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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.

Teaching Languages Online: Training and Mentorship

Umbrella Banner image for Teaching Languages Online: Training and Mentorship
Teaching Languages Online: Training and Mentorship

With the recent need to shift all courses to online learning, ILETC is launching a training and mentorship activity that offers the opportunity for instructors to redesign their Fall 2020 courses with the support of language educators who have been teaching online and training colleagues around the nation for years. What makes this training unique is the nature of the expertise of these instructors: They are experts not only in generic online teaching, but specifically in teaching languages online, a critical distinction because language instruction, as we know, is substantially different from instruction in other disciplines. 

The intensive blended training consists of six 90-minute sessions, plus required tasks between sessions (about two hours of homework for each meeting). The synchronous portion of the training will take place in June, on the following dates: 

Wednesday 06/17
Friday 06/19
Monday 06/22
Wednesday 06/24
Friday 06/26
Monday 06/29

Participants who complete all the training requirements by July 5th, 2020 will receive a certification.

The subsidized cost to CUNY participants is a non-refundable registration fee of $60 (actual cost is $150 per participant). 

There will be limited number of spots. 

To inquire about this activity, contact ILETC Director, Alberta Gatti at agatti@gc.cuny.edu

Link to sample training from NFLRC:

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.

ACTFL Workshops

The Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) along with the Office of Academic Initiatives and Strategic Innovation (AISI) invites language instructors to participate in two workshops.

Workshop 1: Modified OPI Assessment Workshop (MOPI)

This two-day workshop is focused on the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and introduces the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) rating scale, the structure of the OPI and techniques for administering and rating the OPI including its applications in the language classroom. Participants will observe and conduct live practice interviews at Novice and Intermediate proficiency levels. Participation in a MOPI Assessment Workshop is the first step toward becoming an ACTFL Certified OPI Tester with Limited Certification.

Workshop 2: Developing and Assessing Academic Reading Proficiency

This one-day workshop will address current research in foreign language reading proficiency with respect to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Reading. Questions that will be considered include:

  1. What is the role of reading in world language curricula?
  2. How does reading proficiency influence—and how is it influenced by—listening, speaking, and writing proficiency?
  3. How are academic reading requirements different from everyday reading requirements?

The workshop is comprised of three interrelated issues: text typology; defining comprehension tasks; and building a reading proficiency program that includes the development of formative and summative assessments for departments of languages and literatures in higher education. The ACTFL Reading Proficiency Test (RPT) will be introduced as an example of a valid and reliable summative assessment.

Both workshops will be conducted in English for a mixed-language group, and will be led by Dr. Cynthia Martin from the University of Maryland. Further details on both workshops including cost, dates, times, and how to register can be found on the drop-down menu below.

This program is offered by the CUNY Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context, in partnership with the CUNY Graduate Center’s Office of Academic Initiatives and Strategic Innovation.


ACTFL Workshop: Modified OPI Assessment Workshop (MOPI)

Workshop Cost

  • Instructors affiliated with CUNY: $50 non-refundable fee
  • Non-CUNY instructors: $175 non-refundable fee

Workshop Meeting Information

Meetings will take place at The Graduate Center, CUNY on the following dates and times:

  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020 9:00am – 6:00pm
  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020 9:00am – 6:00pm

To register please click this link.

ACTFL Workshop: Developing and Assessing Academic Reading Proficiency

Workshop Cost

  • Instructors affiliated with CUNY: $25 non-refundable fee
  • Non-CUNY instructors: $75 non-refundable fee

Workshop Meeting Information

The workshop will take place at The Graduate Center, CUNY on the following date and time:

  • Thursday, January 23, 2020 9:00am – 6:00pm

To register please click this link.

Lecture and Conversation with Guadalupe Valdés, Ph.D.

April 24th, 2020  
Skylight Room, 9th floor
The Graduate Center, CUNY
4:00pm – 7:00pm

Open to the public

The Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) invites Dr. Guadalupe Valdés for a lecture and conversation on an online program developed for college-age volunteers to prepare to work with adult English learners in a nearby community. 

Dr. Valdés will speak on the theory and practice involved in supporting adult learners who have enrolled and attended traditional adult ESL 1 courses over many years. She is currently revising the online course to emphasize that students view themselves as language “coaches” rather than as “teachers” or “tutors” who curricularize language.

Dr. Valdés is the Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education at Stanford University. Her research explores many of the issues of bilingualism relevant to teachers in training, including methods of instruction, typologies, measurement of progress, and the role of education in national policies on immigration. Specifically, she studies the sociolinguistic processes of linguistic acquisition by learners in different circumstances–those who set out to learn a second language in a formal school setting (elective bilingualism) and those who must learn two languages in order to adapt to immediate family-based or work-based communicative needs within an immigrant community (circumstantial bilingualism). Her research in these areas has made her one of the most eminent experts on Spanish-English bilingualism in the United States.

Teaching & Learning of Heritage Languages Seminar Series

The Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) invites language instructors who teach heritage or mixed L2/heritage courses to participate in a year-long seminar series aimed at exploring issues related to the teaching and learning languages.

This seminar series offers organized spaces for participants to work collaborately while learning from one another. Discussions are geared toward understanding heritage learners and their languages with the goal of supporting curricular a pedagogical improvement. This professional development activity will be led by ILETC Director, Dr. Alberta Gatti, with the participation of Maria Carreira, co-director of the UCLA National Heritage Language Resource Center.

Seminar Cost

  • Free for CUNY instructors and graduate students.
  • $110 (includes $10 registration fee) for those not affliated with CUNY.

Class Meeting Information

Meetings will take place at The Graduate Center, CUNY on Fridays from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Dates of the courses and topics are as follows:

  • September 20, 2019 4:00 – 6:00pm – Heritage Learners and Heritage Languages “in the Wild” and “in the Classroom.”
  • October 18, 2019 4:00 – 6:00pm- Sociolinguistic Profile of Heritage Language Learners and Critical Pedagogy.
  • November 15, 2019 4:00 – 6:00pm- Proficiency and Literacy.
  • February 28, 2020 4:00 – 6:00pm- Pedagogical Approaches I: Teaching mixed L2/heritage classes
  • April 3, 2020 4:00 – 6:00pm – Pedagogical Approaches II: Successful Pedagogies for Heritage Language Education.
  • May 1, 2020 4:00 – 6:00pm – Placement and Assessment.


The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Registration is now closed for this event. Please email iletc@gc.cuny.edu or agatti@gc.cuny.edu about any questions.