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April 2005

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 outcomes.

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 Malone.

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.

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www.yearoflanguages.org

 

 

Additional resources on language learning in higher education

Attaining High Levels of Proficiency: Challenges for Foreign Language Education in the United States

Generation 1.5 Students and College Writing

Impact of Two-Way Immersion on Students' Attitudes Toward School and College

Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) 2005

 

 

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