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Language Resource Center

LRC events of 2004-2005

This year saw a number of internationally known speakers on curricular reform in higher education, language testing and materials writing. We had two events offered by Cornell language teachers - Bonnie Buettner, Gunhild Lischke and Ute Maschke from German; and Raissa Kravitsky from Russian. Also, we had events about the ongoing development of Web Audio Lab and our new distance learning facilities. Finally, our series of tech workshops continued.

Heidi Byrnes, Georgetown University
"Linking language acquisition and content in cultural studies departments:
Issues and options"
Monday, September 20, 2004 4 PM
Morrill Hall 106 A

Light reception at 3:30

Our first speaker in the fall, on Monday, September 20, was Heidi Byrnes, Professor of German at Georgetown University. Professor Byrnes has been a well-known and influential figure in language teaching and second language acquisition for many years. Over the last six years, she has been especially involved in curricular reform in higher education language/literature departments, with a view towards integrating the language and literature curricula and building a coherent program for advanced learners. From her department curriculum web site:

she has proposed the development of multiple literacies within a carefully considered curricular context, as an intellectually, programmatically, and socio-politically and socio-culturally appropriate goal for the study of foreign languages, literatures, and cultures at the college level in the United States. This approach builds on the cognitivist turn in second language acquisition research (SLA), recognizes the centrality of content for the literate adult language learner, and seeks to assure learners’ continued effective and efficient interlanguage development toward high levels of performance in a variety of socio-cultural and professional contexts. In leading the Department’s unique curriculum project, Developing Multiple Literacies, she seeks to create an instructional context within which the best knowledge in SLA theory and research, pedagogies, and assessment can be put into practice.

For a rich set of documents about the curricular reform project at Georgetown, see the German Department curriculum web site.

Tim McNamara
"Claims and Evidence: Assessment in University Language Programs"
Tuesday, October 5, 2004 4:30 PM
Morrill Hall 106 A

Light reception at 4:00

On October 5, Tim McNamara, from the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics School of Languages, The University of Melbourne, Australia , spoke on "Claims and Evidence: Assessment in University Language Programs".
I have posted an article related to his talk. Tim said that Mislevy's material itself is very complex and dense reading. Perhaps a better reference to McNamara's work is the special issue of Language Testing that Tim McNamara edited. This includes an editorial and article by him and several of the people he mentioned in his talk. This link will probably work only on campus because of library restrictions. In Tim's remarks he commented on the strategies proposed at Cornell for testing required by the new language requirement. I have an audio CD of his talk along with other related materials that anyone can borrow.

McGraw-Hill Teleconference
"Testing and Assessment in the Second Language Classroom"
Wednesday, October 27, 2004 3 - 5 PM
Noyes Lodge

In past years teachers have enjoyed these productions that feature nationally known foreign language researchers and practitioners in a serious discussion format. The topic is "Testing and Assessment in the Second Language Classroom." Of course, this topic relates closely to our last speaker, Tim McNamara, as well as our next speaker from BYU, Jerry Larson, who will speak on computer adaptive testing.

The teleconference participants were MODERATOR: Gerard L. Ervin, Associate Professor Emeritus of Russian, Ohio State University PANEL: Sandra J. Savignon, Professor of Applied Linguistics, Pennsylvania State University Fred Davidson, Associate Professor of English as an International Language, University of Illinois Elizabeth Bernhardt, Professor of German Studies and Director of the Stanford Language Center, Stanford University Andrew Farley, Assistant Professor of Second Language Acquisition and Director of the Spanish Language Program, University of Notre Dame Robert Davis, Associate Professor and Director of the Spanish Language Program, University of Oregon

I am negotiating with Robert Davis to present a talk here next semester. After the teleconference, there was a lively discussion about teaching for accuracy at various stages of learning. At some point (not yet) a digital archive of the teleconference should be available along with their archives of previous broadcasts. Of course, we had our traditional LRC reception accompanying the teleconference.

Jerry Larson
"Applications and models for computer-adaptive and other computerized language tests"
Wednesday, November 10, 2004 4:30 PM
Noyes Lodge

Light reception at 4:00

The final invited speaker of the semester is Jerry Larson from Brigham Young University, speaking about the computer-adaptive and other computerized tests his group has been developing for some years now. "Computer adaptive" refers to software that continually selects which questions the testee is presented with according to the testee's responses. This has been found to result in quick and accurate testing.
Jerry Larson and his group have been developing models for computer-assisted tests for more than 15 years. Here is a short bibliography of his work. I have put copies of three recent articles online that you can view and/or print directly.

Our final event of the fall semester was the traditional Study-break workshop on Tuesday, December 7.

Ute Maschke, Department of German Studies
"Web tools for collaborative multimedia projects"
9 - 12 Tuesday morning, December 7
Mac Classroom, Noyes Lodge
Workshop continues through lunch until 2:30

This workshop was led by Ute Maschke, based on work done with support from the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning. During this workshop, the 23 attendees first saw a demonstration of and then use a set of tools for student web collaboration, designed by Ute and developed in collaboration with Dan Gaibel and his student techs. These tools offer learners numerous means of collaborating in workgroups that are assigned tasks and resources by the teacher. The teacher can assign a range of multimedia objects to each workgroup, and students can add their own from various sources. The tools are not language-specific and not actually discipline specific, allowing for collaboration among teachers across many borders.

