Kent State University professors Brian Baer, Ph.D., and Theresa Minick, from the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies, have been awarded nearly $400,000 in grants to fund the 2013 Foreign Language Student Academy and the Teacher Leadership Academy at the university. The federal government STARTALK program, a presidential initiative to fund summer programs in critical languages, provided the grants to Baer and Minick. The Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies received three $100,000 grants for each student program, and a $100,000 grant for the Teacher Leadership Academy.
â€œThe Foreign Language Student Academy offers languages that the federal government considers to be critical,â€ says Baer. â€œItâ€™s young people living at home, turning into global citizens.â€
The 2013 Foreign Language Student Academy and the Teacher Leadership Academy focus on the critical-need languages of Arabic, Chinese and Russian. The theme for this yearâ€™s Foreign Leadership Teacher Academy is â€œMy Space â€“ Our World.â€ â€œFor the theme, we wanted to do something that would speak to our focus on the Web 2.0 technology in our program,â€ says Baer. â€œâ€™My Spaceâ€™ keys in to the fact that our students are very tech savvy.â€
The Foreign Leadership Teacher Academy is a four-week summer immersion program housed in Kent State Universityâ€™s Honors College. During the following academic year, the students will have monthly, on-site, face-to-face sessions supported by online communication.
The program is offered to high school juniors and seniors in Ohio, and is free for Ohio applicants. Students will receive high school and college credit for their participation.
The program targets students who are new learners of the language but have displayed success and persistence in another foreign language.
â€œThe program is very rigorous, so we look for students with motivation,â€ Baer says.
In the summer students in the program cover the equivalent of one semester of a college-level language course. In the follow-up program they cover the equivalent of another semester so that when they complete the program, they will be able to study at the intermediate level in college.
Since its founding, the Foreign Language Student Academy has served more than 300 Ohio high school students, and it alumni have continued to study these languages at some of the most demanding language programs in the country. Last year, three FLA students were awarded prestigious NSLI-Y scholarships from the federal government to study in Russia. The scholarship is only offered to high school students.
This year, the program is expecting 12 students in each of its language cohorts.
The Teacher Leadership Academy is in its fourth year, and this year it will host Ohio high school teachers of Arabic, Chinese and Russian. The focus will be the implementation of the latest Web 2.0 technologies in a problem-solving curriculum.
Baer became involved with this program because he wanted to give Ohio high school students more opportunities to study foreign languages. Due to budget cuts, many foreign language programs have been cut from high school curriculums.
â€œChinese, Arabic and Russian are the most widely spoken languages in the world, but they are still among the least commonly taught in the United States,â€ Baer says.
For more information about the Foreign Language Academy at Kent State University, visit http://fla.mcls.kent.edu.