The National K–12 Foreign Language Resource Center was established at Iowa State University with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 1994. One of nine National Language Resource Centers, this Center was unique in its commitment to the improvement of foreign language education in grades kindergarten through twelve (K–12) through professional development of K–12 foreign language teachers. The Center was a collaborative effort between Iowa State University, the Center for Applied Linguistics, and various foreign language educators around the country.
CAL conducted a variety of activities for the Iowa State University NFLRC, all focused on the improvement of the nation’s capacity for teaching and learning languages by building a strong foundation in elementary and secondary schools.
Projects conducted 2006-2010
Projects for 2006-2010 included the development of a Chinese K-5 curriculum and the dissemination of early foreign language resources through a website and e-mail listserv.
Chinese K-5 Curriculum and Program Development
The goal of this project was to improve and expand the teaching of Chinese at the Kindergarten through grade 5 level by establishing an articulated long-sequence model. Activities included: developing a Chinese K-5 framework and a proficiency-focused Chinese K-3 curriculum, training teachers in classroom techniques reflecting best practices, training teachers in the administration and rating of the Chinese Student Oral Proficiency Assessment (SOPA), collaborating with two schools in the implementation of the Chinese programs, and researching students’ language development in those schools (and control schools) over a three-year period.
Reaching Out to K-8 Teachers: Ñandutí website and Ñandu Listserv
The goal of this project was to continue to make available to educators two early foreign language resources: Ñandutí, the leading national website on early foreign language learning; and Ñandu, an active discussion listserv for preK-8 teachers. Both of these resources, originally developed in collaboration with the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University, were maintained by CAL’s NFLRC project beginning in 2006.
Projects Conducted 2002-2006
Past projects from 2002-2006 included the development of a framework and test items for an elementary school Spanish listening and reading assessment, the updating of an online directory of K-12 foreign language assessments, and the development of a training manual for CAL K-8 language assessments.
The Center provided professional support to foreign language educators through on-going research projects, occasional papers, and national summer institutes with long-term follow-up. All of the Center’s work was focused on its three initiatives:
- Performance assessment (CAL)
- Effective teaching strategies (Iowa State)
- New technologies in the foreign language classroom (Iowa State)
The Performance Assessment Initiative was a collaborative effort between CAL and the National K–12 Foreign Language Resource Center. This initiative was designed to improve the ability of K–12 foreign language teachers to assess their students and to help them integrate assessment practices with foreign language standards.
Activities conducted from 2002-2006 included:
- providing training in the administration and rating of the Student Oral Proficiency Assessment (SOPA);
- maintaining an online foreign language assessment resource guide;
- developing and validating an Early Language Learning Oral Proficiency Assessment (ELLOPA) and accompanying student self-assessment, and
- conducting a study of the benefits and drawbacks of using distance learning technology to teach languages to young children.