University receives grant to improve language studies

GW’s language resource center received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to advance the study of South Asian languages last month.

The National Capital Language Resource Center, a consortium of GW, Georgetown, and the Center for Applied Linguistics, was announced as the recipient of the International Research and Studies grant last month. NCLRC programs educate teachers from around the country on effective teaching styles and current technology. Money from the grant will be used to identify how different South Asian languages are taught in communities throughout the U.S. so those communities can receive educational support, according to Dr. Anna Uhl Chamot, co-director of the NCLRC.

“No one has actually found out who is teaching these languages at the K-12 level in this country,” Chamot, said.”Nobody has the whole list or knows what the needs are, that’s what we’re trying to find out with this project.”

Chamot said many South Asian languages, including those found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, are passed down through generations in a family or through community schools. Thus, in many cases the teachers and students do not have access to supplies and advanced teaching techniques.

Planning for the project began on Aug. 31, and representatives from the center said they have already spoken with representatives from the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Maryland.

The NCLRC has received the same grant for its study of Arabic in the same grades, and Chamot said she believes the South Asian project will have the same successful outcome.

“This effort demonstrated how the goal of improving the teaching of Arabic has unified teachers from diverse backgrounds who would have otherwise remained isolated,” Chamot said. “As a result, the NCLRC is well-placed to lead these efforts for South Asian language education.”

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