The Graduate Center/CUNY has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) as the site of a newly designated Language Resource Center (LRC). The DoE established the first LRCs at U.S. universities in 1990; there are currently fifteen LRCs supported by four-year grants under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. While some centers concentrate on specific language areas and others on foreign languages in general, all share the common goal of developing resources that can be used broadly to improve foreign language education in the United States.
CUNY’s LRC will focus on language education in the community college context, on heritage language learners, and on the use of educational technology to advance intercultural competence. The various research, dissemination, and materials development activities will be conducted in partnership with a number of senior and community colleges within CUNY, and will serve to better integrate lingua-cultural communities of practice. This emphasis on language communities and the links between them is reflected in the LRC’s name: the Center for Integrated Language Communities, or CILC (pronounced “silk”).
CILC will conduct four projects during the 2014-2018 funding cycle. It will establish CUNY as a nerve center for research and discussion on Language and the Community College Nexus through the hosting of a regular ‘Community/College/Language Forum’ and the publication of a state-of-the-art report drawing upon survey data and inter-community conversation to articulate key opportunities and challenges. A team of four-year and community college faculty members will develop and publish an online Heritage Arabic E-Book that specifically addresses the unique needs of this student population. CILC will develop and research the effectiveness of Heritage Telecollaboration modules for heritage Spanish and Chinese speakers at both the senior and community college levels, piloting the modules at CUNY campuses and sharing the results at the national level. Finally, the center will partner with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages to research the Written Proficiency of Heritage Speakers, building profiles of the writing skills for heritage speakers of Bengali, Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
This prestigious designation reflects increased national awareness of CUNY’s enormous resources, as well as the Graduate Center’s unique position within the university. The four projects outlined above explicitly entail collaboration between faculty from Hunter College, Queens College, Lehman College, the College of Staten Island, LaGuardia Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and Queensborough Community College; however, as the center’s work evolves, it will likely draw upon many other CUNY campuses for talent and contributions. CILC will take root in CUNY’s Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC).