Schmitt Hall Provides Expansive New Home for Language Testing and Technology Labs

This year, Montclair State University’s Language Testing Center and Language Learning Technology labs made the move from Dickson Hall to the newly renovated Schmitt Hall.

It’s a highly appropriate move. The former Finley Hall has been renamed for Conrad J. Schmitt ’58, a retired foreign language educator and the successful publisher, author, or co-author of more than 250 foreign language textbooks.

Michael Heller, Director of Language Learning Technology, talks about what the move means for language learning at Montclair State.

Q: What’s different about your new home?
A: We’re still making ourselves at home and getting used to our new surroundings! The move from Dickson Hall to Schmitt Hall was more than just relocating facilities. Our new, expanded state-of-the-art facilities include a new Language Testing Center. We now have the room to separate Language Learning Technology functions—like group video viewing, video recording, free-access use, and instruction space—which we hadn’t had the space to do in Dickson Hall.

Q: How have you set things up in Schmitt Hall?
A: We have a separate Free-Access Language Lab with large screen computers for collaborative pair work. There are separate video recording and viewing rooms, and distinct Digital Language Lab and Macintosh Lab classroom areas. Our Translation and Interpreting Lab accommodates up to 24 students and offers high-definition video conferencing capabilities. Our faculty is thrilled with the new departmental seminar rooms and classrooms. There’s also a 49-seat multi-purpose room that we use for events.

Q: Have you updated any of your technology?
A: Yes. We’ve completely replaced all of our computer and complex audio-visual systems.

Q: How do the new facilities enhance language learning?
A: We’re here to help students learn about linguistics, cultures, literatures, and foreign languages. Faculty members are re-tooling courses to encourage small and larger group projectsand all kinds of language learning experiences. For instance, we now have a “diner booth” with a large screen and computer that’s perfect for group viewing and discussion of international films. Or students can use the video recording room to record skits that demonstrate language use.

Q: You mentioned your new multi-purpose room. What events have been held there?
A: We’ve had bi-monthly screenings of German films led by German professor Dr. Thomas Herold. The Spanish and Italian department and the Hispanic honor society Sigma Delta Pi jointly sponsored a talk by noted Spanish novelist Laura Friexas last month. We’ll be putting the multi-purpose room’s audio conferencing and interpreted audio capabilities to good use during a Q & A session following our screening of a film about writer Maryse Conde later this month.

Q: How does everyone like your new home?
A: Students and faculty have been very enthusiastic—and very patient—as we worked to bring all of our systems and facilities online. We’re all gratified by the positive feedback—and are proud of our new home.