Monday, April 28, 2014

May Social Event

As the semester winds down, it's time for us to celebrate!  Considering how successful the potluck was last December, FLESA has decided to do it again.  So let's enjoy this event together and eat a wide variety of good food!

All FLESA members, FLE students, and FLE faculty are invited to join.  We'd love for you  and your loved ones to join us, but remember to bring a dish to share.

Event: FLESA Potluck
Date: Thursday May 8th
Time: 6 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: SZB 526

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Update: Social Event

The whether has changed for the better and it's time to drop the sweaters and put on our short sleeves and shorts.  It's also time for a pizza party!  The details for the next social event are as follows:

Event:  Pizza Party
Location: SZB 526
Date and Time: Thursday, April 17th, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Come enjoy some pizza with your fellow FLESA members!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March Brown Bag Write-Up

Last week Dr. Schallert from the Educational Psychology department was kind enough to give us a short talk entitled “Dialogic Relationships and the Identity Project of Graduate Students.”  Here are some key points I've put together based on some notes I took during the talk.

·                              ·      People learn in the context of the relationship they have (with the instructor)
o   Fear, dominance, and coldness leads to one type of learning
o   Care (as defined by N. Noddings) –  best for learning and growth
§  Does not mean the teacher has to be warm and loving
§  The instructor is looking out for the student’s best interest, which may involve being stern and strict.
§  Students must give back to the teacher some sign that caring has occurred.
§  The teacher may try to care for the student, but if the student doesn't acknowledge it, the relationship doesn't get established.
§  The quality is determined by the relationship, not of the specific individuals

·                                 ·      Relationship to the Future
o   Determined by the student’s relationship towards an imagined future thought community. (Academic community?)
o   Students starting graduate work may have personal goals, which may not be connected to scholarly work.  After time, students begin to think of themselves as scholar in training.
o   The real life relationship to (people in?) the thought community isn't necessarily important, but the thought community itself is.
o   Students’ task (in graduate school) is to develop the ways of thinking/talking/writing that allow them to join in their imagined thought community.

·                                ·      Time factors that shape graduate students’ development
o   Physical time
o   Phylogenetic time
o   Cultural historical time
o   Ontogeny of mentor
o   Ontogeny of student
o   Microgenesis

Dr. Schallert concluded that the students’ imagined futures influence their development in the present, and even though she doesn't normally deal with pedagogical implications, she suggested that perhaps ”a teacher who has an appreciation of these theories brings to the classroom more patience for variety and more explicit awareness of how and what he/she is doing fits with students' future goals.”

Photo Credit:  Jeonghyun Lee

Photo Credit:  Steven Kroman

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March Update: Social Event and Brown Bag

Here's a quick update on some events that will be occurring in March!  FLESA would like to invite all members to partake in these events!

1.  March Social Event - Happy Hour at the Dog and Duck
It's been over a half year since we went to the Dog and Duck together, so we'd like everyone to join us for a chance to relax and socialize with fellow FLESA members before we head into spring break.

Location: The Dog & Duck Pub
406 W 17th St (and Guadalupe)
Austin, TX 78701

Date and Time: Thursday, March 6th, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Photo Credit:
The University of Texas at Austin

2.  Brown Bag Lunch with Dr. Schallert

The topic is yet to be decided, but Dr. Schallert from the Department of Educational Psychology will be giving us our second brown bag lunch of the semester on Tuesday March 18th.  Dr. Schallert teaches courses on Psycholinguistics and the Psychology of Learning here in the Department of Education.  She is an extremely interesting and engaging speaker, so I would encourage everyone to not miss this opportunity.  I will update with another post as soon as I get more details on the presentation.

Event: Brown Bag Lunch with Dr. Diane Schallert
Time: Tuesday March 18th; 12:15-1:15pm
Location: SZB 536L

Feel free to bring food if you wish to eat, and remember that drinks should be in a closed container.

Dr. Al-Batal Brown Bag Write-Up

On February 18th we had our first brown bag lunch of the semester with Dr. Al-Batal, director of the highly praised Arabic Flagship Program, and co-author of one of the most widely used set of Arabic texts in the classroom.  This brown bag functioned a little differently than the ones we had in the fall in that Dr. Al-Batal elaborated deeply on questions we had concerning the creation of his curriculum.  He took us through some history, talked about how the research at the time influenced his decision making, how departmental and institutional requirements affected the process of curriculum development, and told us some of his opinions on language education in US universities today.  Below are some notes on things that were discussed during the brown bag lunch.

