2023 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 22 teachers who were selected to receive free registration to attend a CARLA Summer Institute in 2023!

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

List of 2023 Priority Scholars and Proposed Projects

Priority Scholar School/Institution
Language CARLA Summer Institute
Svetlana Abramova Everett Community College
Everett, WA
Russian Content-Based Language Instruction and Curriculum Development

I have been teaching Russian at Everett Community College since 2017. We currently seek opportunities to widen the Russian Program and make it stronger by adding a new content-based course for Russian heritage learners "Russian through STEM". We hope it will help us to raise students’ interest in Russian language, one of the languages critical for USA national security, and enroll more students in the Russian Program at Everett Community College.

Proposed Project: During the summer institute, I am planning to develop a curriculum and materials for one of the future Russian through STEM course units. It can be focused on a discipline (Biology or Physics or Math) or a interdisciplinary problem-driven topic/question. The target audience is high school and/or early college students pursuing degree in STEM fields, within Intermediate proficiency level in ACTFL scale. Goals:

  • In the Interpersonal Mode, increase linguistic accuracy and sensitivity to cultural norms, e.g., social register and extended linguistic forms not typically encountered in intimate family speech. 
  • In the Interpretive mode, strengthen reading and listening skills in Russian, especially in academic language across disciplines. 
  • In the Presentational mode, increase the fluency and accuracy of writing and speaking for varied audiences on academic topics. I would start with collecting authentic texts (articles, video lectures, podcast), selecting and adapting them (student age, proficiency level), developing materials for scaffolding (working with textometr online tools). 

I am also planning to develop a summative assessment for a module unit: It could be a research project or an interview with Russian speaking professionals from different STEM fields. In the future, several other units will be added to the module units to extend and complete Russian trough STEM course.

Meraj Ahmed University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
Hindi, Urdu Practical Program Evaluation for Instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages

Attending the “Practical program evaluation for instructors of less commonly taught languages” summer institute will help me in Identifying strengths and weaknesses of my language program. With the help of this summer institute, I can also collaborate with other language educators and build a community of practitioners who are committed to improving their language programs. This can provide me with a support network and opportunities for professional development.

Proposed Project:  I propose to conduct a self-evaluation of my teaching practices by creating a personal reflection journal to record my thoughts and observations on the teaching methods, student engagement, lesson plans, and other aspects of the Hindi Urdu language program. I also propose to create a resource library after finishing the summer institute which will include a range of teaching materials and other resources that will be effective in teaching less commonly taught languages.

Mahmoud Ali University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ
Arabic Practical Program Evaluation for Instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages

As an Arabic instructor and program assistant academic director, I can see how beneficial this institute will be for me when it comes to both classroom instruction and program direction. The institute will afford me the opportunity to learn from program-level evaluation experts on how to first define program evaluation, identify areas of potential success, and challenges for implementation. 

Proposed Project: As a follow-up activity, I intend to put into action the program evaluation project, developed during the institute, in the academic year of 2023-2024 at my own institution, the University of Arizona. I work in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS) which is a home for three LCTLs (Arabic, Persian, and Turkish). I plan to first implement the program evaluation project with the Arabic program with the hope to extend the project to the Persian and Turkish programs afterwards. Upon completion, the results of the evaluation will be shared with the program faculty in order to decide what actions need to be taken in light of those results. In addition, the results will be shared with the public in the form of conference presentations and journal articles.

Grace Anderson Coursemojo
Washington, DC
Spanish, Chinese Transforming the Teaching of Language Online (TTLO)

I currently work at an edtech startup as a world language course designer, specifically in Chinese and Spanish, and the mission behind the company is to make high-quality online courses accessible to all students. Despite the fact that I have attended conferences about teaching online in response to the pandemic, read the book Teaching Languages Online, and even done an instructional design program, I know that I still have a lot to learn from more seasoned online instructors and course designers. My hope is that by learning what has worked for others, I would be able to do my work better and be able to support the world language team so that we can deliver the best online language learning experience. 

