The Language Center’s mission involves “promoting research on educational technology, second language acquisition and related disciplines.” As such, Language Center facilities and staff are available to support and contribute to research projects investigating all areas related to second language acquisition, including applications of technology.
The Language Center has functioned as the administrative hub of a four-year project funded by the Language Flagship. The Proficiency Assessment for Curriculum Enhancement (PACE) project administered American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) proficiency exams in listening, reading, and speaking to over 2300 students at various curricular levels in seven languages (Arabic, French, German, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish). This project has yielded a wealth of data that may provide insight into rates of proficiency development at the post-secondary level, both in general and differentiated by language. A number of factors may play a role in the development of proficiency, such as linguistic and cultural background, immersion experiences, uses of second language resources, and independent engagement and use of the second language outside of the classroom. Results of the ACTFL assessments and analysis of this data may influence curriculum decisions at the University of Minnesota and beyond.
Other research projects may involve a number of initiatives underway in the Language Center, such as the use of technology to provide access to language instruction at a distant institution through BigTen Courseshare, technology-mediated videoconferencing for language and culture exchange through the TandemPlus program, and incorporation of activities directed toward developing Advanced-level proficiency in traditional upper-division content courses.
Please review the guidelines for conducting language center-supported research and contact us with suggestions and ideas for research projects related to second language acquisition or to the application of technology in second language teaching.