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Education in Asian Languages

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Scratch any Asian Studies specialist from whatever discipline, and you may find a person whose most revealing insights came through an encounter with language. No amount of lecturing on Asian specificities and differences can equal the impact of learning negation, the colors, orthography, or politeness strategies in another language. All across the curriculum in the English-speaking world, more awareness of Asia and more facility with foreign language are being called for as we face the twenty-first century. Asian language study, K-16, is the necessary link between these two imperatives.

In light of this, it only makes sense to launch a column on the teaching of Asian languages at all levels. I hope you will agree that this is an important undertaking, and that you will help us develop the column through your requests and contributions. The goal here is to be a practical advocate for and facilitator of short-term work and long-range planning in Asian language education.

To begin with the larger context, the column will advocate the enhanced funding, training, and status of professional language teachers. Asian language study needs to find active incorporation into curricula at all institutions. How is this to happen, however, when it is not uncommon for faculty in EuroAmerican fields to fail to appreciate the fact that Asian studies is an indispensable component of multiculturalism and internationalization—those two slogans that by rights should mean our time has come? Addressing these issues is every bit as important as daily success in the classroom.

All else is for naught, of course, if instruction is not effective. The column will focus on strategies for the improvement of instruction, and provide concrete ideas for the classroom. Instruction improves with effective strategies, but also with due attention to evaluation, goals, articulation, and integration. Both the discussion of how to evaluate student progress and evaluation of existing programs and practices can be applied across Asian languages. Cutting vertically through each language is the set of goals we pursue in teaching and the articulation of those goals. Much of the groundwork has been laid by the National Standards in Foreign Language Education Collaborative Project, but the implementation of those standards in a variety of Asian languages will take time.

With the diversity of opportunities available now, instructors need to be more conscious of how students might negotiate moves from one kind of learning situation to another. The articulation of goals becomes crucial at the points where students move between institutional levels. As schools expand their offerings, instructors may become aware that area high school preparation does not mesh with college courses, for example, and that the reduplication of effort as colleges partially retrain these students leads to frustrated learners.

Other areas where we must take care to build smooth transi­tions are study abroad and the teaching of disciplinary subjects via the target language. Asian languages have traditionally been called LCTs (less common­ly taught), and while this is no longer entirely applicable, stu­dents and others may still expect to encounter more difficulties and be hesitant about sampling the full range of activities.

Not to be ignored is the changing nature of our students and of our world, especially in terms of ethnicity and technolo­gy. Both must be addressed in the areas of materials and learner styles. It is no longer the case that the classic style of textbook, most of which presume native English-speaking learners, ade­quately serves the target popula­tion, increasingly drawn from ethnic groups who speak some Asian language natively.

Beyond linguistic compli­cations that this introduces, the question of how to address cul­tural material in the mixed-eth­nic classroom commands atten­tion. Changing technologies, and the need to balance their costs and benefits, confront us all, but our students have been changed by technology as well, and we should not be sur­prised if learning styles have altered as a result.

Finally, it goes without say­ing that the Asian language field has its differences of opinion. The process of learning a lan­guage is such a challenge to the ego, I believe, that we all carry scars and attachments to the irra­tional parts of our linguistic identities and the methods that saved us. This column will endeavor to be neutral where these controversies are involved. Whatever works, works, after all, and research has confirmed that the teaching most question­able by the standards of a given methodology sometimes best satisfies the clientele.


Professionalization of language teaching means that increasing numbers of instructors at all lev­els will approach the ideal of a native or near-native speaker with training in applied linguis­tics or access to appropriate ped­agogy. The current reality, how­ever, is that teachers may feel their training needs enhance­ment, and may be isolated from all but colleagues in languages cognate with English. The fol­lowing list of resources is intended to encourage instruc­tors to make connections as well as obtain concrete aids.

Membership in a national professional organization is highly recommended, as is investigating the local scene, including your regional AAS. If there is no network of teachers in the area, why not start one? Newsletters, electronic bulletin boards, and listserves circulate information about workshops, job openings, training programs, grants, and conferences well worth tracking. The proliferation of organizational acronyms (some almost as hard to remem­ber as Chinese characters) is a heartening sign of rapid develop­ment in the field. Still, for every teacher the happiest find is a new idea for the classroom, paired with the methodology to integrate it successfully. Using the Internet or traditional chan­nels, an instructor can access a range of materials for and about teaching.

The following list has been compiled with the difficulty of access to Internet resources among some teachers in mind. It barely hints at sites available almost exclusively in target lan­guages, which may present decoding problems for users even within those language areas. Every effort at accuracy has been made, although links may take you, as they did me, to sites that have been “dead for about 1,000 years.” The list includes few strictly commercial resources, but there is much evaluation of commercial prod­ucts at the various sites. Listings give a website address, mailing address, phone, fax, and email contacts as available, plus brief notice of especially valuable or unique services from each organization. Capitalized items appear as buttons on the respective web sites. An aster­isk indicates that teaching materials are available on the web or directly from the organization.


ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages)
6 Executive Plaza
Yonkers, NY 10701
Phone: (914) 963-6830 Fax: (914) 963-1275
The largest national organization of language teaching professionals. Check out the On-Line Calendar of professional development programs and other benefits of membership. Under Standards Implementation, you can search for your own state standards. You can also order documentation on the National Standards in Foreign Language Education.

*AEMS (Asian Educational Media Service)
AEMS/Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
228 English Building, MC-718, 608 South Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 265-0640 Fax: (217) 265-0641
AEMS offers call-in and write-in services to assist teachers in the use of media. Their on-line database can be searched. If you do not have Internet access, they will search for you. The biannual newsletter and a catalog for K-12 materials are available free of charge.

AFMLTA (Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations Inc.)
Mr. David Vale, Editor
2 Rubida Grove
Established to provide a national voice, compile and distribute information, and raise professional consciousness, the Federation publishes the journal Babel three times a year, and an Information Bulletin. Consult the guide to developing tasks with Internet material, and tasks from EdNA, the Education Network Australia Project. Asian languages are taught widely at all levels in Australia, and resources are correspondingly rich.

*Asia Society and AskAsia
725 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10021-5088
Phone: (212) 288-6400
Fax: (212) 517-8315
AskAsia is a service of the Asia Society for K-12 educators. The Resource Center Locator that operates by region and Audiovisual Resources/Center for Educational Media are essential starting points. Both lesson plans and materials are available for downloading.

CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics)
1118 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037-1214
Phone: (202) 429-9292 Fax: (202) 659-5641
CAL’s website leads to a wealth of statistical and other information. Also operating in conjunction with CAL and accessible through this site are NCLRC, the National Capital Language Resource Center, which maintains the Foreign Language Test Database and the monthly electronic newsletter NCLRC Language Resource, and NNELL, the National Network for Early Language Learning, with its own newsletter and journal.

CALICO (Computer Assisted Language Instruction Consortium)
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos, TX 78666
Phone: (512) 245-2360 Fax: (512) 245-8298
Search Other Resources for links to computer assisted language instructional resources, including the 2,000-citation Database maintained by CLTR, The Centre for Language Teaching and Research at The University of Queensland, ( Sample the member publication, The CALICO Review.

CALL (Center for the Advancement of Language Learning)
Fax: (703) 528-4823
Learning resources and links, especially for authentic materials and LCTs. Search their list of languages from A-Z. Software reviews and language testing resources also draw on the CIA’s extensive experience in language teaching.

CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition)
CARLA, University of Minnesota
UTEC Building, Suite 111
1313 Fifth Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Phone: (612) 627-1870 Fax: (612) 627-1875
CARLA maintains the LCTL Experts List, through which one may query an expert, and holds summer institutes. The Less Commonly Taught Languages Project (gopher://; email lists programs and people, not materials, but gives advice on finding materials. Six listserves at the site include hindi-t.

CLEAR (Center for Language Education and Research)
A712 Wells Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
Phone: (517) 432-2286 Fax: (517) 432-0473
One of seven national centers devoted to the enhancement of language teaching, a newsletter and workshops are part of their service activity. The Writing Bibliography covers publications on the teaching and learning of foreign language writing other than English from 1980 to 1996. They sponsor, with The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s NFLRC, Language Learning & Technology, a free WWW publication (

DLIFLC (Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center)
The Center maintains Lingnet and an Internet resource database including LCTs.

*ERIC and AskERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)
ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology4-194 Center for Science and Technology
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244-4100
Phone: (800) 464-9107 Fax: (315) 443-5448;
The ERIC database contains bibliographic records of research, conference papers, guides, books, and articles on education. AskERIC is a personalized Internet question and answer service based on these resources. A virtual library of lesson plans is also available, and users can contribute their plans to the library. ERIC Digests at Digests/index/ offers condensed information on selected topics. Documents are also available at over 1,000 libraries or can be ordered. Related sites include the Virtual Reference Desk, which seeks to facilitate the flow of information to the K-12 community (, and the Consortium for School Networking (

FLTEACH (The Foreign Language Teaching Forum)
P.O. Box 2000
Cortland, NY 13045-0900
Phone: (607) 753-2011
All messages ever submitted to the FLTEACH listserve are archived, making this a good place to get up to speed. An online collection of syllabi for FLTeaching methods courses is also handy.

Phone: (0171) 379-5110 Fax: (0171) 379-5082
Clare Power or Philippa Wright at CILT
A virtual language center dedicated to supplying quality-controlled information and resources on-line. Organized by language, learning materials, training, and research areas. In the words of the suppliers, “impartial, authoritative, and it’s free.” An enquiry service is provided.