Proposed Project: Since many world language teachers transitioned from in-person to online without much support, I would like to present about the best practices for online language instruction. This will not only help orient these teachers and provide them with additional support but also help align teachers on what high quality language instruction looks like. In particular, I am interested in figuring out how to apply UDL to both design and instruction so that the mission of my company is really lived out in that we truly are making high quality courses accessible to ALL students. During our pilot year, which is the current school year, there are some language classes that are specifically for special education students, and I would like to ensure that ALL of our diverse students are able to experience the joy of learning a language.

Teresa Blumenthal University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX
Spanish Critical Approaches to Heritage Language Education

UT Austin boasts a heritage language program that focuses on creating a community of heritage language learners.  Outside of offering a distinct Spanish language program for heritage learners of Spanish, the university is part of The Texas Coalition for Heritage Spanish (TeCHS) project. Although there is a distinct heritage Spanish program, there are still many Spanish as heritage language students who enroll in the second language (L2) Spanish courses offered at UT. Those lower-division Spanish courses are primarily instructed by graduate students in the Spanish and Portuguese department. Graduate students without a background in Heritage Languages or Applied Linguistics may not know how to implement appropriate approaches to reach out to and engage their heritage language students. Because the most recent major change to the Spanish program at UT took place over a decade ago, attending the institute and consulting with a leader of the heritage language program at UT Austin (Dr. Meiners) can inform implementing an updated critical pedagogical approach in the heritage language program.

Proposed Project: At the CARLA summer institute, I will learn about a critical approach to the heritage language classroom that will aid both the development of the heritage language program, as well as aid graduate students in supporting learners of Spanish as a heritage language enrolled in their L2 courses. The outreach activity I will implement is specifically tailored to graduate students in the Spanish and Portuguese department. After returning from the summer institute, I will host a workshop for graduate instructors in August during the Spanish and Portuguese Department’s Orientation (August 17th and 18th, 2023) in which graduate students can learn and discuss critical heritage instruction as well as implementation approaches to best support the heritage language students enrolled in a course originally designed for L2 learners. 

I will also meet with Dr. Meiners (leader of the heritage language program at UT Austin) to discuss the possible implementation of critical approaches and methods to collaboratively improve the Spanish heritage language program at UT.

Yuka Brown San Diego Mesa College
San Diego, CA
Japanese Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness

I am an assistant professor of Japanese at San Diego Mesa College in California. This CARLA summer institute will give me a great opportunity to develop a deep understanding of how language and culture are intertwined and provide more interesting, insightful, and engaging teaching methods in my everyday classroom environment. 

Proposed Project:  Create new lesson plans and activities based on the knowledge acquired in this class. First, students are asked to consider how the grammar of this item was created from cultural, religious, and sociological standpoints. For example, in American English there is not much difference in the way people address each other, even when there is a status difference between the individuals. But in Japanese, the way that people address each other changes drastically based on status. This would be an opportunity for students to bring in their own backgrounds and experiences. After that, we shift our focus to Japanese and deepen the students' understanding by having them examine nouns, adjectives, and other grammatical terms for humble words and respectful words. Since students are interested in Japanese media such as anime, music, and TV shows, students could be tasked with picking out relevant vocabulary from such media. Finally, divide the students into different groups and have them practice colloquialisms using this grammar in a role-play.

Shannon Cannella Hamline University
Saint Paul, MN
Chinese Integrating Career Readiness into Language Programs

At Hamline University, I'm redesigning our minor in Chinese language into a "skills-based" minor in Chinese language and cultural competency. My proposal for a skills-based minor in Chinese includes development of a new course: Chinese for the Professional. Modeled in part on a similar course in my department, Spanish for the Professional, this course aims to help students build a bilingual career profile, a robust personal statement in Chinese, and to learn the professional expectations of a China-based or domestic workplace that interfaces with Chinese cultural values (such as K-12 Chinese immersion programs). Students will also role play mock job interviews. I've applied for a sabbatical designed around Chinese for the Professional in order to write a curriculum for the course and to share this course development process with the profession by presenting at the ACTFL conference in November 2024. The focus of the research will be to consider project-based learning in a mixed-level classroom and also one with proficiencies in the intermediate to advanced low range (ACTFL scale).

