Barbara Nelson\'s Global Classroom

Barbara Nelson's Global Classroom

Professor Barbara Nelson started her language instruction Web site on a dare. Now in a class of its own, it has a worldwide following.

By Lauren Pongan '09


Every week Barbara Kuczun Nelson ’68, associate professor of Spanish, receives thank-you notes from her students.

Lots of thank-you notes.

Over the past 10 years, thousands of e-mails have arrived from grateful students in more than 285 countries and territories—even the Vatican. These aren’t Colby’s international students, though Nelson has taught many of them over the years. These are the students she reaches through her popular Spanish language-instruction Web site, spanish.language & culture with Barbara Kuczun Nelson.

Just how popular is it? Consider los numeros.

  • Of the 18.5 million pages viewed on Colby’s server in the fall semester of 2008, 4.9 million were views of Nelson’s site.
  • Of the 26 percent of Colby’s Web traffic generated by Nelson’s site, less than 1 percent comes from within the Colby network.
  • Of the 28 countries and territories that haven’t yet discovered Nelson’s site, eight don’t have access to the Internet. Give them time.
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  • On May 25, 2009, Bill Dennen wrote:
    I worked with Barbara back in the mid- to late-1990s (it sounds so long ago!) and she was truly ahead of her time. She had a vision for how she wanted her site to work and now, after many hours of hard work, it's wonderful to see her vision realized. Congratulations Barbara. You deserve it! Cheers!

  • On June 8, 2009, Judy Antoine wrote:
    I belong to a Unitarian Universalist society in Syracuse, NY. Our minister, Jean Wahlstrom, gave me a copy of The Spanish Lady. I facilitate a group of folks who meet every first and third Sunday of the month after our service to speak in Spanish and get to know one another. The levels of ability vary and I've passed on the article and Barbara Nelson's Web site to my group. I'm sure there will be many who are thankful for her time and effort.

  • On August 12, 2009, Mary Bennardo wrote:
    Your site is wonderful. Including songs really helps in learning the language. I recommend the site to my students.

  • On June 12, 2010, Dianna Galyen wrote:
    I'm so thrilled to have found the Spanish Language & Culture website! I am a non-traditional student studying for the Spanish Content Praxis. I am elated to use this website for my own practice and cultural awareness, and I look forward to using it when I have students of my own. I'm deeply grateful that the site is free, as I wouldn't even be able to consider being able to use it otherwise. (I work part-time as a bank teller to pay my tuition.)

    Many thanks for the years of hard work, and for your continuing efforts to make this available to students and teachers! I know what it is to give every available minute to an endeavor!


    Dianna Galyen