Modern Language Acquisition

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Wang, S. C. (2009). Preparing and supporting teachers of less commonly taught languages. The Modern Language Journal, 93(2), 282-287.

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Shuhan C. Wang, being the Chinese Language Initiatives, Asia Society executive director, provided a comprehensive review on how to prepare and support instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) in 2009. As the article reviewed the status of LCTLs, the researcher investigated recent developments in the area, and thus, looked into the National Security Language Initiative (NSLI), a legislation enacted in 2006 with the sole aim of increasing the number of Americans learning foreign languages, such as Farsi, Russian, Arabic, and Hindi among others. In addition, the researcher looked into STARTALK, an NSLI initiative, and it was evident that in 2007, the program trainees were very few, with none in the Hindi, Farsi, and Urdu programs. However, in 2008, the number increased significantly, even though they were inadequate.

As such, the researcher, in the article, revealed that the K-12 schools lack certifiable and qualified teachers and the infrastructure required in training prospective teachers, as well as providing professional development to the already practicing teachers. As per the STARTALK data, critical language teachers are older, mainly female, and native speakers of the language who immigrated. The researcher articulated that there should be more LCTLs teachers. In addition, the researcher also pointed out various needs for prospective teachers. These include lack of pedagogical training, differing perspectives, lack of culture integration, content and language issues, lack of an understanding of the U.S. education system and the sociocultural contexts, lack of teacher development continuum, and teachers have a double duty role of teaching and building the program. The researcher provided a systems approach to producing and supporting LCTL teachers via engaging the different stakeholders, creating a supply of qualified language teachers, and establishing a consortium for web-based training modules.

Ingold, C. W., & Wang, S. C. (2010). The teachers we need: Transforming world language education in the United States.College Park, MD: National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. Retrieved from:

Ingold and Wang conducted a study on how to transform teachers to facilitate a world language education in the US. The research was conducted in 2010 to enable LCTL teachers to become highly effective world language instructors, and what it takes to produce them, as well as how the country can leverage state, institutional, and local resources to meet the nations demand. The researchers capitalized on expertise and recent work of leading organizations and professionals, such as NSLIs STARTALK initiative, actively involved in preparation and certification of world language education and were involved in meetings for the advancement of the agenda in 2008 and 2009. The researchers also analyzed data from the national survey of states, as well as comparisons between international and U.S. policies and practices. The data was obtained from STARTALK project, which was funded by the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC).

The investigators pointed out that the world language education is imperative for the global age, and thus, having teachers with cultural and linguistic competency is paramount. However, it was evident that there was missing skill set of learning the international language because the article pointed out that data from the Center for Applied Linguistics revealed that from 1997 to 2008, institutions offering these languages in the US declined significantly. To rectify that, the researchers advocated five goals: expanding the number of languages offered, increasing the effectiveness and number of language programs, beginning the instructions at an early age, establishing clear expectations, and expanding opportunities and accessibility of innovative and traditional delivery systems. In addition, they pointed out that teacher competencies should be developed, instructors should be certified, additional ones are needed, they need preparation and development, and also there needs to be stakeholder partnership among state and federal governments, professional organizations, and education agencies.

Byrnes, H. (2009). Perspectives. The Modern Language Journal, 261-263.

The researcher, Heidi Byrnes from Georgetown University conducted a study on the various perspectives of ensuring high-quality language teachers in the K-12 instructional setting in 2009. In the study, the researcher sought insights from eight teacher educator experts who shed light on various language concerns. These include how to address effectively topics such as how to give credentials to language teachers and the effect of standards, recruitment of teachers in different contexts, developing them, changing dynamics of preservice instructor education, supporting the commencement of teachers in providing instruction, and how to accommodate native-speaker instructors. The researcher mentioned three issues representing why K-12 high-quality teachers are needed. These include the mandate to incorporate highly qualified instructors, essential qualities, such as educational goals and instructional contexts, as well as the fact that learning should balance English language learners and the immigrant students.

