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Monday, September 18, 2017

PACE Project: Advanced Speaking Proficiency Update and Year Four Team

The fourth year of the PACE project is underway! This academic year will build on the work of the past three years. The focus this year is on analyzing and responding to student proficiency test data. The PACE project team is working closely with two other grant recipients who have been conducting parallel projects: Michigan State University (MSU) and the University of Utah (Utah).
One of the major initiatives of the year is the collaborative Advanced Speaking Proficiency Project. In collaboration with MSU and Utah, PACE will support the design and implementation of activities and pedagogical interventions for upper-division content courses in literature, culture, or linguistics that focus attention on speaking and will provide opportunities for students to develop proficiency beyond the Intermediate High level. UMN Teaching Assistants (TAs) in Arabic, French, German and Spanish will join with instructors from the other two institutions and an external consultant to form a collaborative cohort that will meet throughout the year. Each TA will be mentored by a faculty member in conducting a content-focused course and will provide support in delivering the course over Spring 2018.

The Advanced Speaking Proficiency Project courses and teams are:
  • ARAB 5102: Dr. Katrien Vanpee and Emily Sumner are integrating more speaking and other activities into this advanced-level Arabic course.
  • FREN 3611 / 3711: Dr. Mary Franklin-Brown and Rachel Balstad are providing speaking activities for the French students in this new bilingual course on Speaking of Love in Medieval France.
  • GER 3431: Dr. Ruediger Singer and Emily Groepper are creating speaking activities for this 19th Century Literature course.
  • SPAN 3510: Dr. Michelle Hamilton and Alex Korte are integrating speaking activities into this topics course on Medieval Spanish Literature.

The other 2017-2018 PACE administrative and academic team members are:
  • Dan Soneson, Director of the Language Center and the Principal Investigator
  • Adolfo Carrillo Cabello, Professional Development Specialist at the Language Center and the Curriculum Specialist
  • Carter Griffith, Research Professional
  • Kate Paesani, Director of CARLA and the Research Consultant
  • Stephanie Treat, Administrator of the Language Center and the Project Administrator

The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.

Register Now for TandemPlus Language and Culture Exchanges!

TandemPlus is off to an exciting beginning of the semester, with 300 participants signing up by the second week of class. Intrigued by the thought of having a language partner this year? Anyone who is interested is encouraged to join. It’s free, and voluntary! Participants will have the opportunity to search for a partner with whom to practice and share in conversation and cultural exchange, to the benefit of each person in the partnership.

To register, visit tandem.umn.edu and sign up with either your X500, or personal email account. Registration takes 5 -10 minutes. You’re now able to search for your own partner with self-matching, and Tandem will continue to search for a partner for you throughout the semester.

Have questions about registration or the program? Email tandem@umn.edu, or read our program overview.

Introducing the New Tandem Assistant

Megan Schley is a sophomore at the university working towards her degree in Independent Studies, focusing on English, German, and Teaching English as a Second Language. Before coming to the U, Megan studied abroad in Austria, following her passions of travel and language learning. She loves her job, stating that it combines her favorite things: language learning and planning!

University of Minnesota Language Programs: Awards, Honors and Kudos

Dr. Frances Matos-Schultz, Department of Spanish and Portuguese; and Dr. Adolfo Carrillo Cabello, CLA Language Center, received a grant from the ACTFL Research Priorities Project for their research project titled Blended learning and online coaching: Investigating differences of instructional interventions in the self-assessment of fluency. The ACTFL Research Priorities Project supports empirical research on priority areas that are currently critical to improving foreign language education.

PACE: Springboard to Research and Curriculum Design

PACE: Springboard to Research and Curriculum Design Friday, September 15, 2017 9:00 - 3:30 p.m. Folwell 5 Online Registration Over three years the PACE project has collected data on students of Arabic, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, including proficiency ratings in reading, listening, and speaking, self-assessment ratings, and survey data on language background, use, and motivational factors. Now in in its fourth year, the PACE project invites language instructors to explore and analyze the data collected thus far. Join us for a workshop that will introduce the available data, and provide you with examples of possible research inquiries that can impact your curricular programming and decisions. Paula Winke, Associate Professor at Michigan State University (MSU), will share what MSU is doing with similar data at that institution and will engage with participants to explore ways to interpret and analyze the Minnesota data. Using Excel, participants will have an opportunity to approach the data with specific questions that can be useful for the relevant language program or for larger questions regarding second language acquisition more generally. In addition, a short introduction to the statistical program ‘R’ will be presented. Please let us know if you plan to attend by registering for the event, or email carri093@umn.edu. We encourage you to bring a laptop with Excel installed to the event for hands-on experience working with the data. Before Friday’s event, please read the article Setting evidence-based language goals (Goertler, S, Kraemer, A., & Schenker, T., 2016), which illustrates how one German program analyzed test data to fortify and revise their curricular expectations. A light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Check-in starts at 8:30 a.m. The PACE Project is funded by a grant from The Language Flagship.

LATIS Research Workshop Series

LATIS offers a series of workshops created by their experts that are free and open to all faculty and graduate students. Join the LATIS Research Workshops Google Group to learn about their workshops. These workshops are highly recommended for instructors and graduate students interested in second language research.

