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Kent State’s Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies Awarded $400,000 in Grants

Posted Apr. 24, 2013

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. Kent State’s 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.

“The Foreign Language Student Academy offers languages that the federal government considers to be critical,” Baer said. “It’s young people living at home, turning into global citizens.”

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 year’s Foreign Leadership Teacher Academy is “My Space – Our World.”

“For the theme, we wanted to do something that would speak to our focus on the Web 2.0 technology in our program,” Baer said. “’My Space’ keys in to the fact that our students are very tech savvy.”

The Teacher Leadership Academy is a four-week summer immersion program housed in Kent State’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.

“The program is very rigorous, so we look for students with motivation,” Baer said.

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 Academy has served more than 300 Ohio high school students, and its alumni have continued to study these languages at some of the most demanding language programs in the country. Last year, three Foreign Language Academy students were awarded prestigious National Security Language Initiative for Youth (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.

“Chinese, 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,” Baer said.

For more information about the Foreign Language Academy at Kent State, visit http://fla.mcls.kent.edu.

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Media Contacts:
Brian Baer, bbaer@kent.edu, 330-672-2150
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595