In the research, the investigator asserts that English as a foreign language, isolates teaching practice and divorces learning from instructing from language learning. Also, setting standards can compromise quality by unintentionally extinguishing what must be developed. In addition, enabling future instructors to shape their practice and thinking is complex and needs nurturing via practices that are mentored. In addition, a lot has changed from what is expected of teachers to acquire, and understanding, and thus, it is the time to question what has already been incorporated into teacher education programs of quality is to be achieved. Policing and streamlining the lines of authority in incorporating standards should be looked at, and alternative certification routes for recruiting teachers should be put in place. Teachers also need to be engaged in professional development, as well as the creation of the necessary infrastructure to do so.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). Teacher education and the American future. Journal of teacher education, 61(1-2), 35-47.

Linda Darling-Hammond conducted a study on teacher education and instructors future in America. With the study being conducted in 2010, it provided a comprehensive review of the context of teacher education, which has tremendously developed in the last two decades regarding policing and standardization. The researchers methodology was qualitative where articles were analyzed pertaining to the context, potential power, and challenges of teacher education as of the date of publication.

The researcher provided evidence of teacher education improvements such as strengthening coursework through student learning and development, improving pedagogy, creating a strong clinical practice, and also via the redesigning of programs to suit current American needs. However, the researcher also pointed out attacks on teacher education including little preparation and certification systems that are burdensome. The researcher also points out alternative certifications to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) such as the "Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)" initiatives. The investigator also points out the lack of teaching equity and quality amounting to weak programs, with high-quality programs swimming against the tide due to the absence of consensus between the internal quality controls and the profession. The potential power of teacher education, as the investigator asserts, includes producing graduates with strong value-added gains for students, cultivation of collegial relationships, as well as the development of moral responsibility to the public education sector. However, the main challenges include leveraging change in the quality of teacher education via raising of expectations. As such, it becomes a challenge to sequence, teach, and evaluate lessons. It was recommended that newer assessment methodologies should be adopted. As the researcher articulated, it is also difficult to leverage the equity in access to learning, and thus, a better recommendation was to ensure teachers access high-quality training and preparation.

Xizhen, Q. I. N. (2014). Teaching Foreign Languages by Exploring Intercultural Misunderstanding. Intercultural Communication Studies, 23(3).

The researcher, Xizhen Qin, conducted a study on teaching foreign languages by exploring intercultural misunderstandings in 2014. The studys methodology was examining the various instances of misunderstandings that were experienced by twenty Americans learning Chinese as they interacted with Chinese people. These subjects, after enrolling in the program, they participated in a two-month intensive study in China. They returned to learn Chinese for nine months, and in the following year went back to China for an internship. Adopting a descriptive ethnographic method, data was gathered via written documents, observations, and interviews. The collected data was mainly personal stories of intercultural misunderstandings, as well as the subsequent thoughts and reflections about the experience.

In the study, it was evident that there were misunderstandings, which as the researcher pointed out, revealed communicative problems that are in many instances concealed. Identifying these problems enabled the participants to identify their incorrect misunderstanding of the Chinese culture and language, and thus, enable them to comprehend the language correctly. It also enabled the participants to improve their cultural awareness of the language, as well as establishing a long-term memory for the learners. In consequence, it also implied that there were effects in teaching foreign languages in America, and thus, the study provided insight into how to learn Chinese better, as well as improving the intercultural competence. As such, these insights, as the researcher asserts, helps to improve the pedagogy of learning Chinese as a foreign language by improving learner competence and training Chinese students to be critical observers and intense participants. Therefore, the study revealed that misunderstandings are essential in enabling learners to obtain critical knowledge of the foreign language, therefore, providing a better avenue for comprehending a foreign language.

Catalano, T. (2014). Boosting Intercultural Competence in a Teacher Education Course. In Proceedings of the Intercultural Competence Conference November,(3), 22-45).

The researcher, Theresa Catalano, conducted a study on how to boost intercultural competence in a teacher education course in 2014. In the study, the investigator focused on the intercultural competence of language teachers to provide smooth development via specific class activities, which should be incorporated into teacher education programs. The participants were in-service and preservice teachers as they progressed through their graduate teacher education classes, and provided an insight into identity negotiation as a way to improve intercultural competence and communication. Their areas of specialization included K-12 ESL/ELL, as well as foreign languages. Data included the lesson plan, teacher observations, student reflections, course evaluations, and midterm exams and was scrutinized using thematic analysis.

The researcher demonstrated multiple ways via which multimodal/multilingual creative activities prov...

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