2024 Priority Scholars

TEAM Scholar logo CARLA’s new Priority Teacher Professional Development Scholarship program promotes equity and access to affordable professional development for world language educators who are currently teaching at a Community College, postsecondary Minority Serving Institution, or Historically Black College/University in the United States and/or are currently teaching a Less Commonly Taught Language in the United States.

Congratulations to the 15 teachers who were selected to receive free registration to attend a CARLA Summer Institute in 2024!

Click each Scholar's name for a statement and a description of their proposed project.

List of 2024 Priority Scholars and Proposed Projects

Priority Scholar School/Institution
Language CARLA Summer Institute
Monica Battaglia La Scuola International School
East Palo Alto, CA
Italian Creativity in the Language Classroom

As an Italian teacher committed to cultivating creativity and innovation, I find the core concepts enlisted in the Institute's curriculum deeply resonant with my pedagogical philosophy. I think the Institute would enhance my effectiveness as a language educator by expanding my instructional repertoire. My interest and enthusiasm have been particularly captivated by the several innovative strategies and methodologies outlined, including the integration of improvisational techniques to enhance students’ creativity within the language classroom. Having some previous experience in this field, I am really eager to explore its specific application within language acquisition. I am also intrigued by the idea of fostering creativity and collaboration through multi-sensory activities and technology, invaluable resources which promise to enrich my language teaching experience on multiple levels in a dynamic learning community.

Proposed Project: Following the exploration of improvisational techniques and multi-sensory activities to promote creativity in the language classroom, I propose a follow-up project titled "Language Fusion: Creative Communication Exchange." This project aims to create an immersive language experience where students collaborate in crafting original narratives through a blend of improvisation, visual arts, and technology. Students will be organized into small groups and assigned a theme or scenario. Drawing inspiration from prompts and stimuli, such as images, music clips, or short videos, they will engage in improvisational exercises to develop characters, dialogue, and plotlines in the target language. To incorporate multi-sensory elements, students will utilize tactile materials and visual aids to enhance storytelling and stimulate creativity. 

Additionally, they will leverage technology to document and present their narratives through digital storytelling platforms or multimedia presentations. This project will reinforce language acquisition skills while also fostering collaboration, critical thinking, and creative expression among students. By actively engaging in the creative process, students will develop confidence in their language abilities and cultivate a deeper appreciation for cultural nuances embedded within language. The "Language Fusion" project has the potential to spark enthusiasm for language learning, encouraging students to explore new ways of expression and communication. As students become more adept at integrating improvisation, sensory tools, and technology into their language practice, they will emerge as more proficient and innovative communicators in the global landscape.

Tamara Devine Capital Community College
Hartford, CT
ESL, French Language & Culture in Sync: Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness

I am currently an ESL Instructor at Capital Community College in Hartford, CT, and I am also a PhD student in Applied Linguistics at the University of Connecticut. My dissertation focuses on au pairs working in the United States. The au pair program is an exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State allowing international men and women from the ages of 19-27 to work as childcare providers for a period of 2-3 years. I will collect qualitative data to determine a pragmalinguistic needs assessment among au pairs, and I will propose a pilot study based on curriculum adapted to promote interculturality and pragmatic awareness.

Proposed Project: I will collect qualitative data to determine a pragmalinguistic needs assessment among au pairs, and I will propose a pilot study based on curriculum adapted to promote interculturality and pragmatic awareness. I will look at the pragmatic and intercultural development of au pairs through the lens of the porous classroom model (Breen, 1999) where au pair learning happens at a unique nexus of influences; from living and working with an American family, to English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) interactions with other au pairs, to language use and input acquired through online spaces. I will try to locate a nexus point at which to build in pragmatics awareness into existing models of interculturality (i.e. Byram, 1999). As I build this curriculum, I will be most interested in Inter-Language Pragmatics (Sykes, 2017) approaches that aim to build in skills of learner analysis and awareness, rather than taking a prescriptive approach or assuming pragmatics to be something only learned from native speakers of English.

A major part of my interest in attending this workshop is to prepare for writing this curriculum. For the purposes of follow-up to this workshop, I will design a set of curricular materials specifically for au pairs, but they may be adapted for use with my adult learners of ESL at the community college.