NCOLCTL (National Council of Organizations of Less Commonly Taught Languages)
NCOLCTL Secretariat
The National Foreign Language Center
At the Johns Hopkins University
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 667-8100, extension 15 Fax: (202) 667-6907
CouncilNet is developing its Virtual Library and Electronic Bulletin. It is a good place for information on the member organizations. NCOLCTL operates a pilot Mentor Teacher Program to pair novice teachers with the experienced. Contact Dr. Barbara Mozdierz,, to apply, or write Department of German and Slavic, The George Washington University, 2130 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052, Phone: (202) 994-0930 Fax: (202) 994-0171.

NFLRC (National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center)
Dr. Marcia Rosenbusch, Director
N157 Lagomarcino Hall

Iowa State University, Ames
Ames, IA 50011
Phone: (515) 294-6699 Fax: (515) 294-2776
The site is organized into institutes, projects, and evaluation reports, all products of the Center’s ongoing research and programs that train teacher educators and district supervisors. 1997 Institutes focused on effective teaching strategies, performance assessment, and new technologies. Useful publications include Bringing the Standards into the Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide.

*NFLRC (National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Deborah Masterson
NFLRC Publications, University of Hawaii at Manoa
1859 East-West Road #106
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: (808) 956-9851 Fax: (808) 956-5983 to get on the mailing list for summer institutes
The Center sponsors research on effective teaching strategies, foreign language performance assessment, and materials, methods, and teacher training. Results are shared through summer institutes for language professionals and technical reports. The publications division offers research notes, videos, and language teaching materials, all at cost. From NetWorks, you can download technical reports, including #2, New Technologies and the LCTs.

The National Foreign Language Resource Center at The Ohio State University
276 Cunz Hall
1841 Millikin Road
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: (614) 292-4361 Fax: (614) 292-2682
Many projects at this Center, such as Chinese Heritage Self-Instructional Materials for Middle School Students, involve East Asian languages. The summer Training Program for Teachers of Japanese and Intensive Japanese Language Program is a well-known example.

*SCOLA (Satellite Communications for Learning)
PO Box 619
McClelland, IA 51548
Phone: (712) 566-2202 Fax: (712) 566-2502
For a fee, SCOLA can provide news and entertainment programming in foreign languages. SCOLA Insta-Class service, ready made lessons based on broadcast materials, are available in Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese.

UCLA LMP (University of California, Los Angeles Language Materials Project)
Dr. Vijitha Eyango, Project Manager
Language Materials Project
1100 Glendon Avenue, Suite 1841
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone: (310) 206-6011 Fax: (310) 825-3796
The Language Materials database will grow to include 100 LCTs by the year 2000. This comprehensive database of bibliographic references for language teaching materials can be searched by language and by level of instruction. Detailed linguistic profiles for forty of the LCTs and additional resources complete the site.


*Archive of Chinese Teaching Materials, Advanced Level
The Chinese Language Program
Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138
Instructions for downloading materials appear at the beginning of the site.

*Chinese Language Related Information Page
Carlos McEvilly
Links to Chinese educational resources include much information about software. Viewing and listening to Chinese on the World Wide Web is a wonderful resource. Follow sources of Chinese text files for material.

CLA (Cantonese Language Association)
4064 JKHB Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
Phone: (801) 378-4952 Fax: (801) 378-4649 (Dana Scott Bourgerie, General Secretary CLA)
This compact site with useful links includes on-line versions of the CLA newsletter. Membership allows one to participate in all activities of the group.

CLASS (Chinese Language Association of Secondary-Elementary Schools)
Lucy Lee
Livingston High School
30 Robert Harp Drive
Livingston, NJ 07039
Find out about the K-12 Chinese Standards Project. Under construction is the promising It Works!! Classroom tips and lessons.

CLTA (Chinese Language Teachers Association)
Headquarters, Kalamazoo College
1200 Academy Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Phone: (616) 337-7001, Executive Director Professor Madeline Chu, Webmaster Professor Marjorie Chan
Membership procures the triennial journal and newsletter of this group established in 1962. The Association is pursuing an initiative to provide both in-service and preservice teacher training programs.

Multi-Media Project for the Teaching and Learning of Chinese:
Room 122, Runme Shaw Building
Department of Curriculum Studies
The University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2549-3070 Fax: (852) 2858-5649
Has site versions in both Chinese and English.

*Resources for the Teaching and Learning of the Chinese Language
Language Resource Center and Humanities Computing
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755-3530
A rich site with pedagogical resources that include utilities and handouts. Numerous useful links.

