Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Establishing Research Priorities for Language Education

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Establishing Research Priorities for Language Education

Article excerpt

At a time of increasing educational accountability, we find ourselves having to defend what we do in our foreign language classrooms. Whether we must compete with the effects of No Child Left Behind in the P-12 setting or with budget cuts and outcomes assessments in the higher education realm, the reality is that high stakes decisions are being made by politicians and administrators, often based on their perceptions of the benefits to be gained by foreign language classroom instruction. It is, therefore, more important than ever that language educators at all levels have knowledge of the research findings that undergird our classroom practices and that they are able to articulate the ways in which research informs our practices to those outside of our profession. With the relationship between research and practice more important than ever, in the Fall 2009 issue of Foreign Language Annals, journal editor Leslie L. Schrier articulated the need for our profession to begin a ''productive conversation concerning the relationship between research and practice.''

While a great deal of valuable research continues to be conducted in foreign language education, recent endeavors and policies have sparked the need for additional investigation. For example, the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers have generated much dialogue concerning the types of content knowledge and levels of proficiency beginning teachers should possess as they begin their careers. The K-16 Standards for Foreign Language Teaching in the 21st Century have perhaps created more questions than answers concerning how communication in the target language can occur in classrooms, how learners can be led to discover cultural perspectives, how language proficiency can continue to develop in a content-based classroom, and how the classroom can motivate learners to engage in ''lifelong learning,'' to name only a few. The new Twenty-First Century Skills, which outline the areas in which students must be prepared in order to function successfully in a digital economy, raise questions concerning how foreign language learning can build skills such as visual and information literacy, selfdirection, reasoning, and collaboration.

With the impetus for new areas of research in mind, ACTFL has recognized the need for establishing a set of research priorities in an effort to engage our field in investigating areas that are paramount as we chart a direction for language education. …

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