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Cases in the less commonly taught languages

Carol Anne Spreen (Editor)


Models for Distance Education in Critical Languages
David Hiple & Stephen Fleming
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In the shifting landscape of foreign language distance education, key concepts and characteristics have evolved along with different instructional technologies. The Information Age definition of distance education, with its emphasis on two-way electronically mediated communication, has particular significance for language teaching and learning in light of the current emphasis on communication as a key means of acquisition. Interactive television (ITV) and the World Wide Web have come to dominate the distance education scene. Each of these media has relative costs and benefits for language education: ITV, which can more closely approximate the communicative environment of the traditional language classroom, is suitable for beginning and intermediate four-skill language instruction, but it is expensive, inconvenient, and available only through institutional facilities. The Web is practically universally accessible, but in its present state it is impractical for instruction in the speaking skill and therefore poorly suited for beginning and intermediate language instruction unless combined with live instruction or other tools in a distributed learning format. The Web is, however, very well suited to advanced language instruction in reading and writing. As both distance and non-distance classes make more use of electronic resources for learning, the lines separating distance education from traditional education and separating one distance education format from the other will blur as distributed learning becomes the dominant model.

Foreign Language Distance Education: The University of Hawai'i Experience
Stephen Fleming, David Hiple, & Yun Du
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As flagship research institution for the island state, the University of Hawai`i at Manoa (UHM) has undertaken research and development initiatives and become a leader in distance-delivered language education because practical necessity has required it. This case study is a report on Hawai`i's efforts to develop models for delivery of critical less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) via distance education with support from the National Security Education Program (NSEP). Two different model programs of instruction in Mandarin Chinese are described: a beginning and intermediate course sequence using interactive television (ITV) to deliver instruction to four Hawaiian islands, and an advanced asynchronous course deliverable to any location via the World Wide Web. The section of the chapter devoted to the ITV course focuses on techniques for the adaptation of effective instructional strategies from the traditional classroom for use in the ITV medium. The section of the chapter focusing on the Web-based course is a detailed case study examining student achievement, motivation, and satisfaction as well as other aspects of the course. The chapter wraps up with a discussion of directions for future development.

Language Learning and the Internet: Student Strategies in Vocabulary Acquisition
Rhodalyne Gallo-Crail & Robert Zerwekh
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This is a case study of students studying Tagalog at NIU using SEAsite, an Internet site developed with the support of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) that offers interactive learning resources for Southeast Asian languages, literatures, and cultures. 20 students studying Tagalog at Northern Illinois University (NIU) used two language assessment tools found at that tested word retention, depth of word knowledge, and appropriate word use. The study describes how these students used different learning strategies with different Web-based tools as they studied new vocabulary words and how this affected their success in learning and mastering the new second language vocabulary. The study was directed specifically to the following questions: What learning strategies are used by students to acquire new vocabulary in a second language? What strategies facilitate longer retention, depth of word knowledge, and appropriate word use? What are the implications of these results in the teaching and learning of vocabulary words in a foreign language classroom, particularly when the medium for presenting instruction is, in part, the Internet? Results of the case study indicate that students who use a variety of learning strategies achieved a higher level of word mastery and retention than those who used only a few of the available strategies. Pedagogical implications of the use of strategy-based activities on the Internet are addressed in the chapter's conclusion.

Video in the Virtual Language Class: Building a Model for Web-Based Instruction
Ken Petersen
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CenAsiaNet ( is a Web resource developed with the support of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) featuring video-based Central Asian language modules for four critical languages of the Caspian/Central Asian region: Azeri, Kazakh, Turkmen, and Uzbek. In addition to its function as a locus for language learning, the site is intended as a resource for educators and curriculum developers who would like to utilize the potential of the Internet, but are overwhelmed by the array of questions that arise with the endeavor. This chapter offers signposts to such developers as it examines the technological and pedagogical considerations that shaped the production of the CenAsiaNet Web-based video modules, which were piloted at Indiana University. By detailing the many choices made by the CenAsiaNet team, it offers an example of how to implement an Internet-based approach to materials design for language instruction. Topics include technical issues with video on the Web, non-Roman character sets, and pedagogical considerations such as authentic materials selection and task typology and design.

The Impact of Self-Instructional Technology on Language Learning: A View of NASILP
Alexander Dunkel, Scott Brill & Bryan Kohl
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The National Association of Self-Instructional Language Programs (NASILP) serves as the largest and oldest national forum for the interchange of ideas and expertise toward the development and support of self-instructional academic curricula for the less commonly taught languages (LCTLs). Organizational features of NASILP are described. With support from the National Security Education Program (NSEP), NASILP has worked with a consortium of academic units to develop four technologically oriented projects including the Critical Languages Series? (CLS) of CD-ROM sets for six LCTLs; the MaxAuthor?, dedicated to the production of language materials for CD-ROM and the Internet; LCTL FAQ pages for Internet delivery, addressing language-specific questions frequently asked by both students and teachers; and the Internet delivery of hypertextual multimedia informational resources to students, tutors, examiners, and coordinators working with the NASILP system. This case study is devoted to identifying the impact of these technological innovations on the teaching and learning of LCTLs in the United States through analysis of data obtained from end users in each project.

LangMedia, a World Wide Web site for Language and Culture, and the Role of International Students in Its Creation
Elizabeth H. D. Mazzocco
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The Five College Foreign Language Resource Center's development of Web-based, multimedia materials to supplement the study of language and culture relies on its fleet of international students to shoot appropriate video in the target country. They used this method in designing their National Security Education Program (NSEP)-funded Web site, LangMedia (, a new kind of easily accessed Web-based resource for foreign language and cultural studies. This chapter examines the impetus for the site, the decisions that went into its design, and the integral role played by international students in the overall construction of LangMedia, which focuses on some of the least commonly taught languages: Arabic, Bulgarian, Brazilian Portuguese, Croatian, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Romanian, Swahili, Thai, Turkish, and Urdu. Tools and guidelines are included that will be useful to other educators interested in developing similar authentic video resources. Among the more interesting results discussed is the change in design that occurred mid-project, which expanded site materials from the originally planned video to include an audio component and a component of video frames and scanned material to complement the video.

A New Paradigm for Less Commonly Taught Languages: The Arabic Language and Middle East/North African Cultural Studies Program
Norman J. Peterson
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The cost of adding instruction in less-commonly-taught languages (LCTLs) to the existing curriculum of an institution based on permanent faculty positions is an enormous challenge to most U.S. colleges and universities. As a result, students attending most U.S. institutions are limited to a small set of traditional European languages in choosing a language to study. This chapter outlines a new approach for curriculum development that combines technological and human resources in an inter-university consortium to make LCTL education more affordable and to enable more continual and frequent offering of LCTLs. Montana State University-Bozeman in cooperation with the University of Washington and Al Akhawayn University in Morocco have developed the Arabic Language and Middle East/North African Cultural Studies Program ("Arabic Project"), which combines four resources: a) distance education technologies, b) faculty expertise located in regional foreign language centers, c) international students who are native speakers of the language, and d) study abroad opportunities in the countries in which the language is spoken. The Arabic Project model has proven to be highly successful over three years of operation through its combination of several mutually supportive instructional approaches. This chapter provides an overview of the project, including the technologies used and how collaboration is carried out among the institutions involved.