Proposed Project: I propose to create and share a classroom-based project.  I'd like to begin with Unit One of my course: Build a Professional Profile in Chinese. Outcomes of this unit include: Give a formal introduction in Chinese; Describe your academic program of study; Describe your career interests; Describe your prior work experience and professional skills; Describe your plans for career growth. 

A second project will include interviewing and recording Chinese professionals and students in the Twin Cities to create a digital repository of self-introductions. I will write listening activities to accompany the examples as part of the lesson. Finally, students will use these examples as templates from which to write and present their own video introduction. As a sharable outcome, I plan to present lesson plans for my Unit One as well as a few of the recorded interviews as active listening modules for students.

Jeanine Couto Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem, NC
Portuguese Culture as the Core in the Second Language Classroom

My institution is very interested in and encouraging my professional updates in the area of Culture and Language teaching for minority students. I am the only Portuguese language, culture, and literature professor at Winston-Salem State University. I am scheduled to teach two culture classes in the spring, one world film, and one Portuguese language class online. The only book available for online teaching is very much based on Brazilian white middle-class society. It lacks content important for the majority Black and Hispanic student population at WSSU. 

Proposed Project: I will make a presentation to colleagues at the Faculty Fair. I will also discuss with my Department the possibility of presenting in a small setting to the professors in the World Languages and Cultures Department.

Pedro Craveiro UC Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
Portuguese Transforming the Teaching of Language Online (TTLO)

I am currently designing an online Portuguese sequence course (Port W1, Port W2, and Port W3) at UC Santa Barbara to be available for cross-campus enrollment (a system that allows UC students to access a number of online courses offered across the UC campuses). Since Portuguese, as a less commonly taught language, is only offered on some UC campuses, this new sequence will benefit a large body of students, especially those interested in Portuguese and established in California through the Portuguese-speaking diaspora, primarily settled in communities in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Cruz, as well as in dairy farming areas in the Central Valley, the Los Angeles Basin, and San Diego. The face-to-face versions (Port 1, Port 2, and Port 3) of this sequence have been successfully taught at UCSB for a few decades. To develop a well-structured course and provide better support to my online students, I am interested in attending the "Transforming the Teaching of Language Online (TTLO)" institute. My goal is to increase my scope of knowledge and experience with online learning and overcome potential digital barriers that may arise in my Portuguese language course.

Proposed Project: I propose a follow-up presentation to colleagues at a conference, such as at the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) or the American Portuguese Studies Association (APSA). This presentation will talk about the process of transforming a face-to-face and traditional course into an online course as well as the impact and learning experience of attending "Transforming the Teaching of Language Online (TTLO)." This presentation will showcase the results of this process and how the summer institute facilitated my understanding of online language teaching.

Ayman Elbarbary Ohio University
Athens, OH
Arabic Transforming the Teaching of Language Online (TTLO)

As an Arabic teaching assistant at Ohio University, participating in this online institute will provide numerous benefits. Firstly, it will introduce me to various online tools and resources that can be utilized to create interactive and engaging Arabic language lessons. Secondly, it will help me to understand the challenges that students face in an online learning environment and provide me with the necessary strategies to overcome these challenges. Thirdly, it will provide me with the opportunity to connect with other Arabic language teachers and exchange ideas and best practices for teaching Arabic online. This will help me to stay up to date with the latest trends and developments in online language teaching and adapt my teaching practices accordingly. Overall, TTLO will help me to enhance my teaching skills and create a more effective and engaging learning environment for my students.

Proposed Project: I plan to organize a workshop or give a presentation to share the strategies and techniques learned from the online institute with my colleagues. This workshop can include demonstrations, discussions, and hands-on activities that will enable them to experience and learn the new online teaching practices I gained. Moreover, I plan to create a repository of resources, such as lesson plans, activities, and online tools, that colleagues can share and use. These resources can be shared through an online platform, such as our learning management system Blackboard, or a shared drive, to enable easy access for all colleagues. As peer observation is an excellent tool for learning from others, I can arrange peer observations where my colleagues can observe my online teaching practices. This will enable me to model the strategies and techniques learned from the online institute and my colleagues to learn and apply them in their classrooms. Moreover, this may happen through informal conversations during lunch breaks, departmental meetings, or other occasions where colleagues can learn from each other's experiences. Finally, I teach the same levels as other Arabic teaching assistants, so I will collaborate with them to design lesson plans that incorporate the strategies and techniques learned from the online institute. This will enable us to learn from each other's experiences and improve the quality of Arabic language teaching.