Ayman Elbarbary Indiana University
Bloomington, IN
Arabic EmojiEd: Integrating Authentic Social Media in Language Teaching

This institute will enhance my ability to integrate social media through many of its lessons. These include designing microblogging activities and using social media with an awareness of language-specific requirements. Through coursework, I will also explore how the functionalities of social media platforms like X, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, Instagram, and TikTok have been exploited in the past with language learning objectives. Beyond addressing the unique challenges of teaching Arabic, these skills will help me design visual-centric and short-form interactive video activities geared toward the Arabic curriculum. 

Proposed Project: Upon completing the program, I plan to share my experience with other graduate students interested in language teaching, particularly Arabic, via presentations and workshops. Given that I am interested in creating language learning curricula around more practical outcomes, like those outlined by ACTFL’s World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages, my participation in the program will significantly enrich my skills in creating Arabic teaching materials for my students. 

Eugênia Fernandes University of California, Davis
Davis, CA
Portuguese, Spanish Integrating Career Readiness into Language Programs

As a Portuguese language lecturer at UC Davis, I recognize the unique challenges of teaching in mixed classes with little professional development support —mainly when catering to heritage speakers without specific courses tailored to their needs. Connecting with students' diverse ethnolinguistic backgrounds is challenging, but equally crucial is fostering awareness of career opportunities to motivate all these individuals to accomplish their dreams through developing Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) in the U.S. Through my chosen summer institute, "Integrating career readiness into language programs," I plan to develop teaching and community strategies to engage my audience at UC Davis, a community with rich Brazilian, Azorian, and Mozambican community history, encouraging them to explore the U.S. job market with the linguistic skills acquired in during college. By highlighting the demand for critical languages in the United States — especially in fields like diplomacy, international business, and national security — I plan to learn how to motivate students to pursue careers connected to their multilingual profiles within their fields of interest.

Proposed Project: My proposed follow-up will consist of three outreach activities:

Special in-person Session at the American Organization of Teachers of Portuguese conference: During our annual “The World Teaching on the Teaching of Portuguese” conference, held at Duke University on August 10th 2024, I plan to lead a special session as the organization's president. On this occasion, I will share practical insights and success stories on how teachers can connect their language classrooms to students’ majors, with a particular focus on undergraduates.

Workshop for Portuguese Teachers on the West Coast: In collaboration with the General Consulate of Brazil in San Francisco, I will organize an exclusive workshop as part of our annual “Teaching Development Workshop for Portuguese Language Educators on the West Coast" in March 2025. During this workshop, Portuguese teachers from across the region will gather to explore practical strategies for bridging language learning with career readiness. We will discuss tailored approaches, resources, and case studies to empower our students beyond the classroom.

UC Davis Portuguese Club Career Fair: In Fall 2024, I plan to work with the UC Davis Portuguese Club board to organize a career fair for graduate and undergraduate students in the Portuguese-speaking community. We will also invite alums and discuss motivating strategies for integrating the languages they speak into their upcoming careers.

May George Smith College
Northampton, MA
Arabic Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom

As a teacher, I always find ways to relate to the culture of language for example, I was teaching why poetry is important in the Middle East. I referred a lot to culture and how poetry was reflected at certain era for example in the past, it had focused on certain topics related to tribes for example, wisdom, defense and others. The focus has changed in the 20th century because the topics have changed because the needs of people social and political have changed too. Therefore, it is important to make the students aware of culture in the past and now.

Proposed Project: The main goal for my follow-up activity for the intermediate level will be learning about friendship concept between men and women in the Middle East, and comparing the concept of friendship between the Middle East and the US. The activity will include a process reading, summarizing, and presentation to allow students to learn from each other.

Elizabeth Huntley University of Colorado
Denver, CO
Arabic Integrating Career Readiness into Language Programs

My prior teaching experience was primarily in elite institutions (the University of Michigan and Cornell University). I'm currently in my first year of teaching at the University of Colorado Denver. The student body here differs in many ways from those in my former institutional homes: by the numbers, half of UCD students are students of color and half are first-generation college students. Many of my students work full-time jobs and have families to look after in addition to their academics. Few are able to take on anything that isn’t directly related to their coursework or their future careers. I need to change the way I frame the utility of pursuing a foreign language: I need to help students see the long-term professional benefits they can enjoy if they invest in their studies today. I am excited to attend “Integrating Career Readiness Into Language Programs” so that I can change the way I teach to better serve the needs of my students.

