Tallahassee Democrat

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The faculty and students of Florida State University’s Foreign and Second Language Education Program strive to expand and improve the teaching and learning of strategically important global languages ​​that are not widely taught. in the United States today.

Wenxia Wang, assistant professor of foreign and second language teaching, received $89,994 in funding from the National Security Agency (NSA) to organize a STARTALK program in the state of Florida. Part of the National Security Language Initiative, STARTALK’s goal is to increase the number of Americans who learn, speak, and teach essential foreign languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Korean , Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.

“The FSU STARTALK program aims to help improve the teaching skills of new teachers and teacher candidates who teach or will teach the languages ​​that the federal government recognizes as essential to middle school and elementary school students,” Wang said.

The FSU program, which began June 1 and ends July 24, is free to all foreign and second language teaching program teacher candidates who plan to speak or teach one or more of the listed languages. .

FSU STARTALK is designed to support two distinct sets of critical language teachers: approximately 20 teacher candidates at FSU’s teacher training college and eight early-career language teachers who have experience teaching their languages ​​at the college or elementary level. For teacher candidates, the program bridges the theory of the candidates’ courses and their practice; For the eight teacher mentors, the proposed program deepens their understanding of effective world language teaching practices and nurtures their abilities as teacher leaders.

“Our doctoral students and professors are able to research the teaching and learning of these languages, while FSU students prepare to be at the forefront as the need for mastery of these languages ​​is increasing worldwide,” said Rebecca Galeano, assistant foreign and second language teacher. Education.

The program includes workshops, discussions, seminars, supervised co-teaching and micro-teaching. It uses research-approved practices to design effective lesson plans and create contextualized language learning opportunities while understanding the similarities and differences in school cultures between the United States and teachers’ home countries.

At the end of the STARTALK program, teacher mentors and teacher candidates receive a scholarship to cover their travel and program costs.

FSU STARTALK not only trains future teachers – the program also reaches elementary school students in Leon County by teaching critical-needs languages ​​at local summer camps.

“This program has an impact on the whole community,” Galeano said. “It truly embodies the international initiatives valued by our college and university.”

Students and faculty in FSU’s Foreign and Second Language Education Program teach Korean, Chinese, Turkish, Arabic, and Portuguese to groups of students at summer camps held in DeSoto Trail Elementary School and Conley Elementary School in Tallahassee.

“I never really believed in total immersion as a way to learn a language, but thanks to STARTALK and its emphasis on understandable input and providing realistic material for learners while gradually building, I realized that it actually worked,” said Jose Carrasco, PhD student. in the teaching of foreign and second languages.

“Children have the chance to learn critical language and also benefit from cultural exposure,” he said. “The program challenged me to rethink my past teaching methodology and technique and really sets me up for success as a language teacher.”

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