After lunch, we had three fairly brief items. First, informal reports by teachers who attended the recent ACTFL conference in Chicago. Then, Dick demonstrated the current state of the Web Audio Lab program. It has been been used this semester in four courses - beginning Russian, Chinese and Italian; and Spanish 310 (Advanced Conversation and Pronunciation). However, during this semester the teacher and student web interfaces have not yet been implemented. We saw the current state of these interfaces, which allow teachers to manage multi-section classes in WAL, scan for student files, check for completion of student work, listen to student files, and give students written and audio feedback. Courses in Korean and French are being prepared for next semester and we had a look at those.

Finally, we saw the final published book and demonstrate the DVD produced by Maria Stycos and Elvira Sanchez-Blake, titled Voces Hispanas. This a literature text with 13 selections that includes an video interview with each of the authors. The DVD was produced at the LRC.

Robert L. Davis
Associate Professor of Spanish
Director, Spanish Language Program
Department of Romance Languages
University of Oregon

“Focus on Output: Using Assessments to Increase Student Accountability”

Saturday, February 12, 2005, 9am - Noon
Noyes Lodge
Light breakfast at 8:30 and lunch from 12-1 following the workshop
Please RSVP to by February 9

Research in SLA has established that (1) language acquisition depends crucially on comprehensible input and (2) learners must be active participants in the acquisition process. As frequently happens when teachers try to implement new ideas in the classroom, unexpected results can occur: Input-based methodologies may lead to a teacher-fronted classroom that does not foster student accountability in the acquisition process.
In this workshop, I will present the “backstory” of a major program reorganization in our Spanish sector that hinges on the implementation of standards-based, criterion-referenced oral and written assessments. Then we will study the authentic performance tasks and grading rubrics used and discuss issues of implementation (teacher/TA training, interrater reliability, teacher workload, etc.), all documented with examples of student work and evaluative comments. The new assessments have provided two surprise results—increased motivation for a broad range of learners and a reduction in grade inflation—and the overall design has encouraged increased student accountability.

This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Romance Studies, Asian Studies and the Freeman Foundation, German Studies, Near Eastern Studies, and Russian; the Programs of East Asia, Latin American Studies with U.S. Department of Education Title VI Funding, and European Studies.

From March 10 - 13, Dick Feldman and Raissa Kravitsky attend the Georgetown University Roundtable on Linguistics 2005. We have pooled our handouts and offer a selection of them online.

Raissa Krivitsky
"From the Primary Source: Using Student-Conducted Interviews with Native Speakers in Language Instruction."
3:30 March 15 Noyes Lodge

Others have done a range of student-interview projects also, and we had an interchange on some of these following her talk.

Ute Maschke
PLONE User's group meeting
March 17, 3:30, Noyes Lodge

PLONE is the environment used to create tools developed collaboratively by Ute Maschke and the LRC that provide an online environment for teachers and students to engage in group multimedia projects. This meeting was a time to work with the tools and on teachers' own material with help and advice, as well as share ideas with others.

Bonnie Buettner, Gunhild Lischke and Ute Maschke
"Adapting the European Frame of Reference for Languages to the American context."
April 12, 4:30 in Noyes Lodge

The German language program have used the framework for an exhaustive analysis of their curriculum and placement. They described how they did this as well as the framework's role in orienting students to their own learning process.

Patricia Wetzel
Portland State University
"The Linguistic Landscape of Japan"
April 14, 4:30, Asian Studies Lounge
Reception and dinner following

Geographers make use of the phrase "cultural landscape" to mean a way of seeing human surroundings that emphasizes the interaction between human beings and the world over time. The point I wish to make with these examples from the genkan is that space, most especially the spaces that are a product of human planning and engineering, are not neutral territories. They are filled with our existence. They are constantly being made and remade by human activities, which means that the meanings and values that are associated with them also change over time. They become the locus of foregrounding and backgrounding of culturally significant information (ideology).

Workshop on downloading, editing SCOLA video files for language teaching materials
Tuesday, May 10 am 9-2 pm, Mac Classroom, Noyes Lodge

8:30 light breakfast, greetings
9 - 10 demonstration of downloading, editing, uploading, creating workbook
10 - 11:30 hands-on practice
11:30 - 12:15 discussion and demonstration with Henry Crans about new classroom equipment
12:15 - 1:15 lunch
1:15 - 2 Demonstration and reports on Web Audio Lab
Teachers were all very enthusiastic about having access to the SCOLA archived files. There are many ways teachers can use these files with students. The LRC upload and workbook tools are one way, and the LRC will continue to develop those and make them more user-friendly. Teachers can also ask students to download the files themselves, or teachers can download them, edit the files and put them on the web in various ways. Dick will request an ongoing SCOLA download subscription.
WAL student responses showed that students are generally very enthusiastic about the learning environment of Web Audio Lab. The ability to repeat quickly and often definitely aids in developing fluency. They are appreciative of and responsive to teacher feedback. Some of the web features still need work, which the LRC plans to do this summer.