Prasanna Gajavarathan MNTS Tamil school
Eden Prairie, MN
Tamil Practical Program Evaluation for Instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages

MNTS Tamil School is a Tamil Language School with more than 15 years of educating the Tamil language, culture, and heritage to Minnesota based K-12 students (through contact classes) and global students (through eLearning platforms). Any language learning program demands effective evaluations to assess the learning effectiveness and continuously improve the learning experience and outcome. The upcoming summer program on practical program evaluation offered by CARLA can support us with the knowledge and skills required to run the evaluation of our educational program. 

Proposed Program: The MNTS Tamil School will identify the scope for improvements, prioritize and revive the curriculum and thus improve the learning experience. MNTS Tamil School has around 60 teachers teaching at various levels. While the participants will gain wealth of knowledge directly from the upcoming evaluation and professional development session, these participants will be facilitating the internal training for the rest of the teacher community. This would broaden the knowledge base around evaluation within the community of teachers. These sessions can also help teachers understand the importance of evaluation and how it can benefit their teaching practice.

Vera Hanaoka San Diego Mesa College
San Diego, CA
Japanese Using the Web for Communicative Language Learning

In Fall 2022, I began a new position as an Assistant Professor of Japanese at San Diego Mesa College, a community college in California serving a diverse population. Although I previously had experience teaching two online synchronous classes, in my current position, I am required to teach in a variety of online modalities ranging from online synchronous to hybrid to asynchronous with synchronous elements. I believe that the institute “Using the Web: Engaged Learning for Today’s Students” will support my ability to teach effectively in these various modalities. Through the sharing of my experiences and ideas with the institute colleagues I hope to cultivate a productive and ongoing dialogue about evolving best practices in online learning. Additionally, as my institution is a leader in equity and excellence, I would like to bring my perspective of how online classrooms can promote equitable practices as well as to learn how my language teacher colleagues promote equity in their online teachers at their various institutions.

Proposed Project: In my face-to-face classes, I have previously integrated community-based instruction in the form of observations, ethnographic interviews, and a service-learning assignment. As a follow-up project to participating in the summer institute, I would like to develop such a component to my classes that utilize online modalities. Enrollment in online classes at my institution since the pandemic has been increasingly popular, however, based on a recent survey conducted by our department, students feel like they learn more and are more connected through in-person classes. My aim is to build community and engagement in my online classes by introducing a community-based instruction component. My institution has an office of Work-based learning with whom I hope to also collaborate with on this project. Additionally, I will share my experience with other Japanese instructors in the department and with other language instructors.

Hanna Hong Bellevue School District
Bellevue, WA
Arabic Introduction to Dual Language Immersion

Under the leadership of our state’s superintendent, Washington state is steadily expanding dual language education programs. One recent initiative is increasing school-based heritage language programs as a ramp to dual language schools. I am uniquely positioned to develop and coordinate an Arabic heritage language program that will ramp up to a dual language program in the following academic year 2024-2025. My chosen institute, Introduction to Dual Language Immersion, will provide me with the foundations and knowledge necessary when designing learning experiences for our Arabic students. I foresee this institute being critical as I develop our Arabic curriculum from our district curriculum and work with classroom teachers. 

Proposed Project: For my follow-up project, I propose to lead and teach a series of professional development for our new teachers in our Arabic dual language program. I will be presenting to our core team of teachers, principals, and assistant principal, as well as our planning committee the foundations of dual language programs. This will take place in the summer during our professional development. In late August, I plan to present this to the entire staff of the school the program will be located under so that all faculty can understand and support the success of the program. I will then continue the series with necessary stakeholders, such as classroom teachers, focused on instructional practices. This will take place throughout the academic school year.

