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The 8th National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language (NSSHL)  

Organized by the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC), The Graduate Center, CUNY 
Thursday, May 13, to Saturday, May 15, 2021 

The National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language (NSSHL) is an intellectual forum for the discussion of both the variable linguistic reality of Spanish heritage bilingualism in the United States (and elsewhere), and the diverse pedagogical needs of students of Spanish as a heritage language. Researchers and educators in K–12 and higher education share theoretical and practical approaches to the study of Spanish as a heritage language from perspectives of various disciplines, including heritage language acquisition, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, applied linguistics, and cultural studies, among others. This space allows participants to collaborate towards the implementation of pedagogies that enable heritage learners not only to develop their language proficiency but also to reflect on their own identity formation within a context of validation and empowerment. 

The 8th National Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language (NSSHL) will be hosted by the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, on Thursday, May 13th and Friday, May 14th, 2021, with a workshop on Saturday, May 15th. This year, the symposium will be held virtually through live panels and pre-recorded presentations, allowing for both synchronous and asynchronous participation. The website for the conference is now available here: https://8nsshl2021.commons.gc.cuny.edu/ 

Invited Panels will take place through live video conferences in which the invited panelists engage in discussions on pedagogy, virtual learning, sociolinguistics and formal linguistics. The panels will be organized alongside Q&A sessions with the audience, in order to allow for synchronous interaction and participation from all parties.  

For presentations, accepted papers will be delivered by presenters through narrated PowerPoints that will be available for view through the conference website. Viewers will be able to ask the presenters questions and contribute to ongoing discussions asynchronously, through designated forums that correspond to each presentation. 

U.S. Department of Education Grant to the Graduate Center Will Help CUNY’s Bilingual Students

More than 86,000 CUNY undergraduates — 38 percent of CUNY’s nearly 230,000 undergraduates — speak a native language other than English. Many of them stand to benefit from a recent U.S. Department of Education grant of $169,450 to the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) at The Graduate Center. ILETC is using the funding to launch an initiative to enhance language education for bilingual college students.

The grant-funded project, called Investigating Pedagogies for Advanced Proficiency (IPAP), will initially focus on students who immigrated from Spanish-speaking countries, or whose parents did, and who speak Spanish at home, but were educated in English in the U.S. As a result, the students’ dominant language is English, while Spanish remains their home language. IPAP will analyze and develop effective strategies for teaching college-level Spanish courses to bilingual students so that they become proficient in reading and writing in Spanish as well as speaking it. In its third year, IPAP will focus on learners who are bilingual in Japanese and English.

As part of the work, IPAP will study how students’ English writing skills affect their ability to write and learn to write in Spanish. Professor Alberta Gatti (Linguistics), director of ILETC who is leading the IPAP project, says she and her collaborators want to learn what strategies will help lower-level writers become more developed writers.

“We have many language classes at CUNY for bilingual learners, but we could do better in terms of having curricula that we know for sure is helping these learners use their non-dominant language in professional and academic settings,” Gatti said. The project’s ultimate aim, she said, “is to develop research-based recommendations for instruction that are truly accessible to the professors, lecturers, and adjuncts who are teaching CUNY’s numerous bilingual students.”

Project collaborators include ILETC Assistant Director Syelle Graves, several CUNY faculty members, and specialists from outside CUNY. Graduate Center doctoral and master’s student fellows will also be involved. (Student fellowship application information will be available soon.) Central to the project is a collaboration with the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at John Jay College.

This post is from the Graduate Center News; read the original at https://www.gc.cuny.edu/news/us-department-education-grant-graduate-center-will-help-cunys-bilingual-students.

ILETC Receives U.S. Department of Education Grant

October 13th, 2020

We are pleased to announce that the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, has been awarded a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s International Research and Studies program.

The $169,450 grant will fund the Investigating Pedagogies for Advanced Proficiency (IPAP) project. With the aim to better serve heritage language learners enrolled in college-level language courses, the IPAP project will deliver new knowledge on: how different pedagogical approaches support proficiency development in heritage language learners; how proficiency in English relates to proficiency in the heritage language; and what language-using patterns look like in advanced writing of heritage language learners. From the findings, recommendations for instruction will be developed and made available on the ILETC website. While the core of the project will be conducted with Spanish heritage language learners, the project will conclude with an investigation of how to adapt its curricular model for Japanese language instruction, extending its research findings to the field of less commonly taught languages.

The IPAP project will be directed by Alberta Gatti (ILETC and Linguistics) and assisted by Syelle Graves (ILETC); its full team will include several CUNY faculty members and GC graduate students, along with specialists from outside CUNY. Central to the project is a collaboration with the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at John Jay College.

To follow the progress of this project, visit the IPAP page (currently under construction) on the ILETC site.


Facilitating Student-to-Student Interaction in the Virtual Language Classroom

October 15th, 2020, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Registration is now open. Limited spots available.

The Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) is pleased to offer a webinar on facilitating student-to-student interaction in the virtual language classroom. This two-hour webinar is intended for language instructors who began teaching in the online format in Spring 2020, and who now wish to further solidify and systematize their skills.

The webinar will first review some basic principles of online pedagogy, such as reconceptualizing the language classroom; affordances and constraints; presence; course design; and assessment. It will then focus in on how students interact with each other in online language classes, and how you as a teacher can design tasks and structure lessons so as to facilitate these interactions. There will also be ample opportunity for questions and answers, as well as for sharing best practices across languages and departments.

This webinar will be led by Christopher Kaiser. Dr. Kaiser is the program manager of the Shared Course Initiative, which connects less-commonly taught language classrooms at Columbia, Cornell, and Yale, using high-definition videoconferencing. His areas of interest include second language pedagogy, distance learning, presence in the distance environment, inter-institutional collaboration, and language-learning advocacy. In Spring and Summer 2020, he conducted workshops and seminars for the Columbia University language teaching community, in order to prepare for the rapid transition to teaching language classes via Zoom.

