become spokespersons and translators for the others. I try to be more visual by reinforcing what I say with on-screen examples, drawings, and body language (the latter especially in the animation class).
Rachael: Have you been surprised by anything during the classes?
AC: This year’s group is much more into learning and is more responsive and enthusiastic about the coursework.
MR: The Spanish 3D courses are very basic compared to ours.
PM: I didn’t know what level the students were at coming into the class. I played it safe by preparing basic Maya lessons, but was pleasantly surprised that they knew a lot and could learn new material in Maya very quickly. Currently, they are learning intermediate concepts and techniques for animation in Maya despite this being an introductory class. They wanted to learn as much as they can, take good notes and practice outside of class.
Rachael: Have you run into any particular challenges?
AC: Language is a challenge but not insurmountable. Also, the students had to learn to switch between Maya controls and UnrealEd controls.
MR: Nope, no major challenges.
PM: I like getting feedback from my students to ensure I’m getting the point across, but that doesn’t always come if English is not the students’ native language. There have been a few times when, while explaining more complex ideas, I was not certain if I was being properly understood because when I asked them, I got silence in return. I wasn’t sure if the silence was a yes or no. Also, they explained they plan to absorb as much material as possible and digest it when they return to Spain, so it doesn’t seem as if complete understanding of all the points is a top priority for them, just the main points. I had to adjust my teaching style somewhat to accommodate what they wanted to get out of the class.
Rachael: What has been most rewarding about this teaching experience?
AC: It is always refreshing to teach students with relatively different perspectives from American students.
MR: Learning a little more about Spanish culture. The students were great and very eager to learn.
PM: Despite some difficulties and challenges for myself and the students, I think they are learning a lot and show a generally high level of enthusiasm for their classes.
Rachael: Thanks guys!
- Rachael Reisdorf, Design Coordinator