Introducing Joanne Peltonen
Meet Joanne Peltonen, who has worked at the Language Center since 1994. Her current job title is Education Specialist, but what does she really do? In this interview, Joanne highlights major aspects of her work and shares how she can help you tackle your next project.
Which parts of your current job description should ElsieTalk readers know about? Are there specific services or expertise you offer that readers could take advantage of more than they currently do?
When I first started working in the Testing Program, my duties revolved mainly around test administration and training instructors in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese to do oral proficiency interviews and evaluate student writing at the intermediate level. Since then, my responsibilities have expanded. I work with the College in the Schools program, training instructors to evaluate writing. On campus, I coordinate testing with Asian languages in addition to Spanish & Portuguese. I also compile data on test results, and have consulted with instructors about testing for proficiency at the intermediate level.
Can you briefly describe 2-3 projects you've worked on in the past year?
When we had to shift to online testing, we needed to do the same with training. For the past 2 years, I have been experimenting with different types of online training materials. Currently, I am using google folders to house materials. Anna Hubbard has created a Canvas course for instructors for online training and I am considering adding some of my materials to that site. These materials are for evaluating speaking and writing in Spanish & Portuguese, although they could be adapted to be used by other languages.
What is an example of a project or request that falls outside the scope of your job? To whom would you refer people with such a request?
We sometimes get questions from students about testing their English language skills. We refer these students to the MN English Language Program (MELP).
What skills and competencies do you bring to your current job from your educational background, positions you have previously held in the Language Center, or from work and relationships with other units at this/other institutions?
I became an ACTFL certified interviewer (Spanish) many years ago. This certification helped me get the job at the Testing Program and it has helped me ever since. I have taught Spanish at the U of M and at NDSU in Fargo. Working as a language instructor has also helped me address questions that help link testing for proficiency with language teaching. I have also worked with Minneapolis Public Schools, first as an Associate Educator and later as an oral proficiency interviewer for teachers applying to bilingual programs.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you?
I am currently in training to become a Mental Health Advocate for students on campus. If you have any suggestions as to how we can create a better environment for students in the Language Center or in the Testing Program, please let me know!