The Second Language Teaching and Research Center (L2TReC) at the University of Utah was recently designated a Title VI National Foreign Language Resource Center. Every four years, the U.S. Department of Education designates sixteen Title VI centers across the country to support language teaching and learning. The grant will provide $158,000 each year for the next four years to support the center, for total of $632,000.
Below, Fernando Rubio, professor of Spanish linguistics and co-director of L2TReC, took some time to answer a few questions about the importance of this prestigious grant.
How does the grant align with the center’s mission?
The mission of L2TReC and the focus of its funded four-year proposal is to support coherent sequences of language instruction across K-16 education. If the nation is to meet the need for citizens with advanced proficiency in a second language, our education system must introduce second language study early and ensure that students can continue their study as they move through levels of schooling. With 40,000 students studying six languages in immersion programs and many adults who have lived abroad, Utah is a particularly fertile landscape for identifying and disseminating curricular and pedagogical practices that promote effective second language learning.
The grant enhances our understanding of language acquisition in different contexts, including immersion and it reinforces the center’s mission to conduct and to disseminate research in collaboration with practitioners.
What does the grant support?
Over the next four years, L2TReC will continue to work closely with the Utah State Board of Education to develop a video library of effective teaching practices in K-9 immersion programs and in advanced language and culture classes for high school and college students. L2TReC will also leverage the Multilingual Spoken Second Language learner corpus that it has been developing to deliver workshops and online modules for teachers to recognize and address patterns of difficulty in language learning.
Finally, L2TReC will address a crucial issue of access and equity by training native
speakers of Nepali, Tongan and Samoan to develop a proficiency assessment so that
heritage speakers of these languages have access to the Seal of Biliteracy upon high
school graduation. As many states across the country have experienced, issuing Seals
of Biliteracy for less commonly taught languages can be a challenge and represents
a significant barrier for learners. By documenting and sharing the process of working
with heritage communities to create assessment tools, our work can be replicated in
other communities across the country.
What does it mean to be a National Language Resource Center?
L2TReC is the only National Language Resource Center in the Intermountain West. With three federally funded resource centers in the College of Humanities, the University of Utah joins leading Research I state universities that receive Title VI funding. Our focus on K-16 education will have a positive impact on language students in the state, from the elementary to the post-secondary level.
The grant underscores the importance of advocacy and funding for language study. By receiving National Language Resource Center designation, L2TReC has successfully leveraged state legislation that funds dual language immersion in elementary school and its continuation in high school.
After having received four major federal grants in the past six years totaling more than three million dollars, this National Language Resource Center grant solidifies L2TReC’s position as one of the top language centers in the country.
To learn more about L2TReC, visit l2trec.utah.edu