Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Portuguese Language Flagship program was recognized as a model for both effective language learning across the curriculum and dynamic partnership building across national borders at the Conference of the Americas on International Education held last week in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
More than 600 high-level university and government representatives gathered in Rio April 25-27 to discuss the latest trends in internationalization, including academic mobility and best practices for inter-American partnership development and program management.
Solange Aranha of the Universidade Estadual Paulista, or UNESP, the State University of São Paulo, showcased UNESP’s innovative “Teletandem” method of language training, which will be utilized by students accepted to UGA’s Portuguese Language Flagship program.
The Language Flagship is a major initiative of the U.S. National Security Education Program. The goal of UGA’s Portuguese Language Flagship program is to increase dramatically the number of U.S. students of all majors in reaching a professional level of proficiency in speaking, reading, writing and listening by the time they complete their bachelor’s degrees. UGA was the sole institution chosen to develop the program, receiving a renewable federal grant exceeding $1 million during the first grant cycle pending congressional approval. In addition, the Flagship program for undergraduates must include one full academic year overseas where students engage in Flagship coursework in conjunction with enrolling in a Brazilian university in their disciplinary major and while also engaging in a semester-long internship or other professional experiential activity.
UNESP is UGA’s partner for both the overseas portion of the Flagship, as well as for the Teletandem learning that will occur while students study at the university.
“The Flagship program is a great example of internationalization,” said UNESP’s Aranha. “It provides a remarkable collaborative opportunity for both institutions as well as to all the students and faculty who will participate in the program.”
Teletandem is a multi-faceted type of language learning developed by UNESP faculty, which utilizes computer-mediated exchanges between students of different countries. UGA taught its first Teletandem-centered Portuguese classes in spring 2011. Robert Moser, director of UGA’s Langauge Flagship program, reported that many students commented, after the first session, that they had spoken more uninterrupted, “natural” Portuguese in that one-hour session than they had during an entire semester in other foreign language classes.
Jane Gatewood, director of International Partnerships in UGA’s Office of International Education, represented the university at the conference and said, “The collaboration with UNESP for the Portuguese Language Flagship offers a remarkable example of the benefits of international partnerships for education.”