Eirik Borve Fund for Foreign Language Instruction: 2017 Funded Projects

Case Western Reserve University: The Cuba Initiative

Faculty Sponsor: Damaris Punales-Alpizar
Department: Modern Languages and Literatures

This program will offer students a total immersion program where they can locally experience the interaction of global realities: Russian and Spanish languages in Cuba today. The summer courses of this program establish a dialogue with recent Cuban history through language and culture. As remains of the Cold War, Cuba still has a large number of Russian speakers who studied in the Soviet Union in the seventies and eighties, or are the sons and daughters of mixed Russian–Cuban couples. Russian culture is still evident within the Cuban society, and this program aims at taking advantage of this particular circumstance as a way of exposing students to a contact zone between two so different cultures and languages. Giving the recent events in the relationships between Cuba and the United States, and all the interests and possibilities brought about by such developments, this program pursues to be a first step in establishing a CWRU Study Abroad Center in Cuba. Forward-looking U.S. universities are investigating having an active presence on the island and expanding areas of collaboration with Cuban research and cultural institutions, and Cuban scholars and cultural ambassadors. The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures has already established links between CWRU and some Cuban institutions, such as Casa de las Américas, Vigía Publishing House, and the House for the Theater Memory, to mention just a few. Taking advantage of these ties and moving them forward with this new initiative will position Case Western Reserve University as a leader in U.S.-Cuba higher education initiatives. This unique take, namely offering experiences in both Spanish and Russian, which fits with the historical realities of the developments in Cuba, offers a particularly and entirely new approach to Cuba. The goal is to build up our offerings in Cuba so that at a later point in time CWRU can create a learning center on the island, where students can fulfill Spanish, Russian and maybe other languages, culture, and history courses related to the Caribbean basin. This pilot program offers the information and materials needed to make a good case to attract donors and funding agencies to support our initiative in the near future. 

Hiring of an Instructional Designer to Help Students of Spanish Create Eportfolios

Faculty Sponsor: Clara Lipszyc-Arroyo
Department: Modern Languages and Literatures

The students of Spanish language courses will be participating in an innovative project as they create eportfolios (electronic portfolios) starting this coming year. Electronic portfolios are documents, managed by the students, into which they input text, electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, and hyperlinks. These eportfolios will be taken by the students to the next course, where they will continue to add material to them. During and after each course, the students can reflect upon their own progression, assess how they’ve improved, and what results they still hope to achieve. Therefore, an eportfolio can be seen as a type of learning record that provides actual evidence of achievement. This will elevate the students’ work as they take ownership of their own portfolios to showcase their linguistic journey. Upon graduating, each student has a digital portfolio, which he/she can edit as wanted, and add to his/her resume to show potential employers his/her fluency in reading, writing, and speaking Spanish. An Instructional Designer to help with eportfolios, solely dedicated to the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, will be hired with a grant awarded by the Eirik Borve Fund for Foreign Language Instruction.

Luganda Language Training for Anthropology-Engineering Student Teams

Faculty Sponsor: Janet McGrath
Department: Anthropology

The Anthropology-Engineering Collaborative (AEC) has been engaged in global health research and training in Uganda since 2014. The AEC initiative involves transnational student teams at CWRU and Makerere University designing technologies for health in parallel at their home universities. CWRU students travel during spring break to conduct fieldwork with their Makerere partners. The current field site is in Luwero District, where the local language is Luganda. English is the national language of Uganda and all formal education is in English. Therefore, work is able to be conducted in English. In Luwero, however, as AEC’s interaction with health workers in the rural clinics is increased, it is apparent that the ability to speak Luganda is critical to establish rapport and better understand daily life at the clinics. During the last visit in March 2017, for the first time, no Ugandan students on the team were Luganda speakers. There are staff at each center who speak and understand English well, but the perceived social gap between the student teams and the “clients” was greater than in the past. Therefore, the project seeks to provide sufficient language training to enable teams to gain rapport and be better positioned to undertake fieldwork in this location. Support from the Eirik Borve Fund for Foreign Language Instruction will support language training for both CWRU and Makerere students in the form of a “mini-course” to be provided prior to travel to the field site. Additionally, a Luganda module to be integrated in teaching modules currently being developed for the AEC will be created.

Presentation/Workshop on “High-Leverage Teaching Practices”

Faculty Sponsor: Yuki Togawa
Department: Modern Languages and Literatures

This is a project to invite a guest speaker, Dr. Eileen Glisan (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) or Dr. Francis Troyan (The Ohio State University), as one of the top two candidates to Case Western Reserve University in order to give a presentation and a one-day workshop on the topic of “High-Leverage Teaching Practices (Six Core Practices)” during the Fall or Spring 2018 semester. This presentation/workshop on high-leverage teaching practices will help faculty understand the current research and theories on second language acquisition and foreign language pedagogy as well as how faculty incorporate each of the teaching practices into their classroom teaching, assessments, feedback, etc. in order to develop innovative foreign language instructional methods and materials. The purpose of this presentation/workshop is also to provide an opportunity to connect with the nearby institutions in the Northeast Ohio area for better articulation, not only within school programs, but also with regional schools.

Renovating and Upgrading Guildford B03 to Technology Enhanced Classroom (TEC) Level 2HD

Faculty Sponsor: Takao Hagiwara
Department: Modern Languages and Literatures

CWRU’s University Technology website states, “The Technology Enhanced Classroom (TEC) initiative at CWRU enables instructors, as well as students, to access tools and resources available beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom.” In accordance with this initiative, this project will allow for the upgrade of the dated AV facilities of the Guilford B03 classroom, in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (DMLL), to TEC Level 2 HD. The improved functionality of the room will foster greater ease and more frequent use of technology, allowing access to materials, places, and speakers around the world. The Guilford B03 classroom will also become a more inviting, desirable, and requested physical environment for both students and instructors to engage in language learning, thus enhancing the quality of language instruction in the DMLL. 

“Talk Abroad” Native Speaker Conversation Parnters for DMLL Students

Faculty Sponsor: Denise Caterinacci
Department: Modern Languages and Literatures

This project will expand the department of Modern Languages and Literatures’ use of the online platform TalkAbroad, connecting world language students with native speaker conversation partners located in the target language countries. Instructors of Spanish and Italian will add required conversation sessions to many courses, at multiple levels, and will collaborate to share ideas and experiences, maximizing benefits of the experience for both the students and the instructors. Other languages that can eventually be included are Chinese, French, German, Arabic, and Portuguese.