Home » News

Presentation | The Speaking Proficiency Outcomes of Face-to-Face and Online Intensive Language Instruction

This presentation shares findings from a mixed-methods research study to document the speaking proficiency gains made by students enrolled in face-to-face (F2F) and online intensive summer programs in one of fourteen less commonly taught languages. The online programs were offered during the COVID-19 pandemic, when F2F instruction was impossible or impractical. Data for the study include (1) pre- and post-program ratings obtained with  ACTFL OPIs (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Oral Proficiency Interview) ratings from OPIs conducted over five years, and (2) interviews with over 90 students conducted over two summer terms. The study compares the speaking proficiency outcomes of the F2F and online programs, and provides insights into the students’ subjective experiences in the F2F and online intensive learning contexts.  

Dianna Murphy is director of the Language Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a center for collaborative initiatives in research, education, advising, and outreach related to the study of human languages. She also co-directs the UW-Madison Russian Flagship Program and serves as a core member of the Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition. She is principal investigator of the study, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education International Research and Studies Program and ACTFL on the Speaking Proficiency Outcomes of Face-to-Face and Online U.S. Intensive Postsecondary Summer Programs in lLess and Least Ccommonly tTaught fForeign lLanguages. Her other current research includes a survey-based study on the reasons U.S. undergraduate students are (not) studying languages other than English in a collegiate setting, and a project to document languages (not) represented in U.S. doctoral programs in languages and literatures other than English. 

Lidia Gault is a Ph.D. student in second language acquisition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, where she received her Master’s in Education. A certified ACTFL OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) tester for Russian, Gault has extensive experience teaching Russian at the university level and for the government. Her main research interests include foreign language comprehension, bilingualism, and heritage language acquisition. 

Date: Thursday December 7, 2023

Time: 1:00-2:00

To attend, register here to get the Zoom link.

ILETC receives U.S. Department of Education grant for their Language Placement for Equitable Learning (LaPEL) project!

We’re delighted to announce that the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context, (ILETC) at the CUNY Graduate Center and the Modern Languages and Literatures Department at CUNY John Jay College of the City University of New York have secured a U.S. Department of Education IFLE (International and Foreign Language Education) grant for their Language Placement for Equitable Learning (LaPEL) project! 

The three-year LaPEL project is a pioneering initiative to improve and strengthen instruction in modern heritage languages by investigating sustainable, proficiency-based placement methods for college-level heritage language learners, a historically underserved population. This project will investigate (1) the use of vocabulary knowledge as a proxy for proficiency level, and (2) the use of AI to assign a proficiency rating to a writing sample. Both investigations aim to lower the high cost of proficiency assessments, to help programs with limited financial resources place learners accurately, and, in this way, improve the rate of language development in the classroom. For this project, ILETC’s Director and Assistant Director, Dr. Alberta Gatti and Dr. Syelle Graves, are joined by Dr. Cristina Lozano Argüelles.   

Presentation | Fitting the Program to the Learners:  Adapting Translation Competence Models to Heritage Speakers

This presentation is part of the Center for Integrated Language Communities (CILC) Heritage Interpreting research project, which aims to develop an interpreting curriculum that capitalizes on the strengths of heritage learners.  

The field of translation and interpreting is experiencing significant growth, with a projected 20% increase in job opportunities between 2021 and 2031. While college language departments are responding to this trend by introducing translation and interpreting programs, these programs typically overlook both the distinct needs of heritage speakers—who make up a sizable portion of these majors—and their valuable previous experience as informal translators and interpreters for their families and communities. This presentation addresses these students’ current language use; their language acquisition trajectories; their language proficiency in English and Spanish (both self-assessed and ACTFL-rated); their interpreting competence; and their experience as child language brokers. This presentation will also describe how knowledge of these particular linguistic characteristics can support the development of a curriculum better tailored to these future interpreters.   

Date: Thursday, October 5, 2023 

Time: 3:00-4:00 PM

To attend, register here to get the Zoom link. 

Introducing We Authors | Second-Language Writing Website

Landscape view of a wall with welcome signs in different languages at the Anne Frank Museum with a bicycle leaning on the wall.
A wall at the Anne Frank Museum on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo credit: Adam Szuly Photography / Alamy Stock Photo.

