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Transitioning to Teaching Language Online (TTLO)

This STARTALK program is for K-16 teachers of critical languages who want to teach their language online. Offered completely online, this 3-week, intensive program will give teacher participants the experience of being an online learner. Course content will focus on many different facets of a successful online language program, such as creating community, time management strategies for teachers and students, choosing appropriate technology tools for communicative-based activities, and developing a variety of online activity types. In addition to exploring these aspects of teaching online, participants will see these concepts in action in model online language activities. By the end of the program, participants will have a portfolio of activities ready to be incorporated in an online program. Teachers will be awarded a certificate of completion upon finishing program requirements (optional graduate credits available for a fee - see below).

Course Content

Week 1
  • Intro to the Course: 
    Virtual Classroom Orientation, Definitions, and Tech Check
  • Determine teacher and student readiness to work online
  • Evaluate online program design using quality checklists
  • Identify best practices and differences between F2F and online teaching
  • Investigate resources at your school and beyond
Week 2
  • Participate in model TTLO language lessons, evaluate existing materials
  • Discuss presentation of vocabulary and grammar in an online program
  • Consider the use of authentic materials and copyright
  • Focus on oral production in the online class
  • Assess online learners
Week 3
  • Interpretive mode activities
  • Interpersonal mode activities
  • Presentational mode activities
  • Presentation of instructional materials
Week 4
  • Optional week for those wanting to complete the ePortfolio

Who may apply

This program is open to teachers who:

  • teach K-16 critical language teachers ("critical" = Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu)
  • teach those languages in the United States to US students.
  • are experienced classroom language teachers
  • teach using a student-centered, proficiency-based, communication-oriented methodology.

Teachers who have taught in, or attended, a previous STARTALK program on methodology or technology are especially encouraged to apply.

Important Dates

Due date: Applications accepted until midnight, May 14, or until the program fills. You must have all materials submitted by May 15, 2018.

Acceptance notification: You will be notified May 17, or shortly after your completed application is submitted.

Course dates: June 11-July 1, 2018. Optional Week for ePortfolio completion, July 2-8

Course format and technology requirements

This program is an intense 3-week program, delivered entirely online through an online program management system. The program is mostly asynchronous, but there will be one synchronous meeting daily with your small group, and partner activities that are at self-arranged times. You should expect to spend approximately 6-8 (or more) hours daily on this program.

You will need an internet connection with a good, reliable connection in order to watch and create videos online. You will need a headset with microphone and a webcam for your computer in order to participate fully in the program. All of the applications we use online will be free or demonstration sites to try out activities.i

Time Commitment

This intensive 3-week program will take 6 (or more) hours daily for three weeks. Do not plan to work or teach anything else in addition to this program!


There is no cost for program registration for teachers selected for this STARTALK program - this is a FREE, government-funded program. As the program is completely online, there are no costs for transportation or housing!

There are 2 recommended books for the program, but not required to complete the program.

Optional: 3 Graduate Credits Available

For those not enrolled in degree programs at the University of Minnesota, the additional tuition cost is $677 per credit for this 3-credit program, PLUS approximately $100 in registration fees for three credits (total approx $2130.00). You can find a chart of tuition and fees for non-degree-seeking students or refer to the University's OneStop website for more complete information. Cost for those who are University of Minnesota students will be based on your status at the University.

A limited number of scholarships will be available for reimbursement of 1 credit of the 3-credit program tuition ($677.00). You pay for all of the tuition up front, and upon completion, the scholarship will reimburse the amount of 1 credit.

Process for credit: Registration for credit will take place in June, just prior to the beginning of the STARTALK program. You will be billed the cost of University tuition and fees by the University of Minnesota Registrar’s Office in July. Your bill will be due in full by the end of July.

How to Apply for the TTLO Program

*** You will need to complete the Teacher Participant Application. ***
Click the link above for the application instructions.
Your application is not complete until we have all 3 parts!

Due date: May 14, 2018

Questions? Please contact Marlene at startalk.ttlo@gmail.com


Program Instructors and Staff

Xiaowei Hunt (Course Instructor) started teaching Chinese online in 2006 for the virtual high school Nevada Learning Academy. Since then, her online teaching has also benefited Beacon Academy of Nevada, Sevenstar Academy, Pearson's edTPA, and especially the STARTALK:TTLO program where she served as a mentor for the Chinese teacher group for three consecutive summers (2013-2015).

Ritu Jayakar (Course Instructor) is an adjunct lecturer of Hindi language and User Experience Analyst of Outreach and Online Education of Pennsylvania State University. She is interested in Language pedagogy and use of technology for second language acquisition.

Shannon Spasova (Course Instructor) is Assistant Professor of Russian and Technology Specialist at Michigan State University. Her interests include Russian and Soviet science fiction, using technology in language teaching, blended learning, and instructional design.

Alyssa Bonnac (Lead Instructor) co-developed and taught CARLA's online program on using the web for language learning, and has worked for 9 years with teachers of a wide range of languages, including a number of the critical languages. Having completed online graduate programwork in learning technologies, Ms. Bonnac draws on her background as an online learner and as classroom teacher of academic ESL at the University of Minnesota to create meaningful and learner-centered professional development experiences.

Marlene Johnshoy (Program Director) is the Online Education Program Director and Web Manager for the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. A former Spanish instructor, she has given numerous workshops across the country on many aspects of web-based language teaching and learning, with a special interest in the professional development of online language teachers.


Course Mentors Needed

Do you already have more than 1 year experience teaching a fully online language course?
We are looking for motivated, experienced online teachers of less commonly taught languages (Arabic, Dari, Persian, Portuguese, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu) who use a student-centered, communication-oriented, and proficiency-based methodology (i.e., not a course for reading knowledge, or a grammar-based curriculum). Mentors will be expected to share their expertise with the teacher participants during the course by sharing model activities, participating in discussions, providing feedback, and answering questions. Mentors will receive $750 for about 30 hours of work including pre-course training/activities, the 3-week course, support during the 4th week ePortfolio completion projects, and a post-course evaluation.
Important dates are the same as for course participants (see above).
*** Please complete the Mentor application. ***


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Last Modified: February 19, 2018 at 16:10