Area Teachers Merge Technology and Foreign Language at TTU Workshop

There's more than just talk going on in foreign language classrooms across the state thanks to a Tennessee Technological University workshop that helps teachers use new technology in their language classes.

Recently, more than 30 high school and elementary teachers from around the state attended Tennessee Tech's Eisenhower Workshop for Foreign Language Teachers. French and Spanish teachers immersed themselves in a week of creating and sharing new materials for their classrooms. Participants learned about using technology, designing web pages and using the Internet -- all while striving to speak as much as possible in their language of study.

"The annual workshop is intended to bring together teachers at various skill levels, from entry-level to native speakers," said Phillip Campana, chairperson of Tennessee Tech's department of foreign languages. "The goal is to produce and share practical materials that work in the classroom; teachers seldom have time to work on special projects during the school year."

Upperman High School's John Apple and Cookeville High School's Brian Miesch, both Spanish teachers, joined classmates in using the latest technology to develop new teaching materials. Participants worked with computers, a digital camera, a studio video camera, videocassette recorders, videodisc players and satellite television feeds of foreign language channels to improve their own skills and create effective classroom projects.

Teachers also visited Tennessee Tech's 21st Century Instructional Classroom and Cookeville High School's new language lab and spent time learning about the new "National Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century," program.

"The success of each workshop is lasting," Campana explained. "Participants report they have used the materials they developed and the ideas they shared for years after the workshop was over."

Instructors included Tennessee Tech foreign language professors Juanita Shettlesworth and Kenneth Kintz. The workshop was funded by a grant from the Eisenhower Program through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.