On the Net: Foreign Language Teacher Education Resources

Article excerpt

When one talks about teacher education one must also, of necessity, include professional development. Teacher education does not end with the conferring of the degree; it must continue throughout the teacher's professional career or we will have instructors who are out of touch with their discipline. In essence, teacher education subsumes both preservice and inservice teachers, and this is particularly germane to foreign language (FL) teacher education. Second language acquisition is clearly an ongoing process, one that rarely--if ever--ends, if only because the languages and cultures we study are constantly evolving. The acquisition of professional knowledge and abilities is also a continuing process; successful teachers perpetually hone their skills and acquire new talents for use in the classroom.

To accomplish this continuing renewal, FL teachers need to remain current with research in the field and trends in methodology and instruction, and to be reflective practitioners who think about their work. How to do this when one is either busy preparing to enter the teaching profession or, equally as busy, teaching on a daily basis with many students and language lessons to juggle? Having useful FL resources easily available can facilitate professional development of both the preservice and the inservice FL teacher. This column will examine a few sites that are designed for FL educators and serve as vehicles for both teacher education and professional development.

The ERIC Clearinghouse for Languages and Linguistics or ERIC/CLL is one such useful and easily available resource for FL educators. As stated on their Web site, ERIC/CLL is operated by the Center for Applied Linguistics, a private non profit organization. The Clearinghouse collects and disseminates information on current developments in education research, instructional methods and materials, program design and evaluation, teacher training, and assessment in the following areas:

* Foreign languages

* English as a second or foreign language

* Bilingualism and bilingual education

* Psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics

* Theoretical and applied linguistics

* Intercultural communication and cultural education

* Study abroad and international exchange

While the ERIC/CLL site is extensive, in this column we will concentrate on those resources that are most directly involved with teacher education and professional development. First is the ERIC/CLL Resource Guides Online series that includes Internet Resources for Foreign Language Teachers. This comprehensive site offers links to the following FL teaching resources, some of which are created by ERIC though others are available from other sources:

* ERIC Digests: brief summaries of the latest hot topics dealing with FL learning and instruction written by recognized specialists in the field, including a specific section devoted to Professional Development

* ERIC/CLL Resource Guides Online: other ERIC series on related topics including Immersion, Bilingualism, and Early language learning

* Annotated Bibliographies: these minibibs are short bibliographies of recent research and articles dealing with a wide range of current issues in FL learning

* Other ERIC/CLL Publications: email newsletters (such as Language Link), bulletins, and even a publication for parents dealing with early language learning questions;

* Online Journals and Newsletters: additional resources not directly affiliated with ERIC/CLL including Language Learning and Technology

* Listservs: online discussion forums of interest to FL teachers, such as FLTEACH (Foreign Language Teaching Forum) and LLTI (Language Learning Technology International), with directions on how to subscribe

* Web Sites: certainly not exhaustive but a very good place to start

* National, Regional, and Language-Specific Organizations of Language Teachers, and Foreign Language Resource Centers: contact information and, in many cases, specific missions and areas of focus

* Conferences: some limited information on annual FL conferences

* ERIC Documents: a helpful illustration of what can be available from a search of the ERIC database of educational documents, including information about how to then obtain copies of documents identified through the search process

Language Link, mentioned above, frequently publishes articles that deal directly with teacher education and professional development. …