Olga Klimova University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA
Russian Practical Program Evaluation for Instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages

I run two language programs -- a regular, academic year-around Russian program at the University of Pittsburgh and a Russian STARTALK program for high school students (this cycle, March 2023-May 2024). Due to current circumstances, I need some additional support and training on how to make both of these programs run successfully despite all the negativity around the Russian language and Russian programs. The enrollments, especially in the elementary level of Russian, have dropped drastically all over the country (between 35% and 50% on average) since the war in Ukraine started, which have added even more challenges to directing the program and evaluating it. I will benefit from exploring various types of program evaluation, which will help to assess the needs of our language students and instructors, identify our program's successes and the areas that require improvements, thus strengthening the program.

Proposed Project: I am very actively engaged in the professional organizations for language teachers. I currently serve as the head of the Slavic Sector of the American Association of University Supervisors and Coordinators and as a Vice President of the American Council of Teachers of Russian that also includes serving on the professional development committee and the DEIA committee. In these leadership roles, I would like to develop a professional development project that will benefit a larger number of language instructors, language coordinators, and language directors from K-16 Russian programs. My follow-up project will include: 1) Organizing and moderate a series of three practical webinars and/or round-tables for K-16 language educators and supervisors from various US-based Russian language programs through the ACTR and/or the AAUSC, during which all the participants will be focusing on the specific topics important for program development and program evaluation: enrollments, marketing, community-building, retention, community-engagement, etc. , and 2) Organizing and facilitating an in-person brown-bag lunch discussion and brainstorming session with the program directors from the Slavic Department (Slovak, Ukrainian, BCMS, Polish) and the Center for Less Commonly Taught Languages (Turkish, Arabic, Hungarian, Swahili, Hindi, Irish, etc.) at the University of Pittsburgh. This session will also focus on the discussion of internal policies and administrative regulations that may affect the ways how we evaluate our less-commonly taught language programs. Based on my participation at the CARLA summer institute "Practical Program Evaluation for Instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages," I can develop a set of questions and/or problematic areas, which all our LCTL directors will discuss and develop some solutions. As an outcome, we can create shared guidelines and instructions for evaluating LCTL programs at the University of Pittsburgh.

Ritsuko Narita Larson Macalester College
Saint Paul, MN
Japanese Assessing Language Learners' Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks

I need to learn various effective assessments for my courses. The summer institute “Assessing Language Learners’ Oral Communication Skills” will enable me to learn how to evaluate learner performance on various tasks by identifying the domains of vocabulary, language control, text type, etc. This course will be fruitful for me to conduct an oral exam during the placement test. Additionally, I would be able to learn various assessments to improve students’ communication skills and to provide constructive feedback. 

Proposed Project: I would like to create assessments for my 2nd-year and 3rd-year Japanese courses to examine learner progress in communication skills; especially designing a standards-based integrated performance assessment with appropriate rubrics and scoring guides. I intend to share the assessments that I will develop in this institute with other colleagues.

Alejandro Maya Minneapolis College
Minneapolis, MN
Spanish Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice

By attending the 2023 CARLA Institute I intend to reinvigorate my own language teaching skills using a social justice lens that is going to benefit both students and myself to develop a more positive learning experience in the classroom.  Recently, I have participated in campus initiatives focused on issues related to equity, inclusion, and advocating for non-traditional student populations through various avenues. The skills I hope to gain from this summer professional development opportunity will aid me in my other work, particularly as I have developed an interest in promoting social justice in the classroom. Rather than seeing language teaching as simply the acquisition of vocabulary, grammar rules, and tidbits of cultural knowledge, language courses such as mine provide a great opportunity for students to learn communicative skills that will provide them the opportunity to share information about themselves and their communities in multiple venues. My hope is to encourage students to share their ideas and promote positive change in their communities using their voices and perspectives.

Proposed Project: I plan on doing both an outreach activity within my institution and a classroom-based project. I intend to continue working on my institution's equity by design faculty committee to promote workshops and webinars around the topics of anti-racism, culturally responsive pedagogy, and universal design for learning. My intent is to add social justice pedagogical workshops for interested colleagues across all disciplines, to challenge the traditional hierarchical approaches of education that have often silenced and ostracized students, particularly those who come from marginalized communities. The idea of the workshop with my colleagues would be to have a two part series: the first gathering would concentrate on sharing the main tenets of social justice pedagogies and encouraging shifts in classroom practices. The second workshop would underscore the intersection of the social justice lens along with the other critical pedagogies to achieve more equitable classroom environments, particularly in working with our students to empower them and use the skills they are learning in the classroom to achieve positive change within their communities.

