This discussion, facilitated by Robert Terry, focused on how others perceive foreign language teaching and learning and how their perceptions might be affected by current developments such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the events at Drake.� Can we convince school administrators and parents of the importance of language learning in order to secure financial support for programs?� Can we demonstrate to learners themselves that learning a language adds value to how and what they learn in other areas?� The questions and individual experiences mentioned pointed clearly to the need for effective advocacy within education circles and outside with the public.� Emphasis was given to the notion that change needs to come from the bottom-up, with classroom teachers leading the way.
����������� Following an overview of current issues in early language learning presented by discussion leader Mimi Met, this group�s discussion centered on two main areas:� articulation and assessment.� Decisions to implement FLES programs and planning for these programs require the participation of teachers at all levels.� A key issue for the articulation of curriculum and instruction is how to mesh the interdisciplinary, content-based approach of FLES programs with approaches used at the middle and high school levels.� Developing assessments that measure what early learners know and do is also of utmost importance.� Such assessments would serve to document the validity and success of early language programs.� The value of including heritage language learners in FLES classrooms was also noted.
����������� In this session moderated by Margarita Curtis, three key issues were addressed:� recruitment of teachers and students, teacher training and development, and materials selection.� Recruitment of students requires particular attention due to the �invisibility of heritage learners� and the perception of status (by the students themselves, other students, faculty, counselors, and administrators).� In order to move away from the notion that heritage learner classes are remedial, schools need to celebrate the language of the students and recognize the richness they bring to the learning environment.� An effective model of teacher development may come from language arts, where varieties of language are accepted.� The curriculum can include literature from the native cultures of the students as well as popular magazines, short plays, and writing workshops.�
����������� This group, led by Celeste Kinginger, identified teacher�s lack of time as a key factor limiting the quantity and quality of action research.� In order to begin to bridge the gap between �researcher� and �classroom teacher,� it will be necessary to build an infrastructure that supports teachers investigating and evaluating their practices.� To facilitate this process, a clearinghouse could serve to define the research base, provide access to existing research related to foreign language teaching and learning, and serve as a forum for sharing questions and related inquiry.
Recognizing the challenge presented by the shortage of teachers and the need for higher standards, this group, moderated by Eileen Glisan, focused on the need for clear alternative certification routes.� Teachers in the field should take the lead in defining the required competencies that could be met in a variety of ways.� Mentoring programs can serve as a strategy for filling in gaps, offering support to those new to the classroom.� Content-specific pedagogical training is critical and requires collaboration among states, schools (public and private) and universities.� A clearinghouse would be useful for making information on such topics as state requirements, reciprocal agreements, and locations of courses to complete certification available to those who seek it.
Discussion moderators Jane Baskerville and Eckhard Kuhn-Osius questioned whether service learning and language for the professions meant leaving the teaching of literature and culture aside.� The participants in the session responded by stressing the need for integrating these various components into a coherent program for learners.� Teachers need to capture students� passion for language and culture, validate their preferences, help them develop practical tools to do a job, offer them the opportunity to provide valuable service to their community while learning about others, and enrich their education and personal lives through the study of literature.� We need to find approaches to literary texts that makes reading literature fruitful for students at different levels of proficiency.
Facilitated by Joan Keck Campbell, the distance learning group noted that Web courses are not just traditional courses put online; instead, these courses require considerable support in order to be redesigned to make the best use of faculty expertise and the range of available technology.� Collaboration across institutions may help in reducing demands on faculty and streamlining technical support, though institutional concerns must be addressed.� The group explored some contexts in which distance learning may be particularly useful due to it serving a well-defined purpose, such as professional development for teachers, advanced culture and literature courses for students who do not have direct access to such courses, and students who need a final course in the required sequence to graduate.�� A clearinghouse would be useful for listing existing online courses.
����������� In this discussion, led by Sharon Wilkinson, attendees recognized the need to question our assumptions about study abroad and identified the need for additional research in this area.� The current expansion of study abroad opportunities, including short stays of 2-4 weeks, raises questions about the actual outcomes of these varied experiences.� Given the diversity of programs and the increasing range of motivations that learners have for study abroad, language professionals need to focus on the �program-participant fit� rather than assuming that one program works for all.
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