Past Events

Defining and Promoting Intercultural Learning in University-Level World Languages Education

Friday, October 11

A workshop for language educators presented by Erin Kearney, Associate Professor of Learning and Instruction
State University of New York at Buffalo

Abstract: Intercultural learning is often identified as a central goal of world languages education; specific program-level and classroom-level practices for fostering intercultural learning, however, are less commonly illuminated in research and professional organizations’ guiding documents.

This workshop offered a set of research-generated, curricular and pedagogical practices that are at the core of promoting intercultural learning in university-level world languages education.  It first engaged participants in building common understandings of what intercultural learning entails, then anchored the set of core practices in real-world examples the group can analyze and finally provided concrete tools and ample space for planning for future practice.

About the workshop facilitator:
Erin Kearney’s research focuses on the state of world languages education in the United States and on teaching and learning processes and outcomes. She is interested in how intercultural competence develops alongside linguistic proficiency in the classroom setting.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Summer Institute Workshops at UW-Madison

June 3-6

The Language Institute and Wisconsin Summer Language Institutes (WISLI) were pleased to welcome June 3-6 nearly 80 participants from all over the United States at the 2019 ACTFL Proficiency and Performance Summer Institute on the UW-Madison campus. The event consisted of two workshops, the 4-day Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Assessment Workshop and the 2-day Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) Rater Training Workshop. Both workshops took place at the Memorial Union on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

The four-day workshop introduced participants to the ACTFL rating scale, the structure of the OPI, techniques of administering, and rating the OPI, including its applications in the language classroom. Participants observed and conducted live practice interviews across all proficiency levels (Novice through Superior) with more than 55 recruited volunteers. Separate sections of the OPI workshops took place in English for ELLs (English Language Learners, Korean, Less Commonly Taught Languages/Mixed Languages (2 sections, featuring Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Tamil, Vietnamese, and Yoruba), Russian, and Spanish.

Participation in the Full OPI Assessment Workshop is the first step toward becoming an ACTFL Certified OPI Tester with Full Certification.

The Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) Rater Training Workshop introduced participants to the ACTFL Writing Scale and the protocol for rating the ACTFL WPT at all levels of proficiency. Participants became familiar with the assessment criteria for writing, the structure of the WPT, and gained practice (where available) in applying the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012Writing to the rating of samples in their target language. Following the workshop, participants are eligible to apply for Full WPT Rater certification. This workshop was for English/Mixed Languages.



Expanding Language-Related Undergraduate Research Opportunities in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Friday, April 26
Undergraduate Research Scholar Yixian Gan and faculty members Drs. Rao and Huntington answering audience questions about the program.

The objective of the panel discussion was to promote and encourage research collaboration in the Humanities and Social Sciences between UW-Madison undergraduate students and UW-Madison faculty and advanced graduate students.

The panelists included Dr. Rania Huntington, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures; Dr. Rajiv Rao, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Yixian Gan, Undergraduate Research Scholar. Having first-hand experience with the program, the panelists described the roles and commitment expectations of mentors and mentees. Faculty panelists shared how the program advanced their research agenda, shaped their perspective as teachers, and overall benefitted their professional career. Yixian used the undergraduate student lens to describe the positive impact the research program has had on his UW-Madison student experience.

The panel discussion event was sponsored by the Language Institute and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.

World Languages Day

March 6, 2019
High school participants at World Languages Day gather for a trivia game at the end of the day.

Over 550 Wisconsin high school students and teachers gathered on the UW-Madison campus for World Languages Day, sponsored by the Language Institute. Participants enjoyed a day of speakers, breakout sessions and a trivia game, all focused on languages and cultures. The day started off with a plenary session featuring guest speakers Karl Scholz (Dean, College of Letters & Science), Joe Salmons (Professor, Language Sciences and Board Member, Wisconsin Humanities Council), Michael Williams (Co-President, Wunk-Sheek), and student keynote speaker Kennedy Lee. Participants then attended four breakout sessions with interactive presentations, workshops and mini-language lessons offered by UW-Madison staff, faculty, and students. The day ended with a trivia game with questions based on the breakout sessions, with students from Fort Atkinson winning the prize, a gift basket from SERRV and international snacks to share on the ride home.

Gender Diversity and L2 Pedagogy: Adapting Classroom Practice for Inclusivity and Intercultural Competence Development

Friday, March 1
Dr. Knisely shares with the workshop participants his research and ideas about how to increase inclusiveness and support gender diversity in second language classrooms.

In this highly-interactive and well-attended workshop, Dr. Kris Knisely (University of Arizona) discussed gender diversity as it relates to inclusive language teaching practices. After a broad introduction to working with students of diverse gender identities in the language classroom, Dr. Knisely presented examples from the linguistic practices of non-binary individuals in France in order to outline how all language classroom discourses and activities can be adapted to be more inclusive. He focused particularly on how, as pedagogues, we are to address binary grammatical gender with students who have non-binary gender identities. A number of strategies for increasing inclusiveness and supporting diversity in all second language classrooms were presented and discussed, along with the theorized value for all students of teaching non-binary linguistic forms for fostering tolerance of ambiguity, and the development of linguistic and intercultural competencies. Participants engaged in hands-on practice with inclusive materials selection and adaptation as well as with inclusive course and curricular design.

Bio: Kris Knisely earned his PhD in French and Educational Studies at Emory University in 2015, which was followed by three years as Assistant Professor and French and Francophone Studies Program Director at the University of South Dakota. He is now Assistant Professor of French and Intercultural Competence at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on identity as it relates to the teaching and learning of French as a second language, with a particular focus on gender and sexuality. His work has appeared in The French ReviewContemporary French CivilizationGender and LanguageThe Journal of Applied MeasurementPensamiento Educativo, and The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association.