John Mayer University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, HI
Samoan Assessing Language Learners' Communication Skills via Authentic Communicative Performance Tasks

As an instructor and coordinator of the Samoan Language Program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I serve a growing number of second generation Samoan heritage students from Hawaii, the mainland, and American Samoa, who have varying competencies in their home language but have never attended Samoan language classes in their pre-college education. My project has two goals. The first is to create an assessment instrument to be able to place these students in the appropriate level of language learning (1st through 4th year) and to develop curriculum to address the particular learning strategies and needs of heritage learners. In addition, I am co-founder and language educator specialist for the community based Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center of Honolulu. For the past 15 years LFSLC has provided heritage language and cultural instruction programs for Samoan heritage students from Hawaii and mainland (via Zoom) from pre-K through adult levels. My second goal is to adapt the assessment tool and curriculum for the LFSLC program.

Proposed Project: For my follow-up project, I will offer an on-line workshop for Samoan and Pacific Island language educators in Hawaii and the mainland through the biennial Samoan Language Symposium co-founded by LFSLC, which will be held in late 2023. While the symposiums have only been held in the USA, attendees and presenters have represented the pan-Pacific from regions that include Samoa, American Samoa, Micronesia, and New Zealand. And while my project specifically addresses Samoan heritage learners, it will be applicable to the needs and experiences of other significant Pacific Island heritage communities, such as Marshallese, Chuukese, Chamorro, Hawaiian, and Tongan. Therefore the materials developed through this project will be applicable to other Pacific Island communities and will be shared with university and community based Pacific Island heritage language programs throughout the USA and the Pacific.

ThuyAnh Nguyen University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
Vietnamese Integrating Career Readiness into Language Programs

I am interested in Project-Based Learning focused on 21st century skills to prepare language learners into the future professional world. The program will be my reflection as a learner in this program and it is my hope that I can integrate what I learn into the curriculum, especially for the advanced class where students will study and work on more national, international, and global issues when they choose to work on their projects to prove their higher proficiency.

Proposed Project: I have proposed a new course for Advanced Vietnamese language for the Vietnamese program at University of Michigan. This Vietnamese for Specific Purposes engages students with language studies through Project-Based Learning. Students can choose to focus on some modules that best fit their majors in business, public health, computer science, social work, etc. with fundamental elements for Project Based Learning and 21st century skills. The course offers the gateway for students to prepare language skills and cultural knowledge to work in their future professional work environment. The course will incorporate DEI strategy (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) into the Vietnamese language course. Students will present their projects in class in a symposium style. Project-Based Learning will motivate students to be more engaged in learning and creating to prove their higher proficiency in language through their project presentations. I am also planning to share with colleagues from my department and at conferences that I will present about PBL and 21st century skills with Advanced Vietnamese for Specific Purposes.

Balamurugan Ramasamy MNTS Tamil School
Eden Prairie, MN
Tamil Practical Program Evaluation for Instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages

MNTS Tamil School has successfully completed 15 years of Tamil language teaching. The school's primary mission is to provide education on Tamil language, culture, and heritage to K12 students in Minnesota and globally through eLearning platforms. We believe that participating in the upcoming summer institute will provide us with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct a thorough evaluation of MNTS training programs. Overall, MNTS Tamil School's commitment to evaluation and continuous improvement demonstrates its dedication to providing high-quality Tamil language education to its students and the broader Tamil-speaking community.

