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Language Resource Center

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2003-2004 was a busy year, with a variety of events sponsored by the Language Center. A new feature is the monthly seminars for winners of Consortium grants. At these events, grantees present an overview of their projects and receive feedback from other teachers. Since all teachers are invited, it is also a chance to find out what your colleagues are doing and to share ideas about teaching and materials development. These events are especially useful for teachers interested in submitting Consortium grant proposals in the future.

On October 8, Nelleke Van Deusen spoke about her peer language tutoring program at the University of Pennsylvania. This program uses paid tutors to meet actually and virtually with langauge students to help them with their work. It is well supported by the dean of their college.

The first of the Consortium seminars was held on October 21. An audiotape of this session is available to anyone interested. There was very little general Consortium discussion, but the two presentations of completed projects were very impressive. Gunhild Lischke showed her DVD of model teacher interactions in the classroom that she uses for TA preparation mostly just before the beginning of a semester.
Elvira Sanchez-Blake and Maria Sychos talked about their large project involving a reader of modern Spanish literary works, which they are producing along with original video interviews with those authors, presented also on a DVD. This has resulted in an excellent example of the use of a DVD. They also discussed the great interest students have had in their material, and literary texts in general.

On November 11, Thuy Tranviet presented her large project in Vietnamese film, as the second in this year's series of Consortium grantee Seminars. She described her adventures in filming in Vietnam, showed some of her footage, and demonstrated the workbooks she has made resulting from the material. She is still making plans to use more of the material and present it in new formats.

On November 19, Michael Byram, author of Intercultural Competence in Practice (2001) spoke on "Intercultural competence and language learning: policies and politics for language teachers" at the A.D. White House. We have an abstract of his talk.
Michael Byram is a prolific writer and speaker about cultural competence, language teaching and the political and cultural missions of language teaching. I have prepared a selected bibliography of some of his recent works. I have also put on the web, with permission from the publisher, The Council of Europe, a book co-written by him entitled "Developing the Intercultural Dimension in Language Teaching: A Practical Introduction for Teachers". Note especially section 2 on "What knowledge, skills, attitudes and values are involved in intercultural competence and what is the relevant importance of each?" Also of interest is an excerpt from his book "Developing Intercultural Competence in Practice" (2001, Multilingual Matters) This excerpt from the Introduction explains the key elements of his idea of "intercultural competence" and its role in language teaching. Michael Byram is associated with the Council of Europe's Common Framework of Reference for Language Teaching and Learning. For those interested, I have put up a review of their document.
This event was co-sponsored by the departments of Asian Studies, Romance Studies, German Studies, Near Eastern Studies and Russian.
In addition to his talk, Michael Byram participated in an additional dinner discussion where members of the CU German language faculty presented their work in organizing their curriculum in Common Framework of Reference terms.

On December 9, the center offered a workshop on A/V digitizing. In this all-day (9 - 3) workshop, teachers learned some of the concepts and vocabulary for handling digital media files, and then had a tutorial in editing digital video, using iMovie 3. In the afternoon, participants opened previously prepared digital files of their own, edited them and uploaded the files to the web for media workbooks. See the Powerpoint Presentation of Dick Feldman's introduction to the workshop. Anyone who could not attend or who would like to learn more about digital video editing should contact Andrew Page, at amp53.
From 1 - 2 PM, after lunch, participants at the recent ACTFL conference discussed topics they had found interesting at the conference. Speakers included Gunhild Lischke, Mary Kay Redmond, Frances Lee Mehta, Christine Sparfel and Silvia Amigo-Silvestre.
From 4 - 5, the center hosted the third Consortium Grantee Seminar. Kyoko Selden and Yuka Kawasaki presented the extensive series of listening and grammar workbooks they have produced.

The first Language Center event of the spring was the talk by Richard Chi, a curriculum planner, teacher of Chinese and language department chair, who spoke on February 24 about advanced language testing and the role of TAs in language teaching.

The series of seminars given by current Consortium grantees continued during the spring, with two very interesting events. First, on March 2, Frances Yufen Lee Mehta told about her project developing materials to accompany a PBS video of high interest to her students. Frances is an experienced developer who has published several sets of materials.

We had an anticipatory event about our own local materials and visual literacy on March 10. Some of these multimedia posters then became an important part of the visual literacy conference.

Next, on March 16, Stephanie Hoare described her most recent project that will result in a web site of short clips with accompanying media workbooks from more than 40 commercial videos organized to support her first-year curriculum. These seminars were opportunities to see what some creative teachers at Cornell are doing, and to see how they have gotten funding support for their projects.

About 55 Cornell language teachers, including graduate students, as well as attendees from other Consortium schools, attended the conference on "Visual Literacy and Language Teaching" on April 16 and 17, 2004. The conference was supported by the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning. Other supporters included the Cornell Departments of Russian Literature, Asian Studies, German Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Romance Studies, the Institute for European Studies, the Cornell Society for the Humanities and the Rose Goldsen Fund. See the Conference web page for more detail.

As our last event of 2003-2004, on May 11, 2004 from 9 to 2:30, the LRC offered its spring workshop. This year, the workshop featured first a complete view of Web Audio Lab, including the new web teacher interface - (a partial sample view). A second FIT grant was awarded for this project, so we will be doing more development on it, incorporating more teacher ideas. Six courses will be using the program by next year and new projects are invited.
Secondly, we demonstrated Version 2 of the Media Workbooks. These have been completey rewritten with some amazing new features. Teachers had an opportunity to try out the new WYSIWYG interface - (a sample teacher editing page and the resulting student workbook)
On the same day, there was also the last of this year's Consortium grantee presentations. Elvira Sanchez-Blake described and demonstrated the results of her grant, which provided support for course development and student projects in "Spanish Through Media and Culture," a new course offered by Romance Studies. She showed the materials developed for the course as well as some of the student projects, demonstrated and commented on by some of her students.