Michigan State University Awarded Grant From Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Less Commonly Taught Languages

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Michigan State University Awarded Grant From Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Less Commonly Taught Languages

Michigan State University was awarded a four-year, $2.5 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support further development in the research and teaching of less commonly taught languages, with an emphasis on Indigenous languages.

This is the second Mellon grant received by the LCTL Partnership, led by the Center for Language Teaching Advancement at Michigan State University, to facilitate the teaching of less commonly taught languages at all Big 10 universities in partnership with the Big Ten Academic Alliance.

This multi-university initiative seeks to transform the way LCTLs are taught by leveraging cutting-edge research and advances in instructional technology with the aim of creating sustainable and effective models of instruction.

“This grant allows us to provide more students with higher levels of proficiency in languages that are less commonly taught and more difficult to sustain,” said Christopher P. Long, dean of the College of Arts and Letters and principal investigator on the grant. “This is important because a higher level of language proficiency deepens our understanding of the cultures to which these languages give voice.”

Currently, MSU offers instruction in 29 less commonly taught languages, such as Vietnamese, Turkish and Indonesian. Often the challenge in teaching these languages is having only one or two students at any given university taking a course, and in order to have a full class and higher levels of competency, a critical mass of students is needed across multiple semesters.

This issue is resolved by sharing courses across the Big Ten Academic Alliance through the CourseShare program, which enables students to take a variety of different languages online that are not sustainably teachable at individual institutions.

The first Mellon grant laid the foundation for the project. The research team is now taking the successes of that first grant and expanding it over the next four years...

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