Strategic languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Farsi that are important to national security and competitiveness are not commonly taught in elementary or secondary schools. In addition, teaching resources for them are limited.
A new instructional website designed by Angela Gunder, Director for Web-based Communications at The City College of New York (CCNY), is providing educators across America with access to instructional technology that can support learning of these and other languages. The site, called NOVASTARTALK Online, http://novastartalk.nvcc.edu/
, is the first resource of its kind for teachers of critical languages.
The website is an online version of Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) face-to-face language workshop for teachers in Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. It combines technology tools and 21st century standards-based language teaching to promote targeted language use and proficiency-based methodologies. The site is accessible and open for use to the general public with no restrictions.
“The idea is to present some of the technological tools and software out there, show the teachers how they’re applicable in the classroom and how they can support student learning outcomes,” said Ms. Gunder, a Virginia native and former webmaster at NOVA’s Alexandria campus.
Ms. Gunder has worked at CCNY since 2006, where she designs and oversees the College’s massive website. In her spare time, she has served as technical lead for the NOVASTARTALK project, which was funded by a STARTALK grant from the National Security Language Initiative.
STARTALK is a program that seeks to expand and improve teaching and learning of strategically important languages that are not widely taught in the United States. These include Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Farsi, Turkish, Swahili and Urdu.
Ms. Gunder designed the site to provide educators with tutorials on how to create language-oriented instructional materials by using free presentation, audio and video tools and software such as Prezi, Picasa, Windows Movie Maker and Skype. The site also contains a gallery of teacher-authored materials, discussion forums and other resources.
“We want to give educators, regardless of their discipline, a leg up on the software coming out and remind them that these tech tools are not always expensive. Many are free, simple to use, and ready to be integrated into course content” she said.
Other members of the NOVASTARTALK team included Program Director Dr. Laura Franklin (NOVA); Dr. Shaoyu Chi, lead Chinese instructor and instructional designer (NOVA); Dr. Mohamed Esa, lead Arabic instructor (McDaniel College, Westminster, Md.); and Takako Shigehisa, director of technology applications (NOVA).
Ms. Gunder, who has more than 14 years of experience as a web and print designer, brought to the project a focus on clean and usable design for education and professional development. Besides CCNY and NOVA, she has worked as a designer for the U.S. State Department, and her work has been shown on Cable News Network and ABC Television’s “Nightline.”