Two pieces in the news about learning a foreign language

Condoleezza Rice: Failing schools a national security threat

Rice described the task force’s recommendations to accomplish that goal: A set of skills – a “common core” – that would be standard across the country; better options for parents to remove their kids from failing schools; and auditing skills – “everything from math, science, and foreign languages, to good reading skills, so that we’re sure that we are meeting the demands of the 21st century.”

Fluent in another language? The CIA wants you

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Notes from the meeting of October 8 about the Symposium “Dreaming in Languages”

Symposium “Dreaming in Languages” 5,000 Dollars


When: March 16th, 2012 (Saturday)


Where: Horizons Room (72 people), Fenton 105 (70 people), Williams Center (room for the Senate), multi-purpose room (Williams Center: roundtables 8 am to 5 pm — Mindy).


How many people: 50-70 people


Poster: Patty (50 Dollars) + postcards to send out


Refreshment: FSA (continental breakfast and lunch at buffet) Breakfast: 200 Dollars (35 people); lunch: 14 Dollars per person


Speakers: Keynote Speaker – Ana Celia Zentella (1,000 $ honorarium plus flight BUF  to NYC, from NYC to San Diego, lodging, and meals will be covered); Workshop – ? (technology) and ? (contemporary pedagogy)


Speakers: flights (Friday-Sunday); hotel (2 nights); meals (2 dinners, 1 breakfast + snacks). Dinners in Fredonia will be covered by Dean Kijinski.


Speakers for pedagogy: Mark Warschauer, Jayme Linton, Heidi Byrnes, Flavia Laviosa, Janet Swaffar, Katherine Arens


Eric Skowronski: meeting of October 22 at 10 am and Mindy



8:30 Registration and breakfast

9:00-10:30 Keynote Speaker and discussion

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:15 Workshop pedagogy

12:15-1:00 lunch

1:00-2:30 Workshop technology

2:30-3:00 Conclusion


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Notes from the meeting held in September 26, 2012

  • Fall 2012-Fall 2013: Learning Goals.


  • Fall 2014: Beginning of the Transition Process.


  • Newsletter Fall 2012: Carmen (first page), Ginny, John Kijinski, former students in foreign languages who are not teachers (Carmen), article on the Task Force (Chiara), article on the grant (Juan). Deadline: October 31st, 2012.


  • To involve students: Honors Society, Students Association.


  • Roundtables and Discussions at the Depart. Meetings: International Studies, Communication, Business, College of Education, Sciences (second semester for the BS and what they would expect for their students in terms of foreign languages).


  • Survey Monkey: max of ten questions per survey free of charge (subscription for more: Ginny Horvath).


  1. 1.      Students: 1. Do you know other foreign languages other than English (YES/NO); 2. If yes, how many? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 3. At what level do you know them? Elementary, intermediate, advanced; 4. If you don’t know other languages other than English, would you like to learn them? YES/NO; 5. If no, why?; 6. What is your perception towards foreign languages?; 7. Do you think that a foreign language can help you out to find a job?; 8. Learning a new language means learning a new cultures: are you interested in this? YES/NO; 9. If no, why?


  1. 2.      Departments: 1. What would you like your students know in terms of foreign languages once they graduated?; 2. Which languages do your think would serve better your majors?; 3. Would you like to have your students knowing a foreign language to an intermediate level? YES/NO; 4. What do you think of having all of the students (BA and BS) having up to a third semester of foreign language instruction?


  1. 3.      Local firms: 1. Do you think that an employee who knows other languages more than English can find more easily a job? YES/NO; 2. What languages would you ask to your employees to know?; 3. What would you ask to the university to teach its students in terms of foreign languages?; 4. How would you help the university to implement their language instructions?


DEADLINES for questions: October 15, 2012. Send questions to everybody.


October 19, 2012 (departmental meeting): 3:15-4:30 – Advising  (4:30-5:30  – Task Force, presentation of the drafts of the surveys to collect suggestions and ideas).

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Notes from the task force initial discussion on March, 2 2012

Every student graduating from SUNY Fredonia should be able to do the following in a second language:

–           Greet and address people formally/informally

–          Talk about past, present and future events

–          Ask for information and giving information

–          Make  purchases (tickets, at restaurants, etc)

–          Read different kinds of texts (menus, schedules, headlines, public signs, brochures, etc)

–          Understand cultural appropriateness (dress, food, personal relationships)

–          Write short notes, messages and descriptions, post cards.

–          Talk about likes, preferences, routines, etc.

–          Communicate with people about ordinary things

–          Communicate with a doctor about basic health issues

–          Help other people understand and point directions


What would an ideal language program look like?:

–          Week:  5 times per week (50 min.)

–          Minimum number of co-curricular activities during the same semester

–          Online drills (blended part of the course)

–          Study Abroad (linked to the course)

–          Library of magazines/journals, surrounding the students with material (printed and media) in target language

–          “Languages” dorms

–         Taking other courses in other disciplines, i.e. History, related to the language and culture


What´s next: Other issues to consider:

–          If we make it a proficiency exam at the end,  what happens if student fails

–          Teaching loads

–          UB has proficiency exam, check on that

–          Survey (of students, of colleagues in other departments)

–          Look at what other colleges are doing in the SUNY system and across country

–          How does this would align with the new Baccalaureate goals?


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The “Dreaming in Languages” proposal obtains an Innovative Instruction Technology Grant

The Department of Modern Languages proposal submitted to the IITG initiative was awarded funding to organize a symposium to discuss language teaching in the 21st Century. As you can see here, we are in the final list of recipients.

Thanks to this funding, we are going to host in Fredonia a symposium to learn and put initiatives together. As read in our proposal:

“A Symposium tentatively planned for November 2012 or March 2013 will provide a theoretical framework to begin the design of a new curriculum for language requirements. The symposium will focus on three major areas. 1) The political climate that brought us here and the challenges we face. 2) Current theories on language acquisition and pedagogical approaches, 3)  Technological innovations and applications for language instruction. The material presented together with the results from surveys and questionnaires conducted afterwards will be made available (See Communication Plan)”.

We will work hard in the organization and will let everybody know about it as soon as we have confirmation on dates or participants.

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From Magna blog: Building Learning Communities beyond the Online Classroom

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From Magna blog: A Course Redesign that Contributed to Student Success

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