In April, the Year of Languages highlights the teaching and
learning of languages in higher education programs, especially those
that promote high levels of language proficiency. CAL’s work addresses
a number of facets learning languages in higher education, including
articulation with K–12 programs, assessment of language proficiency,
and development of a research base for identifying effective programs.
Articulation with K–12 Education and Programs
Languages Across the Curriculum
To promote language teaching and learning in higher education,
teachers and researchers are working to understand the variety of linguistic
resources students bring to college with them. A key aim of the Languages
Across the Curriculum movement is to provide new opportunities for college
students to make meaningful use of their existing language skills. On
April 7, 2005, CAL hosted the presentation, Languages
Across the Curriculum: Status and Issues, by Professor Stephen Straight,
a leader in the movement. Professor Straight addressed premises, forms,
and results of such programs as well as examples of Language Across the
Curriculum structures, instructional strategies, content areas, and student
For more information on Languages Across the Curriculum, read the related digest.
Assessment of Language Proficiency
National Flagship Language Initiative for Higher Levels of
Proficiency in Arabic
The National Flagship Language Initiative aims to produce college
graduates with advanced levels of proficiency in languages identified
as critical to U.S. national security. It is a program of partnerships
among the National Security Education Program and institutions of higher
education that is facilitated by the University of Maryland’s Center
for the Advanced Study of Language. Flagship programs have been established
for Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Russian. For this project, CAL is collaborating
with Georgetown University’s Center
for Advanced Proficiency in Arabic (CAPA) to develop new Arabic language
tests and enhance existing ones. These tests will help CAPA place and
measure the progress of students in the program. Activities include developing
additional items for a Web-delivered Arabic listening and reading test
and working with instructors to develop classroom-based oral assessment
tasks at high levels of proficiency.
For more information about CAL’s work with the CAPA program,
contact Dora Johnson or Meg
Developing the Research Base
Comprehensive Assessment of Students Learning Abroad
Study abroad is a primary feature of many language learning
programs in higher education. While study abroad experiences seem intuitively
to be beneficial to language learning, little is known about which study
abroad program features best promote language learning and how such language
learning interacts with intercultural development and subject-area learning.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Student Learning Abroad project is gathering
and analyzing empirical data to develop the research base to study these
issues. CAL is a consultant on this study, which is conducted principally
by Georgetown University in partnership with Dickinson College, Rice
University, and the University of Minnesota. The study is examining students’ second
language acquisition, gains in intercultural sensitivity, and learning
of specific subject area material across multiple study abroad programs.
This study will help educators understand the features of study abroad
programs that best promote student learning in each of these areas.
For more information about the Comprehensive Assessment of Students
Learning Abroad, contact Meg Malone.