We invite you to learn about We Authors | Second-Language Writing (slweauthors.commons.gc.cuny.edu), a website for students enrolled in second language courses across CUNY.  

A daughter site of We Authors | Heritage Writing (https://weauthors.commons.gc.cuny.edu/), We AuthorsSecond-Language Writing was created in response to requests from CUNY faculty. Both sites provide students with a public-facing component to their assignments (under instructor supervision), which allows them to write with a purpose, something known to be instrumental in increasing learner engagement and advancing writing proficiency. 

During the 2022-2023 academic year, ILETC successfully piloted the site with Japanese learners enrolled at Hunter and John Jay colleges. Now, we are preparing the site to welcome courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, Greek, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. 

The professors who participated in the pilot and the ILETC team will be conducting a Zoom presentation on Thursday, August 10, 2023, from 1:002:00 PM. During the presentation, we will share information on how you can integrate We Authors into your course. 

If interested, please register for the Zoom link here! 

We look forward to sharing more with you in August. 

ILETC | ACTFL Workshop: Developing Interpretive Reading and Listening Proficiency

ILETC invites you to participate in a day-long, virtual ACTFL workshop (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) on text typology, led by Professor Cynthia Martin. 

This workshop will explain how to use the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines to develop learners’ general proficiency in interpretive modes (Listening and Reading) in the target language. Participants will review the Guidelines, which will be followed by an introduction to text typology for these interpretive modes. The majority of the workshop will be spent engaging in hands-on activities to guide participants in how to 1) evaluate the effectiveness of their existing teaching materials in terms of overall goals and target audience, and 2) select authentic reading and aural texts and use them to design appropriate proficiency-based activities at various levels. At the end of the workshop, participants will also have the opportunity to discuss implications for assessment of these interpretive modes. 

 Only 20 spots are available! 

Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2022 

Time: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM 

Fee: $40 per person

To attend, register here.

Workshop | Process Writing in the Heritage Language Class: An approach to biliteracy development

Come join us on Friday, November 11, 2022, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM, for an interactive presentation online.   

What are the differences between traditional writing assignments (prompts-draft-feedback-final copy) and assignments created following a genre-based approach? What do students and instructors gain by using a genre-based approach? More specifically, what are the distinct benefits for heritage language learners, who typically express an understanding that writing is their weaker skill in the heritage language?  

The presenters, Aránzazu Borrachero (Queensborough Community College and the Graduate Center) and Alberta Gatti (The Graduate Center), invite you to an interactive presentation/discussion that will explore the answers to these questions. They will describe the pilot of a genre-based curriculum that was taught to Spanish heritage learners at two CUNY schools (one community college and one senior college), as well as research-based information about the effects of this curriculum on the writing proficiency development of heritage language learners.   

This pedagogical approach is applicable not just to Spanish, but to other heritage languages, and to English writing classes as well, so we welcome all to come learn about it and to share your related experiences in a discussion with the group. 

To attend, get the Zoom link by registering here.

Bilingual Writing Proficiency of CUNY Students | Interactive presentation coming up in October

When working with multilingual students in your heritage language, English comp, or ESL classes, have you ever wondered about these learners’ ability to do things in “the other” language? For instance, should we assume that bilingual CUNY students who received most of their education in the U.S. write better in English than in their heritage language? What about how large the gap is between writing abilities in the two languages? Can our students accurately evaluate whether they are better at one of the two languages? And, is there anything in their biographical profile that seems to help predict language dominance in writing? 

Read more

The Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Context (ILETC) at the CUNY Graduate Center receives funding to bring our National Language Resource Center back to CUNY.

We are pleased to announce that ILETC has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to reopen the Center for Integrated Language Communities (CILC), one of only sixteen National Language Resource Centers. This puts CILC and the Graduate Center in a prestigious national network of innovative Language Resource Centers, housed at universities across the country, including Duke, Georgetown, Penn State, and UCLA.

Originally founded in 2014, CILC’s mission is to help students in the United States develop the translingual and transcultural competence they need to navigate between the communities they come from and the ones they aim to engage with in their post-college lives.