Proposed Project: My proposed project falls under the “classroom-based project” category. I would like to develop a series of activities to longitudinally incorporate career-readiness principles to my students. Obviously, I will be better able to articulate what these principles are once I have taken the actual course, but I know what I want to do generally. I also know what I want to avoid. What I want to do generally is to help students discover, from day 1, how world languages can be a key asset to any academic major and any career. This will help them see why studying a world language isn’t merely about checking off a box for your college requirements, it’s about gaining a practical skillset that will put them ahead of their peers when they hit the job market.

I don’t want this to be contained to a single unit, but rather to be distributed across the first year (our language requirement on campus is only two semesters, so that’s all I have!). If I wait to introduce this, students will continue to miss out on opportunities like the Critical Language Scholarship (as described above). I don’t want this to be a teacher-driven activity where I tell them why world languages matter; I want my students to be able to explore and develop their own interests. I also want them to learn from one another by sharing what they’ve uncovered – college is a time of major personal growth, and I hope that, in learning about their peers’ professional goals and options, students will continue to expand their own. Most importantly, I want to get away from the model of academics reproducing other academics.

Milvia Hernandez University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
Baltimore, MD
Spanish Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education

Since I start teaching Spanish for Heritage Speakers three years ago, I attended various workshops online and in-person, with effective strategies, resources, and ideas for this new endeavor. However, I have not taken a course or attended an institute, like this one, to support and to reflect for a week on my language teaching to heritage courses. This institute will provide me with teaching tools and techniques to engage my students to explore their own Latinx identities and to become agents of change in their own communities.

Proposed Project: My proposed follow-up classroom-based project will be a unit for the intermediate 1 Spanish- heritage section. The main topic for this unit will be about their families. For this unit, I visualize my students actively involving their family members, especially their grandparents or older family members. Students will explore their family roots by interviewing one or two family members, especially grandparents or older family members; searching for the oldest photos or artifacts owned by their family; creating their family tree; writing a composition about their family roots/heritage based on the interviews. This unit will finalize by creating their family digital story and then sharing with the class and their families. In term of language growth, students will expand vocabulary to talk about family, heritage, and roots; and practice reading comprehension and critical thinking by reading two different literature pieces ( e.g., poem, blog, article) that will help them also to support and to inspire their family roots project; students will narrate past experiences and events using the appropriate past tenses (preterit and imperfect) correctly.

Víctor Garre León University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
Spanish Language & Culture in Sync: Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness

This professional development opportunity will significantly contribute to my role as an Instructor of Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin. By immersing myself in the latest tools and strategies for pragmatics-focused instruction and assessments grounded in research, I aim to enrich the educational experience of my students. Moreover, through a deeper understanding of learners' needs in intercultural communication as an integral aspect of their language learning experience, I will be better equipped to tailor culturally aware instruction in my undergraduate Spanish language classes at UT Austin. 

Proposed Project: For my proposed follow-up activity, I plan to contribute with an outreach activity to the Texas Language Center's Language Matters! Series at UT Austin, a monthly informal talk series aimed at language instructors and stakeholders across all levels. Leveraging the invaluable insights gleaned from the CARLA summer institute, I will deliver in the Fall 2024 semester a comprehensive presentation focusing on the integration of linguistic politeness and intercultural awareness into language instruction. During the presentation, I will discuss practical strategies and resources that instructors can utilize to effectively incorporate these critical aspects of language learning into their curricula. Drawing from my own experiences and the insights I gain from the CARLA summer institute, I will provide concrete examples to illustrate the application of these concepts in various instructional contexts focusing on issues pertaining to pragmatics-focused lessons and classroom-based assessment of pragmatics. 

Jocelly Meiners University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
Spanish Planning Social Justice Lessons: Critical Pedagogies in Action

I am an instructor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at the University of Texas at Austin, which is a Hispanic Serving Institution. During the past ten years, I have specialized in creating and teaching the courses for Spanish heritage learners. I have designed the materials for two of the heritage Spanish courses that we offer in our department, and I am continuously modifying and improving our courses and our materials. I strive to incorporate Critical Language Pedagogies in my teaching and materials, especially for the heritage Spanish student population, as they often face linguistic discrimination. My goal is to make students feel empowered and proud of their heritage language and culture, so that they are inspired to continue developing their bilingual and bicultural skills in their future careers, and I believe that attending this summer institute on teaching through the lens of social justice will help me achieve that goal.

Proposed Project: My plan for the follow-up activity is to create sample lesson plans as well as a guide that helps instructors plan their lessons with social justice in mind. Creating a guide will be effective and reach a wider audience of instructors, as it could be helpful for instructors who teach other languages besides Spanish. As I am a strong believer in open education as a path toward social justice, I plan to share all my materials as open educational resources with a Creative Commons license, so that instructors can use them freely and adapt them to their own needs.

ThuyAnh Nguyen University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
Vietnamese Getting Started With Project-Based Language Learning

This will not be the first time that I will work on Project Based Language Learning. I have worked on Health Care and Education Projects and this time I would like to work on Career and Professional Work so that I can integrate with the topic from last summer institute on Career Readiness. I would also like to focus on Differentiated Instruction so that I can apply PBLL to different levels of Vietnamese (Intermediate and Advanced Levels). Finally I would also like to apply media products, especially podcasts in the PBLL approach for my Vietnamese language classes. Using a vrtual exchange, mystudents’ products will be shared with students from institutions in Vietnam and students from other institutions in the US.

Proposed Project: I will publish my course and projects online with Googlesite and Canva links. It is also my goal to promote my Vietnamese courses in Courseshare with other universities and institutions. I will definitely share with my colleagues who teach world language in CARLA, as well as my colleagues at University of Michigan, other organizations, and I will also share my projects with ACTFL and at conferences and workshops such as NCOLCTL, COTSEAL, GUAVA. I will definitely share with colleagues in Vietnam in the Virtual Exchange program and at conferences that I am planning to attend in Vietnam and other countries where I presented my paper. Please be as specific as possible about your proposed follow-up activity/project.

Mila V. Padilla Albuquerque Public School Indian Education
Albuquerque, NM
Shiwi'ma Bena:we (Zuni) Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education

I am a heritage language teacher; this institute would strengthen my ability to reach all levels of language learners and assist my educational/professional development through methods I may not be aware of and I have a desire to learn all I can in my profession to grow language speakers and learners. 

Proposed Program: I plan to assist other heritage teachers to collaborate/strategize and maintain heritage languages within our department and the cohort of language teachers I work with (NM Tribal Language consortium).

Junko Schwartzman

State University of New York
Binghamton, NY

Japanese Language & Culture in Sync: Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness

Having previously taught business Japanese, I understand the importance of effective teaching methods, especially concerning Japanese honorifics and their cultural nuances. As I prepare to teach fourth-year Japanese in the fall 2024, I aim to incorporate activities that emphasize politeness and pragmatics, ensuring my students develop a deep understanding of sociocultural contexts. This institute's focus on enhancing linguistic politeness/pragmatics meets my current needs and addresses areas where I seek further development. I believe that by participating in this institute, I will gain valuable insights and practical strategies to enhance my teaching of Japanese honorifics and cultural nuances.

Proposed Project: For my outreach activity, I could organize a workshop or series of meetings where Asian language (Chinese and Korean) instructors can share their approaches to teaching honorifics. This collaborative effort could lead to a more cohesive and effective teaching strategy across languages, benefiting both teachers and students. It could also foster a sense of community among language instructors at my school. Additionally, I could invite guest speakers or experts in Japanese linguistics to provide insights and guidance, further enriching the discussion and professional development opportunities for participants.

For my classroom activity, exploring cultural differences in responses to praise (home expressions in Japanese) is a great idea. This activity could enhance students' awareness of cultural nuances in communication and encourage them to think critically about how language reflects cultural values. By comparing and discussing their responses in Japanese and English, students can deepen their understanding of both languages and develop a more nuanced approach to cross-cultural communication. To enhance this activity, I could incorporate multimedia resources such as videos or interviews with native speakers to provide authentic examples of cultural interactions, making the learning experience more engaging and meaningful for students.