ATJ (The Association of Teachers of Japanese)
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80308-4270
Phone: (303) 492-5487 Fax: (303) 492-5856
Founded in 1963, ATJ is a model organization for the field. Membership brings the biannual journal and a quarterly Newsletter, as well as reduced rate membership in NCSTJ, the National Council of Secondary Teachers of Japanese. Reviews of materials are available. A new initiative is the Bridging Project Clearinghouse for Study Abroad in Japan. Standards for Learning Japanese developed jointly by ATJ and NCSTJ are on the site. Join the NCSTJ as an affiliate, or contact Kyle Ennis (kyle; (503) 693-9777) or Yoko Kano ( directly for information.

*CITJ (Center for the Improvement of Teaching of Japanese Language and Culture in High School)
University High School
1212 West Springfield Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 244-4808 Fax: (217) 333-4064
Development and dissemination of teaching materials are the Center’s work. Subscribers get quarterly issues of JLTN, Japanese Language Teachers’ Network. Some materials can be downloaded by nonmembers as well.

*Japanese-Related Projects at Purdue University
The team of Atsushi Fukada and Kazumi Hatasa bring you CATERS, Computer-Assisted Technical Readings System, and other useful tools.

JFLALC (The Japan Foundation and Language Center in Los Angeles)
2425 Olympic Boulevard, Suite 650E

Santa Monica, CA 90404-4034
Phone: (310) 449-0027 Fax: (310) 449-1127
The Center provides assistance for Japanese language programs. Subscribe to their newsletter Breeze/Asagi to keep abreast of the field, and learn of grants and training programs. A teacher’s hotline operates at 1-888-667-0880. You may also write to the attention of the Faculty, or email them for help at

JPNET (Japanese Language and Culture Network)
Shigeru Miyagawa, Project Director
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: (617) 253-6346 Fax: (617) 258-6189
A clearinghouse for tools, services, information, and WWW-based instructional materials in use nationally. At the site, precollege language teaching professionals can join an on-line community called Nikonikonet.

*National Clearinghouse for U.S.-Japan Studies
2805 E. 10th St., Suite 120
Bloomington, IN 47408-2698
Phone: (800) 266-3815
Fax: (812) 855-0455
(800) 266-3815
A Database provides bibliographic information on teaching guides, unit and lessons plans, plus how to get full texts.

AATK (American Association of Teachers of Korean)
President, Dr. Yoo-Sang Rhee
Associate Professor and Chairperson
Korean Department C
Asian School II
Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
Presidio of Monterey, CA
Phone: (408) 242-5289 Fax: (408) 242-5135
Has a newsletter and conference publications, but no website as yet.

Resources for the Teaching of Korean 1997 Contact List
Association of Korean Teachers of Victoria
c/o National Korean Studies Centre
PO Box 218
Hawthorn Victoria 3122 Australia
Phone: (61) 39214 8608 Fax: (61) 39214 8694
Guides to print and media resources, educational associations and resource centers. Links to Korean sites on the Web.

AIIS (American Institute of Indian Studies)
1130 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 702-8638
This scholarly organization, founded in 1961, has an Advanced Language Programs Competition and much information about research in South Asian studies.

*ILM (Inventory of Language Materials)
Southern Asian Institute, Columbia University Frances Pritchett, General Editor
The teaching materials at this site may be copied or distributed without permission. Languages available are Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Punjabi, Pushto, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, Tibetan, and Urdu. The “other” category includes testing help and fonts.

JADOO Search Engine on South Asia
Includes links to sites with unedited authentic materials.

SALTA (South Asian Languages Teachers Association)
Dr. Surendra Gambhir
820 Williams Hall
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Phone: (215) 898-7475 Fax: (215) 573-2138
Find the SALTA Newsletter and links on the site.

SARAI (South Asia Resources Access on the Internet), South Asian Librarian, Columbia University
Languages and Linguistics of South Asia form a category at this comprehensive web site. Link from here or go directly to WALTT, Web Assisted Learning and Teaching of Tamil,, Professor Harold F. Schiffman’s site with lessons, fonts, and even jokes in Tamil.

COTSEAL (Council of Teachers of Southeast Asian Languages)
Dr. Carol Compton, President
Phone: (608) 274-9580 Fax: (608) 263-3735
The COTSEALetter is available online. The organization is developing Southeast Asian Language Learning Frameworks (LLF) for languages including Burmese, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese.

Indonesian Languages Resources
Language Technologies
PO Box 50
Deakin West, ACT 2600
Phone: (678) 23901 Fax: (612) 6291-5949
A commercial site, but with a solid approach.

SEAP (Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University)
Cornell University
180 Uris Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7601
Phone: (607) 255-2378 Fax: (607) 254-5000
Internet resources on Southeast Asia will take you everywhere.

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies
Northern Illinois University
412 Adams Hall
DeKalb, IL 60115
Phone: (815) 753-1771
Fax: (815) 753-1651
Buttons lead to interactive learning resources for Indonesian, Thai, Tagalog, and Burmese, with Vietnamese in process.