Education About Asia: Online Archives

Education in Asian Languages: Start at the Very Beginning

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The good news is that the year 2000 finds a growing number of elementary schools in the United States launching foreign language programs, including Asian languages. The hard news is that there are not enough trained teachers or curricular materials. (There is no bad news as long as we continue to address the problem.)  Even in the case of Japanese, which has relatively well developed resources, training needs exceed supply, as you can read in the report, “Japanese Teaching Credential Programs in the U.S.,” by Hiroko Kataoka, Hiroko Furuyama, and Yasuhiko Tohsaku, appearing in the Spring 2000 issue of The Breeze quarterly (no. 21). As the authors demonstrate, departments and schools involved in the education of K–12 instructors need to be more conscious of the particular needs of Less Commonly Taught Language (LCTL) professionals. With the growth of programs at the elementary level, and the desire to sustain language instruction over subsequent school years, a firm foundation becomes all the more crucial.

Activity is proceeding on a number of fronts to combat these lacks, however. In the features section of this issue of EAA you will find an encouraging how-to article by Betty Lau on a project that
both compensated for a shortage of trained individuals and exposed the demand for Asian language instruction. Finding interest and support is key to the inauguration of any program. Rocco D’Amelio, who is principal of an elementary school in Menasha, Wisconsin that now offers Japanese language instruction, tells how administrators contemplating their students’ futures, the School District Foreign Language Department Coordinator, and local citizens found themselves in unsuspected agreement on the value of foreign language at this level. The March 2000 issue of Japan Forum Newsletter (no. 16) details the establishment of a K–12 Japanese curriculum in the Menasha Joint School District upon the discovery that many supported such an effort.

In addition to these reports, the resources gathered here are intended to provide some basic information about early language education, as well as to stimulate vision and networking, two necessary components of any initiative for your own school. If you are new to this field, key words to investigate include FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School), content-based FLES, immersion, CBI (content-based instruction) and Early Language Learning. Below you will also find updates to the list of “General Resources” that appeared in the Winter 1998 edition of EAA. Several organizations have changed physical addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or Web site URLs. Some have added new projects, links, or information of special interest. Only that new information appears here. Please refer to the earlier edition for details.


American Council on Immersion Education
By following links at CARLA (see below), you can find The ACIE Newsletter, volume 1, no. 1 (November 1997), which features “Immersion 101: Tips for New Teachers.”

NACELL (National Advisory Centre on Early Language Learning)

This is a project of CILT, the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research. Buttons include See a School, where you can click on What’s Happening to get reports from individual schools about their implementation successes, and Resources, which include Teaching Materials for some Asian languages. If you lack Web access, you can request a hard copy of the first issue (May 1999) of the Early Language Learning Bulletin from Rachel Turner by e-mailing

NNELL (National Network for Early Language Learning)
Contact: (see CAL entry).

Educators teaching foreign languages to children may become members of the network for an annual fee. Publications include Learning Languages: The Journal of the National Network for Early Language Learning.

Nanduti: early foreign language learning

The Foreign Language Initiative of the LAB (Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University).
Contact: (see CAL entry).
Links to model programs and a snapshot of early language learning in the U.S. The latter reports that elementary level instruction in foreign languages has risen 10 percent in the decade from 1987 to 1997, to a total of 31 percent. Among LCTLs, only Japanese had shown an increase, from 0 to 3 percent of programs.

National Directory of Early Foreign Language Programs
A searchable database of over 1,400 elementary language programs in the U.S.

From the Winter 1998 list, I especially recommend to elementary educators the ACTFL Web site ( listed below, AskAsia of the Asia Society (, and the National Council of Organizations of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL,, which will put you in touch with the professional organization for your particular language.

Updates on General Resources for Asian Language Education

ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)

Phone: (914) 963-8830

AEMS (Asian Educational Media Service), still at

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
805 West Pennsylvania Avenue MC-025
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 265-0642, or toll free: (888) 828-AEMS (2367)

CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics), still at
Nancy Rhodes (Executive Secretary)

4646 40th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016-1859
Phone: (202) 362-0700
Fax: (202) 362-3740

CALL (Center for the Advancement of Language Learning)

CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition), still at

619 Heller Hall
271—19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Phone: (612) 626-8600
Fax: (612) 624-7514

COBALTT (Content-Based Language Teaching through Technology Initiative) was launched in 1999, and will eventually provide Web-based access to materials for teaching language through content, and help for professional development.

CLEAR (Center for Language Education and Research)

Game-O-Matic allows the visitor to automatically generate custom Web-based language games, such as Concentration.

ERIC and AskEric (Educational Resources Information Center)

A new service is GEM: The Gateway to Educational Materials. It provides “quick and easy access to the substantial, but uncatalogued, collections of educational materials found on various federal, state, university, nonprofit, and commercial Internet sites.” Also see ED’s Oasis at, which has The Treasure Zone, links to “high-quality, curriculum-aligned, standards-supporting, student-centered Web sites.”

FLTEACH (The Foreign Language Teaching Forum)


Subscribe to the list by sending the message SUBSCRIBE FLTEACH firstname lastname to

Other listservs of interest can be subscribed to in the same manner: for LIM-A, Language Immersion in the Americas, whose host is Louis Lanus at IECC, Intercultural E-Mail Classroom Connections (K-12) hosts, a list that provides a free service for teachers seeking partner foreign language classrooms for international and cross-cultural electronic mail exchange. They also have a discussion list at iecc-discussion.

LARC (Language Acquisition Resource Center)

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive, BAM 424
San Diego, CA 92182-7703
Phone: (619) 594-6177
Fax: (619) 594-0511

One of the nine current American National Language Resource Centers, the Web site features a searchable multimedia database and information about summer institutes for teachers.

NEALRC (National East Asian Languages Resource Center)

In 1999, the National Foreign Language Resource Center at Ohio State University adopted an East Asian languages focus. They continue to have a large number of ongoing projects of use and interest to teachers. They can be accessed through a splash page at the original URL,

NFLRC (National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center)
N131 Lagomarcino Hall
Iowa State University at Ames
Ames, Iowa 50011

This NFLRC has joined with ACTFL in the New Visions Project, which aims to set future priorities in the foreign language profession by gathering people who “think outside the box” to “allow us all, as a profession, to work in a collaborative, unified, and nonduplicative way toward our agreed-upon goals.” A June 1999 planning meeting and a national priorities conference this June are part of an ambitious comprehensive effort to make all things possible.

NFLRC (National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa), still at

See new buttons on Foreign Language Multimedia Software and Advanced Chinese and Korean Courses on the World Wide Web. Also a new Web site, Foreign Languages on Interactive Television,

$10,000 Tuttle Language Grant
Application deadline: December 1, 2000

Intended to assist authors in completing work on dictionaries, textbooks, and other instructional materials that will aid in the study of Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, and other languages of East and Southeast Asia. Awarded in memory of Charles E. Tuttle (1915–93). Only projects that have not yet been published or contracted for publication are eligible.

Language Grant Coordinator
Tuttle Publishing
153 Milk Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02109-4809
Phone: (617) 951-4080
Fax: (617) 951-4045