Texas Tech University

An Account of the LLL&RC Beginnings

"The Early Years," By Harley Oberhelman

The following account was composed by Horn Professor Harley D. Oberhelman in 2009 at the request of the Language Learning Laboratory & Resource Center for inclusion in its history. Our gratitude and many thanks to Dr. Oberhelman for both his service in the very early years of the LLL&RC and for sharing the story of our beginnings.

The Early Years

In the fall of 1958 I came to Texas Tech as an assistant professor of Spanish. At that time the department was located on the second and third floors of the east wing of the Administration Building. My office, however, was in the east basement directly below the president's office on the first floor.

My office was newly constructed with a large window that gave a total view of the first language laboratory that the university had constructed. I was named Director of the Laboratory in addition to my teaching duties that included three classes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. I also had one class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Dr. Harley Oberhelman

The Laboratory was extremely basic. There were some thirty individual stations for student use, but only twelve of them had electronic equipment. There was a console where taped material could be played to the twelve stations. Most of the programs, however, were on magnetic wire tape that often caused problems. It was also possible to play phonograph records at various speeds. Students could record material on wire and later on tape at their stations as well.

Classes were large, so only part of a class could be tested at one time. Within a year or so recording tape was used as the Laboratory became more efficient and modern. Additional stations were activated. There were advanced students who served as laboratory assistants under my direction.

Beginning in the fall of 1963 I assumed the position of department chairman, and the Laboratory was then under different direction. At about that time it was moved up to the second floor and significant new equipment was added. Some courses were taught by television, and monitors were a part of the new Laboratory.

Harley D. Oberhelman
Horn Professor Emeritus

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