Saturday, March 29, 2014

Language Learning and International Studies Beyond MHC

photo credit: paul_appleyard via photopin cc

Are you Interested in leveraging your foreign language skills to pursue a professional career? Are you a senior looking for a graduate program in which foreign languages are essential? In this post, I will highlight several undergraduate and graduate programs designed to enhance language learning and assist students in launching their professional careers.

Undergraduate Programs:

Critical Language Scholarship Program

The Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) offers fully-funded and intensive language institutes to US college students in learning 13 critical languages overseas. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, all program costs are covered for all participants. 

"Formal classroom language instruction is provided for a minimum of 20 hours per week. Extracurricular activities are designed to supplement the formal curriculum, including regular one-on-one meetings with native speaker language partners for conversational practice, as well as cultural activities and excursions designed to expand students’ understanding of the history, politics, culture and daily life of their host country."  

Languages offered:
•Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, and Urdu: Beginning, advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels
•Arabic and Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate and advanced levels
•Chinese, Japanese, and Russian: Intermediate and advanced levels

Middlebury Language Schools

Middlebury Language Schools offer 24/7 language immersion by requiring participants to communicate solely in the targeted language and by signing a language pledge. The 7-8 week intensive language program equals a year of language learning at MHC. Participants acquire cultural sensitivity and fluency by living in the language and interacting with international faculty on a daily basis. More importantly, you are able to expand your network through connecting with not only college/graduate students, but also scholars, artists, entrepreneurs and political leaders that are well into their professional careers. The diverse participant body of Middlebury Language Schools creates an invaluable opportunity to connect with scholars and professionals in numerous fields.

Graduate Programs

Fluency in one or multiple foreign languages undeniably equips you with a vital asset--language and inter-cultural communication skills. Common career options for a multilingual includes being an interpreter, language instructor, or diplomat. Combining foreign languages fluency with professional knowledge such as business, politics, law and journalism provides you with an edge in the competitive job market.If you are a rising junior or senior who is interested in launching a career in international relations, foreign services, international law and diplomacy, the following graduate programs in international studies may help you as you pursue an international career:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Resources for International Interships

Are you looking for an international internship or another type of experience abroad this summer? The resources included below are by no means an exhaustive list of the numerous opportunities, but a good place to get you started depending on your personal interests and the type of experience you are looking for. This video from the 2013 LEAP Symposium shares valuable stories from Mount Holyoke students' summer research and internship experiences.

Resources at Mount Holyoke

CDC Resources:
The Career Development Center provides a list of resources (classified by class year) with useful tools including workshops to help you with:
  • Finding an Internship 
  • Writing a Cover Letter 
  • Writing a Resume
  • Practicing for an interview
  • Lynk UAF funding information
Mount Holyoke International Internship Program:
Although the application deadline for Mount Holyoke internships has already passed, this is a good resource to keep in mind when searching for internships in the future. Mount Holyoke internship opportunities are offered in approximately 20 countries around the world, and you can search related to your region and field of interest. Mount Holyoke also offers a list of previous interns, who can act as a valuable resource in learning more about certain programs.

Mount Holyoke is now providing eligible students with funding of $3,000 for domestic internships and $3,600 for international internships. Through the Mount Holyoke network, you can both apply for the Lynk Universal Application Funding program and search for internships related to your career interests.

Resources Outside of Mount Holyoke

This international organization offers various summer internship programs in multiple countries. Their search engine allows you to enter in your location, your level of expertise (student or professional), and the type of program you are looking for, and will then provide you with a list of opportunities that meet your criteria. Additionally, depending on your interest, this organization also offers options such as study abroad, career-focused internship and training programs in the United States, fellowship programs, and other cultural exchanges.

This non-profit organization specializes in cultural exchanges through a variety of mediums. Their Work and Travel program sponsors international students studying at American universities to work for up to four months in the United States during summer holidays. The English Conversation Volunteers Abroad program, one of their most popular offerings, allows you to experience living in another country with a host family while teaching your host family English. From the list of countries available, you choose the duration of your stay (1, 2 or 3 months) and you will get matched up with a host family. In exchange for private room and full board, you will tutor your hosts in English for typically 3 hours a day, 5 days a week - and the rest of the time is yours to do as you choose! No previous teaching experience is necessary.

The United States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs offers exchange programs and other initiatives around the world, including opportunities such as the Fulbright Program, cultural diplomacy programs, and volunteer initiatives.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teaching a Second Language

Children in a classroom learning
Photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Theories for Second Language Acquisition 

Developed as early as the 1960's, second language acquisition theories have evolved and been challenged by various theorists. Educators of Second Languages study such theories to successfully teach students learning a second language. Perhaps the most known and studied theorist of Second-Language Acquisition is Stephen Krashen (1980) who proposed a theory containing five hypothesis:

The Acquisition Learning Hypothesis
Acquisition of a language deals with a subconscious process similar to the process children undergo while learning their first language.

The Monitor Hypothesis
The Monitor Hypothesis explains the relationship between acquisition and learning. Students tend to use the monitor function as a practical result of the learned grammar. The monitor in this case is used to plan, edit, and  correct the second language while practicing it. According to Krashen this monitor use should be minimal.

The Natural-Order Hypothesis
The Natural-Order Hypothesis is mainly based on research suggesting that grammatical structures follow a "natural order" which can be predictable. Although Krashen acknowledges this theory he rejects grammatical sequencing stating that the ultimate goal is language acquisition. 

The Input Hypothesis
The Input Hypothesis is Krahsen's attempt to explain how a learner acquires a second language. He states that the students acquires a second language once they are given an "input" that is a step higher than their normal linguistic competence. For example if a student is at stage "i" his or her input will be i+1 this way they are more likely to be challenged and acquire the second language.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis
The Affective Filter Hypothesis is Krashen's way of stating that affective variables (motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety) play a strong role in second language acquisition.

Using Theory in the Modern Classroom

Krashen's theory can be applied when thinking about teaching a second language in a mainstream classroom. Some educators would suggest that second language learners should learn outside the classroom in a confined space where they will feel comfortable learning. Although it is true that second language learners might feel intimidated in a mainstream classroom, it is important to integrate second language learning and core curriculum.

  • Integrating language and content is essential for a student to acquire a language. If language is learned outside the regular classroom the focus of language will be seen as something separate from content, when it should be a medium of learning
  • Teaching both subject matter and language is a way to ensure that children's time in the classroom is as useful as possible.
  • Some proponents of language learning in the mainstream classroom suggest that "language is best learned in the service of other learning" which suggests that second language learners should learn the language they are trying to acquire by integrating it with other mainstream classroom content to speed up the process of acquiring the language. 
  • A culturally and linguistically diverse classroom can benefit all students.

Additional Resources:

Click here for a collection of second language learning apps that can be used with iPads in the classroom.

You can find more information on best practices for second language teaching in any of the following books.