For this grant cycle, CILC’s projects are focused on fostering the development of literacy in second and heritage language learners, all within the context of community colleges and minority serving institutions, through five projects:

  • Training Modules for Text-based Language Teaching will develop, pilot, and disseminate modules for instructors on how to integrate text-based activities into existing courses.
  • Repository for Text-based Language Learning Tasks will develop, pilot, and publish text-based tasks for elementary and intermediate foreign and heritage language courses in five languages (Arabic, Japanese, Italian, Russian, and Spanish).
  • Researching the Effects of Text-based Tasks on Language Learning will investigate the academic outcomes of using text-based learning tasks.
  • Heritage Interpreting will develop, pilot, and research the impact of an interpreting curriculum specifically designed to address strengths and needs of future interpreters who are heritage speakers.
  • A National Forum on Literacy will provide a space for a national dialogue on the opportunities that a focus on literacy development affords to students and programs alike.

Visit cilc.commons.gc.cuny.edu to learn more about CILC.
To contact the CILC team, email us at cilc@gc.cuny.edu.

Introducing We Authors

Dear CUNY Heritage Language Instructors,

We invite you to learn about We Authors (https://weauthors.commons.gc.cuny.edu/), a website for multilingual students enrolled in heritage language courses across CUNY.

We Authors provides students with a public-facing component to their assignments (under instructor supervision), which allows them to write with a purpose, something known to be instrumental in increasing learner engagement and advancing writing proficiency.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, ILETC successfully piloted the site with Spanish-English bilinguals enrolled in heritage courses at three CUNY colleges. Now, we are preparing the site to welcome courses in heritage Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

The professors who participated in the pilot and the ILETC team will be conducting a brief Zoom presentation in August (two dates are available). During the presentation, we will share information on how to integrate We Authors into your course.

If interested, register for one of the two dates:

Thursday, August 11, 2022, 4:00-5:00 PM | Register here.

Friday, August 12, 2022, 11:00-12:00 PM | Register here.

We look forward to sharing more with you in August.


The ILETC Team

Linguistic Diversity in Higher Education Symposium

The CUNY Graduate Center
365 5th Avenue
New York
Room 9204/9205

May 2, 2019
9.00 am—6.00pm

The symposium is an opportunity for scholars, practitioners, administrators, and students to engage in conversations about the ways in which multilingualism shapes access to higher education and to start collaborative projects such as scholarly publications, teaching materials, and educational programs. Students are particularly welcome.

The symposium is free, however registration is required for lunch. The deadline for registration is April 26th. We will not be able to provide lunch for those who do not register or those who register after April 26th.

Please register at the bottom of this page.


9.00-9.15 | Coffee

9.15-10.45 | Session 1: Language Learning and Identity 

The expansion of dual language bilingual education programs: The case of Hebrew in New York City 
Sharon Avni, Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY); Kate Menken, Queens College (CUNY)

Ideologies, identity, and investment in a diverse and multilingual Spanish classroom
Beatriz Lado, Lehman College & The Graduate Center (CUNY); Carmín Quijano, The Graduate Center (CUNY)

10.45-11.00 | Coffee Break

11.00-12.30 | Session 2: Policies for Linguistic Equality in a Globalized World 

The use of the minority language at the university level: Between revitalization and internationalization at the University of the Basque Country
Jasone Cenoz, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Spain

Status planning for language equality: The case of African languages in teacher education
Christa van der Walt, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

12.30-1.00 | Lunch*

*Registration is required for lunch. Participants must register by April 26th. We will not be able to provide lunch to those who do not register or those who register after April 26th. Please  register here

1.00-2.30 | Session 3: Pedagogical Solutions: Questioning Assumptions

Linguistic diversity and language ownership in Nigeria: Implications for access to higher education.
Kingsley Ugwuanyi, Northumbria University, Newcastle, U.K.

Addressing linguistic diversity in South Africa through defamiliarization, critical language awareness, community-building and bilingual practices in teacher training
Liesel Hibbert, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa

2.30-2.45 | Coffee Break

2.45- 4.15 | Session 4: Pedagogical Solutions: Learning from Our Students

Reciprocal learning – teaching and epistemic access
Rosemary Wildsmith, North West University, South Africa

What happens when we try to learn our students’ language?
Andrea Parmegiani, Bronx Community College (CUNY)

4.15-4.30 | Coffee Break

4.30-4.45 | Concluding Remarks

4.45-6.00 | Exploration of Collaborative Projects in Special Interest Groups

Again, register here.