A two-year, $164,803 grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages program will help strengthen foreign language offerings in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and German at Appalachian State University. It also will help professors connect these languages to their classroom instruction in other academic disciplines.
The grant was awarded to the university's Global Studies Program in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
"Appalachian is intensifying its mission to internationalize the campus by expanding study abroad options, building a more diverse student body, and helping faculty develop robust international components in their curriculum," said Alexandra Hillenbrand, director of the university's Global Studies degree program and an associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
"Through this grant, Appalachian will implement the Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum (CLAC) program, a national program that seeks to make global competence a reality for students and to create alliances among educators to share practices and find ways to incorporate an international dimension in curricula, and, more generally, to achieve internationalization goals," said Beverley Moser, an associate professor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. "The idea is to connect a student's foreign language studies with interdisciplinary connections in other departments throughout the student's career."
The program does not expect all faculty members to be language teachers, but to consider what they teach and the foreign language they know to enhance their classroom instruction and what their students are learning. "Combining second language acquisition with other academic content is the hallmark of quality foreign language instruction at the intermediate and upper levels," Moser explained.
Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and German were selected as the target languages for expansion through the grant as they are less commonly taught in college. Because those languages are harder to learn, students need more class contact than what is typically offered in French and Spanish courses.
"The grant will enable us to bring native speaking teachers from China, Japan, Germany and Egypt to Appalachian beginning in January to help us integrate language across the curriculum and support these language studies through additional contact time with students, either through drills or language practice in each of the areas," Hellenbrand said.
In addition to teaching their native languages, the international partners will help faculty members at Appalachian connect these foreign languages to their academic disciplines, such as history or political science, which will enable students to apply their language skills and knowledge in a variety of academic disciplines.
"Students who minor in these harder languages often are also interested in global studies, Asian studies, international studies or international business," Hellenbrand said. "These students are looking for ways to connect what they are learning in the foreign language classroom across their academic schedule."
The grant will provide small stipends to faculty who participate in a series of workshops addressing the pedagogy of language across the curriculum. "The outcome of these workshops will be that faculty who participate in the workshops will commit to implementing a language across the curriculum component in one of their courses," Moser said.
"Providing students a solid foundation in these targeted foreign languages and enabling them to connect to internationalization initiatives across campus inside and outside the classroom, will make them more competitive in the global workplace," Hellenbrand said.