Ohio State University
This article is reposted from the Ohio State University Arts and Sciences ASCENT Bulletin.
SPEAC Up: Intensive Summer Training for Teachers of Chinese, Japanese
From June 21-August 20, when many departments are getting a break from a busy academic year, the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (DEALL) is in full swing with Summer Programs East Asian Concentration (SPEAC). SPEAC, an internationally recognized intensive language program and teacher training for both Chinese and Japanese, is in its 17th summer.
“SPEAC is the only long-term teacher training program in the U.S. Many teacher training programs exist as workshops or seminars that last anywhere from 2 hours to two days,” said Thomas Mason, Executive Director for The Alliance for Language Learning and Educational Exchange. “This is the only teacher training program of its kind. SPEAC is producing phenomenal teachers.”
SPEAC’s Training Programs for Teachers of Japanese and Chinese attract current and aspiring language instructors. Applicants are required to have a high level of competency in either language, as well as English.
“This summer a number of participants have come from universities in Florida, Boston, Taiwan, China, Japan, and we have a few Ohio State DEALL students as well,” said Mari Noda, DEALL department chair. During the program, participants will speak only Chinese or Japanese in the classroom.
SPEAC’s Training Programs for Teachers use the performed-culture approach; a method of teaching that incorporates language and culture simultaneously. When it comes to teaching a language, grammar often comes first and culture is taught last. Because of this approach, culture becomes an afterthought and students begin applying their own culture to a foreign language.
“Native Japanese or Chinese speakers won’t understand phrases like ‘no way’ or ‘get out of town.’ The performed-culture approach helps students to see how language is used within the Chinese or Japanese culture,” said Noda. “We help them to understand the subtle nuances that are significant when communicating with native speakers. We want to teach students how to speak Chinese or Japanese as if they were a native speakers.”
Nan Meng, who currently teaches in the program where she was once a student, feels a deep connection to SPEAC.
“This is truly something special. We work together as a team; we support and help one other. With everyone learning together and learning from one another, we actually build a learning community,” said Meng.
Shinji Shimoura, a native of Japan and current graduate student at Florida State, is enrolled in the teacher training program. “One of the hardest things about teaching is getting the students involved and keeping them engaged. I chose SPEAC’s teacher training program because this program can show me how to improve the classroom experience. I care about my students and I want to be a great teacher for them,” Shimoura said.
In addition to the teacher training program, SPEAC also offers an intensive language program that combines classes during the regular academic year with two consecutive summers in SPEAC—students complete four years of language study in fifteen months.
“I look forward to SPEAC every summer,” said Noda. “I love seeing the participants grow during the course of both programs. We create a special learning environment and they’ll leave SPEAC more confident in their speaking and teaching abilities than when they arrived. ”
For more information about SPEAC, visit their website