This week’s workshop is:

Intro to RFriday, Sept. 22, 2017
9:30-12:00 p.m.
Hanson Hall 1-108

This session is full, but you can email latisresearch@umn.edu to join the waitlist.

This workshop will provide an introduction to R, a popular tool for statistical computing. Participants will learn how to get started using R for social science data, including how to read data into R, what to consider when prepping your data for R, basic data cleaning (renaming, recoding, and converting variables), basic data exploration, and how to save files manipulated in R. No experience using R is assumed. Please bring a computer to the workshop with R and RStudio installed.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

CARLA Presentation: Development of Language Learner Autonomy in Adaptive Learning Systems

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
12:20–1:10 p.m.
Jones 35

This study investigated affordances offered by adaptive learning systems (ALS) for the development of second language learner autonomy, as well as potential constraints that prevent such development. Using the tenets of activity theory (Basharina, 2007; Blin, 2004; Engeström, 1999, 2001; Lantolf & Thorne, 2007), this study examined the use of two ALS by 35 learners of Spanish enrolled in beginning and intermediate-level Spanish courses. The data comprised learners' responses to an online survey, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups administered at two different points in the semester. Results revealed that the division of labor and the rules embedded in the design of the two ALS offered both affordances and constraints for developing learner autonomy.

Dr. Ruslan Suvorov is Language Technology Specialist at the Center for Language & Technology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His research interests lie at the intersection of applied linguistics and instructional technology and design, with the focus on language assessment, eye tracking, and blended and online learning.
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo Cabello is Professional Development Specialist at the CLA Language Center, University of Minnesota. His research interest include intercultural communicative competence, foreign language pedagogy, materials development, and online and distance learning.

This presentation is cosponsored by the CLA Language Center.

TandemPlus Fall 2017 Session Begins!

Intrigued by the thought of having a language partner this year? One of the largest summer sessions ever of TandemPlus has just ended, and registration has opened early for the Fall 2017 semester! Anyone interested is encouraged to join. Participants will have the opportunity to search for a partner with whom to practice and share in conversation and cultural exchange, to the benefit of each person in the partnership.

To register, visit tandem.umn.edu and sign up with either your X500, or personal email account. Registration takes 5 -10 minutes. In three weeks, you’ll be able to search for your open partner with self-matching, and Tandem will continue to search for a partner for you throughout the semester.

Have questions about registration or the program? Email tandem@umn.edu, or read our program overview.

Farewell to Gabriela Sweet

Few people at the university have had as much direct impact on language students as Gabriela Sweet. Over eight years working at the Language Center, she has led several highly collaborative, grant-funded projects that ultimately served hundreds of language students each year. The most notable of these many projects are probably the Collaborative Language Proficiency Exam (LPE) Development Initiative and the BOSSA self-assessment protocol.

The LPE development project of 2010-2011 brought together a diverse team of instructors from Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish to develop LPE tests for reading, listening and writing. Gabriela coordinated this large group of language instructors and shepherded the development, piloting, refinement and implementation of these tests, working with multiple stakeholders, and training and guiding new developers. Today, all of these LPEs are approved and taken by hundreds of students each year. In addition, Gabriela later coordinated or assisted with the development of LPEs for Arabic, Finnish, Korean, Somali, and German. Thanks in large part to Gabriela's leadership, LPEs are now available for most of the languages taught at the University of Minnesota. Gabriela also was part of the team that developed the innovative Individualized Language Assessments, allowing students to fulfil the CLA second language requirement in a language not offered at the University of Minnesota.

In 2013, Gabriela turned her focus from traditional summative assessment to the more student-focused self assessment. She helped create the new Certificate of Advanced Proficiency in Spanish by developing self-assessment instruments for four modalities to allow students to gauge their own level of language proficiency. These instruments served as an integral part in the development of the BOSSA (Basic Outcomes Student Self-Assessment) protocol, which involves students in the assessment of their growing language competence. The protocol aims at engaging students in the development of their language capabilities and cultural awareness as they progress throughout the language curriculum. She was part of a cohesive team of five original developers, which expanded to more than 50 language instructors and Language Center staff, all engaged to one degree or another in developing this protocol. The self assessments developed by Gabriela and others eventually became an essential part of the PACE project, and BOSSA is now integrated into the curriculum for many languages and levels.

The LPEs and self-assessment instruments that Gabriela developed have reached students at the macro level, but perhaps Gabriela's greatest contribution to language education at the University of Minnesota is her direct work with students. The Language Center employs about 25 undergraduate staff per year. Over eight years, Gabriela has developed a relationship with nearly all of them. She gets to know their strengths and interests, and she finds a way to involve them in larger projects. She finds out what language they study or speak at home, and communicates with them in that language. Many student employees have stated that working with Gabriela was the highlight of their time at the Language Center, and their faces light up when they talk about her.

Gabriela's work with self assessment and students eventually led her to the CLA Career Readiness Project, where she has been bringing the development of learner agency to a larger student population. Beginning this week, Gabriela is moving to Johnston Hall, where she will focus exclusively on this important project. Gabriela's collaborative spirit, her generosity, and her desire to guide every student will always be remembered at the Language Center.