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Think Globally, Act Locally: Starting a Heritage Language Classes at a Small University
The overview shows that this presentation will begin with how the student organization was started, the language classes we are offering now, achievements, challenges, and possible solutions. I will also cover topics on the pragmatics and logistics of the organization, as well as read over a few student’s responses and questions for further discussion.
What is HelloWM?
Heritage Language Learners of William and Mary, or HelloWM is a student organization that works with volunteer instructors to establish language programs for languages that are traditionally underrepresented at the university.
The organization seeks to combine the lonely efforts of a few groups into a single and powerful voice that can speak clearly to the university the benefits of maintaining heritage languages and simultaneously calling the larger public’s attention to the demand and motivation to see these goals through.
As a hands-on collaborative approach to learning that involves volunteer instructors, HelloWM has roughly 180 students involved
The organization is set up to facilitate on-campus cultural organizations and individuals to create their own courses by helping instructors locate materials, explore different funding strategies, and work together to adapt instructional methods.
HelloWM was founded by two linguistics students in the spring of 2009 as a class project and is now running multiple language courses that seek to create collaborative learning spaces for college & community members who want to learn a new or heritage language.
HelloWM’s mission is to provide cultural networking and language programs to promote multilingualism and heritage language awareness.
Language Classes Underway
Brazilian Portuguese ~20
American Sign Language ~25
4. Current Achievements
Brings greater visibility to past efforts and to the groups that have been trying to start heritage language classes (Hindi, Korean, Persian)
More students on-campus are exposed to the idea of teaching or learning a heritage language, valuable experience for instructors, brings students together with similar interests.
Practice skills on a weekly basis, continue learning a language
5. Challenges and Possible Solutions
The challenge of distinguishing a class as being a heritage or foreign language course
Ask the students in the class to write their names, contact information, and the history of their relationship to the language on index cards
Offer different levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) and contact students by E-mail with level offerings and descriptions of levels
Seek curriculum guides and activities for both heritage and foreign language learners
Research further into models of heritage language instruction underway and try to adapt their curricula to the different language courses on campus
Invite speakers and workshops on the topic, open to all
Maintain a blog of teaching experiences written by past instructors
Finding curricula and materials that are appropriate for a collaborative learning environment for heritage or foreign language courses
Free web site curricula like www.easypersian.com
Materials and suggestions from LangNet.com (Access granted by the Alliance for the Advancement of Heritage Language)
Education blogs; stumbling upon education blogs and keeping a track record of ones that seem to have good ideas for workshops etc.
Methodological Resources and Training
a. Provide instructors with the methodological resources and training to carry out their part of the collaborative learning scenario. b. Making sure teachers know how to teach rather than just spewing words at students who plan on writing them down and thinking they will remember them forever. c. Analyzing the learning environments to see how the format of instruction and learning differs from that of a traditional classroom. These differences might bring to light useful methodological differences as well that can be exploited. d. Analyze the difference between classroom learning, self-learning, and peer learning. 1. With specifics on attendance and participation numbers, including stats on how many teachers are teaching and how often classes are held as well as how many languages are offered we can actually begin some rough statistical or at least comparative analysis regarding efficacy of the program as well as specific methods implemented within the program. e. Have students write an evaluation of the class near the end and also an evaluation of their own progress, learning style, and what they thought works best d. Instructional Comparison Research Notes on Google Spreadsheets, keep track of useful links to guide HelloWM and instructors in developing an instructional methods training that works best for their situation.
Communication between language instructors in order to share ideas for effective activities or ideas for developing a directed curriculum together
Appeal to youth culture modes of communication
Grant proposals would be for the English and International Studies department grants
Google spreadsheet that all the instructors share
Facebook group is a place to post materials and ideas
Monthly meetings will help everyone come together with their ideas and what everyone has found and take some time to try and synthesize the information into a practical plan towards a curriculum
Invite workshop speakers to speak to the instructors and members of HelloWM
Locate funding for instructor training workshops
Research online for ideas on how to create a training program for future instructors
Keep a long-term log of all past activities and materials used in each lesson
Maintaining interest and establishing a sense of community over the semester
Annual Language Fair Event
Collaborative small events with the Modern Languages and Anthropology Department
Offer a mini-introduction to descriptive linguistics
Eventually, HelloWM could become organized enough to offer campus-wide events on an annual basis, for example, a language fair/festival that teams up with other student organizations to organize poetry readings, music & dance performances, and films. These events could host the volunteer language instructors at tables throughout the fair/festival with information about themselves, their language, and their course for the semester. 6. Instructor Collaboration and Communication
Shared Google spreadsheets
Instructors’ contact information
Drop-box for weblinks to language-specific materials
Individual course pages
Post homework’s for print-out
Post each lesson so students can catch up or continue to practice at home
Posts by instructors for additional resources and information
Emergency announcements (alongside emails) for cancellations, etc.
7. Setting up Classes 1.Locate and reserve classrooms 2.Establish a day and time with the instructor 3.Heavily advertise to the student population 4.Research online for free or affordable resources and materials 5.Research online for Curriculum Design guides 6.Provide volunteer instructors with materials and information on how to find more resources for teaching their classes 8. Future Goals and Community Connections 1. Creating an adjunct HL program at public schools—tutoring programs for the local youth ( A lot of professors are very interested in this idea) 2. Offering credit at the university level or at least recognition (Pass/Fail Option on transcripts) 3. To continue to establish HL programs on campus. 4.Create mini-language workshops to offer the public schools in the area, workshops ideally would introduce heritage language education in the first session, and then continue to offer language classes in the what is available and what the demand is. 9. Conclusion and Further Discussion a. Heritage language education is in demand at the College of William and Mary The organization seeks to combine the lonely efforts of a few groups into a single and powerful voice that can speak clearly to the university the benefits of maintaining heritage languages and simultaneously calling the larger public’s attention to the demand and motivation to see these goals through. As a hands-on collaborative approach to learning that involves volunteer instructors, HelloWM has roughly 180 students involved