CAPS' Daniel Sanford
Director Daniel Sanford discusses the new CAPS Writing and Language Center.

In an effort to bring language and the written word to the frontline of its mission, the UNM Center for Academic Program and Support (CAPS) opened the doors to its new Language and Learning Center that’s designed to provide students with the assistance they need to achieve success during their time at UNM.

With support from the UNM Office of the Provost and much more to present than a fresh coat of paint, CAPS Director Daniel Sanford was all smiles when the Center opened recently.

“The CAPS Writing and Language Center is a unique and innovative vision for a writing center, one that’s grown organically over time in conversation among the staff, students and users of the center,” he said.

The enthusiasm and dedication of the CAPS staff in the writing center is apparent as soon as you walk in the door. Students coming into the center for the first time will find plenty of workspace, peers all around writing away and helpful tutors circulating around the wide open space, including native speakers of multiple languages. Overall, students now have an improved environment dedicated to writing where they can succeed.

The CAPS Writing & Language Center offers a variety of services geared towards providing writing and language support for undergraduate students at UNM.

Services include:

  • Drop-in writing and Language Labs across campus – work with a tutor without an appointment
  • Individual Appointments (Zimmerman Library, 3rd Floor) – meet one-on-one with a tutor
  • Language Conversation Groups – the opportunity to practice speaking a foreign language
  • Online Writing Lab – submit a piece of writing to a tutor in English or any language we tutor
  • Embedded Online Tutoring – work with a tutor assigned to your online course

UNM Center for Teaching Excellence Director Aeron Haynie cited the pedagogical initiative moving across the country and the importance too, of writing across curriculums. “I hope we can be part of a larger initiative, helping students understand the importance of writing to learn,” she said.

Tutors, who work with students on all areas of language learning, in terms of spoken and written communication, are available to assist students at any stage of the writing process, and provide the tools and techniques that will improve academic and professional development.

Additionally, CAPS Program Specialist Katie Denton said the new center now has programs supporting writing for all undergraduate coursework and support for a litany of languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Greek, Navajo, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

“Whether in the arts of linguistics or writing, the center is a well-conceived space for students to become legitimately proficient in these critical aspects of their collegiate and future careers,” Denton said.

“CAPS is more than a learning center, it is a community,” said Laura Ordonez, a tutor and native speaker of Spanish. “We talk about everything; it is a lot of fun here.”

Fellow tutor Jessica Tipton agrees. “We have a great environment here, they can just work by themselves or in groups or with tutors,” she said.

And the foreign language tutors offer a unique kind of perspective as native speakers. “We really know what it’s like to be starting out in a new language,” said Ordonez, while Tipton continued saying, “We remember how hard it can be so we can really identify with beginning students.” 

Answering a question in German, Tipton said “CAPS ist ein super Platz zum arbeiten. Ich liebe es den Studenten zu helfen, und unsere Aufseher sinnd sehr hilfreich,” Translation – “Caps is a super place to work. I love helping students and our supervisors are very helpful.”

Located in rooms 208 and 210 in the Education building, CAPS is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Fridays, and 6 to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, visit CAPS or call at (505) 277-7205.