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2012 FLTC Mini-Grant Recipients

The FLTC funded five projects this year that incorporate the use of latest technologies into existing foreign language and culture courses to achieve specific learning objectives. A description of the 2012 funded projects as stated by the grant recipients follows:


Expanding the Online Dimension of WSU Russian Classes
Laura Kline, Senior Lecturer in Russian, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Russian pedagogical materials on the market today are severely lacking in several key respects, requiring us to supplement them or create them ourselves. Available textbooks have very limited and unsatisfactory online components (if any at all). The recent introduction of My Russian Lab in conjunction with the Golosa textbooks, which we used at Wayne for many years, has not resolved this problem. The materials in this program are generally the same as those previously available on the Golosa website, and are fraught with the same problems. For example, they use the same videos, which are far too fast for the level, as are many of the oral exercises. Most importantly, the Golosa series focuses too much on grammar and too little on developing communication skills, which is why we discontinued its use.

  1. Currently available third- and fourth-year Russian textbooks are not designed to follow any particular second-year textbook. This is a major issue in terms of continuity.
  2. Our Russian classes (like those at many universities) are too small to allow us to teach separate third- and fourth-year classes, so we are forced to teach them together. That requires a textbook providing two years of material that can be started from any point (by students, for example, who are entering the sequence in the third semester).

At present we are using Ovsienko's first- and second-year textbook, which we have been modifying and supplementing, and a third- and fourth-year textbook, which I am in the process of creating myself. In order to improve the effectiveness of our language program, we have been creating a variety of audio-visual materials to supplement these Russian textbooks. Tatyana Sherman recorded the vocabulary and texts for RUS 1010, 1020, and part of 2020. A 2011 FLTC Minigrant allowed us to create audiofiles and a variety of online materials for the first of the four semesters of third- and fourth-year Russian. We are now attempting to extend these audiovisual tools and technologies to the remaining semesters and to supplement them with more materials.

Expanding Online Testing in Italian 1020 Courses
Silvia Giorgini, Coordinator of Italian Basic Courses, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

The goal of this mini-grant is to help us expand online testing to the Italian 1020 courses. I was awarded a mini-grant last year to move our paper tests and exams for ITA 2010 into an online environment. This was a hugely successful project. During Fall 2011 and Winter 2012 our ITA 2010 students took online exams, and they absolutely raved about it. It doesn't happen very often that students are excited about taking a test! I believed then, and am even more certain now, that online testing has several advantages for both the students and for the instructors:

  Easier for students to type rather than write
  Easier for instructors to grade typed text
  Faster grading turn-around time for instructors and students
  Allows for including speaking skills in a test environment
  Saves money (up to $1,000 in paper costs) and saves paper
  Ensures that students are meeting university goal of graduating with computer literacy.

 Online testing also has an important benefit for the class coordinator: make sure that we test and assess all four basic skills: listening, writing, reading and speaking. Thanks to the use of Audacity I was able to insert questions within Blackboard and students could record their replies and upload them in their exam. As the Italian coordinator, I am responsible for 10-12 courses and 6 teachers. Our goal is to place all of our courses in the online format, and this mini-grant will help us take an important step in that direction.

Medical Polish Part II
Alina Klin, Senior Lecturer in Polish, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Last year I received an FLTC grant of $1000 to create an on-line course teaching Polish medical vocabulary to students with an intermediate to advance level of language proficiency. With the help of this money a new Blackboard site "Medical Polish" was created. The site was tested by an Honors Option student who found it very educational and interesting. The amount of work required to build such a site, together with receiving less funding than had been anticipated, only allowed for three full modules to be completed so far (while the work on two other modules was started and is currently in different phases of advancement). This year’s grant will allow me to complete the two modules, and develop three additional modules of Medical Polish over summer 2012. "Medical Polish" will be offered through a Blackboard password protected site for two credits in the fall of 2012.

Voice Thread Lessons Project Part II
Jie Billinger, Chinese Language Instructor, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

As a part time Chinese Language Instructor of the College of Modern Languages Classics, Literatures & Culture, I am always seeking for innovative ways to improve the teaching and learning. I believe that this project, VoiceThread, will continue the 2011 project and explore more about the interactive and collaborative way of learning into the Chinese language acquisition at Wayne State University.

Media Arabic Material Bank
Maha Saker, Lecturer in Near Eastern and Asian Studies, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

The grant is intended to be used for two main purposes: recording and storing audio visual news, documentaries, and interviews from different sources of Arabic and English media outlets and building a media text bank and relevant comprehension materials. I will record the audio-visual and prepare authentic textual Arabic material and develop listening, comprehension and writing exercises for them. The developed material will be organized in thematic topics that can be used for the weekly topics of Media Arabic which is usually offered in the winter or spring semesters. Media Arabic consists of 13 weekly topics in the winter semester and 8 in the spring semester. Topics are organized around a general theme (such as media coverage of conflicts and wars). The developed material will be uploaded to a Blackboard website that will be designed for the purpose. The instructor will be able to select from the text bank suitable material to enhance a skill-based and interactive learning experience.

For more information about the FLTC mini-grants and past recipients go to: http://www.langlab.wayne.edu/new-fltc/html-files/fltc-grants2.htm
Foreign Language Technology Center, Wayne State University, 385 Manoogian Hall - 906 W. Warren - Detroit, MI 48202, Tel: (313) 577-3022, Fax: (313) 577-3041
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