Proposed Project: Creating, maintaining, and continuously improving the curriculum based on national standards in the U.S. and aligning it with the world language learning standards for Tamil is a critical objective of MNTS Tamil School. Internal training sessions for teachers can serve as a useful platform to share knowledge and best practices gained from the evaluation and professional development session. These sessions can also help teachers understand the importance of evaluation and how it can benefit their teaching practice. By sharing the knowledge gained from the institute with the teachers at MNTS Tamil School, the school can create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Maggie Rutkowski Henry Ford College
Dearborn, MI
Spanish Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness

Henry Ford College is an urban community college with a uniquely diverse student population. Approximately one-third of our students are of Middle Eastern descent and one-third are Black. In Spanish classes, we see a relatively high percentage of native and heritage speakers, combined with students who have little or no experience with Spanish speakers and Spanish-speaking communities. Prior to the pandemic, we offered all in-person language courses. Now, we are offering one or two in-person sections of first-semester Spanish on campus, as our students do not seem interested in returning to campus for a general education course such as ours. With nearly all our students learning remotely and many lacking experiences with Spanish-speaking communities and their members, developing intercultural competence has been challenging. Although our students use an excellent online textbook, their cultural lessons may seem inauthentic and overly scripted to both our heritage learners and traditional second- (and often third-) language learners. What both heritage learners and Arab students are missing from our online curriculum are the socio-cultural skills that the Language and Culture in Sync workshop aims to provide. 

Proposed Project: Each semester, World Languages faculty and ESL faculty collaborate on a professional development event that highlights topics of current interest and need. Nearly 40 instructors, both full-time and adjunct, and invited to attend, and adjunct faculty are compensated for their participation. I know that linguistic politeness and intercultural awareness would serve as an engaging and useful topic for the Fall 2023 professional development event. By presenting at this event and inviting my colleagues to share their own experiences and ideas, we can continue the tradition of creating a convenient, worthwhile, and meaningful professional development experience for all WL and ESL faculty. As our ultimate goal is to provide our students with the tools they need to use their language skills in their lives outside the classroom, I am certain that the Language and Culture in Sync institute will offer techniques that will serve WL and ESL faculty well.

Dali Tan Northern Virginia Community College
Alexandria VA
Chinese Teaching Linguistic Politeness and Intercultural Awareness

From my over three decades of teaching English in China and teaching Chinese in the US, I found it very difficult and challenging to teach linguistic politeness and pragmatics. The popular Chinese textbooks used in the US for novice proficiency level provide some poor examples of interaction between textbook characters in their dialogues that are impolite, even rude. They simply do not teach and provide opportunities for learners to practice pragmatics. Since I have a doctorate in comparative literature and have been studying social linguistics and language pedagogy on my own, the institute will help me tremendously in filling up the knowledge gap in my education. 

Proposed Project: I would like to use what I have learned at the summer institute to create a classroom-based project (a couple of new lessons) to focus on linguistic politeness both in interpersonal communicative situations at the novice proficiency level (spoken language for the most part) but also at the intermediate proficiency level (both interpersonal and presentational written language). I have read articles that tell me that "language teachers should focus not only on developing pragmatic awareness, but also motivate metapragmatic discussions on pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic issues" and I want to implement the best practices in my own classroom and create some basic "guidelines" as to how to do this in Chinese classroom to share with other teachers.

Wenbo Yang Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School
Detroit, MI
Chinese Teaching for Proficiency in Dual Language Immersion

I have been teaching Mandarin Chinese in Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School for 18 years in Detroit, Michigan. Although my school district does offer professional developments for world language teachers, the focus is always on the secondary world language teachers who teach Spanish and French, with absolutely no attention to immersion programs. Chinese is a less commonly taught language, but in the last 20 years it has started to gain popularity in western countries. Yet, a lot of Chinese programs or schools don't last for very long. Shortage of resources, curriculum, textbooks of high quality, etc. are always the concerns of Chinese programs. As a result, I have limited resources and must create my own curriculum, instructional materials, and evaluation tools, etc. The summer institute “Teaching for Proficiency in Dual Language Immersion” will give me an opportunity to thoroughly examine the ACTFL proficiency guidelines, which is critical for me in developing curriculum, assessments, instructional materials and strategies, etc. 

Proposed Project: I propose to give a presentation titled “Promote Productive Outputs via Proficiency-Oriented Instruction Description.”  This presentation will demonstrate what productive outputs look like in real life, examples, strategies, and guidelines of proficiency-oriented instructions based on ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines that promote productive outputs. Audience will experience it and modify resources (in Chinese, Japanese, French, and Spanish) to develop their own proficiency-oriented instructions and assessments at their students’ levels.


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