Yung-Chi Sung

Tzu Chi Boston Academy
Bedford, MA

Chinese Practical Program Evaluation for Heritage Language Education

With a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and a Master's in Linguistics (from the University of Minnesota at Twin Cities), specializing in learning and cognition, and over two decades of experience in various educational roles, my expertise lies at the intersection of language acquisition and cognitive science. This background grants me a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities in teaching Mandarin Chinese, particularly in the context of Dual Language Immersion and Heritage Language Programs. My proposed workshop addresses a critical language education gap – the practical evaluation of language programs. This gap is especially pronounced in the context of Mandarin Chinese, a language gaining increasing traction yet facing unique pedagogical challenges in the Western education sphere.

Proposed Project: Leveraging my expertise in educational psychology, linguistics, and extensive experience in language education, I plan to conduct an outreach workshop aimed at teachers and administrators involved in Foreign Language/World Language, Dual Language Immersion (DLI), and Heritage Language Programs. This workshop will focus on the practical application of insights gained from the Practical Program Evaluation for Heritage Language Programs institute. The workshop, "Enhancing Language Education: Practical Evaluation Techniques for DLI and Heritage Language Programs," will cater to the growing needs of Chinese language educators in the Boston metro area. Recognizing the proliferation of Chinese language schools and programs in this region will address the specific challenges and opportunities inherent in teaching Mandarin and other heritage languages. 

Charlize Hsiang-Ling Wang The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH
Chinese Planning Social Justice Lessons: Critical Pedagogies in Action

As a language educator, I ardently advocate for and am committed to fostering critical language awareness and multilingual awareness among both instructors and learners in the world language classroom. However, despite my dedication, I have encountered a need for more resources about social justice-oriented lesson plans, especially within the context of Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL). This workshop will advance my understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice principles and provide opportunities to enrich my scholarship in social justice, offering invaluable insights from social justice theory to practice.

Proposed Project: n a national scale, I endeavor to showcase my lesson plans, enriched with context-specific materials, at conferences such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the Ohio Foreign Language Association (OFLA). Through these platforms, I intend to model the implementation of critical pedagogies in the classroom setting, drawing upon insights gleaned from the CARLA summer institute. Additionally, I aim to share my transformative experiences at CARLA to promote the program and encourage fellow educators to engage with its offerings.

On an institutional level, I also propose to undertake a teacher-researcher collaboration project with an instructor from the Chinese studies program at The Ohio State University. The purpose of this empirical research is to explore the practicality of social justice-oriented lessons for students of color and heritage learners. This proposed study consists of approximately ten student participants. 

I also plan to organize a professional workshop designed to present how to integrate social justice topics into teaching practices. This workshop will invite language program coordinators, instructors, and researchers from the foreign language departments to collectively reflect on their critical language awareness, foster their understanding of critical pedagogies, and scaffold their context-specific application in world language classrooms. In summary, my proposed follow-up activities reflect a steadfast commitment to advancing social justice within language education, encompassing both national and institutional initiatives aimed at creating a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.

Wenbo Yang Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School
Detroit, MI
Chinese Secondary Dual Language and Immersion: Achieving the Promise of Continuation Program

I have been teaching an immersion Chinese program since 2005 at the Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School (FLICS) in Detroit, Michigan. FLICS started in the late 1980’s. Although it has four foreign language immersion programs (Chinese, Japanese, Frech, and Spanish), it never immerses students into the target languages and cultures via content areas, except by hiring native speakers of the target languages as the homeroom teachers. Since we have never taught content in the target languages in my school district, it is critical to develop a dual language immersion curriculum.

Proposed Project: My proposed follow-up activities will be in three areas: 

  1. First, to implement the project created at the summer institute in the classroom to demonstrate how dual language immersion looks at the secondary level.
  2. Second, to present what I learned at the summer institute to the administrators to convince them to believe in and support secondary dual language immersion programs. 
  3. Third, to develop a secondary dual language immersion curriculum for the district/school. Curriculum development is critical, and it is a long-term project. I will select one middle school subject to begin, maybe social studies or math/science. Since we have never taught content in the target languages, I need to learn the criteria for the secondary dual language immersion program at the CARLA summer institute and then set up the goals for the curriculum of both the language and the content. Identify materials and develop the best strategies, practices, activities, and assessments with the content teacher. Redesign selected materials to promote language proficiency in three modes and simultaneously foster success in content knowledge. Gradually, engage more colleagues for curriculum development.


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