First, he talked about departmental requirements in university foreign language education stating that many foreign language departments are not given any guidelines from the university and are free to conduct business as they see fit.  He commented that this can be detrimental in that departments that lack defined goals and effective instructional methods often do their students a disservice.  He followed up by saying that US universities generally lack a vision for language and cultural education; they are behind the rest of the world in these areas, students who spend several years studying a language in high school still wind up in 1st semester classes at the university level, and some classrooms still use differentiated instruction (e.g. teaching several levels in the same classroom).  Dr. Batal concluded that lower level coordinators need to add love, vision, and philosophy to their programs, there is a need to check student progress as they move through courses, and that programs need to evaluate and maintain standards.

Second, in regards to the creations of his own curriculum, he took us through a short history of Arabic in the United States and how he and his co-authors went about developing their curriculum.  Here's some of the notes I managed to write down concerning this process:
  • -       Arabic used to be taught via grammar translation, speaking wasn't a priority
  • -       1967 - Dr. Aboud developed a series of materials based on audiolingual approach and continues emphasis on grammatical structures.
  • -       1980’s communicative approach and proficiency movement
o   1982 Middlbury College Arabic school established
o   10 week pledge to only use target language
§  Immersion environment – textbook wasn't appropriate
o   Current materials did’t cut it
  • -       Became director, decided to write a textbook
o   Assembled a team to write the textbook
o   Diverged from grammatical structures to functional structures
o   Importance of culture
o   Inclusion of spoken dialects, which was not generally done in Arabic Education
o   Common thread – Textbook "story"
o   Some unorthodox methods– 1st chapter vocabulary:  The United Nations
§  It was worked into the story, UN is a more common word in some places
  • -       Textbook emerged from collaboration and vision
  • -       Hopes that future students can take the book/instruction to a new level
  • -       Lessons:
o   If you believe in it, go change it
o   Collaboration is extremely important
o   Define your vision, based on your standards and the needs of the students
  • -       What are the factors that shape you as a teacher
Dr. Al-Batal ended the talk by stating that not enough is being done on the national level to promote language education, and that universities need to support a push for advancement in language and cultural education in order to develop students with higher proficiency levels.

Thank you Dr. Al-Batal for sharing your experiences and giving us insight into some of the more practical aspects of language education.  Also thank you to all of the FLESA members in attendance during the brown bag lunch.

Photo Credit:  Steven Kroman

Photo Credit:  Yi-Wen Su

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spring 2014 Brown Bag Lunch Series: February

Photo Credit:
The University of Texas at Austin
Our first brown bag lunch* of the Spring semester will be on February 18 from 12:15 to 1:15 pm in SZB 536L (George Sanchez Building).  Dr. Mahmoud Al-Batal will give a talk entitled "Instructional Materials & Curricular Change:  Examples from Arabic."  This is an excellent opportunity especially for those of us interested in language pedagogy and curriculum development.  Dr. Al-Batal co-authored and developed one of the leading Arabic language curriculum series, Al-Kitaab, created a very widely used content-based Arabic learning website, Aswaat Arabiyyaand won the 2013 Texas Foreign Language Teaching Excellence Award given by the Texas Language Center.  He is also currently the director of The Arabic Flagship Program at UT Austin, an innovative program with the goal of developing undergraduates who attain superior levels of Arabic fluency, and teaches courses in Arabic literacy, materials development, and curricular design.

Event: Brown Bag Lunch with Dr. Mahmoud Al-Batal
Time: Tuesday, Feb. 18th; 12-15 pm - 1:15 pm
Location: SZB 536L

*Bring your own lunch to this event (FLESA does not provide lunch). Please make sure drinks are in nonspillable containers. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Potluck Write-Up

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su

On Tuesday, December 10th, FLESA organized the annual holiday potluck dinner, held in room SZB 526 this year. FLE faculty, students, and their loved ones attended the semester-end event. FLESA was happy to transform the (normally sterile) classroom into an inviting place filled with holiday cheer. Scented candles provided the room with warmth, background music added to the cozy ambiance, and Christmas decorations set the festive mood. Guests could even roast marshmallows at their tables.

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su
The potluck was a success in terms of food, too. Dishes from various culturesempanadas, tamales, japchae, yubuchobap—along with traditional American favorites—macaroni and cheese, Caesar salad—were all delicious. Munchies and desserts included cheese and crackers, fruits, veggies, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cupcakes, brownies, and holiday cookies. 

Shout-outs must go out to the FLESA officers for organizing the event (including decorating!). Much gratitude is also given to Drs. Elaine Horwitz and Veronica Sardegna for taking the time out of their busy schedules to be present. And of course, the event would not have been successful without the support of its attendees: Thank you all who came!

FLESA wishes everyone a happy holiday and a restful winter break. We shall see you next semester for more fun-filled events!

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su 

Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh

Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh

Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh

Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh

Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh

Photo Credit: Jenna O'Connor

Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh 

Photo Credit: Yi-Wen Su


Photo Credit: Mimi Ghosh