CLU honors alumna for language work
Julie Sykes' digital games immerse users in SpanishMay 8, 2012
Julie M. Sykes has focused her research on the use of technology including digital games to teach language.
Photo: Brian Stethem
(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - May 8, 2012) The California Lutheran University Alumni Association Board of Directors presented the 2012 Outstanding Young Alumna Award to a University of New Mexico faculty member who uses technology to teach Spanish.
Julie M. Sykes received the award, which honors a graduate from the last decade who has brought honor and distinction to the university through career achievement or a commitment to human welfare and social reform.
Sykes, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in Spanish and international studies in 2001, has focused her research on the use of technology including digital games to teach language. An assistant professor of Hispanic linguistics, she created a synthetic game called Croquelandia in which students make requests and apologies in an all-Spanish environment. She has also developed place-based mobile games that offer different contexts for students to build their skills.
She has published and presented articles on synchronous computer-mediated communication and pragmatic development, digital gaming and computer-assisted language learning, and vocabulary building through digitally mediated environments. She recently co-wrote her second book, which draws parallels between second-language acquisition and digital game design to demonstrate ways that digital games may be useful for language teachers.
As the coordinator of the Spanish as a Second Language Program at the University of New Mexico, she serves 2,500 students in beginning and intermediate Spanish courses and supervises 35 graduate teaching assistants. She was nominated for New Faculty of the Year in 2009-2010.
Sykes received her master's degree from Arizona State University in 2004 and her doctorate in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Minnesota in 2008. She lives in Albuquerque with husband, Ray, who also graduated from CLU in 2001. They have a 17-month-old daughter.