There are limited spots for this event. Once you register, you will receive a confirmation and a link to join on the day of the event. You must register in order to participate in the webinar. Registration will open soon.

Date and Time: October 15th, 2020, 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Non-Refundable Fee: $25 + Eventbrite fees

Registration is available here.

LaGuardia Community College Receives UISFL Grant for 2020-2022

September 23rd, 2020

LaGuardia Community College has been awarded a United States Department of Education’s Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program grant. 

The $170,915 grant will fund the Internationalization at Home: Redesigning Foreign Language Instruction and Forging Overseas Institutional Partnerships at LaGuardia Community College program, which intends to revamp the college’s modern language and international studies curricula while building international partnerships on both classroom and institutional levels. 

Founded in Long Island City of Queens in 1971, LaGuardia Community College serves highly diverse, low-income immigrant communities, with students representing 153 different countries of origin and over 100 distinct home/heritage languages. To better serve its students and the shifting demographics of its student body, the Internationalization at Home grant will provide professional development for faculty of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs). Professional development will include (modified) Oral Proficiency Interview certification, and training in how to recruit heritage students in LCTLs such as Arabic, Mandarin, Korean, Bengali, Nepali, Russian, Tibetan, Urdu/Hindi, Uzbek, and Haitian Creole, in collaboration with local organizations. Other grant-sponsored activities will include establishing an overseas institutional partnership with an analogous International Studies Program, introducing Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) to targeted courses, and designing and implementing co-curricular and experiential international programming. 

 A team of four LaGuardia faculty will execute the project: principal investigator Arthur Lau, Professor and Chair of Education and Language Acquisition; Tomonori Nagano, Associate Professor of Japanese and Coordinator of the Modern Languages and Literatures Program; Maria Savva, Associate Professor and Program Director of International Studies; and Olga Aksakalova, Associate Professor of English and Coordinator of the LaGuardia COIL global learning initiative. 

ILETC Receives NEH CARES Grant

The Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) at the Graduate Center, City University of New York,  has been awarded an NEH CARES Grant, one of four such grants awarded to CUNY and one of only 317 projects receiving awards nationwide, out of 2,300 applicants.

This grant of more than $42,000 will allow ILETC to fund its position for Assistant Director, Syelle Graves. The funds are critical to ILETC’s mission to promote education in world languages and literatures across CUNY and in the context of New York City’s multilingual communities. The grant will allow ILETC to conduct research; develop materials that are published as open educational resources; and offer professional development activities, including training 50 CUNY faculty in teaching languages online.

ILETC is in the company of a wide range of cultural organizations receiving NEH CARES grants, which deliver emergency relief funds to preserve humanities jobs nationwide jeopardized by the financial devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the 317 organizations are the National Willa Cather Center in Nebraska, Lakota language e-resources in North and South Dakota, and the Apollo Theater Foundation in New York.

Workshops on Methodological Developments in Teaching of Spanish

Methodological Developments in Teaching of Spanish as a Second and Foreign Language

A Workshop for Teachers, XIV. Language Programs and Methodology

April 25th, 2020
Room TBA
Barnard College

10:00am – 1:00pm
Guadalupe Valdés
Stanford University

Teaching and Learning Spanish in an Age of Shifting Theories, Ideologies, and Policies

3pm – 6pm
Marta Antón
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

Organized by the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Columbia University, and the Department of Spanish and Latin American Cultures, Barnard College.

Co-Sponsored by the Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia. Co-sponsored by ILETC.

Registration is free.

RSVP to Guadalupe Ruiz Fajardo gr2250@columbia.edu

New York State Seal of Biliteracy: Leveraging growth for CUNY language programs

Room 9205
The Graduate Center, CUNY
2:00pm – 4:00pm

Dr. Jennifer Eddy
Associate Professor of World Language Education at Queens College
The New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) recognizes high school graduates who have attained at least an Intermediate High (ACTFL scale) level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages, in addition to English.
The New York City region represents 17% of all NYSSB students, with participating schools increasing each year. Students have earned the Seal in 47 languages.
These students represent growth opportunities for our CUNY programs.
Dr. Eddy will explain the NYSSB and described strategies to leverage this large pool of candidates into our programs for growth of CUNY language minors and majors.

ACTFL Convention & Expo Experience 2019

Two CUNY professors who attended the ACTFL Convention and Expo 2019 have shared their experience below.


Aine Zimmerman

Doctoral Lecturer of German

German Department, Hunter College

I had an excellent experience at ACTFL. I was able to see German colleagues old and new from around the country and discuss pedagogical innovations we are all undertaking, as well as the challenges of being in a small language department. I attended numerous panels and have been reinvigorated in my teaching. I have already started adjusting syllabi to be taught next semester, as well as editing/changing sections of a third-year language and culture e-textbook I have written.


Lamees Fadi

Arabic Language Lecturer

Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

We as teachers need to educate ourselves and update our materials and knowledge. ACTFL gives me the chance to get in touch with highly professional expert educators who dedicated their experience through the sessions and workshops. Among the most beneficial sessions that I attended was Grading to Promote proficiency; the facilitators introduced different strategies to motivate students through a grading style that accurately reflects their performance and academic progress. ACTFL exhibition was a great chance to know about the most recent publishing and some other valuable chances for both educators and their students, such as studying abroad, languages scholarships, teacher trainings and workshops. I had the chance to meet the ACTFL project representative, and we talked about the ACTFL ILR testing program. All in all, it was very beneficial experience.